Staff Picks June 2019

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

DVD: Copenhagen

Interesting story about family history, growing love, and bicycle rides. Featuring copenhagenbeautiful Copenhagen and Danish culture.

CD: Beethoven: Complete Sonata for Piano and Violin by Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov beethoven.jpg

Four discs set includes a short behind-the-scenes DVD. Both Faust and Melnikov are playing the period instruments, Faust a Stradivarius, Melnikov on Steinway, and they created their performance from the original Beethoven manuscripts. Outstanding, and essential listening

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Pacific Rim

What could easily have been a run-of-the-mill “Monsters vs. Robots” movie is instead, in 246008id1f_PacRim_Main_Final_Rated_27x40_1Sheet.indddirector Guillermo del Toro’s hands, a blockbuster that has as much heart as it has action and fun. Dynamic characters, colorful filmmaking, and an emphasis on the importance of human connection make Pacific Rim a cut above the rest. father of the bride

CD: Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend

The perfect album for summer– it has a great blend of high-energy bops and slow, chill jams, all with Vampire Weekend’s eccentric, beachy sound. Great for road trips along the coast, or a ‘staycation’ on your day off!

Jessie’s Picks

DVD: Leverage

“Leverage follows a team of expert thieves that take down corrupt corporations in elaborate high-tech schemes. Insurance investigator Nate Ford exposed scams and leverage.jpgrecovered stolen items worth millions. But his life hit the skids when his insurance company allowed his ailing 8-year-old son to die. Years later, Nate gets even as the leader of a specialized team of thieves, computer experts and con artists that right corporate and governmental injustices against honest citizens. To expose corruption, Nate will do circewrong for all the right reasons– he will provide leverage.”

Audiobook: Circe by Madeline Miller

“Follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.”

Kim’s Picks

DVD: The Last Valley

It is surprising that this 1971 epic has been all but forgotten and until recently the last valleyunavailable or exceedingly costly.  The film features top stars Michael Caine and Omar Sharif, a compelling music score by John Barry (creator of the James Bond sound), and beautiful Tirolean locales.  It also touches on a period in history that rarely has been mined:  the Thirty Years War that decimated most of Central Europe in the 17th Century.  The story:  as winter approaches, a band of mercenaries led by “The Captain” (Caine) discovers a hidden and idyllic valley and secure an agreement with the chief burgher and priest to desist from plunder and rapine and live harmoniously until the following spring when the interlopers will return to the bloody fray.  If only it were so simple.

Audiobook: Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

This exploration of the universe and our place in it is the last book of the world-renowned and admired British scientist who intrigued the public by surviving and brief answers.jpgflourishing while combating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease.   His A Brief History of Time in 1988 became an international best-seller.  In this book, Hawking provides his considered answers to the largest questions:  does god exist, is artificial intelligence a danger to future humanity, can the existential threats of nuclear war and climate change be thwarted, is time travel possible, what exactly are black holes?  In an epilogue, Hawking’s daughter describes the outpouring of affection attending the funeral cortege moving through Cambridge after her father died in 2018.  Only 500 mourners were invited to the service but huge crowds lined the roadway.  This is a book about science and an exemplary human being.

Mary’s Picks

DVD: Spy

I laughed so hard watching this. One of Melissa McCarthy’s funniest, and also a pretty spy mccarthygood action movie! midnight in paris st

CD: Midnight in Paris: Music from the Motion Picture

This was a great movie with just as great music. It takes you right to romantic, 1920’s Paris. The very best of Jazz.


Stephanie’s Picks

Audiobook: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

i see youIn this pshycological thriller, danger lurks around every corner. You won’t want to stop listening.

DVD: Young Adult young adult

Raw and honest, funny yet uncomfortable to watch at times, Young Adult is the story of a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart.

All quoted summaries by


Staff Picks May 2019

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

CD: Jazz Memories

jazz memories.jpgClassic jazz lovers will enjoy this collection! So many great performances, along with pictures – master recordings! frenzy

DVD: Frenzy

“In modern-day London, a sex criminal known as the Necktie Murderer has the police on alert ; and in typical Hitchcock fashion, their trail is leading to an innocent man who must now elude the law and prove his innocence by finding the real murderer.”

