Lincoln (2012) PG-13

 Lincoln lives up to reputation as an outstanding historical drama. Director Steven Spielberg reveals the personal and political struggles that Lincoln faced during the last four months of his final presidential term. Lincoln was determined to have Congress pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, thereby guaranteeing the abolishment of slavery.

The film vividly recreates the divisive legislative battle over the passage of the 13th amendment, and the political maneuvering that Lincoln and his supporters used to obtain the necessary votes. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a stunning (and Academy Award winning) performance as Lincoln capturing his down-to-earth style, folksy humor, his political astuteness and oratory skills, as well as his tenderness toward his young son Tad and affection for his wife Mary Todd.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet or are eager to discuss the film, join us next Friday, May 31. We’ll start the movie at 7:00pm and follow with a discussion. Sign up today!

The Body in the Belfry by Katherine Hall Page (1990)

There’s nothing like finding a dead body to cure a case of ennui. Faith Fairchild, a transplanted successful Manhattan caterer, was ruing her dull but comfortable life as a mother to baby Benjamin, and wife to Aleford, Massachusetts’ minister Tom Fairchild when she discovered the dead body of Cindy Moore, in the church’s belfry. When Cindy’s fiancé, a well-liked young parishioner becomes a key suspect, Faith takes it upon herself to “help” clear his name. Readers who enjoy well-written “cozy” mysteries, will enjoy the Faith Fairchild series.
Read The Body in the Belfry by Katherine Hall Page today.

Talk to Your Dog: How to Communicate With Your Pet by Susie Green (2005)

Author Susie Green supplements her easy-to-read text with illustrations to help readers better understand what our canine friends’ physical appearance, postures, etc., are telling us. Most dog owners will already know much of this information, but the anecdotes the author shares from old newspaper articles and journals about dog behavior are fascinating. The reader will be struck by how much different life is for our pampered 21st century pets. When I was a kid, everyone owned a mutt, and Gus the overweight Bassett hound freely roamed the school yard looking for pets, and treats. If you have a dog Talk to Your Dog is a must read.

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple (2012)

I was hooked after reading the first two pages of this engaging story. Semple applies her sharp wit to get some funny digs on Seattle, Microsoft, and cliquish suburban women. Although Bernadette Fox, and other characters in the novel, are less than perfect, Semple portrays their emotional issues with humor and sympathy. The plot has unexpected turns that kept me wondering if Bee, Bernadette’s 15-year-old daughter, would find her brilliant, eccentric (and BFF) mother Bernadette? Check out Where’d You Go Bernadette? today.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (2012)

Strayed was only in her twenties when her mom dies of cancer at 45. Her mother’s death leads to the unraveling of her world: her siblings drift away; her stepfather disengages after he remarries, and her rock solid marriage ends in divorce. Her despair, anger, and unrelenting grief over her mother’s death lay at the heart of her failed marriage and some very poor choices.

A crazy idea to hike the 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail alone keeps her going. This adventure is all that holds her together despite her unbelievable lack of preparedness. Against enormous odds, she succeeds in walking the trail redeemed by the kindness of strangers and the wide open beauty of the wild. Beautifully and honestly written, this memoir inspires, and for those interested long distance solo hiking it serves as a “what not to do” manual. Check out Wild today.

Extreme Productivity by Robert C. Pozen (2012)

Although the targeted audience is high level managers, Pozen’s advice will benefit anyone who wants to work smarter, not harder. He stresses the importance of identifying goals and priorities, so that you focus on results. Once you know what your key goals are, you should expend most of your effort on performing the tasks that will advance these goals. Perfectionism can be a killer if you spend too much time on your smaller, less important goals.

He offers suggestions on creating a morning routine to help free your brain for more important tasks, how to handle emails, and how to avoid meetings and, if that’s not possible, how to make meetings more effective. A top executive at a global finance firm, Pozen honed his productivity skills so he could spend more time with his family and volunteering.

Read Extreme Productivity by Robert Pozen today and start being more productive.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

Mantel’s fictional account of the early years of Henry VIII’s reign will appeal to those who are interested in the turmoil and duplicity of Tudor England. Wolf Hall is long but readable as Mantel recreates the foods, the clothing, and customs of that era with delightful detail. Mantel offers an interesting twist as a very sympathetically portrayed Thomas Cromwell narrates the book. Thomas More, on the other hand is depicted as a mean-spirited, self-absorbed man—not at all like the More immortalized in A Man for All Seasons. Wolf Hall received the Man Booker Prize in 2009.

