Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

The Girls of Atomic City
by Denise Kiernan [940.53 Kie] 

What a story. Well, multiple stories really which tie into a larger one. The book follows multiple people who were brought together during WWII for the Manhattan Project, to them just ‘the project’. Many, but not all the people recruited to refine uranium for the project, were women looking for work during the war. They were not told what they were doing or why, simply given instructions to do their job and that the project was to bring a speedy end to the war. They didn’t find out what the project was until the bomb was dropped on Japan and it was revealed to everyone on the radio that work had been done in Oakridge Tennessee, where they all were living and working. I found it very interesting how so many people were working on, at the time, the world’s biggest science project and managed to keep it all a secret. The atmosphere described from many personal accounts of those who lived at Oakridge reminded me in a way of a documentary I’ve seen about life at McMurdo Station Antarctica in that you become close to those who’ve shared the experience, because it’s such a unique experience, it’s hard for others to know how you feel. The book is roughly chronological and begins with people who lived on the location of Oakridge, before it was Oakridge, and follows a few people from around the country through the job application process, to work and daily life on the compound, to the end of the war and up to the modern day. It does on occasion move away from Oakridge and give some information on Oppenhiemer and the test site at Los Alamos. If you are interested in WWII or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) history I recommend this book to you.

[If you enjoy this, you may also like the fictionalized DVD series Bletchley Circle, which features women
code breakers during WWII, in London England. If you are looking for another non-fiction title, I recommend Antarctica: A Year on the Ice for a glimpse into life of the scientific research outpost on Antarctica.]

[ official Girls of Atomic City web site ] | [ official Denise Kiernan web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Young Frankenstein - The Story of the Making of the Film by Mel Brooks


Following the recent passing of actor Gene Wilder, a special live-streamed-in-theatres showing of Young Frankenstein, hosted by Mel Brooks, filled movie theaters across the country with fans of this goofy yet sentimental parody of horror films. During that live showing, Mel Brooks promoting his (at that time) upcoming book Young Frankenstein: A Mel Brooks Film – The Story of the Making of the Film, and I was thrilled to see that it was coming out in late October 2016. I bought my copy the day it came out and recommended it for the libraries’ collection, and I’m hoping they’ll get it.

This is a marvelous behind-the-scenes look at the making of 1974’s Young Frankenstein, featuring tons of photos previously never seen, plus interviews with some of the actors and production personnel, and recapped past interviews with the actors who have passed on in the intervening years. You can tell, from everyone’s comments, that anyone associated with this production holds this film (and their experiences making it) in high esteem. If you are a fan of Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Madeleine Kahn, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman or Terri Garr, and what to know what the origins of this film were, and what kinds of shenanigans took place during the filming, you’ll love this volume. If you’re a fan of film-making in general, this offers a marvelous look at the production of one single, memorable film. My only complaint? It wasn’t large enough and didn’t have enough interviews! “What hump?” “Give him a sedagive?!” “Put the candle back!” “Frau Blucher!” “It could be raining” “Werewolf? There wolf!” “Puttin’ on the Riiiitttzzz!”

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the DVD of Young Frankenstein, directed by Mel Brooks, or check out the sheet music or soundtrack album to the Young Frankenstein Musical, also by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan.] [ publisher’s official Young Frankenstein: The Making of the Film web site ] | [ official Mel Brooks web site – currently off-line ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

Ahsoka
by E.K. Johnston

Ahsoka takes place shortly after the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Galactic Empire. Ahsoka Tano, former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, is trying to find her way on the Outer Rim while avoiding the Empire’s interest in surviving Jedi. Despite her efforts, Ahsoka finds herself drawn into standing against the Empire when a small community of farmers on an isolated moon find themselves being brutally exploited by an opportunistic bureaucrat. Her actions have larger ramifications as Ahsoka must find a new path forward if she and those she would protect are to survive. “Ahsoka” is a largely by-the-numbers story of the reluctant hero drawn back into standing against villainy. Still, it is a well-paced enjoyable read for any fan of Star Wars. Fans of the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” television series will enjoy this book the most.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller or Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray.]

