Have You Heard
… the theory that because humans evolved for life in the Paleolithic Period, we should shape our modern lives around that? According to proponents of these theories, our DNA was shaped by what we ate, how we moved, our family lives, and more for hundreds of thousands of years. If we eat, move, and raise children like we did then, we will be happier, healthier, and more in tune with the dictates of our genes. Marlene Zuk does an excellent job of examining those theories and debunking many of them in Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live.
Professor Zuk covers genetics, anthropology, evolution, and more with a straightforward writing style that helps lay people understand the science behind both the claims and her refutation of them. While our genes were shaped by life in the Paleolithic Period, they were also shaped by the millions of years of life before that time and by the thousands of years since. Also, our environment changed as different groups of humans spread throughout the world, so there is no single time and place where we were perfectly situated for the world around us. New discoveries in archeology, anthropology, and primate research suggest that past assumptions about life in the past are not completely true as well. Check out this book if you’re interested in science and the history of humans, or just curious about the latest craze based on what’s “natural” for mankind.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
… Quentin Jacobsen’s journey to find love? John Green’s novel, Paper Towns, takes a common young adult theme (boy searches for girl) and turns it into a quirky, poignant, and hilarious mystery. The story is told from the perspective of Quentin Jacobsen, a high school senior in the last few weeks before graduation. One night, Margo Roth Spiegelman, the supremely adventurous girl Quentin has loved from afar, climbs into his window ninja-style and pulls him along to help her get revenge on several of her friends. (The quest itself is ingenious, involving a dead fish in the backseat of a car and some carefully placed Nair.)
After their all-nighter ends, Margo disappears, leaving a small trail of clues behind her. In his desperation to understand the enigma that is Margo, Quentin sets out after her with his best friends in tow. But as he moves down the disconnected path that Margo has set out for him, Quentin realizes that Margo is not the girl he knew.
Paper Towns was my first John Green novel, and it really has a lot to offer. The mystery itself is very well done without falling into the slightly cheesy trap of the teenager playing the amateur sleuth. And the writing is sharp and witty– I found myself literally laughing out loud, particularly when Margo and Quentin exact satisfying revenge on their classmates in the middle of the night.
This is one of those rare books that appeals to teens and adults, and it’s a welcome change from the plethora of apocalyptic and paranormal tales saturating the market.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)
… the monsters who live among humans? Actually, they prefer to be called “coterie” in Mur Lafferty’s The Shambling Guide to New York City. If you were really desperate for a job, would you work with vampires, zombies, an incubus, a death goddess and other non-humans? That is the situation that Zoe Norris finds when she applies for an editing job with Underground Publishing. Fortunately, not all of her co-workers consider her a potential food source. In fact, it will probably be safer than her previous job, where she was having a relationship with her boss until she found out that he was already married to a local police officer. At least, it will be until her old boss and his wife come to town.
Mur Lafferty does a great job of keeping the action moving as Zoe adjusts to life with the coterie. Articles from the book on which Zoe is working – a travel guide to NYC for non-humans – start each chapter and help to give a little background and atmosphere. Readers also learn about the magic side of this world along with Zoe as she encounters different races and situations. Despite the dangers of this world, it doesn’t seem overly dark. Action is more the focus than horror, although there is some gore as Zoe deals with brain-eating zombies and a construct who is oddly familiar (well, parts of him are familiar). You’ll see the Big Apple through new eyes with The Shambling Guide to New York City.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
… the familiar and not so familiar places in the state of Indiana? In the Discoveries … America. Indiana DVD you will learn about some interesting places and fun facts of this neighboring state. Indianapolis is the crossroads of America. Did you know that the state of Indiana is the largest popcorn growing producer in America? In the northern part of the state is where the third-largest Amish population lives. A lot of the Amish work in the RV and motor home factories, and you guessed it, Indiana makes the most RVs and motor homes in America. There is even a museum of these wonderful homes on wheels that you won’t want to miss if you decide to visit.
The Indiana Dunes and Shipshewana, and of course the “Brickyard,” home of the Indy 500 auto race are the most popular, but you won’t want to miss the Tell City pretzel factory or the powered parachutes either. How about a visit to the Mid America Windmills or the Corner Prairie Living History Museum where you can become part of the daily life of the past? If that isn’t incentive enough to visit, consider the Tri-State Memorial Bluegrass Festival. This is not just good music but wonderful food and crafts too.
The Discoveries …America series is 51 DVDs, each about one hour long, of all of the states (plus Washington, DC) and the famous and not-so-famous things to see and do in each state. They will give you lots of things to learn or ideas to incorporate into your next vacation.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… when Rudyard Kipling met Mark Twain? In Hello Goodbye Hello, Craig Brown shares brief accounts of meetings between two famous or historically-important people. Each entry is just a few pages long and focuses on a place and time when these people came together, although many of the stories also cover the history and earlier or later interactions between them.
