Friday, July 29, 2016

A Promise on DVD

A Promise
[DVD Promise]

As a fan of the late Alan Rickman, I wanted to see this film to see one of Mr. Rickman’s last performances before his untimely death earlier this year. Alan plays a wealthy business owner in pre-war Germany who takes in a young man as his administrative assistant when his own health is rapidly failing. The young man becomes part of the family, living with them in their mansion. The story surrounds the relationship of the young man with both his employer and his young wife. The man falls in love with his employer’s wife then is sent to Mexico to follow through on a business venture that he had suggested. The man makes a promise to return to his love, but war breaks out in Europe preventing his return. The story is very interesting but seemed rather slow in pace. I recommend it just for Alan Rickman’s fine performance.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sense and Sensibility, Howard’s End, or Enchanted April.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Kim J.
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!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Star Wars: Panel to Panel: From the Pages of Dark Horse Comies to a Galaxy, Far, Far Away by Randy Standley

 This is a marvelous look at the heroes, villains, alien races, exotic planets, intriguing spaceships and fascinating technology of the Star Wars universe, specifically as seen in the numerous Star Wars comic books published by Dark Horse Comics. Considered to be part of the “Expanded Universe” of Star Wars storytelling, whose continuity was jettisoned when the new Star Wars movies (beginning with The Force Awakens) started being produced by the Disney studio, Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars entries provided a vibrant and exciting “new” look at both established characters (Han, Luke, Leia, Darth, etc.) and all-new characters in the Star Wars universe. This book’s content features the artistic work of dozens of excellent artists, inkers and letterers. Even if the stories being referenced in this volume are no longer part of an established and approved continuity, if you are a fan of either Star Wars or comic books, this book is still highly recommended!

[ publisher’s official Star Wars: Panel to Panel 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!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Amazing Cows by Sandra Boynton

Amazing Cows
by Sandra Boynton [j741.5 Boy] 

Cats & Cows & Chickens – oh my!

Welcome to the world of Sandra Boynton, populated with cute and erudite critters that have been entertaining the funny bones of millions of children and adults since the late 1970s. Perhaps you’ve received a birthday card with the sentiment “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes” some time in your life? That’s essential Sandra Boynton, a cartoonist a lá Charles Schulz who can do a tremendous amount of emoting with just a few lines, circles, and squiggles. She has produced a plethora of greeting cards, buttons, calendars, mugs, etc. and BOOKS, lots of books. Her toddler-level board books have been a popular choice of parents for four decades now. Do titles like Moo Baa La-la-la or The Going to Bed Book or Your Personal Penguin sound familiar? She has also written some things for older children and adults, ranging from song-and-dance tomes like Grunt: Pigorian Chant to Chocolate: The Consuming Passion, originally released in 1982 and revised in 2015. [LCL does not currently own this book, gasp!]
Amazing Cows is an example of her lengthier books which take a theme and run far and wide with it. You will find out many things you did not know about cows, most of which are patently untrue, but very funny nonetheless! From ‘cowleidoscopes’ to the stages of insect ‘metamoophosis’, this will engage different ages of children, and also appeal to the child in many adults. Although it is cataloged as a young person’s book in LCL, a blurb on the cover states it is for “All ages up to a hundred and MOO.” What I have always LOVED about Boynton is her spot-on blend of appealing cartoon animals with her wild puns, cultural references, and gentle but clever absurdities. I always smile, and often laugh out loud, at a Boynton visual/verbal joke.

Like those great classic Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, et al, Boynton’s work has something for kids and grownups alike to enjoy. As evidence, she has over 250,000 followers on Facebook, and it is mostly adults who are regularly making comments and sharing her posts!
A world without Sandra Boynton’s merry menagerie would be dull indeed.

[ official Sandra Boynton web site ]


Recommended by Becky W. C.
Walt Branch Library

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Try out our new e-mail newsletter -- Book Sizzle!