[ Disney Lucasfilm Press’ official Ahsoka web page ] | [ official E.K. Johnston web site ]

See more books like this on the Star Wars: The Reading List booklist on BookGuide
 
Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Last Five Years on DVD

The Last Five Years
[DVD Last]

This film is an excellent transformation of a fascinating, if somewhat depressing, stage musical from Jason Robert Brown. Semi-autobiographical in nature, the story is told — mostly in song — by a young couple chronicling a five-year romantic relationship that is ending with their separation. Not all that unusual, you say? The woman, Cathy, a struggling actress (portrayed here by Anna Kendrick), tells her story backwards, starting with the break-up. The man, Jamie, a rising successful novelist (played by Jeremy Jordan), tells his side of the story in traditional chronological order. Though the actors are obviously in each others scenes, all the songs are basically solos, until the middle of the story/movie, when their storylines converge on a scene showing his proposal and their wedding — the only “duet” in the entire musical.

The storytelling is intriguing, the actors are excellent in their roles, and their voices are well suited to the songs — Jeremy Jordan (currently starring in Supergirl, was the lead in the Broadway musicals Newsies and Bonnie & Clyde, starred in the TV musical series Smash in 2013, while Anna Kendrick has been hugely successful in films lately, including musical turns in both Pitch Perfect movies and as Cinderella in Into the Woods). The story is an excellent five-year “slice of life”, it’s just that it is ultimately depressing to watch this relationship break down, from two different directions. Still…a fascinating film, especially for fans of musicals.

Also of note: This stage musical will be performed locally in 2017.

[Also available: Soundtracks to both the 2013 Off-Broadway cast recording and the film soundtrack, via our Hoopla digital service.]
 
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Last Five Years movie web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Rules of Love and Grammar by Mary Simses


What do an old bicycle, a Hollywood director, a room full of orchids, and an unpublished screenplay have in common? The answer is Grace Hammond, a computer translation proofer by trade, who is visiting her parents and hanging out with her best friend in her Connecticut hometown due to being temporarily – she hopes – jobless, homeless, and dumped. Will an old high school rival spoil her stay? Will she figure out the difference between a spoke wrench and a track cog? How will she decide between the three men she’s interested in? More importantly, will she come to terms with the most painful event in her past? Find out what makes Grace tick and what she ultimately wants in this charming contemporary romance. Author Simses achieves a very good balance of humor and drama in this, her second novel.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe, also by Mary Simses.]

[ official Rules of Love and Grammar page on the official Mary Simses web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Just Being Audrey

Just Being Audrey
written by Margaret Cardillo, and illustrated by Julia Denos [j Biography Hepburn]

When returning some new juvenile non-fiction titles to the “new materials displays”, this picture-book biography of the actress Audrey Hepburn caught my eye. Hepburn is one of the most famous actresses in film history — one of the “icons”, although with Marilyn, Bogart, Bette Davis and a handful of others, who set style trends just by being themselves. This lovely and charming autobiography hits the highlights of Audrey’s life, from her childhood in Nazi-occupied Europe, through her celebrated film career, to her international charity work on behalf of UNICEF. The art by Julias Denis is clean and bright, and capture’s Hepburn’s unique spirit. If you’re even in the slightly bit interested in the life and career of one of our most well-regarded film stars of days-gone-by, but don’t want to commit to a text-heavy biography, I recommend sampling this wonderful and engaging juvenile biography.

[ official Margaret Cardillo and Just Being Audrey web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Time and a Word: The YES Story by Martin Popoff

Time and a Word: The YES Story
by Martin Popoff [Music 781.66 Yes]

Rock journalist Martin Popoff calls himself a fan of Yes, but sometimes it would be hard to tell from this “celebration” of the group.

The title of the book is an allusion to the band’s second album, but also refers to the book’s structure, which consists of a chronology (“Time”) interspersed with numerous quotes (“a Word”) from the various figures involved. Unconventional though this is, it is an approach that makes sense given Yes’ convoluted history. Popoff uses this structure to provide a wide perspective on the group and the unusually large number of members it has had in its nearly 50-year history. He includes information about many (though not all) of the other groups and side projects that the members have been involved in. From the standpoint of a simple collection of facts about the band and its members, the book is a treasure trove for fans.