More than a collection of anecdotes, this book is actually a great loop of interconnectedness. Rudyard Kipling meets Mark Twain in one account, while the next features Mark Twain and Helen Keller. The following story covers Helen Keller and Martha Graham, then Martha Graham and Madonna, Madonna and Michael Jackson, and so on. The book loops through 101 meetings across many decades and covers a wide variety of politicians, authors, actors, artists, royalty, and musicians. It is a fascinating look at snippets of history and events in the lives of people who changed the world.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
… how to get your movie musical fix in just one fantastic DVD? Hollywood Singing and Dancing: A Musical History has little snippets of the great musicals of our times. Actress Shirley Jones narrates how some of these movies came to be. There are the classic old black-and-whites of the Busby Berkeley era like Gold Diggers of 1935.
Go through the 1940’s with the extravagant musicals that cheered up our troops in World War II. The 1950’s had Singin’ in the Rain, Oklahoma and Carousel. The 1960’s brought us The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Everyone knows the songs of the 1970’s thanks to Saturday Night Fever. Who hasn’t been to a midnight showing of the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Dreamgirls with newcomer Jennifer Hudson and Oscar winner Chicago are also hits. Relive some of your favorites with a big bowl of popcorn at you side.
Disc two has a wonderful, nearly two hour, question-and-answer session with Shirley Jones as she tells a lot of the behind-the-scenes goings on during the making of many of these films. This is a must see for movie musical fanatics or just a small taste of wonderful movies you might never have seen before.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… the joys (and horrors) of gaslamp fantasy? Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an excellent anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Gaslamp stories have a magical element that are set in the Regency, Queen Victoria’s reign, and sometimes the early Edwardian era. Usually, they focus on Great Britain, but current and former British colonies are also fair game.
This collection features a mix of lighthearted, spooky, and even tragic tales from a variety of authors. Many of the big names of fantasy and horror are represented, including Elizabeth Bear, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire and Jane Yolen. In addition to magical terrors, they look at the real-life problems of spousal abuse, the treatment of women, and the horrific lives of many factory workers. From the elite to the well-off to the down-trodden, this collection covers all walks of life during this time period in a rich variety of writing styles. It is a fascinating look at a time of great wonders and great horrors, both real and imagined.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
… the woman who took a chance on a little boy? An Invisible Thread is the true story of an eleven-year-old boy panhandler, Maurice Maczyk, and a busy sales executive woman, Laura Schroff, who was living and working in Manhattan. This is an incredible, wonderful and remarkable story.
In the beginning, Laura Schroff didn’t understand what is about that kid that makes her feel that he is different from other kids. However, once she started meeting with him weekly, she started to notice the similarities in their lives.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read non-fiction books. This book is so good and sentimental that by the end of it I was crying.
Reviewed by Esmeralda (staff)
… the abortion scandal that rocked a major hospital in Boston? In Michael Crichton’s first novel, A Case of Need, a local doctor named Art Lee is arrested for performing an illegal abortion on the daughter of a prominent doctor. Art’s colleague, John Berry, knows that Lee occasionally performs abortions on the side, but he doesn’t believe Lee would have let a patient die while under the knife, and so he begins his own investigation. But because of the prominence of the victim’s family, Berry encounters a lot of resistance to his investigation and quickly discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Even though this was originally written under a pseudonym, A Case of Need still bears a strong resemblance to Crichton’s later books, particularly in terms of the fast pace, the incorporation of social issues to drive the plot, and the scientific detail. I always feel like I’ve learned something new after reading a Crichton novel, and A Case of Need is no exception. Don’t be put off by the scientific jargon – I promise it’s easy to understand.
In other words, this is one heck of an entertaining story. As a lifelong Michael Crichton fan, I’m honestly surprised it took me this long to read this book. If you’re like me and have already devoured everything else Crichton has written, I highly recommend A Case of Need – it’s like happening upon a previously undiscovered manuscript.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)
… the effects plastic has on our lives? As part of Earth Week 2013, staff members from Waukegan Public Library watched the movie Bag It, a documentary that highlights the ecological harms of single-use plastic, such as the plastic grocery bag. After watching the movie, staff members combined their thoughts into a group review.
How the movie was perceived:
- The movie was very good; it was super informative and clever at the same time
- It was funny, insightful, and gave me an idea of the problem worldwide
- I was very impressed by it
- I heard great things about it and I found it both entertaining and informative
- I even made my son watch it
Things learned from the movie:
- Europe pays for people to recycle plastic
- Many countries are banning plastic bags entirely
- There are many negative effects on the human body (including cancer) from the chemicals (BPA’s) found in plastics
- A lot of petrol (a non-renewable resource) is used to make a single plastic bottle
- Plastic bags can and should be banned
- An insane number of plastic bags are produced every day
- Many cans have plastic linings
- Plastic bottles even pollute our oceans
Actions taken after watching this movie:
- Lowering my whole family’s consumption of plastic items
- Trying to reduce the amount of plastic that I am using, especially with plastic one-use bottles
- Remembering to take my green bags into Woodman’s instead of using their plastic or paper bags
- Taking frozen-dinners out of the plastic before microwaving them when I can (my first test was very successful!)
- I’m looking for reusable sandwich bags to replace the plastic ones I use for lunch
Bag It is a movie not to be missed. Check it out!
Reviewed by Staff