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G I R L - Pharrell Williams

Most recently people have come to know Pharrell Williams as the man who wrote and produced the song Happy for the movie Despicable Me 2, but I have been a fan of the producer since 2002 when I picked up an album titled In Search Of... I was quickly mesmerized by the mixture of video game sounds, rock and hip hop mashed up together.  I soon learned that one of the band members was Pharrell Williams.  I eventually connected the dots that I had heard this sound before from the production duo The Neptunes.  The Neptunes have produced some of my favorite pop songs to date.  Over the years Williams has worked with stars of the music industry such as Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Bono and Gwen Stefani to name a few.  He frequently uses his musical talent to catapult others into the spotlight but rarely for himself.  GIRL is just his second solo album since the release of In My Mind in 2006.

Pharrell himself has described GIRL as his album dedicated to women. His eclectic style comes through on this album in a variety of collaborations with artists like Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Daft Punk and others.  If you had never heard the name Pharrell Williams before Happy took the nation by storm, give GIRL a try.

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology, and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige-Hill

Beyond belief: my secret life inside Scientology, and my harrowing escape is the memoir of Jenna Miscavige-Hill, a young woman raised in the Church of Scientology currently run by her uncle David Miscavige. The book tells her tale of being born into Scientology and how that influenced every move of her young life.

The Church of Scientology is a religion that was developed by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, "that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being" (from the church's website). Jenna's parents, both high-ranking members of the church, brought up Jenna and her siblings to learn the ways of the church. They lived in church facilities, attended school and training run by the church, and were being groomed to be the next generation in charge of supporting the church and its mission. As Jenna grows up, she often finds herself at odds with the two sides of the church: the side that said one thing and the other side which frequently did the opposite of what was being said.

This book is a glimpse into a very secretive organization. I selected this book out of curiosity after reading another ex-member's account on a blog. I'm a naturally curious individual and like to know about a story from multiple points of view. After reading her account and doing some basic research of my own, I think there's a lot more going on than what the public knows on a basic level. I was drawn into her story and I'm interested to see how the organization develops through some of the controversial reports that continue to emerge.

The Power of Small by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

In an era of ever bigger goals, dreams, houses, wealth, power, etc., this book reminds us of the value of little things.  Written in story-driven style, we are lead to refocus our attention on the small details that, if disregarded, can sabotage a multimillion-dollar ad campaign or undermine your most important relationships.  It is the true paradox of shrinking your outlook to broaden your horizons.  Even the book is small.

Books on Tap - June 2014

Join us June 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm when we jump into the world of graphic novels with Alison Bechdel's memoir, Fun Home.

"A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned "fun home," as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books.

When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive."

Review from Goodreads.

Game of Thrones

As soon as my husband and I wrapped up watching our favorite shows Breaking Bad and Dexter, it was time to move on to the next great dramatic television series.  I checked out Season 1 of Game of Thrones as my brother has been raving about the show for years. Per usual, my brother's recommendation was spot on and we quickly watched Season 1 and have moved on to Season 2.  Season 4 is currently airing on HBO and is expected to be released on DVD in February 2015. The library owns Seasons 1-3 on DVD, so place your hold now!

Game of Thrones is a fantasy drama television show currently airing on HBO.  The television series is based upon a novel series by George R.R. Martin called A Song of Ice and Fire of which the first book is titled A Game of Thrones.  The show is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  It follows the Lords of each Kingdom and their families as they battle for the Iron Throne.  The show has been criticized for its use of nudity and violence but has also won several awards and many more award nominations.  You be the judge and checkout the DVDs today! 

Books on Tap - May Follow Up

Over the noisy setting of the dining room, we were able to have a great discussion about the memoir When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago. There were differing opinions on whether or not people enjoyed the book, but I think overall we agreed that there were many relatable themes presented by the author that inspired an open dialogue about what to do when life isn't peachy keen. The book allowed the readers to experience a lifestyle that was previously unfamiliar to them and see where there was overlap with their lives. If you would like to learn more about the author, you can visit her website as well as read her other memoirs: Almost a Woman and The Turkish Lover.