The book is a little weaker, though, when Popoff attempts to provide analysis and context. For better or worse, he seems to have a particular disdain for Jon Anderson’s lyrics. Anderson is known for lyrics writing that pays more attention to the mere sound of the words than to any coherent meaning in them, and Popoff is hardly alone in leveling just criticism at them. But this criticism is undermined by the author’s own verbal excesses; it’s hard to take his complaints entirely seriously when he uses a phrase like, “maudlin musical beds on which … hope bounces like a toddler.”

The book’s usefulness is hampered somewhat by the lack of an index; nonetheless, if Yes fans can set aside the author’s self-indulgent complaints about the band’s musical self-indulgence, this will be a welcome addition to the collection of rock histories.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978, by Bill Martin, Rock & Roll Year By Year, by Luke Crampton or Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture, by Edward Macan.]

[ official Time and a Word: The YES Story web page on the official Martin Popoff web site ]

Recommended by Peter J.
Virtual Services Department

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks

Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks

The second book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy picks up immediately after the first and leads right into the third. This makes it a bit difficult to separate the three of them because there is not even a slight pause between books. In this installment, Aphenglow’s sister, Arling begins to have a more major role. She is a one of a few chosen to care for a mystical tree which keeps a realm called the Forbidding locked away from their world, thus preventing all the demons locked inside from escaping. The tree is inhabited by a human spirit which can live for centuries, but it’s time has come and it needs a replacement or else the Forbidding will open. The tree has chosen Arling to renew its seed then take its place; she is terrified to sacrifice herself but still embarks on a quest to renew the tree’s seed in the Bloodfire. While all this is going on, there are still members of the initial expedition for the Elfstones trapped in the Forbidding and others outside the Forbidding trying to locate a long lost relative to help free their friends. Once again there is a large cast of characters and a lot of character development as they find themselves in situations they don’t feel they can handle. I won’t say there is a happily ever after to this or the previous book, but I still highly recommend this series if you like fantasy adventure. I listened to the audio book and the narration was fine but I also like having a paper copy because it includes a map of the world.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wards of Faerie (Book 1) and Witch Wraith (Book 3) in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks.]

[ official Bloodfire Quest page on the official Terry Brooks web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Cruel & Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

Cruel & Unusual
by Patricia Cornwell

I’ve been reading mysteries and thrillers since the 1970s, and I was surprised to consider that I had never read of Patricia Cornwell’s series featuring coroner Kay Scarpetta, until the libraries’ Just Desserts mystery book discussion group discussed Cruel & Unusual, the fourth in the series, for our final meeting of 2016. Cornwell, with the Scarpetta series, is credited with being one of the authors to popularize the mystery sub-genre focusing on coroner and forensic work, long before TV shows like CSI and Bones became huge hits (although Quincy, M.E., with Jack Klugman, ran on NBC from 1976 to 1982).

In the Scarpetta novels, the private life and relationships of Scarpetta, her co-workers and her relatives, take has much priority as the mystery-solving. This is particularly the case in Cruel & Unusual, where partway through the book it is apparent that coroner Scarpetta is being set up to take the fall in some shady dealings in the medical examiner’s office. Supporting characters like homicide detective Pete Marino, FBI profiler Benton Wesley, and Kay’s tech-savvy niece Lucy Farinelli (a brilliant but anti-social 17-year-old in this novel), all serve as major supporting characters in this volume. The plot of Cruel & Unusual was pretty straight-forward, but I did find myself getting interested in the characters and their lives. While Scarpetta herself almost seemed “too good to be true”, she was also quite a flawed character, which made me care a little bit more about her and her fate. All in all, I’d call this a strong mystery/thriller, although there is such character development in each volume that it would be best to start this series at the beginning, with 1990’s Postmortem.