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Howl’s Moving Castle

howl's moving castle.jpgOne of Studio Ghibli’s most visually stunning films– easily up there with Spirited Away. Come for the absolutely gorgeous animation and stay for the whimsical (but ultimately empowering) story, and for the charming cast of characters led by the mysterious wizard Howl and the plucky Sophie Hatter. elton john 1970

CD: Greatest Hits, 1970-2002 by Elton John

This great little two-disc set has all of Elton John’s hits– his most popular work from the 1970’s and 80’s as well as some more recent and perhaps less well-known gems. A wonderful album for longtime fans and a good jumping-off point for newcomers who want to explore John’s legendary body of work.

Jessie’s Picks

Audiobook: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

as you wishhA must listen for fans of the cult-classic Princess Bride!  Cary’s fellow actors and the director, Rob Reiner, share their stories about making this movie in their own voices, which means this book is better to listen to than read. funeral arcade fire

CD: Funeral by Arcade Fire

The band’s debut album—named for the many family members they lost during its recording—was praised highly on release for its passion, edge, and artfulness, and is now widely considered one of the best rock albums of the decade.

Kim’s Picks

DVD: Interlude

London, 1968:  renowned conductor Stefan Zelter (Oskar Werner) grants an interview to interlude 1968.jpegnovice newspaper journalist Sally (Barbara Ferris).  Despite the age difference and diverse backgrounds, the two establish a rapport and are soon involved in an ardent affair.  Because Stefan is married with children, Sally feels certain that this can’t end well.  Capturing “swingin’ London” without overdoing it, this superbly acted and photographed romance packs an emotional punch.

Audiobook: Rocket Men by Robert Kurson rocket men cover

For Shadow Divers, the saga of New Jersey divers who discovered and took their lives into their hands to explore the wreck of a World War II U-boat, Kurson deservedly won the American Booksellers Association nonfiction Book Sense Book of the Year for 2005.  In Rocket Men he goes in-depth on the Apollo space program, an equally hazardous undertaking to put Americans on the moon before the Soviets.  Focus is on Apollo 8, in which a hardly tested Saturn 5 rocket launched astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders into space just before Christmas, 1968.  Their goal:  attain the moon’s orbit, swing around for about 20 hours, and return—intact.

Mary’s Picks

DVD: Maleficent

maleficent.jpg“A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces a battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon the alchemisthis newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom, and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.”

Audiobook: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book. With over two million copies sold in English and twenty-one million copies worldwide, The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic that will enchant and inspire readers for generations to come.”

Stephanie’s Picks

DVD: The Normal Heart

the normal heart.jpegBased on a play that tells the story of the onset of HIV-AIDS in the whistleblowerNYC in the 1980s. Well-acted, beautifully told, and deeply moving.

DVD: The Whistleblower

Ripped-from-the-headlines thriller inspired by actual events. Corruption, cover-up and intrigue in post-war Bosnia.

Staff Picks April 2019

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

Movie: Maria by Callas

maria by callasThis is not a detailed biography, but rather the story told by Maria herself.  Feel the emotions, happy and sad, through her unique voice and listen to the excerpts of her brilliant performances. callas norma

CD: Norma by Vincenzo Bellini

Original sound recording from 1961. Enjoy magical voices of Maria Callas and Franco Corelli.

Emily’s Picks

Audiobook: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

lincoln in the bardoHonestly one of the best books I have ever read. A contemplation on life, death, and grief, written in exquisite and compelling prose. Set in a Washington DC cemetary in the early days of the Civil War, the book follows President Lincoln, his deceased son Willie, and a colorful host of graveyard residents who must all navigate the complexities of life and the afterlife.

CD: A Night at the Opera by Queen opera night by queem

This 1975 album by the beloved British rock band was groundbreaking in its day, and it’s easy to see why. The experimental nature of the work and the sheer variety of musical styles sets it apart. From the melancholy folk ballad “39” to the charming music hall-style tunes “Seaside Rendezvous” and “Good Company” to the operatic rock sensibilities of the now-timeless “Bohemian Rhapsody,” no two songs on this album are alike, and there’s not a bad track among them.

Jessie’s Picks

TV Series: Longmire

longmire.jpgBased on Craig Johnson’s mystery series, this modern western focuses on Sherriff Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming.  The setting, character development, and story arcs set it apart from typical big city cop shows. seraphina

Audiobook: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I flew through this inventive, captivating fantasy.  Seraphina is a talented court musician with a terrible secret – she is half human, half dragon.

