Kicking It

Kicking It by aith Hunter and Kalayna Price
I'm not a big fan of short story anthologies as a rule. They usually leave little room for character or plot development. I picked up "Kicking It" because it reminded me of the Nancy Sinatra song from the mid 1960s "These Boots Were Made for Walkin." I must say the editors Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price surprised me with this collection.

Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

If you miss the guitar driven rock n roll of Tom Petty and the Black Crowes, the Wild Feathers' new self-titled release will make you nostalgic. In addition to having multiple vocalists, this is not a band limited by three chord capabilities. Instead of each song following a formula and sounding the same, these guys have a wide array of musical styles. Reminiscent of the Eagles, they start out with a fast riff on "Backwoods Company"  and progress to country rock on "Ceiling" and "Left My Woman" but throw a curve when they go into "I'm Alive" that's reminiscent of Soul Asylum at the height of their career. The harmonies are finely tuned, but best is the mix of songs which according to All Music Guide they prefer to call American instead of Americana. There are definitely Mellencamp and Springsteen themes with smokestacks and the lack of cash set in the bleak world of the working class.

Holiday

"Holiday"

"Holiday" featuring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn takes place during both Christmas and New Years, but what makes it worth watching year round is the biting dialog and terrific acting. Grant plays Johnny Case, a wage slave who takes his first holiday since he started working at age 10. While at Lake Placid he falls for gorgeous blond, Julia Seton, not realizing until he goes to her house on 5th Avenue, she's one of the wealthy Setons who made their fortune during the robber baron era. While Julia plans for Johnny to take a job in her father's bank, Johnny has plans of his own which he shares with Julia's sister Linda, played by Katherine Hepburn. Linda is a better listener, but the outcast eccentric in the family. Hepburn's acting is outstanding, being both strong-willed and lacking confidence, Linda Seton is one of those dichotomies who exist in real life but few actors can pull off.

Christmas in Tinseltown

"The Dead Celebrity Cookbook" by Frank Decaro

If you love Christmas movies and Hollywood trivia, check out Frank Decaro's "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook presents Christmas in Tinseltown: Celebrity Recipes and Hollywood Memories from Six Feet under the Mistletoe."

The tone of the book can be deduced from the title. It is irreverent, jokey, and chock-full of silly puns. He writes about the Christmas TV special "The Homecoming" that introduced the Walton family to America, "As squeaky-clean families go, they made the Bradys look like the Bundys." The only serious theme throughout is the author's sincere fascination with anyone connected to Hollywood and the entertainment world.

The author writes briefly about classic Christmas movies, music, and television, giving background information and what he calls "Christmas Tidbits." He then highlights specific actors and singers and provides recipes attributed to them.

St. Lou-isms

"St. Lou-isms : lingo, lore, and the lighter side of life in the Gateway City

In his latest book, "St. Lou-isms : lingo, lore, and the lighter side of life in the Gateway City," Dr. John Oldani includes tales and stories from the many ethnic groups that make our city special.

All our secrets are exposed from St. Louis pick up lines to our lingo to urban legends. For example, do you warsh your dishes and rinsh them in the zink? Do you remember the choking Doberman or the black widow beehive? Have you heard about the zombies in Wildwood? If not, you can read about them here.

Dr. Oldani takes us on an informative, fun-filled search as he explores the folklore around our great city. It's obvious that he loves St. Louis and its folklore. The book takes us all over the region from the city limits to Wildwood as Oldani explores the connections and similarities that cross cultural boundaries in St. Louis.

If you can laugh at our foibles, this book is for you!

Indie Artists

"NEpenthe" by Julianna Barwick

New music can be frustrating or joyous. Even artists who released a favorite CD the year before can change styles and their next outing may not be to your taste. One of the great benefits of the library is a chance to listen to the entire album. It's an opportunity to decide whether the CD is a "keeper" or just musical accompaniment on a long road trip.

Three new releases from female artists labeled "indie" by AMG are vastly different in style and texture. Julianna Barwick's CDs are usually just ethereal loops of her voice layered over itself. The new CD "Nepenthe" has a little more structure, but no actual lyrics and more instrumentation though it's sparse throughout. It has a flowing New Age ambiance.  The third song "One Half" is the most commercial and sounds like Clannad. "Nepenthe's" wispy quality makes it good for relaxation or meditation.

Farewell to Nelson Mandela

News of the death of former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela may inspire some to learn more about this remarkable statesman.

The 2010 book "Conversations with Myself" contains archival material from Mandela's diaries, personal correspondence, notebooks, calendars, and an unfinished autobiography. The focus here is personal, rather than political.  

"Long Walk to Freedom: the autobiography of Nelson Mandela" was first published in 1994 and chronicles Mandela's life from his tribal childhood to his time in prison to his election as President of South Africa.

National Book Awards

"The Good Lord Bird" by James McBride

Since 1950, the National Book Awards have celebrated the best in American literature. The winners for 2013 were announced November 20 at the annual National Book Award Ceremony and Gala in New York City.

James McBride won in the fiction category for his novel "The Good Lord Bird." In this action-packed historical novel, a young enslaved boy living in the Kansas Territory in 1857 disguises himself as a girl and travels the country with abolitionist John Brown.

"The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America" by George Packer won the nonfiction prize. Packer writes about changes in our country over the last three decades. To illustrate, he examines the lives of various individuals, including a factory worker in Ohio, a Washington lobbyist, and the son of a tobacco farmer.

Dexter's Final Cut

Dexter's Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

Following the end of the TV show, Dexter Morgan, the serial killer that fans love to root for, makes one final appearance in the book series that started everything. Ironically, Dexter's last appearance in the books involves him being cast as a forensic analyst as an extra on a TV show. As he navigates the world of Hollywood he also finds himself pitted against another serial killer. Surrounded by celebrities and the media, he tries to track down his final opponent without being caught. Dexter's Final Cut is an exciting conclusion to the Dexter story, tying up all the ends in unexpected ways.  

--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch

© Copyright 2014. St. Louis County Library. All rights reserved. 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis MO. 314-994-3300 Contact Us