[ official Patricia Cornwell web site ]

See other titles and authors read by the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group on the Just Desserts archives

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Love and Friendship on DVD

Love and Friendship
based on the novel by Jane Austen [DVD Love] 

Based on one of Jane Austen’s earliest literary works, this film adaptation of “Lady Susan” is a comical satire of a mother’s attempts to get a husband for her daughter. In some respects the film reminded me of a series of comedy sketches all put together to tell a story. The humor is very subtle at first, but improves as the film goes on. This should not be compared with any of Austen’s later works which are more serious in nature yet with some humor as well. It is definitely worth watching.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sense and Sensibility (1995 – directed by Ang Lee) or Northanger Abbey] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Love and Friendship web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Velda: Girl Detective Vol. 1 by Ron Miller


I knew nothing about this till I saw it while browsing Hoopla. You can tell by looking at it that it’s old or done in an old style and it is former. Velda, the detective, solves a variety of crimes as the book is broken up into short cases. We find out in one of the stories her previous job was a risqué dancer, which actually does come into the story. I find it kind of funny how she uses her past career to talk people into confessing to a crime or exposing their lies to get the bottom of the case. She does appear nude a few times, but is covered so the readers don’t see everything, but the other characters do. So to me it a comedic mystery series and I really liked it. I was reminded a bit of reading the Batman newspaper comic strips because of the age (1950s-1960s); they are both about a crime fighting hero trying to make the city a better place in a time gone by. Right now there are eight other issues of Velda if you read this and like it. You can check them out digitally on Hoopla, which is linked on our webpage. You can also get to Hoopla by searching for the title in the catalog and clicking on the download button.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Batman Newspaper Comics Vol. 1 or 2, by Whitney Ellsworth, Batman the Cat and the Bat, by Fabian Nicieza or Danger Girl: Deluxe, by J. Scott Campbell, all available on Hoopla.] [ publisher’s official Velda, Girl Detective web page ] | [ official Ron Miller — Black Cat Studios web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling on CD

Shatter Me
by Lindsey Stirling [Music Compact Disc 781.66 Sti]

Stirling began gaining recognition as a YouTube artist. She blends her violin compositions with electronic music, as well as different genres such as rap, rock, pop, country, rap, alternative, country and pop. In this way she creates a completely unique sound as an artist.

[ official Lindsey Stirling web site, including her YouTube videos ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

How Does the Show Go On? by Thomas Schumacher

How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theatre
by Thomas Schumacher [j792.02 Sch] 

Having grown up in a theatre family (my Dad was a theatre-professor at Nebraska Wesleyan University), and having been active in my high school theatre program, a lot traditional theatre “lingo” was familiar to me as a kid and teenager. I went over thirty years before finding my way back into theatrical productions locally, and this handy and profusely illustrated little volume would have been very helpful in refreshing my memory about a lot of little details about how a theatre is run, and how theatrical productions are staged.

Written by Broadway producer Thomas Schumacher (The Lion King, and others), this colorful volume is organized in easily-readable format, and features hundreds of photos from several different theatrical productions, to explain everything from “Front of House/Back of House” to “fly systems” to “in the round” to “stage managers” to how big shows are publicized. It’s all very entertaining, but despite Schumacher’s connections to the big Disney stage musicals, I would have appeciated a more varied set of examples than just the handful of shows Schumacher happened to have personal experiences with. None-the-less, for anyone who’s new to the behind-the-scenes world of stage shows — both musical and non-musical — this is a nice introductory volume with helpful illustrations.

[ Publisher’s official How Does the Show Go On? web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Thomas Schumacher ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

My Sister Rosa
by Justine Larbalestier

I didn’t know what to expect of this book when I first received a free ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I assumed it was for young kids, maybe a YA book. After having read it, I’m thinking it could be for an older YA, or maybe just adults in general. There are some sort of explicit scenes where (only when I think of them from a youth’s perspective), discussing a 17 year old’s nocturnal emissions and first sexual encounter. Beyond that, the book is a bit dark. That being said, I definitely think this would appeal to young adults and even (sexual content aside) older teens. Seventeen-year-old Che and his sister, Rosa, and their family, have moved around a lot. His parents (whom he calls by name, or he calls them ‘the parentals’, as they’re sort of hippies who feel that the titles of ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ imply a sort of ownership) often start up new businesses whose aim is always helping the less fortunate. Coming originally from Australia, Che’s family lands in New York City. Che does NOT want to be there; and he’s not only sick of moving around, but he’s also sick of having to look after his ten-year-old sister. It’s not just that Rosa is reckless or that she wanders off or gets into the same kind of trouble a free-spirited child might get into. Rather, Rosa is much more dangerous. She’s actually a psychopath–Che has studied a check-list of characteristics, and Rosa has all but one of them. The problem is, Che’s parents don’t believe him. They know Che never lies, but they just think Rosa is spirited. How can Che protect the NYC (and the world, really) from his dangerous sister and still have a life of his own?

