The Bookshop on Film and Page

At the start of the film The Bookshop it is 1959 and a young widow living in a small English town decides to open a bookshop. After six months of negotiations, she is able to purchase an old building that has been vacant for years. That’s when the town grande dame decides that she wants that building for an arts center and tells the young woman that she will have to find another building for her bookshop.

The grande dame is accustomed to the villagers simply acceding to all her demands, no matter how unreasonable. This time, the young woman decides to fight for her dream of opening a bookshop in that building. Big mistake. The grande dame and her husband, a former general, begin an all-out campaign to destroy the young woman who dared to defy them.

This independent British film is available on Kanopy, one of the library’s free video apps. It stars Emily Mortimer as Florence Green, the young widow; Patricia Clarkson as the village grande dame; and Bill Nighy as a reclusive, book-loving widower (who isn’t actually a widower at all).

This is a beautifully made film with a superb cast – the stars all turn in exceptional performances and so do the supporting actors.

If you like British films, you might enjoy The Bookshop.

This film is based on the novel The Bookshop by British author Penelope Fitzgerald, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. We have the novel available in our digital collection as an e-book and also as an audiobook.

Learn Yoga with Rodney Yee

If you’re trying to stay active while stuck at home, and you’ve always thought yoga sounded intriguing but never had time to try it, I have great news! Hoopla, one of the library’s free video apps, has a great Beginner Yoga video taught by Rodney Yee, a famous yoga teacher: Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners. Best of all, this video is part of Hoopla’s Bonus Borrows Collection which means you can watch it repeatedly and it does NOT count toward your monthly limit of Hoopla borrows.

Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners has three parts: a Morning practice of about 20 minutes, an Evening practice of about 20 minutes and a Pose Guide. Mr. Yee says that you should watch the Pose Guide video before you try either of the practices. In the Pose Guide, he gives instruction on the correct alignment for each yoga pose and points out common mistakes beginners make – I found this especially helpful.

Hoopla also has another Rodney Yee yoga video in the Bonus Borrows Collection that is geared toward yoga enthusiasts at all levels (beginner to advanced): Rodney Yee A.M. Yoga for Your Week. This is composed of five different videos of about 20 minutes each: Forward Bends, Standing Poses, Twists, Back Bends and Hip Openers.

If you enjoy these videos, there are many more Rodney Yee yoga videos available on Hoopla (although most of them are not part of the Bonus Borrows Collection).

Romancing the Lockdown

In hard times, I tend to gravitate toward books with happy endings. This used to mean a stack of traditional mystery novels, but with the current trend of lots of graphic violence in mystery/thriller novels, I’m increasingly turning to romance novels when I want a happy ending. I’m excited to report that we have LOTS of titles by one of my favorite romance writers, Lisa Kleypas, in our digital collection.

I’m a fan of historical romance novels, and we have one of my favorite historicals, Devil in Winter, available as an e-book. The heroine, Evie Jenner, is in great danger from her deceased mother’s family, who plan to marry her to a cousin and then kill her to obtain the fortune she will inherit when her father dies in a few weeks. The only way Evie can escape these evil people is to marry – and marry a man smart and ruthless enough to protect her.

Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is a duke’s heir with no business or income of his own and a father who has recently run through all the dukedom’s money. He needs to marry an heiress and soon. Evie appears at Lord St. Vincent’s house one evening and proposes a marriage of convenience. They are slightly acquainted but St. Vincent had no idea of her family situation. He can’t afford to refuse her offer.

They rush to Scotland and marry in an anvil wedding. When they return to England, St. Vincent takes over Evie’s father’s business and her protection – and rises to meet both challenges with bravery and integrity, something no one ever expected of him. And he’s as smart and ruthless as they come. Evie has saved herself through very unconventional means, which appeals to me.

Devil in Winter is one of four novels in the author’s Wallflowers series, and we have all three of the other books in that series, Secrets of a Summer Night, It Happened One Autumn and Scandal in Spring, also available as e-books. If you like to read series in order, Secrets of a Summer Night is the first book in the Wallflowers series, It Happened One Autumn is second, Devil in Winter is third and Scandal in Spring is fourth.

If you like Evie as much as I do, the author has also written a wonderful novel featuring Evie’s daughter, Phoebe, Devil’s Daughter, which we have as an e-book and as an audiobook, and a novel featuring Evie’s son, Gabriel, Devil in Spring, which we also have as an e-book. We also have several other novels by Ms. Kleypas available as e-books, both historical romance and contemporary romance.

136 Recipes That Saved My Life

We are living in unprecedented times. Most of us are stuck at home involuntarily, trying to cope the best we can.