Kim’s Picks

Movie: Nothing is Truer Than Truth

Esteemed actors Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius; The King’s Speech) and Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall; Bridge of Spies) plus other Elizabethan era authorities focus on the young Edward nothing is truer than truthDe Vere’s travels in Italy to explain how this 17th Earl of Oxford was inspired to write the plays and Sonnets attributed to the man from Stratford (William Shaksper)—who never left England and would in any case be forbidden from writing love sonnets to a nobleman, the 3rd Earl of Southampton.  Sensible investigation into one aspect of the “authorship question.”

Audiobook: The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson

In this second installment of his World War II “Liberation Trilogy,” Atkinson analyzes the invasion of Sicily and the slog up the Italian peninsula, contested every inch of the way by dogged Germans under Albert Kesselring.  He draws on first-hand accounts, documents and letters from the highest echelons (Generals George C. day of battleMarshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Bernard Montgomery, George Patton, Mark Clark) to the lowest enlisted man and draftee, plus such war correspondents as Ernie Pyle and cartoonist Bill Mauldin to provide a balanced look at the successes and failures that plagued the brutal campaign in 1943 and 1944.  In June of ’44 the invasion of Normandy made Italy a backwater, but there was some consolation in that the experience gained in Italy helped the Allies in northwestern Europe and that Americans, British, Canadians, New Zealanders, Sikhs, French, Gurkhas and others in the Allied camp had drawn German divisions away from other fronts.

Mary’s Picks

Movie: Idiocracy

idiocracy“Joe Bowers is an average Joe. He is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He becomes part of a government experiment to go into hibernation. The experiment goes awry and Bowers awakens in the year 2505 to find a society so dumbed-down by mass commercialism and mindless TV programming that he’s become we sing we dance we steal thingsthe smartest guy on the planet. Now it’s up to this average Joe to get human evolution back on the right track.”

CD: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. by Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz’s third studio album, best known for featuring the hit “I’m Yours,” is fun, funky and light. Beachy guitars, R&B horns, and mellow, jazzy vocals combine to create a sweet and relaxing sound. A perfect listen for Spring!

Stephanie’s Picks

game of thrones s7TV Series: Game of Thrones

“The long winter is here. The penultimate Season 7 of this blockbuster hit series focuses on a convergence of armies and attitudes that have been brewing for years.”

Audiobook: Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz

“Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam “ADROCK” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” beastie boys bookDiamond offer revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the debut album that became the first hip hop record ever to hit #1, Licensed to Ill–and the album’s messy fallout as the band broke with Def Jam; their move to Los Angeles and rebirth with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul’s Boutique; their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of the classic albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty and the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits conceived by the late Adam “MCA” Yauch; and more. For more than thirty years, this band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture. With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys’ New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises.”

All quoted summaries by

Staff Picks March 2019

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

DVD: Detective Montalbano

detective montalbanoItalian television series produced and broadcast by RAI since 1999, based on the detective novels of Andrea Camilleri. Filmed in the ancient Sicilian city of Ragusa Ibla, this series is also reflecting the current political and cultural environment. Entertaining and humorous at times.

CD: Oboe Concertos

This box brings together some of the finest music for oboe andoboe concertos orchestra from the Baroque period to the late Classical and includes performances from soloists and performers from around Europe. Whether dipping into Albinoni’s lively works or indulging in the sweet bel canto of Bellini’s masterful concerto, there is a wealth of music here to be enjoyed and treasured.

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

heckmanThe rare sequel that is better than the original. Follow Hellboy (Ron Perlman) as he fights to stop an ancient, vengeful prince from unleashing an indestructible army on the human race. Incredible worldbuilding, cinematography, and practical effects; super cool creature designs; lots of humor and heart. kid gorgeous ii An underrated Del Toro film for sure!

CD: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City by John Mulaney

Mulaney’s most recent– and arguably his best– show. The former SNL writer is at the height of his comedic powers here, and his delivery and timing can seemingly make anything funny: his dog Petunia, the Catholic Church, and even a ‘horse in a hospital’.

Jessie’s Picks

death in paradise.jpgDVD: Death in Paradise

This is an entertaining detective series set on the fictional Caribbean island Saint-Marie.  This show has great characters, agolden tresses of the dead great location, and puzzling mysteries.