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Apt Pupil, by Stephen King.]

[ official My Sister Rosa web page on the official Justine Larbalestier web site ]
 
Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton

Little Humans
by Brandon Stanton [jP Stanton] 

This is a juvenile adaptation of the themes from Brandon Stanton’s larger, adult audience Humans of New York and Humans of New York, Stories, both of which shared small biographies of ordinary, everyday New Yorkers accompanied by Stanton’s street photography. In the adult books, the stories that accompany the photographs can range from highly emotion, to humorous, to inspirational. For this “kids version”, the stories are made a bit more simplistic by the message put across in the book is still a great one — we’re all part of the fabric of our world, and make our own unique contributions. The photos are crisp and clean, and feature dozens of cute kids, from extremely multicultural backgrounds. This is a terrific book to introduce kids to diversity issues, as well as to the broader scope of Stanton’s adult works.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Humans of New York, and Humans of New York, Stories, both by Brandon Stanton.]

[ official Humans of New York (HONY) / Brandon Stanton web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, November 14, 2016

4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie

4:50 From Paddington
by Agatha Christie

This is my favorite Miss Marple story so far. A friend of Miss Marple is on a train and as another train passes by she can see in through the windows to another cabin on this other train. What she sees terrifies her; there is a man strangling a woman. The trains travel on their own paths and she can no longer see into the other cabin, nor find out anything more. The officials don’t believe her when she tells her story, but Miss Marple does and proceeds to discover who the two people in the other cabin were. The truth is reached after a winding course of events; I very much liked this one would recommend it if you like mysteries. One last note: you don’t need to read the Miss Marple series in order, so feel free to start here or anywhere you choose.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder at the Vicarage or A Caribbean Mystery, both in the Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie]

[ official The 4:50 From Paddington page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Stonewall: Where Pride Began


This is a fictionalized account of the weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots in June, 1969, that’s generally considered to be the starting point for organized gay rights.

The story is told mainly through the eyes of Danny, who is outed just weeks before his high school graduation. His father kicks him out of the house and he makes his way to NYC. He’s won a full-ride scholarship to Columbia and he’s doing everything he can to hang onto that scholarship.
Danny ends up at the Stonewall Inn with several gay men as they try to make a life and a living for themselves. This is made more difficult as corrupt police deal with the mafia-run gay bars that are given a heads-up as to when raids will be run on the underground bars that cater to the gay population. Finally fed-up with their treatment, they riot for several days.

This could have been a much better film, but it comes from Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”) so a superficial treatment of this story didn’t surprise me. At the very least, this is a decent starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the Stonewall Riots.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Stonewall Rising, (DVD 303.766 Sto), by PBS’s American Experience, a well-done documentary on this topic.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Stonewall movie web site ]

Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Surf City by Dean Torrence

Surf City: The Jan and Dean Story
by Dean Torrence [Music 781.66 Jan]

As a fan of Jan and Dean as well as the Beach Boys, I was happy to see a book out on one of my favorite groups of the 1960s, namely, Jan and Dean. I was disappointed in the quality of the book mainly due to the number of typos throughout and the constant use of profanity. I did enjoy reading the story of Jan and Dean’s early days, but felt that quite a bit was left out of the later years. What was Jan doing all those years before the group went back on tour? Dean did a good job of describing his award-winning work with Kitty Hawk Graphics, but I would like to know more about Jan and his recovery from the automobile crash that nearly killed him. Dean is one of the few people able to tell us about this. The book is interesting as an example of life of rock stars of the Sixties.
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the recent books on the history of The Beach Boys.] [ publisher’s official Surf City book web page ] | [ official Jan and Dean web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee
by Agnes Martin-Lugand

Martin-Lugand, a native of France, self-published this novel on Amazon e-books in late 2012 and was then approached by a publishing representative to go the traditional route and release it in print. It has since been optioned by famed movie producer Harvey Weinstein, and a sequel has been published as well. A modern-day ‘romance’ with a definite Gothic element, this is the story of a Parisian woman in her early thirties who has lost her beloved husband and daughter in an accident and how she ends up in a remote seacoast village in Ireland having a battle of wills with her brooding neighbor, all while her partying gay business partner (and best friend) runs their literary cafe — nearly into the ground, actually! — in her absence. Two or three times during the story I thought I knew what to expect next only to be somewhat surprised at the turn of events. Over all, it is a wrenching but eventually hopeful examination of grief, love, and resilience. One caution is that there is liberal swearing at times.

