Synopsis: Keenly observed and written with his insightful and deadpan sense of humor, Bragg explores enduring Southern truths about home, place, spirit, table, and the regions' varied geographies, including his native Alabama, Cajun country, and the Gulf Coast. Everything is explored, from regional obsessions with college football and fishing, to mayonnaise and spoonbread, to the simple beauty of a fish on the hook. Collected from over a decade of his writing, with many never-before-published essays written specifically for this edition, My Southern Journey is an entertaining and engaging listen, especially for Southerners (or Southerners at heart) and anyone who appreciates great writing.
Angela Says: Rick Bragg reads his own essays in what he describes as “a kind of love story to the South.” He takes the reader through family folklore and events in and around the South from his own perspective. I often found myself chuckling out loud and rewinding the story to play again for others. The audio version gives it a fuller warmth to the words of the stories as you can further imagine what Bragg is describing.
Angela's Past Staff Picks
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep
Synopsis: It's a hot English summer in 1976 and Margaret Creasey is missing. Ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly are best friends and decide that if they can find God in their neighborhood then the neighborhood will be safe and Mrs. Creasey will return. Going door to door in search of clues they discover that everyone on the Avenue has something to hide.
Donna Says: Start the New Year with a title that encompasses whimsy, secrets, and life in a small neighborhood. Disturbed by the sudden disappearance of a neighbor, Grace and Tilly search for clues among their neighbors. After they discuss their fears with their vicar, they believe they must find God in the neighborhood to prevent more disappearances. You may wish to stock up on tea, custard creams, and Angel Delight before reading.
Donna's Past Staff Picks
The Heir Apparent
Synopsis: King Edward the VII, affectionately called Bertie, was fifty-nine when he took the throne in 1901, upon the death of his mother Queen Victoria. To everyone's great surprise, this playboy prince sobered up and became an extremely effective leader and the founder of England's modern monarchy. A notorious gambler, glutton and womanizer, the world was his oyster as this aging Prince of Wales took advantage of his royal entitlements to travel, hunt, socialize, over-indulge-he smoked a dozen cigars a day-and bed a string of mistresses and married women in addition to his own wife. And yet by the time he died in 1910, after only nine years on the throne, he had proven to be a hardworking, effective king and an ace diplomat, at home and abroad.
Elizabeth Says: Jane Ridley's biography is exhaustively researched and a tremendously entertaining read.
Elizabeth's Past Staff Picks
Synopsis: A woman who has long been short on feelings falls in love with a married man in this emotional drama. Gloria Wandrous (Elizabeth Taylor) is a model and party girl who lives for pleasure and is willing to take men for what she can get from them. Gloria bounces from man to man, but feels that she can only truly confide in Steve Carpenter (Eddie Fisher), a longtime friend with whom she shares a close but strictly platonic relationship, though his fiancée (Susan Oliver) suspects otherwise. Gloria becomes involved with Weston Liggett (Laurence Harvey), a wealthy but emotionally cold man who is married to Emily (Dina Merrill). Weston shows Gloria precious little respect or kindness at first, but as they share a few bouts with the bottle, they discover that both are desperately lacking in self-confidence and have little happiness in their lives. As Gloria and Weston reveal more about themselves to one another, they fall in love, but Gloria isn't sure if she can commit to one man, while Weston has to decide if he can leave Emily behind.
Megan Says: BUtterfield 8 is one of my all-time favorite films. Elizabeth Taylor’s performance, as Gloria Wandrous, won her an Oscar for best actress in 1961.
Megan's Past Staff Picks
The Monogram Murders
Synopsis: Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one's mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim.
Nina Says: If you’ve been burned by other authorized sequels to iconic series, never fear. All the best of peculiar Belgian detective and his little grey cells can be found in this launch to Hannah’s New Hercule Poirot mysteries. The flavor and tone of early 20th century England, social class and village as character, and a few unexpected twists along the way, would make Agatha Christie proud.
Nina's Past Staff Picks
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Synopsis: Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play. In Tom Stoppard’s best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end. In this gorgeous nonfiction debut, Williams uncovers an untold story that spans continents, cultures, and millennia as she grapples with the questions of who we are, how we got here, and who, ultimately, owns the past.
Randall Says: A perfect start for your Read More Challenge, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an absurdist, tragicomedy featuring two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Stoppard’s wordplay is witty and keeps the play moving at a brisk pace towards the inevitable conclusion. Be sure to also watch the performance on DVD.
Randall's Past Staff Picks