Audiobook: The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

Jayne Entwistle wonderfully brings precocious 12 year old Flavia de Luce to life.  In this book Flavia and Dogger get their first case as private investigators and find a finger in a wedding cake.  For fans of lighthearted mysteries.

Kim’s Picks

20th centuryDVD: Twentieth Century

In this 1934 screwball comedy, legendary stage and screen actor John Barrymore hams it up in a good way in part due to a script by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and director Howard Hawks.  As the Broadway impresario Oscar Jaffe, Barrymore elects to turn the young and innocent Mildred Poltka (Carole Lombard, soon to be a screwball staple) into theatrical diva Lily Garland.  With the able support of Roscoe library bookKarns and Walter Connolly.

Audiobook: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Inspired by the excursions she and her mother made when Susan was a child, Orlean (Rin Tin Tin) reads this paean to libraries.  She begins with the fire that devastated the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 and ranges far and wide, attempting to determine who if anyone set the blaze, recounting the history of the library and libraries in general, and examining their changing image.  She concludes that as prime gathering venues for the community at large, libraries are as vibrant today as at any time in the past.

Mary’s Picks

DVD: Are You Being Served?

are you being servedA popular British sitcom from the 70s, which follows the eccentric employees of a department store. Seen as somewhat scandalous in its day for the use of suggestive visual gags and innuendo-laced dialogue, it nevertheless had a strong fan following in both Britain and the U.S. Cheeky, witty, and fun!

Audiobook: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm outliersGladwell

“The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.”

Stephanie’s Picks

Audiobook: Milkman by Anna Burns

milkman“In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the Milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be. Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him—and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend—rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked if i can dream.jpghumor, Milkman establishes Anna Burns as one of the most consequential voices of our day.”

CD: If I Can Dream by Elvis Presley and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

“Classic Elvis performances with brand new orchestral accompaniment.”


All quoted summaries by

Staff Picks February 2019

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

Movie: Searching

searchingHow do you learn about and use social media to get to know your daughter’s life and to trace her last steps before she went missing? Excellent!

Audiobook: Therese Raquin by Emile Zolatherese raquin

French classic, very well depicted characters, as in all Zola’s books. About love, duty, greed, death. A must read. You may want to watch the movie “In Secret”, made in 2013, starring Jessica Lang.

Emily’s Picks

Movie: The Princess Bride

Full of humor and heart, infectiously charming and probably the most quotable movie of princess brideall time. A little boy in bed with a cold is visited by his grandfather, who reads him a bedtime story that has everything– swordfights, giants, poison, rodents of unusual size,and above all, true love.

CD: Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo

Although usually a favorite on people’s Halloween playlists, this is dead mans partytruly a great album for all year round. Not only does it include some of frontman Danny Elfman and co.’s more notable hits (“Weird Science” and the titular “Dead Man’s Party”) but also some lesser-known but equally fun and danceable tunes– my personal favorite is “No One Lives Forever.”

Jessie’s Picks

Movie: Legally Blonde

legally blonde“When a blonde sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend, she decides to follow him to law school to get him back and, once there, learns she has more legal savvy than she ever imagined.”FionaAppleTidal

CD: Tidal by Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple’s debut album is a must-listen for fans of Tori Amos and Regina Spektor. This album includes her hit song “Criminal.”

Kim’s Picks

Movie: You Can’t Take it With You

A multi-millionaire corporate bigwig finds his plans to crush a rival by buying up blocks of NYC residential housing foiled by a family of eccentrics.  This 1938 Academy Award-you cant take itwinning film is still a joy, a screwball comedy to which director Frank Capra adds a social conscience.  Lionel Barrymore perfectly fits the role of harmonica-playing wise man, Edward Arnold is his typical blustering self, James Stewart speaks truth to power in the person of his father, and top-billed Jean Arthur continues her sterling career as an ingratiating, independent working woman.  She and Stewart would be paired the following year in Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Audiobook: How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomerygood creature

The author of The Soul of an Octopus reads her latest book describing the insights she’s discovered via pets (a Scottie, more than one Border Collies, a pig) and animals she’s studied in the wild (Australian emus, a Goliath tarantula, octopuses, tree kangaroos)

Mary’s Picks

Movie: The Help

“Mississippi during the 1960s: Skeeter, a southern society girl, returns from college the helpdetermined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives, and a small Mississippi town, upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter’s best friend’s housekeeper, is the first to open up, to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community.” dreamcatcher

CD: Dreamcatcher by Secret Garden

A collection of the Eurovision-winning band’s greatest hits.

