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IPPL Staff

The English Garden by Cecily Brown and Jim Lewis (2015)

englishgardenI chose The English Garden for the art (by Cecily Brown) but really enjoyed it for the story (by Jim Lewis). Both the artwork and the story were good and could stand on their own. I was expecting more like Monet and Brown's work is more modern. The story is a great short story that takes you on a journey with the main character, Trevor. You’ll keep turning each page for more; the story ends perfectly, leaving the reader wanting more.
Joan

Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist by Stephen Kurkjian (2015)

masterthievesA work of fiction, B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger, actually enticed me to read Master Thieves, a nonfiction account of the Gardener Museum's unsolved 1990 art heist. Stephen Kurkjian's primary sources and journalist's style leads readers on a journey through the underworld of Boston to uncover possibilities to solve this twenty-five-year-old crime. His personal involvement in the story and contacts in the FBI and the mob make each scenario credible. Art historian, true crime aficionado, and mystery lover alike will be captivated to learn more about the clues and the suspects. Some may even want to get involved. After all, there is a $5,000,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the thirteen stolen art pieces.
IPPL Staff

Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes by Edie Eckman (2012)

connectshapesHave you ever wanted to create a crocheted afghan but never knew where to start? Grab Connect the Shapes! Edie Eckman’s book has 101 crochet motif ideas for projects to work on. Not only does the book teach you how to do individual motifs, but how to join them once you’ve made a few as well. Say sayonara to unfinished blankets!

It also has basic instructions in color theory and how to crochet and in the front of the book for beginners! The patterns range in difficulty to the most basic to ones challenging for even veteran crocheters.

The colors used in the samples are vibrant and so eye-catching that you’ll want to get started on a new project right away. Check it out today to get started. Remember, winter is coming!
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Joe

Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale (1980)

catchmeThis true life adventure is almost too over the top to be believed. The movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio pales in comparison to the book. At a very young age, Frank Abagnale set out on a life of crime that took him all over the world as he impersonated a Pan Am pilot, masqueraded as a supervising resident of a hospital, and practiced law without a license. He cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks and was known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all fifty states as "The Skywayman." His descriptions of narrowly escaping capture will make your jaw drop. When he is ultimately captured, he pays a heavy price. Catch Me If You Can is an exciting real story which will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Jez

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (2015)

modernromanceParks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari is a standup comic who made jokes and observations about the state of dating in the digital era during his Modern Love tour last year. Building on those observations, Ansari teamed up with New York University sociology professor Eric Kleinberg to write a book on romance, texting, dating, and more with lots of facts, charts, and jokes. Modern Romance is a fascinating and entertaining look at not only the dating culture in America, but in Brazil, Japan, France, and Qatar.

I listened to the audiobook, read by Ansari himself, and I have never had so much fun learning!
Mimi

Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour by Shane Ryan (2015)

slayingthetigerReporter Shane Ryan spends one year on the PGA tour and reports on the new breed of up-and-coming golfers. Slaying the Tiger is eye opening to anyone interested in the game of golf. What you see on TV is now what the players are really like. Many players have public relations staff who control the player’s image.

More importantly—what does it take to be a winner? What games do players play and does the rich junior player have the advantage? A must read for anyone who likes the game of golf and wants to know who the next Tiger will be.
Jez

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (2014)

asyouwishRob Reiner’s The Princess Bride is a beloved classic of many, and it’s no surprise why. The movie has something for everyone, being packed with pirates, sword fights, castles, giants, princesses, true love, and about a hundred famous lines to quote.

But the road to becoming a classic isn’t easy and at times, it seemed like the movie may not get made at all. It’s that struggle that Cary Elwes, the actor in the lead role of Westley, covers in his memoir. He writes of the fight to get the script’s rights and get a director and actors to sign on, then covers the months of filming and swashbuckling practice, and even covers the years in which the film grew in popularity since its debut over 25 years ago. The book includes pieces of interviews with other members of the cast and crew, including Robin Wright (Buttercup), Mandy Patinkin (Inigo), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), and Rob Reiner (director), many of whom add their voices to Elwes’s in the audiobook adaptation.

As You Wish is a fantastic read full of fun anecdotes and movie magic which is sure to please any Princess Bride fan.
Mary

March. Book Two by John Lewis (2015)

march_book_two_72dpi_lgWritten in a graphic novel format, book two of U.S. Representative John Lewis’ autobiography, March, begins with President Obama’s first inauguration, and then quickly flashes back to the Nashville, 1960 diner and movie sit-in campaign. When he was 23 years old, Lewis became chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He also participated in the dangerous and deadly Freedom Rides into the Deep South, and spoke at the historic March on Washington. Lewis recounts the internal struggles of the civil rights movements, such as the pressure he received to change his March on Washington speech as well the challenge to nonviolence approach that groups such as the Black Power movement posed.
Mary

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer (2014)

artofstillnessAmidst the hustle and excitement of his world travels, Pico Iyer discovered that “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still." You can read this slim book in an afternoon—provided you can sit down and stay put. Find a copy of The Art of Stillness today.
Mary S.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano (2012)

icouldpeeonthisDelight in to this amusing short book of poems from a cat’s point of view. The poems in I Could Pee on This really capture a cat’s quirky personality and behavior. Cute photos enhance enjoyment of Francesco Marciuliano’s book.