In 2009, Ruth Reichl found herself in a similar situation. She had been the editor of Gourmet magazine for ten years and was in Seattle doing publicity for a new cookbook the magazine had just published when she received a mysterious call from her boss. “You need to return to New York right away,” he said. He refused to tell her why. In a staff meeting the next morning, all the employees were told that the magazine would stop publishing immediately. They were fired.

At the age of 61, Ruth feared she would never get another job and worried how she would support her family. Stuck at home, she began to cook. In the next year, cooking would be her salvation, healing her wounds and providing her with a new source of income when she turned that year of cooking into a cookbook and memoir called My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life. We have this book in our digital collection as a Cloud Library e-book. She also has a famous Twitter feed with over a million followers. Her short poetic tweets are scattered throughout her book.

Ruth is a very engaging writer and many of the recipes in this book use only a few ingredients and are fairly simple to make. I found it soothing to follow along as someone else dealt with being at home unexpectedly (albeit with trips to the farmers market that are not possible for me right now). I’m planting Broccoli Raab in my garden this week and I’m hoping to try her recipe for Broccoli Raab Bruschetta in a couple of months.

After My Kitchen Year, she wrote a memoir of her years at Gourmet magazine titled Save Me the Plums – we have Save Me the Plums in our digital collection as both an e-book and an e-audiobook. We also have Tender at the Bone, a memoir of her early life, as an e-book and Delicious, a novel she wrote, as an e-book.

My Life is Murder

Whose life is murder? Alexa Crowe, that’s who. Alexa is a retired Australian police detective whose old boss keeps asking for her help with his toughest cases. And Alexa – who planned on spending her retirement baking bread, except that her expensive German bread machine refuses to work (she’s trying to fix it, but always seems to need one more part she doesn’t have), and whose companion on these days is a stray cat who just appears in her kitchen – finds it impossible to refuse the siren song of detective work.

Alexa, charmingly played by actor Lucy Lawless, is the main character in the Australian television crime drama My Life is Murder. I’d been hearing good things about this series from my friends, so I was delighted to discover that the first season is available on Hoopla, one of the library’s free video apps. (Click HERE for information on how to use Hoopla.)

I’ve watched the first two episodes, and I’m enjoying this series very much. It’s a lighthearted series with a lead actor who doesn’t take herself too seriously, perfect for these dark times we’re living in. I’m not interested in watching or reading anything depressing these days – give me pure entertainment to take my mind off the news, please!

The supporting characters are played by terrific actors and I enjoy that it takes place in Australia, a country I’ve never visited. And My Life is Murder is one of the best names I’ve ever heard of for a crime drama – I would have watched the first episode for the name alone!

Amazing Alaska Mystery

I’m delighted to report that the new book in the Kate Shugak mystery series by Dana Stabenow, No Fixed Line, was recently published and is now available in the library’s digital collection as an Overdrive MP3 audiobook. This is one of my favorite mystery series – I love the Alaska setting and Kate Shugak is a totally original and absolutely fascinating heroine!

In this book, a major snowstorm has occurred and caused a private plane to crash. Some friends of Kate’s are nearby and rush to the plane to help out before the snow buries it. The only survivors are two small children who don’t speak English. It quickly becomes apparent that the children were kidnapped and have been abused. Who were the adults on this plane and why were they flying in such terrible weather conditions? As always, one thing leads to another and we follow along with Kate on another fascinating investigation.

There’s also a second plot in this book. A very wealthy (and evil) man Kate helped send to prison has died and left her in charge of a foundation he set up. Did he have some sort of personality change and become a completely different person because of his prison time? Or is this an elaborate plan to destroy Kate (who he really, really hated)? Kate chooses to believe the second option and begins investigating this foundation to figure out how she is being set up.

This is an exceptional series. Not only are the books set in Alaska, but Kate Shugak is an Aleut who lives on a 160-acre homestead in a generic national Park in Alaska so these books reveal an Alaska that most people never get to see (even if we visit Alaska as tourists). The supporting cast of characters is also wonderful, especially Kate’s dog, Mutt. At some point in every book, someone asks “Is that a wolf?” Kate replies, “Only half”. She’s completely serious. A lot of bad guys have Mutt’s teeth marks somewhere on their person. Did I mention that Mutt is female?

The author, Dana Stabenow, grew up in Alaska. Her author bio says she “was born in Alaska and raised on a 75-foot fish tender. She knew there was a warmer, drier job out there somewhere and found it in writing”. How cool is that?!

