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Staff Picks Category: Adventure

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey []



In a last-ditch effort to escape her powerful and dangerous father, Esther stows away on the traveling book wagon of the Librarians, a group that carries government-approved reading material between far-flung desert communities. She’s quickly discovered hiding amongst the books, but when the Librarians invite her to travel and train with them, Esther quickly learns that being a Librarian isn’t just about bringing state-sanctioned stories from town to town. The Librarians have dangerous secrets, and as Esther grows closer to the group, she realizes how little she actually knows about the restrictive and desolate society in which she lives.
This novella is a quick and immersive read that puts a modern, feminist twist on the classic Western. While there are horse chases, small-town sheriffs, and toothpick-chewing rebels, the story is about the importance of resistance in the face of tyranny and the inherent value of intellectual freedom. Esther and the Librarians are a diverse and interesting group of heroes that face danger at every turn, and I had a hard time putting this book down!

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Hombre []



In this hardboiled Western, Elmore Leonard writes a short, gritty tale where a group travels via stagecoach through the Arizona desert. Our trusty narrator, who is conversational with the reader and serves as a moral compass, is under the employ of the stagecoach/horses owner. Bickering begins at the outset and when the stagecoach comes under attack by a group of outlaws, these early differences of opinion result in chaos. A mysterious Apache, John Russell, is their only hope in making it out of the desert alive.

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Dodger by Terry Pratchett []



Dodger is the latest novel by Sir Terry Pratchett, best known for his satirical Discworld series of fantasy novels. Pratchett’s usual wit and love of language shine through in this historical piece set in Victorian London and with a cast of characters that includes Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, Angela Burdett-Coutts, and Queen Victoria.

Dodger takes place above and below London, with the city’s ancient Roman sewers playing a prominent part. Much of the drama comes from the meeting of the upper and lower classes, the rich and poor, and the politics of the street vs. the politics of the state.

Pratchett has, very consciously, taken liberties with the setting and refers to the work as a historical fantasy, not a historical novel. The most obvious example is the inclusion of the almost certainly fictional Sweeney Todd. Less noticeable to most readers will be the the adjustment to the lives of Sir Robert Peel and John Tenniel whose careers did not, in fact, overlap as suggested in the novel. These changes may bother some, but if you take them in stride you will find Dodger to be a very enjoyable adventure story brought to life by its rich setting and colorful language.

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The Fifty Review Club: An Unconventional Post []



Fifty Films

I was glancing at the sidebar on the Forbes Staff Picks Blog and noticed that the number fifty was next to my initials. Fifty reviews. Moments later I was ushered into a secret room in the Forbes Library (of course it was revealed by pulling a book back in the stacks!) and was presented with a spread like no other, a Swedish massage and a gold plated computer mouse. Confetti spilled from the ceiling and Philadelphia’s own Todd Rundgren (he really liked my review of A Wizard, A True Star) performed a private concert.

This celebration got me thinking; perhaps I should do something “fifty” related now that I’m a member of the Fifty Review Club. A detailed synopsis of50 First Dates ? Haven’t seen it. An overview of 50 Cent’s discography? I’m unfamiliar. Then I thought perhaps I ought to make a list. People who work at libraries love lists! I’ve come up with fifty films that mean something to me that are in our collection (just click on the titles to see the record in the catalog) and have decided to quickly free associate. I’ve limited myself to stay under ten words and type the first thing that pops into my head. See you at the 100th party. -JSM

8 1/2 -I’ve had dreams like this
24 Hour Party People -the Manchester scene as told by Tony Wilson
2001: A Space Odyssey -the effects are still unrivaled
Arthur -a drunken love story
Atlantic City -lemons
After Hours -one of those really bad nights out
Badlands – “Love is Strange”
Blue Velvet -wha!!!????
The Blues Brothers -My first favorite film
Breathless -jump cuts
California Split -Gould & Segal roll the dice
Le Cercle Rouge -reds & blues
Claire’s Knee -yup, this has got to be French
Do The Right Thing -crazy thought provoking potboiler
Don’t Look Now -I still can’t believe that ending
Down By Law“I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”
Duck Soup -comedy 101
F For Fake -magic tricks
The Fearless Vampire Killers -gory/funny
Gosford Park -Stephen Fry as Inspector Thompson in the third act
Hannah and Her Sisters -Woody at his best
A Hard Day’s Night -black & white Beatlemania
The Householder -a loving film about arranged marriage
The Jerk -“he hates cans!”
Joe Versus The Volcano -listen to this
Key Largo -Bogey & Bacall & Robinson
The Long Goodbye -the sleepy Philip Marlowe
The Lost Weekend -writer’s block anyone?
Meek’s Cutoff -remember “the Oregon Trail” video game?
Nosferatu the Vampyre -spooky Kinski
Opening Night -going off the script
Paper Moon -cute grifter’s tale
Playtime -Hulot tries to get a job
Rosemary’s Baby -“tannis anyone?”
Rushmore -a coming of age story like no other
The Rutles: All You Need is Cash -the best telling of the Beatles
The Science of Sleep -arts and crafts
A Serious Man -Jefferson Airplane
Simon of the Desert -the funniest religious film
Small Change -one of the few realistic portrayals of children
Smiles of a Summer Night -wait, Bergman’s funny??
The Squid and the Whale -Pink Floyd plagiarism
Straw Dogs -a violent film that strongly advocates nonviolence
Sullivan’s Travels -Sturges makes a road movie
They All Laughed -an ingredient in the Wes Anderson formula
The Thin Man -my favorite detective couple
Time Bandits -a must see for all young adults
The Two of Us -here come the waterworks
Vertigo -the old switcheroo
Walkabout -Roeg in the outback

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