Please join us in June when we will discuss Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

The Paladin Prophecy

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost is a great book about a seemingly normal highschooler named Will. His parents taught him all his life to be under the radar and keep to himself. His life changes completely when he scores way above average on a test given to all highschoolers in the nation. A lady shows up at his school and tells him about The Center, an esteemed prep school you have to be invited to to attend. The Center were not the only ones interested in him, however. Some bad people want him and his abilities for themselves. Will's parents get taken and he has to flee to The Center where he is safe, and learns more about who the "bad people" are and why they're after Will. 

This was a great book with lots of action and suspense. I really really liked the fact that there was little to no romance involved and focused on the plot at hand. So, basically, you can tell it was written by a man. :) This book had everything in it that I was looking for: action, a bit of sci-fi/fantasy, mystery, suspense. The list goes on. I would encourage anyone looking for a great new series to check this one out and see what you think!

Why You Want to Read Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey

The Out Of This World book club is reading Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey for our meeting on May 19 at 7:00 PM, and you should join the discussion.

Banewreaker is the first of two books in The Sundering, which is usually characterized as The Lord of the Rings told from the villains' side as a tragedy. It is also characterized as a deconstruction of the fantasy epic, because these are sympathetic protagonists rather than the unambiguous evil of Sauron's forces. Both sides are convinced that the other is lying and malicious, and war is coming.

If you enjoy fantasy but are looking for a variation, this has it. You have races that are identifiably elves, dwarves, trolls, and hobbits but there are differences. You have all the archetypes you expect, with a mixture of playing them straight and subverting expectations that makes the old new. Some things will surprise you, which might make it surprising when other things are exactly what you expect.

If you do not enjoy fantasy because of its black and white morality, here is your gray. Tolkien's Middle-earth has the forces of good and the forces of evil, where the main nuance is infighting in the forces of good. Banewreaker opens with the claim that the supposed war of good and evil started because the god of the elves demanded that the god of fertility remove humans' ability to reproduce so that they would die out in a generation. Motivations for the epic fantasy war are more realistic, misguided, and/or petty than "for/against the Dark Lord," although some of the participants certainly see it in those stark terms.

You may already know Jacqueline Carey from her Kushiel's Legacy series, which spans three trilogies. We will not have time to encompass all that, but we may have a chance to touch on Godslayer, the sequel, or your other favorite fantasy deconstructions, anti-heroes, and villain protagonists. There are more comic takes like Mary Gentle's Grunts and Eve Forward's Villains By Necessity, or perhaps you want something more classic like Michael Moorcock's Elric saga or even Shakespeare's Richard III? Paradise Lost is the obvious ancestor. Feel free to bring your suggestions for books we should be reading if we did or did not like Banewreaker

 Whatever you think of Banewreaker, and you won't know until you read it, please join us on May 19 at 7:00 PM.

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...On Schindler's List

Watching a news story a few days ago featuring filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the 20th anniversary of both the making of the movie Schindler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation reminded me of a wonderful book I had read recently. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...On Schindler's List is a memoir written by Leon Leyson, the youngest boy on Oskar Schindler's "list." Mr. Leyson died in January 2013, only seven months before the book was published. This touching memoir is aimed at ages 9-14, but teens and adults would enjoy it as well. To read a wonderful book review on the USC Shoah Foundation site, click here.


Say what you will about Chris Brown's personal life but there is no denying that this young man has talent. He is an entertainment triple threat, he sings, acts and dances.  Not only does he do these activities but he does them well and sometimes figures out how to combine two out of three. For example in Battle of the Year, Brown acts and dances.

Although Chris Brown has five albums to date, he as not released another album since Fortune in 2012.  Fortune, mixed hip-hop beats, R&B soul and dance club style electronica.  To say the least, this album will be sure to get you bobbing to the beat or even up out of your seat dancing.  Some of the tracks live up to the parental advisory warning but if you are like me and listen beyond the lyrics; you will be energized by the dance songs. Offline for Maintenance will be offline for maintenance starting at 8pm this evening.  Additional online services, such as:


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