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Mimi

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13

Did you ever wonder what Paris was like in the 1920s? Here is your chance. Owen Wilson is visiting Paris with his fiancé and her family. He is a writer with writer’s block. One evening he decides to take a walk to clear his mind. When a limo pulls up and the passengers offer him a ride, he accepts. This is the start of his adventure and a chance to go back to the Paris of the 1920s.

Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali welcome him into their world. When Owen’s fiancé and her family become suspicious of his disappearing every night, they hire a detective. The results lead one to believe this may or may not be a dream.

Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen’s best. The acting is great and the literary characters are true to life.
IPPL Staff

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (2003)

This is a story about a woman recalling what her life was like in the 1950s. The story she tells is all about her family, romance, and what it was like to have a career, which most women at that time did not have.

Lucia, Lucia made me laugh and cry. It touched upon both the humorous and the challenges of life. I love all of Adriana Trigiani’s books, including the Big Stone Gap series.
Jez

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)

Eleanor has just moved back in with her mother after being kicked out of the house a year earlier by her stepfather. Park is a half-Korean teenage boy who doesn’t quite fit in with his peers. When Eleanor starts at the local high school, she sits next to Park on the bus, and after a rough start, the two begin to get to know each other through comic books and music. Set in the 1980s, this is a great love story, but it’s not the kind of meet-cute one might expect; instead, this is a story of realistic love in the midst of unfortunate circumstances.

 Rainbow Rowell does a great job of balancing the two characters and giving equal time to their perspectives, even switching between the two for chapters or as little as a single sentence at a time in order to show both sides of a given situation. The audiobook employs two narrators to help differentiate between these characters and really bring the characters to life, making them feel like close friends.

The author also does well to balance the love story with the more serious issues of bullying and abuse and difficult home situations. Eleanor & Park is a book for fans of Rowell’s other novel (also new in 2013) Fangirl, and especially readers who enjoy the co-written books by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, which share similar themes, characters, and multiple perspective formats.
Jez

Much Ado about Nothing (2013) PG-13

Much Ado About NothingThis new film is a fresh take on Shakespeare’s comedy of the same title. Much Ado about Nothing is directed by Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Whedon fans will recognize many familiar faces, as all of the actors have worked with Whedon in previous projects. In fact, it was made at Whedon’s house in the downtime during filming The Avengers!

The film uses the original Shakespeare text, but in a modern setting. It’s the actor’s interpretations and physical humor that will have the audience laughing, especially Benedick’s (Alexis Denisof) background antics. This is a beautiful, well-made film that is good for both romance and comedy.
Hugh

Spotlight: Seasons of Grace series by Beverly Lewis (2009-2010)

I enjoy listening to relaxing stories when I lay down at night and Beverly Lewis’ novels as audiobooks are just right for that purpose. These books might be called an Amish soap opera, but one where every character cares about others in the family and community. Of course there are some very troubling secrets from the past that cause a mother to first wander about the fields at night and then leave home without telling her husband or children. The oldest daughter, Grace sees her leave with the community taxi driver. Suspicion and gossip pervade the community and Grace with her new friend Heather search for Grace’s mother in out of state communities where cousins reside. Heather is an interesting character too as she, an outsider to the Amish community, has been diagnosed with cancer and elects to ignore her doctor’s advice and seek traditional cures.

Start with The Secret before moving on to The Missing and The Telling. And for more novels about the Amish, check out our bibliography titled The Plain People.
 
 
Jennifer

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013)

I loved Graeme Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project. The characters are loveable, the writing witty, and the plot quirky. When genetics professor Don Tillman decides that it’s time to get married, he devises a complex questionnaire dubbed “The Wife Project” to find the right woman. Instead, he meets Rosie Jarman, who fits none of his requirements.

While there is a romance at the center of this story, it’s more about characters growing and changing, and about human interaction. Don’s behavior presents a classic case of Asperger’s, but he is oblivious to any social challenges. You’ll fall in love with Don and Rosie, and frantically turn the pages to follow along on their journey.
Jez

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013)

In Rainbow Rowell’s newest book, we meet Cath, a freshman in college whose greatest pleasure in life is writing fanfiction about Simon Snow—an 8-book popular fantasy series (think Harry Potter). While Cath is famous online for her fanfiction, in real life she’s the shy half of twins, who prefers staying in most nights, and now has to adjust to college life, making friends, and writing her own fiction, not to mention starting her first real relationship. Fangirl is a fun read, full of witty dialogue, wonderful characters, and a sweet, innocent romance. When you’ve reached the end, you’ll wish there was more to read.
Jennifer

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (2013)

An enthralling novel that travels from WWI France to present day London, The Girl You Left Behind will captivate you. In 1916, Sophie is living in a French town controlled by German soldiers; her most prized position is a portrait painted by her husband. In 2006, widow Liv must fight to keep her beloved honeymoon gift after the painting becomes the center of a restitution battle.