Stephanie’s Picks

Movie: The Hate U Give

“Starr Carter navigates the perilous waters between her poor, black neighborhood and hate u giveher prestigious, mainly white private school. This all changes when she finds herself in the middle of racial activism after her best friend is shot by police officers, and she’s forced to make a decision. Allow the media to skewer her friend to protect the status quo, or stand up and tell the truth in memory of Khalil?”

CD: After the Disco by Broken BellsAfter_The_Disco_Cover

An alternative rock album from a few years ago, Broken Bells recorded After the Disco with a four-piece choir and a seventeen-piece orchestra. Dreamy vocals and catchy melodies.

All quoted summaries by .


Staff Picks January 2019

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

Movie: Frozen

frozen coverSing along with the Snow Queen Elsa and her sister Anna on their journey to break the icy spill and save the kingdom. Magical and fun movie.

CD: The Original Decca Recordings, 1944-1950 by Billie Holiday billie holiday decca

Enjoy this wonderful two-disc collection of Holiday’s Decca recordings.


Emily’s Picks

Audiobook: The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

A tender and loving study of one of nature’s most mysterious creatures, the octopus. soul of an octopusMontgomery considers every facet of the animal (appearance, life cycle, intelligence, even the potential for consciousness) with a beautiful voice and with the utmost care and empathy. A wonderful read!

CD: FROOT by Marina and the Diamonds  froot

A great pop album from a lesser-known band! Lead singer Marina has some amazing vocals, especially in the title track and in “Blue.” An album as fun and colorful as its title and cover suggest.

Jessie’s Picks

Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

potc curse of the black pearl“The roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow’s idyllic pirate life capsizes after his nemesis, the wily Captain Barbossa, steals his ship, the Black Pearl, and later attacks the town of Port Royal. Captain Barbossa kidnaps the governor’s beautiful daughter, Elizabeth. In a gallant attempt to rescue her and recapture the Black Pearl, Elizabeth’s childhood friend Will Turner joins forces with Jack. What Will doesn’t know is that a cursed treasure has doomed Barbossa and his crew to live forever as the undead.”

Audiobook: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

“Chief Inspector Gamache is called to a tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art trick of the lightworld gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light. Where nothing is as it seems. Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart. And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they’ve found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.”


Kim’s Picks

Audiobook: The White Darkness by David Grann

David Grann treks from the Amazonian jungle of his Lost City of Z to the savage desert that is Antarctica with this gripping saga of another explorer challenging the elements and himself.  In concert with two other modern day relations of early 20th century polar white darknessexplorers, Henry Worsley, a decorated British soldier and relative of Frank Worsley, one of the intrepid Ernest Shackleton’s team, set off to duplicate or exceed their relatives’ early 20th century explorations and in so doing honor their achievements.  That team succeeded, but when Worsley set out alone at age 55 to traverse Antarctica from coast to coast—which no one had ever accomplished—victory was not in the cards.  Actor Will Patton does a marvelous job reading Grann’s account of an alternately heart-breaking and inspiring adventure into the white darkness.

Movie: The Secret of My Successsecret of my success

Its antecedent is naturally How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying minus songs but is nevertheless an amusing, sometimes hilarious send-up of, in this instance, a Midwestern kid rising to the top of the New York elite via accident and moxie.  You can’t go wrong with a mistaken identity scenario, and you must smile or laugh out loud whenever remembering the elevator sequence.


Mary’s Picks

night at the operaMovie: A Night at the Opera (The Marx Brothers Collection)

“A New York scandal, a riot on a ship, and an evening of insanity in a concert hall are some of the problems resulting from Groucho’s outrageous business schemes. The goal, to bring Milan’s finest opera stars to Manhattan.”

Audiobook: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

“An enchanting fairy tale by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, full of unexpected stardustadventures, true love, whimsy, wonder, and plenty of magic. Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester–even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie…and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man’s life.”


Stephanie’s Picks

cb strikeTV Series: CB Strike

“Cormoran Strike is a war veteran turned private detective operating out of a tiny office in London’s Denmark Street. Though he’s wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike’s unique insight and his background as an SIB Investigator prove crucial in solving complex cases that elude the police.”