Check back next month for Gail’s take on the novel.

B.Y.O.B. Book Party Recommendations

Here are the books that people shared at our book party this week:

FictionAn American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. RowlingThe Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Death comes to Pemberley by P.D. JamesThe Devil’s Food Cake Murder by Joanne FlukeThe Dovekeepers by Alice HoffmanThe Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann MasonGoing Postal by Terry PratchettThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Last Kind Words by Tom PiccirilliThe Paris Wife by Paula McClainA Person of Interest by Theresa SchwegelSlam the Big Door by John D. MacDonald32 Cadillacs by Joe GoresAlex Cross's Trial by James Patterson The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceWilliam Bradshaw: King of the Goblins by Arthur Daigle
NonfictionThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik LarsonA Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation by Catherine AllgorThe Wheat Belly by William Davis

The Great Gatsby (1974) PG

A new version of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan will be released on Christmas 2012. I loved reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel on which the movies are based—one of the few “assigned” readings I enjoyed in high school.

I don’t think the film lived up to the novel, but it does bring the 1920s with all its raucousness vividly alive. The party scenes are fantastic; the costumes are stunning as are stars Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. It was fun to re-watch the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, but I think I’ll re-read the book in anticipation of the new film.

Arabesque (1966)

In the tradition of Hitchcock, director Stanley Donen weaves a story of international intrigue. When an Arab prime minister recruits Professor Pollock (Gregory Peck) to unravel a hieroglyphic code which is at the heart of an assassination plot, Pollock must gain access to the household of the diabolical Beshraavi (Alan Badel).

Beshraavi’s mistress Yasmin (Sophia Loren), presents another challenge—is the lovely Yasmin friend or foe? This fun, somewhat lighthearted suspense movie holds up well despite its 1966 release date.

Check out Arabesque today!

Unknown (2011) PG-13

Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) has arrived in Berlin with his beautiful wife Elizabeth (January Jones). Dr. Harris is to speak at a biotech conference, but panics when he realizes that he left his briefcase with his lecture notes at the airport. He leaves for the airport without telling his wife, can’t reach her by his mobile to tell her his whereabouts, and ends up with amnesia after his taxi ride ends up in a horrific crash.

Four days later, he arrives at the hotel and discovers that his wife does not recognize him and is with her husband Dr. Harris (Aidan Quinn). And that’s just the start of this thriller!

Find Unknown at Indian Prairie today.

Marlowe (1969) PG

Raymond Chandler’s timeless character Marlowe has been immortalized in film by actors such as Humphrey Bogart (in The Big Sleep) and Dick Powell (in Murder, My Sweet). In this 1969 release based on Chandler’s 1949 novel The Little Sister, James Garner updates the 1940s depiction of Marlowe.

Hard up for cash (as usual), Marlowe takes on a missing person case which has enough twists and turns to keep the viewer interested and a tad confused. Garner’s spot on portrayal of Marlowe led to his role as Rockford in the long running TV series The Rockford Files.

B.Y.O.B. Party Book Recommendations

Here are the books that people shared at our book party this week:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Calebs Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Carry on Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse 
Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig
March by Geraldine Brooks
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Pope Joan by  Donna Woolfolk Cross
Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Third Rail by Michael Harvey
The Widow's War by Sally Gunning
Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
River Town by Peter Hessler
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Spotlight: Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone movies

Spotlight: Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone moviesJesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is a former cop from L.A. who now serves as the police chief of Paradise Bay, Maine. Stone is a troubled soul with a broken marriage (and heart) who too frequently seeks refuge in a bottle of scotch. He brings his big city policing skills to the quaint Maine town which harbors its own dark secrets of murder. The series has suspense, incredible scenery, and a great cast of characters.

Based on characters in the books by Robert B. Parker.

Tripwire by Lee Child

Tripwire by Lee Child (1999)
This is the third book in the Jack Reacher series. Jack Reacher is an ex-military police officer turned drifter. Reacher chooses to live under the wire—doesn’t use credit cards, stays in cheap hotels, and picks up odd jobs in Key West. His anonymity is blasted when a P.I. who is looking for Reacher is found dead.