[ publisher’s official Happy People Read and Drink Coffee web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Forbidden Broadway - 20th Anniversary Edition on CD and Hoopla

Forbidden Broadway – 20th Anniversary Edition
by Gerard Allesandrini [Music Compact Disc 782.14 For — also Hoopla Digital service online] 


Forbidden Broadway is a series of frequently retooled cabaret shows, mocking huge Broadway hits and the people behind them. A case of four singers (two men, two women), with piano accompaniment take well-known (and frequently well-loved) hit Broadway songs and completely change the lyrics to poke fun at the occasionally-over-the-top nature of Broadway, or larger-than-life Broadway perfomers. Forbidden Broadway, itself, will run a few years, then disappear, then come back with all new songs, then disappear again. Having first been performed in 1982, it has gone through 21 different incarnations, mostly in New York City, although occasionally on the road as well — there’s been a London show, and one in Los Angeles, Forbidden Hollywood, which poked fun at the movie industry. Over the course of all these productions, there have also been over a dozen different Forbidden Broadway CD recordings. This particular album, their 7th, was released in 2000 and referred to as their 20th Anniversary Edition. It features tracks from most of the preceding albums, as well as few that had been previously unreleased. There are a few “blah” songs, but most of the contents are hilarious, for anyone who is a fan of musical theatre. If you’re not a fan of musical theatre, you’re

Some of my favorites from this collection: “Trouble in New York City” (thematically about Broadway musicals, but parodying “Trouble in River City” from The Music Man), “My Souvenir Things” (mocking Broadway show producer Cameron Mackintosh’s merchandising, to “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music), “Into the Words” (having fun with the Stephen Sondheim style of songwriting prevalent in Into the Woods), “Chita – Rita – America” (being silly about a Chita Rivera/Rita Moreno rivalry, set to “America” from West Side Story), “Somewhat Overindulgent” (mocking Mandy Patinkin’s singing style, set to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), a medley of Les Miserables parodies including “At the End of the Play” and “I Dreamed a Show”, “And I am Telling You I’m Not Screaming” (having fun with the hit song “And I am Telling You I’m Not Leaving” from Dreamgirls), and “Ambition” (mocking the classic “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof).
[Although this is a review of the CD collection that is in the libraries’ physical collection, this album and multiple other Forbidden Broadway musical albums are also available through the Hoopla digital online music service.] [ official Forbidden Broadway web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Omnibus 1 - a graphic novel

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Omnibus 1
by Jim Butcher, with art by Adrian Syaf, Brett Booth, Chase Conley and Kevin Mellon


I’ve been a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels, urban fantasy novels featuring Chicago private investigator Harry Dresden, who is also a practicising wizard. The series began with Storm Front in 2000 and has turned into a huge success, spawning a short-lived television series (on the SciFi channel) and 15 novels (and a whole lot of short stories) to-date. Comics publisher Dynamite began a Dresden Files comic book a few years ago, and has adapted several of Butcher’s novels into the graphical format, as well as telling some all-original stories in the comic books as well. Most stories run several issues — as many as 7 or 8 — and are then later compiled into a graphic novel with all the issues of that storyline together. This particular book — Omnibus 1 — gathers the original story “Welcome to the Jungle” (previously reviewed on BookGuide) with adaptations of the first two novels, “Storm Front” and “Fool Moon”, followed by another 10-page original, “Restoration of Faith”. These graphic novels are an excellent introduction to the character and storylines of Harry Dresden, nicely capturing both his wry, sarcastic sense of humor, and the complex, sometimes violent cases he gets mixed up in. The art in these stories is by various artists, including Adrian Syaf, Brett Booth, Chase Conley and Kevin Mellon. I found Syaf’s art to be gorgeous and highly detailed, while the art by the others tended to be a bit more abstract and/or grotesque. The coloring is beautiful. Having read both “Storm Front” and “Fool Moon” when they originally came out, I felt the comic adaptation did a tremendous job, hitting all the major plot points without loosing anything in translation.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the actual Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher, or the audiobook versions read by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer!)] [ Publisher’s official Dresden Files Omnibus Vol. 1 web page ] | [ official Jim Butcher web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Victor Frankenstein on DVD