Audiobook: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

“A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened. Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and flight attendantthe accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police – she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home – Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?”

All quoted summaries by .


August Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks
tunnel.jpgTV Series: The Tunnel
Remake of Danish-Swedish TV series The Bridge, but this time, a British and a French detectives must work together to resolves crimes. It casts old European enmities in a new light.mefistofele

CD: Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito
Not very known opera of Arrigo Boito, Verdi’s greatest librettist. Based on the tragedy Faust by Goethe. Excellent performance recorded in 1995, at Teatro alla Scala.

Jamie’s Picks
Thor-Ragnarok-Poster(2)Movie: Thor: Ragnarok
The best of the Thor movies; Taika Waititi brings his signature style (also directed What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople) to the superhero movie to great effect. This movie is hilarious and so much fun. I told my husband in the middle of it that I never wanted it to be over!room on fire

CD: Room on Fire by The Strokes
A classic album for early 2000’s pop rock. Punchy and catchy on the surface with somewhat melancholy lyrics. This album cemented The Strokes as a giant in indie rock.

Jessie’s Picks
black pantherMovie: Black Panther
This movie takes place after “Captain America: Civil War” and follows the new Black Panther as he becomes King of Wakanda. The great cast brings to life the complex characters of the wondrous kingdom of girl waits with gunWakanda.

Audiobook: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
Based on the true story of one of the first female deputies, this mystery series debut has humor, intriguing characters, and suspense. A good read for fans of historical mysteries!

Kim’s Picks
the killersMovie: The Killers
Talk about a debut. One-time trapeze artiste Burt Lancaster gets the lead role in this classic 1946 film noir featuring screen siren Ava Gardner and a host of great supporting and character actors. The action takes place in New York, Philly and Pittsburgh, where Edmond O’Brien’s insurance investigator orders a steak sandwich that looks more like creamed chipped beef on toast and proceeds to eat it with a knife and fork.

Audiobook: The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the the earth is weeping.jpgAmerican West by Peter Cozzens
This is a full-scale treatment of a long and violent episode in U.S. history. The major players are here: Sherman, Sheridan, Miles, Grant, Red Cloud, Captain Jack, Cochise, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse. The battles and massacres are here: Sand Creek, Little Big Horn, Wounded Knee. The tribes are here:  Modoc, Comanche, Apache, Shoshone, Nez Perce, Crow, Lakota. Cozzens investigates the effects of the press, racism, and the misunderstandings that ensued when a stone age and diverse culture confronted a more homogeneous and increasingly technological society convinced of its Manifest Destiny. One of many takeaways: cessation of the Northern Pacific Railroad’s construction was not caused by Indian attacks, rather the stock market Panic of 1873.

Mary’s Picks
the money pitMovie: The Money Pit
Great comedy from the 80’s. Classic Tom Hanks when he was just life of pibecoming famous.

Audiobook: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
When reading you first think this is just about a boy’s adventure stranded in the ocean, but by the end realize the story is much more complex with a lot of symbolism.

Stephanie’s Picks
white oleander.jpgMovie: White Oleander
An emotional drama centered around crime, foster homes, and the love between a mother and daughter.a colony in a nation

Audiobook: A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes
Deft and thoughtful exposé on race and the “Two Americas” that we inhabit.

All quoted summaries from

July Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks
history of ancient egyptGreat Courses Audio: The History of Ancient Egypt
You will definitely want to know more about the Ancient Egypt after listening to this Bob Brier’s enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgable story. Go back in time and learn about the pharaos, mummies, everyday life and influence of this amazing culture.220px-Justin_Timberlake_-_The_2020_Experience

CD: The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake
This 2013 comeback album combines Justin Timberlake’s trademark shape-shifting digital funk with a warmer, more organic sound. Some big hits like “That Girl,” “Mirrors” and “Tunnel Vision.”

Jamie’s Picks
bourdainNonfiction DVD: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain’s wonderful original travel show that uses food as a gateway to understanding a place, people, and culture. Bourdain shows that while fancy restaurants are well and good and there are chefs out there doing amazing work, it can be just as valuable and important to be invited into someone’s grandmother’s home for a great meal.siracusa

Audiobook: Siracusa by Delia Ephron
A story about domestic strife told via multiple perspectives with a somewhat unexpected ending that makes you wonder what you would do in that situation. A great beach read!