One poem I particularly liked:

“Busy, Busy”

It’s 8 a.m. and time to rest
It’s 10 a.m. and time to relax
It’s noon and time for repose
It’s 3 p.m. and time for shut-eye
It’s 6 p.m. and time for siesta
It’s 9 p.m. and time to slumber
It’s midnight and time to snooze
It’s 4 a.m. and time to hang upside down from your bedroom ceiling, screaming
IPPL Staff

This is a Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2013)

storyofahappymarriageThis is a beautiful collection of essays by one my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. The essays range from a humorous recounting of driving a Winnebago through the Badlands to her sage advice for writers. Patchett's insights into her own life and the world around her are moving. This is a Story of a Happy Marriage is a truly enjoyable read.
Mary S.

Sergeant Stubby: How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation by Ann Bausum (2014)

stubbySergeant Stubby appeals to both military history buffs and dog lovers. This remarkable story follows James Robert Conroy and his brave canine companion, Stubby, from their early days to the battlefields of France during World War I, to their homecoming as heroes and then retirement. The soldiers’ lives during wartime are contrasted with the bond between soldier and dog. Photographs of Conroy and Stubby enhance the book.

In 1917, Conroy enlisted in the Connecticut National Guard and his unit became part of the 26th (Yankee Division) of the U.S. Army. Stubby was a stray that showed up at training on Yale University’s athletic fields and favored Conroy. He learned how to follow along with the soldiers as they paraded on the athletic fields and even learned how to salute. Stubby was smuggled and stowed away on the ship taking Conroy’s unit to France. Supposedly after officers became aware of Stubby’s presence, Stubby charmed them and became the official mascot of the unit.

James Robert Conroy returned to the States as a hero and Stubby became a celebrity.

Ann Bausum’s book was released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of World War I. If you are interested in reading further about World War I see All Time Faves: Our Favorite books about World War I.
Jez

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris (2014)

nphbioNeil Patrick Harris’s autobiography is not your regular autobiography—it’s a choose your own adventure book. Written in second person, the book mimics the format of the Choose Your Own Adventure series he grew up reading, where the reader is given choices and asked to turn to a specific page to follow that choice to its conclusion. These include pursuing a career as a teenaged doctor, learning magic, and meeting the man of your dreams—but be careful, some roads lead to death by quicksand!

In this unusual autobiography, Neil covers his childhood, how he first got started in theatre and television, and his time on Doogie Howser, and later, How I Met Your Mother. The chapters on his personal life “behind the scenes” and about his family are my favorite and you can really feel the love Neil feels for his husband and children. The print version gives you the full experience of the format, but the audiobook makes up for this by including recordings of speeches Neil has given, one as a thirteen year old, and one as an adult, receiving a Tony award. The format does make the audiobook tricky, but it was handled well, asking the reader not to turn to a page number, but to “keep listening” or “wait awhile.” Included in both are drink and food recipes, as well as instructions for magic tricks.

Choose Your Own Autobiography is a fun and fascinating detour from the usual memoir fare and it’s done in a way that only NPH could do.
IPPL Staff

Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (1994)

Bird by Birdbirdbybird is Anne Lamott's book on writing. She covers a wide variety on life and writing including chapters called "Sh**ty First Drafts," "Jealousy," and "Writer's Block." She begins with a simple example from 30 years ago of her then 10-year-old brother struggling with a report on birds that was due the next day. He didn't have any idea on how to even begin. Their father came to comfort him and said that he all he needed to do to complete the report was to take it "bird by bird." It is a simple and touching beginning that summarizes the entire book. This book is inspiring and hopeful to all writers and artists who are struggling to complete their writing goals. I recommend it to anyone who likes to create.
IPPL Staff

The French House by Don Wallace (2014)

frenchhouseThis is a charming narrative of a family claiming a piece of a beautiful French island for themselves. Don Wallace's description of the natural beauty of Belle-Ile makes you want travel to this remote island and climb the cliffs to the beach.

Despite the fact that Don and his wife Mindy are just barely scraping by in New York City, they decide to buy a ruined house in a small village on Belle-Ile. Repairing it enough to make it inhabitable takes 8 years and multiple trips to the island. There are ancient village rules for building a sane and moral house that take some serious negotiating. Wallace relays the bonds they form with the village neighbors, his struggle with the French language and their love of surfing with a humorous touch that make The French House an enjoyable read.