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The Soprano's Last Song by "Irene Adler"

The Soprano’s Last Song
by “Irene Adler” [j Adler] 

This is the second in an ongoing series of novels featuring pre-teen versions of Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler and Arsene Lupin as friends, who solve mysteries together. Following the first volume, where they all met for the first time while each vacation on the coast of France, this volume finds all three meeting up again in London, where Arsene’s father has been arrested for the murder of the assistant of a famed opera composer — he was framed and they have to figure out what really happened. Attributed to “Irene Adler” as the author, these books are actually by Italians Pierdomenico Baccalario and Alessandro Gatti. I enjoy this series, although it plays total havoc with any kind of “continuity” with the Sherlock Holmes “canon” — the characters are well-defined, and it is fun to see the adventures told from the point of view of the young Irene Adler. This volume is a little less action-packed than the first, but features a well-described London and its environs, so we get to see the young Sherlock in what will eventually be familiar settings once he’s an adult. A fun read, but somewhat slow paced.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other volumes in this ongoing series.] [ publisher’s official The Soprano’s Last Song web page]

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, July 25, 2016

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country on DVD

[DVD Star]
 
Kirk and crew are assigned to help in the peace talks between the Federation and the Klingons after it become known that the due to an explosion, the Klingons have limited time before they die out. Not being too pleased at the situation he’s been put it, Kirk does as he’s told anyway, however a mysterious situation occurs and he and McCoy are convicted of murdering the Klingon High Chancellor. After being tried by the Klingons, the pair of them are sentenced to a labor prison camp on a snowy planet; escape and freeze to death. They’ll need the help of their friends to get out of this one. I really liked this movie; it was the last of the original crew movies for me to watch, so it was a bit sad that the series was over. My favorite is still ‘The Voyage Home’, but I liked this one a lot too. If you are interested in this movie and not very familiar with the ST movie series of the original crew, I recommend you start with the first movie (Star Trek the Motion Picture).

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek: The Original Series.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Star Trek 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!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel

Written in Dead Wax
by Andrew Cartmel

The cover to this mystery is what caught my eye, and a quick read of the back-cover blurb made it sound intriguing — the sleuth in question is The Vinyl Detective, a British loner who spends most of his days roaming the English countryside, visiting second-hand stores and charity shops, browsing their collections of old style vinyl LP recordings, looking for collectible titles that he can “flip” online into a handy profit. When a joke business card he had printed that claims he can find any record for anyone actually results in a client hiring him to find a rare jazz recording, he finds himself in a race with a femme fatale, brutal thugs and other mysterious figures to find this obscure album. Even finding the album doesn’t end the mystery, as he gets sucked into a much larger storyline, involving a legendary but tragic figure in jazz history, a beautiful singer from the 1950s, and a recording studio that went out of business under mysterious circumstances.

The world of vinyl LP collectors, and the recording industry of the 1950s and 1960s are fascinating topics to serve as the centerpiece for a mystery…which ultimately turns into a murder mystery. The settings of London and its suburbs, and then Southern California in the second half of the book, are well drawn. The supporting cast of friends and foes of The Vinyl Detective are all quirky all the ladies seem to fall for the charms of our hero a little two willingly, considering that he’s a bit of an odd duck. And the quirkiest bit of all is that our hero’s name is never revealed in the entire book…but, as a reader, you don’t mind. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and am pleased to see in the endpages that there are at least two future volumes in this series forthcoming.

[ publisher’s official The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax web page ] | [ Andrew Cartmel page on Wikipedia ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Time for Yesterday by A.C. Crispin

Time for Yesterday
by A.C. Crispin [Crispin and/or Hoopla Digital Services]

In this short adventure, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy must set time in the universe back to normal by contacting the Guardian of Forever. The mission takes them into the past to a time and place where Spock’s son Zar is living. It’s explained in the story who Zar’s mother is and how he was born so far in the past. At the particular time they visit, Zar is in the middle of a battle – with swords and armor, not spaceships. He must rally his troops even though he knows that prophecy says he won’t survive. I’ll let you listen to the story if you’re interested in how it ends. The recording is only an hour and a half and is read by the actors who play Scotty and Spock. It’s not the best Star Trek novel I’ve read/listened to, but still is was good, especially if you like time travel stories. If you want to try this one you can check it out on Hoopla, which is a digital streaming service our library subscribes to. There is not much in the way of set up you simply go to www.hoopladigital.com (or follow a link from our online catalog) to create an account, and then stream the audio through your browser.
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Doctor’s Orders, by Diane Duane] [ publisher’s official Time for Yesterday web page] | [ the late A.C. Crispin’s official web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Batman: The Cat and the Bat by Fabian Nicieza