Jessie’s Picks
jumanji welcome to the jungleMovie: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Hilarious adventure movie about four teens that get sucked into a video game and become their avatars. They then embark on a thrilling, and very amusing, quest to save Jumanji and get back home.circe

Audiobook: Circe by Madeline Miller
Miller wonderfully brings to life and retells the story of Circe, a daughter of a Greek god that plays an important role in Homer’s The Odyssey.

Kim’s Picks
it terror from beyond spaceMovie: It! The Terror from Beyond Space
Inspired by The Thing from Another World (1951) and inspiring Alien (1979), It! recounts an expedition to Mars (in 1973) to rescue the lone survivor of a previous mission who is suspected of murdering the rest of the crew so he could subsist on limited supplies until a rescue craft arrived.  To their eventual horror, an airlock is not closed before an unwanted passenger climbs aboard.  Soon it’s a fight for survival as the intruder thwarts humankind’s puny weapons as well as rays from the atomic pile powering the ship.  Rightly ranked by some as the best science fiction B movie of the 50s, It! might seem primitive to modern audiences but that doesn’t make it any less frightening.

Audiobook: Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari sapiens
Unusual, superbly written history divided into four parts based on the continuum of physics to chemistry to biology:  The Cognitive Revolution, The Agricultural Revolution, The Unification of Humankind, The Scientific Revolution.  Harari astounds us with his insight, e.g., agricultural societies are more disease prone and work harder than hunter-gatherers, we live in a world of fictions, scientists who developed the atomic bomb should have received the Nobel Peace Prize for making future global wars nothing less than collective suicide, death by aging might become a thing of the past by 2050, neither invention nor a dogmatic belief in the inevitability of progress is true, humans might be advised to value the happiness of animals as much as themselves.

Mary’s Picks
War-horse-posterMovie: War Horse
An emotional and epic film for horse lovers with a great cast. Showing the trauma of WWI through the journey of a horse and the people he impacts.forever vienna

CD: Forever Vienna by André Rieu
Andre Rieu’s concerts are guaranteed to put you in a great mood. He is fantastic at really showcasing how wonderful classical music is.

Stephanie’s Picks
insecureTV Series: Insecure
Comedy series about two twentysomething best friends trying to navigate the navigate the tricky professional and personal terrain of L.A., while reconsidering their life choices.i see you

Audiobook: I See You by Clare Mackintosh
In this psychological thriller, danger lurks around every corner. You won’t want to stop listening.

All quoted summaries from

June Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks
art of the stealDocumentary: The Art of the Steal
This excellent documentary follows the struggle for controlling the art collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes and the Philadelphia Barnes Foundation. It is about how you can steal art worth billions and violate Dr. Barnes last wishes.villa lobos

CD: Villa-Lobos Par Lui-Même by Villa-Lobos
This disc is for the Villa-Lobos lovers and has a lot of historical value. It is Villa-Lobos’s vision of his work and almost all pieces are conducted by himself. Recorded between 1954 and 1958, and performed by the Orchestre National de la Radio Diffusion Française.

Jamie’s Picks
Lady_Bird_posterMovie: Lady Bird
Funny and affecting coming-of-age story of a Sacramento teenager and her complicated relationship with her mother. Excellent acting by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.
Audiobook: When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
A powerful memoir that poignantly depicts what it was like to grow up black around LA at the height of the war on drugs and the generational effects of imprisonment and surveillance on a community.

Jessie’s Picks
cocoMovie: Coco
Heart-warming Pixar film about a young Mexican boy that loves music, but his family does not. He travels to the Land of the Dead, meets his musical idol, and discovers his family’s history.still life

Audiobook: Still Life by Louise Penny
The first book in the numerous awards-winning Three Pines mystery series. The characters and the setting, which makes you want to travel to small Quebecois towns, sets this series apart from other mysteries. In this book Chief Inspector Gamache travels to Three Pines to solve the murder of a retired school teacher/ amateur artist.

Kim’s Picks
panic in year zeroMovie: Panic in Year Zero!
Only months before the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, moviegoers were presented with this apocalyptic film about a middle-class California family on vacation trying to survive a nuclear attack and remain civilized.  Academy Award-winning actor Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend, 1945) directed this very compelling low-budget thriller.