We also have two more books in this mystery series available as e-books if you prefer reading to listening:

Bad Blood and Restless in the Grave

Great New Mysteries

I’m a huge mystery fan and I wanted to let you know about two mystery novels published in January that I particularly enjoyed. I’m sure there were many more good mystery novels published in the same month that I haven’t read yet (the number of books published every month boggles the mind), but I can personally recommend these two.

The Wild One by Nick Petrie

This is the new book in the Peter Ash thriller series. The second book in this series, Burning Bright, is one of my favorite thriller novels of all time so I’m always interested in reading a new book in this series.

In this book, war veteran Peter Ash has flown to Iceland to find and save the young son of a murdered woman. After the murder, the boy’s father fled with him to Iceland where the father has a large, close and mostly criminal family. The boy’s grandmother (his mother’s mother) wants to know that the boy is alive and well, and to have the boy returned to her in the U.S. if all is not well in Iceland.

It’s a thriller, so all is definitely NOT well in Iceland. Peter travels through the harsh Icelandic landscape and weather, battling foes all the way, to find the boy.

I enjoyed this book very much. The setting in Iceland adds a tremendous amount to the fun and interest of this book – I don’t think I’ve ever read a mystery/thriller set in Iceland before. The writing is excellent.

For those of you who have read other books in this series, this book is very similar to the first book in the series, The Drifter, in the way it’s written. If you enjoyed The Drifter, I think you’ll enjoy The Wild One.

The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz is a local author (she lives in Seattle) and an absolute master at writing romantic suspense novels. In all of her novels, the mystery and the love story receive about equal weight (sometimes the mystery gets more emphasis).

For a number of years, she wrote books (both historical and contemporary) about a paranormal society founded in Victorian times called the Arcane Society, run by a family named Jones. The contemporary books followed the descendants of the Jones family in the present day. The Arcane Society sprang from Jayne’s fertile creative mind, but it does have a basis in reality – the Victorians were very big on the paranormal. This is a WONDERFUL series. Jayne has a real passion for writing books that include the paranormal, and her enjoyment in writing these books shows on every page.

Then, unfortunately, her publisher asked her to stop writing the Arcane Society books (I have no idea why). The books she wrote subsequently were still excellent – she’s a remarkable writer – but for me they lacked the spark of magic that the Arcane Society books had.

Well, I’m delighted to report that in her new book, The Vanishing, she returns to the paranormal! This book doesn’t include the Arcane Society, but it does feature a new paranormal organization called the Foundation.

I do miss having a Jones show up, but this book has all the paranormal aspects in a contemporary romantic suspense novel that we Arcane Society fans love. And Jayne has revealed that a Jones may show up in the next book in this series!

Snow Day Movies

With snow in the forecast, it’s time to enjoy watching movies from the comfort of your living room! If you forget to stock up on DVDs at the library before the snow hits, the library has two FREE movie apps you can use to watch movies digitally: Hoopla and Kanopy. With either of these apps, you just download the app and set up an account with your email address, library card and pin number. Then sign in with your library card and pin number and you can watch movies available in the app for FREE! There is a monthly limit: 6 per month for Hoopla and 8 for Kanopy. It’s another benefit of having an Everett Public Library card!

The movies change a little every month, and this month they have some really wonderful movies for both adults and kids. Here are some of my favorites on Hoopla:

Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. When his latest play flops, J.M. Barrie starts spending his days at a park near his London home where he meets a young widow and her four adventurous sons. His friendship with the bohemian family sparks his imagination and he ends up writing his greatest play – Peter Pan. This is a MAGICAL movie – totally amazing!

Kinky Boots starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Joel Edgerton. This is an English film about a small family-owned shoe factory that is about to go out of business, unable to compete with lower priced shoes made elsewhere. The young man who has recently inherited the firm is determined to save it and keep the people who work for him employed, and he hits on a creative way to do so – making boots for drag queens! This is a heart-warming film with fantastic music and dancing. No description can possibly do it justice. 

A Long Way Down starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots. This is an English film about four people who meet when they all decide to jump off the same building on New Year’s Eve. Unable to watch the others commit suicide, they make an agreement to halt their plans to jump for six weeks. During this time, they become the family they all desperately need. Brilliant acting makes this a very touching and compelling film.

The Price Winner of Defiance, Ohio starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson. This film is based on a true story. In 1950’s Ohio, a housewife with ten kids discovers she has a flair for writing jingles and ad copy and uses that flair to win contests. Her contest winnings paid her family’s bills for many years. Based on a book written by her daughter. This is a very emotional film with first-rate acting. 

Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. This is a documentary about the making of the musical Hamilton. Fascinating and stunningly well made.