American Kid

American Kid by Patti Griffin

Patti Griffin's ability to pen a great tune isn't in question as so many other artists record her songs.  She's a fine singer in her own right, great for subtle nuances and heart aching laments.

Birding 101

When the trees start looking bare, the landscape can seem dreary. But there is still plenty of natural beauty to enjoy. Autumn is a great time to try bird watching. With less leaves on trees it can be easier to spot birds, and fall migrations can bring different species to your backyard.

Love is All You Need

Love is All You Need

In "Love is All You Need" Pierce Brosnan does an outstanding job as Philip, a widowed business man who can barely make time to go to his son's wedding. Ida, played by Danish star Trine Dyrholm, is working in a beauty salon and taking care of her husband and son even as she finishes her cancer treatments. Ida's daughter is getting married to Philip's son. A car accident serves as Philip and Ida's introduction and doesn't make for good first impressions. The wedding has collisions as well, but Ida finds the silver lining no matter how cloudy the weather. A believable, realistic relationship film for audiences looking beyond the farce of romantic comedies, "Love is All You Need" isn't so much a romance as it is as a guide on how to be gracious when your family is dysfunctional. The plot resolutions may be predictable, but the path taken is not.

Top 10 Reasons to Read Veronica Roth's "Divergent"

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth

Top 10 Reasons to Read Veronica Roth's "Divergent"

10. It's like "The Hunger Games" meets "Fight Club."

9.  It's set in Chicago, and mentions several popular landmarks...although, they've been changed over time in this dystopian future.

8. Simulated Fear Landscapes. How fast can you overcome your phobias?

7. Geniuses make the best villains. Our heroine Tris could learn a thing or two from Superman and his battles with Lex Luthor. 

6. Knowing combat trainer Four is afraid of things too makes everyone just a little more brave. 

5. Who hasn't wanted to try jumping on and off a moving El train? 

Would You Rather be David or Goliath?

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his latest book, "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants," the answer is not so simple. Gladwell asserts that qualities we generally perceive as strengths can be a source of weakness. Conversely, the lack of those things can be an advantage. He also explores how being an underdog changes a person. In some cases, facing impossible odds creates opportunities.

Perks of Being a Wallflower

"Perks of Being a Wallflower"

Setting the normal teen movie on its head "Perks of a Being a Wallflower" shows both the pain and the joy of coming of age. Introverted Charlie has a lot of baggage for a freshman in high school. His best friend recently committed suicide and Charlie is having difficulty getting beyond his grief and other issues. At school, he is drawn to some other outcasts, Sam and Patrick, who are seniors and far more flamboyant. Sam and Patrick's world is peopled with eccentrics and revolutionaries.  Charlie is an odd fit for their motley crew, but they welcome him. Despite their age difference and her telling him not to, Charlie falls for Sam and the usual manic highs and crushing lows of infatuation sear through this character whose old wounds haven't even begun to scab over.

You Can Warm to these Zombies

Warm Bodies

"Warm Bodies" gives romance a zombie twist. Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, is foraging for supplies after a virus has decimated humankind, when she and her party are attacked by zombies. It turns out, zombies experience the memories of their victims after they eat their brains. So when "R," played in a gloriously understated way by Nicholas Hoult, makes a meal of Julie's boyfriend he likes her enough to take her home. Julie finds herself at the airport, peopled with zombies and bonies, skeletal beings who have abandoned all hope. While alone with R she realizes there are still traces of his humanity left, not only did he save her, but he has a vinyl record collection and decorated his plane in a rather eclectic style. Trying to fit in with the zombie crowd is more challenging than Julie expected. She and R decide she needs to return to her own kind.

Racing Around the World

"Eighty Days" by Matthew Goodman

Matthew Goodman's book "Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World" tells the story of a publicity stunt that captured the public imagination in nineteenth-century America.

Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper "The World" specialized in lurid and shocking stories that increased sales. But by late 1889, circulation figures were leveling off. The editors wanted to do something big that would sell papers for more than one day.

One of the few female reporters on staff was Nellie Bly, who had become a popular figure through her undercover journalism. Bly got herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the treatment of women there, and went to work in a paper-box factory to reveal poor working conditions.

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