Audiobook: The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston the lost city of the monkey god
Preston, a prolific author of crime (the Pendergast series), true crime (The Monster of Florence), and modern-day adventure (Talking to the Ground:  One Family’s Journey on Horseback Across the Sacred Land of the Navajo) here details another authentic contemporary saga:  the expeditions into the pristine Honduran department known as  Mosquitia in search of La Ciudad Blanca, the fabled “white city,” aka City of the Monkey God.  Writing for National Geographic, Preston accompanied the camera crew, archaeologists, sponsors, and two British ex-special forces men into a savage habitat replete with poisonous snakes, sucking mud, and disease-carrying insects.  The journey was only possible after the forest canopy was penetrated with lidar (Light Detection and Ranging).  The explorers paid a high price for their discoveries as many came down with the horrific and often fatal parasitic disease known as Leishmaniasis.  Despite the discovery of a lost civilization, serious issues must be addressed:  who created the white city and its satellite population centers centuries ago, what catastrophes caused the citizens to leave, and how can we combat the spread of tropical diseases and potential pandemics when deadly microbes take advantage of global warming to move north?

Mary’s Picks
divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhoodMovie: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
A true chick flick, with a great female cast. After years of mother-daughter tension, Sidda’s mother’s friends kidnap her to try to bring them closer together.the secret

Audiobook: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Great introduction to the law of attraction, the power of positive thinking and how it effects your entire life. Listeneing to this audiobook just puts you in a good mood.

Stephanie’s Picks

young adult.jpgMovie: Young Adult
Raw and honest, funny yet uncomfortable to watch at times, Young Adult is the story of a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart.

Audiobook: Defending Jacob by William LandayCover image
“Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next. His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.”

All quoted summaries from

May Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Jamie’s Picks
the-crownTV Series: The Crown
Beautifully filmed with fantastic costumes, this series chronicles the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The chemistry and tension between Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip is palpable, and as an American I found it interesting to learn more about palace dynamics– such as how much control the “courtiers” have on the royals.
CD: E·mo·tion by Carly Rae Jepsen
Super catchy and poppy; a distillation of being a boy crazy young girl without being too juvenile or sugary, meaning anyone can give this a listen and enjoy it.

Jessie’s Picks
ant-manMovie: Ant-Man
“Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.”between shades of gray

Audiobook: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
“In 1941, Lina and her family are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers.”

Kim’s Picks
running targetMovie: Running Target!
Future Academy Award-winning cinematographer Conrad Hall shows his early skill with this beautifully photographed color adventure set in the Colorado Rockies.  Future Academy Award-winning composer Ernest Gold provides the significant score.  The story:  a sheriff (Arthur Franz) reluctantly leads a modern day (circa 1956) posse into the wilderness to recapture four escaped convicts.  Richard Reeves’ obsession with his weapon (his “brother”) remains germane today.

Audiobook: Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Hendersonsons and soldiers
The author follows a half dozen German-born Jews who as teenagers in the 1930s were sent or made their way from Hitler’s increasingly-dangerous Reich to the United States.  As they reached military age and Germany declared war on the U.S., they enlisted and found themselves training at Camp Ritchie, Maryland.  These “Ritchie Boys” learned interrogation techniques and because of their familiarity with the German language and culture became invaluable assets in front-line units from D-Day until the war’s conclusion.  Some actually made contact with their families, others expected and found the worst:  their kin had died in extermination camps.  This is an exciting and moving tale one hopes Hollywood will turn into an epic film—with actors of the appropriate age as the real Ritchie Boys.

Mary’s Picks
chocolatMovie: Chocolat
A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village. Their unconventional style changes the rigid community.

CD: Eden by Sarah Brightmaneden.jpg
Sarah’s best album with a mix of English, Italian, French and Latin, as well as a mix of classic Opera, pop and New Age.

Stephanie’s Picks

hungerAudiobook: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Listening to Roxanne Gay read her beautifully-written memoir Hunger was like listening to a close friend divulging some of her most intimate yet painful feelings and memories. It is quite literally the story of her body, and the way she and others have treated it. Powerful, raw, and heartbreaking, it is a must read.

CD: Beast Epic by Iron & Winebeast epic
After multiple albums of experimenting with new sounds, it seems that singer Sam Beam has gone back to his sweet melodic folk roots. This is his best album since Our Endless Numbered Days.

All quoted summaries from