Victor Frankenstein
[DVD Victor] 

This 2015 film is an alternative take on the well-known Frankenstein storyline, as originall written by Mary Shelley. Instead of the focus being on Doctor Frankenstein directly, this film follows Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe as Igor, who becomes Victor Frankenstein’s personal project first, and then his partner in experimentation later. The main leads — Radliffe, James McAvoy as Frankenstein, and Jessica Brown Findlay as Igor’s romantic interest, Lorelei — all give excellent performances. The production design, makeup and costumes are all top-notch, but I was somewhat disappointed in the modifications made to the basic storyline. Well done for what it is, but a bit off-putting to anyone who’s a fan of the original Shelley story.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Victor Frankenstein web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Red Sonja: The Black Tower - a graphic novel

Red Sonja: The Black Tower
written by Frank Tieri, with art by Cezar Razek

Red Sonja has battled many a strange or unusual beast in her time, but she has not encountered robots until now. Even as just a traveler, she finds it odd when a mysterious black tower appears suddenly in a town she’s passing through. Perhaps stranger yet, robots emerge from it. This is a fantasy world similar to Conan the Barbarian’s, so no one has seen robots before and are therefore justly terrified, especially when they start killing people. Some of the villagers start to worship the Black Tower and some, Sonja included, stand against it. Unfortunately Sonja, strong and brave as she is, is no match for them. I’ll let you read it to find out how it ends. I enjoyed this one mostly for its novelty compared to other Sonja mini-series I’ve read, not just because of the robots but about the ending too. It’s not one of my favorite mini-series, but it’s not bad. As with any Red Sonja comic, there is blood and violence, so it’s for teen and adult audiences!

[If you like the steam punk genre, you may also like Legendary, which gathers together a bunch of Dynamite’s characters, Red Sonja included, for a story set in a steampunk world. You can check out this title, Legendary, and other Red Sonja graphic novels digitally at HooplaDigital.com. You can also get to Hoopla by searching for the titles in our catalog and clicking on the download button.]

[ Publisher’s web page for this graphic novel compilation ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

The Highwayman
by Craig Johnson
 This novella is part of the Sheriff Walt Longmire series, and is inspired by “The Signal-Man,” an 1866 ghost story by Charles Dickens. A patrol officer claims to hear a radio call nearly every evening during specific hours from an Arapaho patrolman who died in a fiery crash on that stretch of road fifty years earlier.
I expected a straight-forward, updated retelling of a ghost warning travelers of danger. Oh so wrong. Johnson is such a rich storyteller and adds so much layering to his tales that this story went in directions and possessed depth that I hadn’t anticipated for a tale of this length.

Being a novella, I would call it #12.5 in the series – in between #12 “Dry Bones” and #13 “An Obvious Fact.” One doesn’t need to have read the previous Longmire books, nor have watched the A&E or Netflix series to follow the events or the characters, and of the series regulars only Longmire’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear, makes an appearance. This is simply a well-written ghost story and mystery with well-developed characters.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the rest of the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson, or the TV series based on those novels.] [ official Craig Johnson web site ]

Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Finders Keepers
by Stephen King

Although this is Book Two of the Mr. Mercedes series, it’s one that could easily stand alone. The bits about Mr. Mercedes are only included marginally, and they are spelled out clearly enough that a reader wouldn’t have to have read the first book of the series. Peter Saubers discovers a real-live treasure chest with a real-live treasure in it: some fabulous writing that’s never been published, and a ton of money. Since the chest looks like it’s been buried for about twenty years, Pete’s confident nobody remembers it’s there… and he helps himself to the contents. But his actions aren’t completely selfish–he uses the money to dole out “helping gifts” to his parents every few months, over a number of years, to help them get back on their feet again. By the time the money runs out, his parents are back on solid ground, both financially and also within their marriage. Trouble is, someone might have come back to look for that old treasure chest after all…. someone more dangerous than a fairy-tale pirate…

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn]

[ official Finders Keepers page on the official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!