The latest from Jojo Moyes (after Me Before You) is a quick read that I couldn’t put down. If you enjoyed Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay or The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro, I think you’ll love this book
IPPL Staff

Rust and Bone = De rouille et d'os (2012) R

This is a moving French film about the power of love and loss. Rust and Bone stars Marion Cotillard as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer and Matthias Schoenaerts as Alain, a single father struggling to keep it together. Stephanie and Alain meet one night and later form an unlikely bond after Stephanie suffers from a life altering accident. A beautiful and emotional film that is a must watch.

http://youtu.be/vyAJDL3mTxI
Joe

Dave (1993) PG-13

When the president of the United States has a stroke while engaging in extramarital activities, his aides avoid a scandal by finding a good-natured look-alike named Dave (Kevin Kline) to take his place. Not beholden to any special interests, Dave starts doing things that are good for the country rather than doing what is politically savvy. His approval rating goes way up, and the country loves him.

Things start to go sour, though, when the president’s aides realize he will not do their evil bidding, and the first lady (Sigourney Weaver) starts to realize that Dave is not the man she married. Dave is one of those feel good movies that makes you smile for a long time after it’s over.

http://youtu.be/PTTe-rxTyh0
IPPL Staff

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (2012)

As the development of the characters evolved, I was drawn into the story of Enza and Ciro.  Although The Shoemaker’s Wife was relatively easy to read, the novel was packed with a variety of situations and events. The story flowed and kept me involved as a reader.

We (along with nine other libraries) created a lot of discussions and programming around Adriana Trigiani’s novel capturing the immigrant experience of the early 1900s as part of The Big Read 2013. Visit thebigread.org for more information.

Tell us: What was your favorite Big Read event or favorite part of the novel?
IPPL Staff

The Five-Year Engagement (2012) R

The romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement, starring Emily Blunt as Violet and Jason Segel as Tom, has some gross out moments, but it’s also a touching love story. Tom gives up a promising career as a chef to follow Violet across the country so that she can begin her career in academia. Tom has a hard time adjusting to his new life -- he stops shaving and takes to wearing an old bunny suit around the house while Violet becomes a rising star in her field. Do Tom and Violet ever get married? Check out The Five-Year Engagement to find out.

http://youtu.be/iNhAslpICxE
Joe

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those great movies that combines adventure with excellent dialogue. Cyrano is a soldier in the French army in 1640 and is both feared and respected for his skill as a swordsman. Despite his military prowess and clever tongue, he is unable to win over his true love because of his misgivings about his extraordinarily long nose. Instead, he helps a young, handsome cadet woo the love of his life in his place.

The movie is at times funny, exciting, suspenseful, and ultimately tragic. It features the brilliant acting of Jose Ferrer, with his deep booming voice, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role. The movie Roxanne (1987) with Steve Martin is a modern day remake of this classic.

Watch the original trailer (courtesy of TCM).
Jennifer

A Vintage Affair by Isobel Wolff (2010)

I’m so glad I finally read A Vintage Affair – Mary P. recommended it to me years ago! The delightful story follows thirty-something Londoner Phoebe Swift. After a personal tragedy, Phoebe leaves her safe job at Sotheby’s auction house to open a vintage clothing shop (the descriptions of the clothing are amazing!). An unexpected friendship with the elderly Mrs. Bell introduces a story of wartime France. For

It reminded me a bit of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay. And it brought to mind a slightly serious chick lit tale. However you want to classify it, this charming tale was a pleasing way to spend a few hours. Check out our list of other British Chick Lit titles. And for more books with an element of fashion, read this Library Journal article.
 
Joan

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (2010)

A unique love story set in a picturesque English village, Simonson has a talent for bringing it all together. The characters, the setting, societal values, religion, aging, parenting interweave into a engaging story.

Major Pettigrew might at first appear to be a stiff old English gent stuck in his ways. He is so much more and he gets to prove it with his love, courage, and wisdom. Mrs. Ali gives him a second lease on life. His relationship with his grown son develops through the course of events set in motion with the death of his brother. To say this is a late in life love story is selling it short. It is a great piece of fiction that happens to contain a beautiful romance between two mature adults.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a phenomenal first effort for the author. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Simonson's unique voice.