Batman: The Cat and the Bat
by Fabien Nicieza [YA (Graphic Novel) Nicieza] 

Barbara Gordon is the main character in the story even though the title suggests its Batman. She’s only been Batgirl for a few weeks and she is put through a test when Catwoman steels a notebook from her. During the recovery of the notebook we see her grow a lot as a character as she tries to prove to Catwoman, Batman and herself that she can do the job. Among other situations this does include following the thief into a nudist club and the doorman insists that the proper attire (nothing) must be worn to enter. I found these scenes rather funny and I will say that everyone’s bits are covered by flowers, fruit bowls, furniture and such so that the readers don’t see anything explicit. I have limited familiarity with the Batman universe, but it was easy to read as a standalone book, so don’t let that stop you if you’re the same. It was nice to read a story about a librarian becoming a hero who has her own personality, strengths and weakness.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Witchblade series and The Danger Girl series, both available on Hoopla.]

[ Batman: The Cat and the Bat page on the DC Wiki ] | [ Fabien Nicieza page on Wikipedia ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Star Fleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph Designs

The Star Fleet Technical Manual
by Franz Joseph Designs [791.458 qJos] 

Growing up as a Star Trek fan in 1970s, the tie-in books to meet the reading interests of Trekkies were few and far between — the earliest Star Trek conventions were in the early 1970s, and publishers started to slowly realize there was an audience of eager readers waiting for new titles about their favorite show. The Star Fleet Technical Manual was one of the earliest of the Trek non-fiction titles published. Put out by Franz Joseph Designs, this manual was quite literally that — it took the form of an instructional manual for Starfleet cadets on some of the engineering issues associated with the ships and planets of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets in the Star Trek universe. There are highly detailed blueprints of various ship designs, as well as for several of the pieces of equipment popularized by the show — tricorders, communicators. The Star Fleet Technical Manual exists in a weird sort of limbo regarding how “official” it is — throughout the 1970s and 1980s, fans and production designers considered the information in it “canon” for the world of Star Trek. However, starting with the production of Star Trek the Next Generation in 1987, the contents of this book were no longer considered “official” but rather “apocryphal”. None-the-less, information from this book made it into on-screen graphics in several scenes in 1990s-era Star Trek spin-off series episodes.
This book has gone through several different printings and editions. Personally, I still prefer the very earliest edition from 1976. This particular book is probably only for the ultimate in Star Trek fans…otherwise the information is a bit esoteric or lacks a context that the average reader can appreciate!

[ The Star Fleet Technical Manual page on Memory Alpha — the Star Trek wiki ] | [ Franz Joseph page on Wikipedia ]

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!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Peanuts Movie on DVD

The Peanuts Movie [j DVD Peanuts]

In a year (2015) filled with some tremendously popular films, I will have to admit that The Peanuts Movie was my favorite film that I saw in a theatre. Written by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz’s children, The Peanuts Movie manages to capture the emotional tone and sense of humor of the original comic strip, as well as the classic original animated specials from the 1960s and early 1970s, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! The animation in this film is absolutely superb…giving an almost three dimensional quality to the characters, never previously accomplished on screen. The music by Christophe Beck pays appropriate tribute to the classic jazz riffs Vince Guaraldi created for the early Peanuts TV specials. I especially appreciated that the producers/director chose to use child actors as the voices of the dozens of classic Peanuts characters — just like all the original TV special did. The film is comprised of a number of separate short stories, encompassed by an overarching plot in which everyman Charlie Brown pines for the new kid in his class…the little red-haired girl. Hoping to impress her, his efforts over an entire year of school result in personal disasters and awkwardness. But in the end, the emotional payoff for these characters is sweet and intense. As always, fan-favorite character Snoopy gets a lot of screen time, as his many imaginative adventures come to life — Snoopy vs. The Red Baron, etc.

This film was an obvious labor of love — love for this huge family of beloved characters, and love for all the fans of Peanuts that have shared the stories over multiple generations. It is a marvelous little gem of a film, complete in and of itself. I hope they don’t try to make a sequel, because this film is perfect by itself! If you can’t tell…I love this movie!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to revisit all the classic old animated TV specials, as mentioned in the review above.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Peanuts Movie web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Witchblade: Volume I: Borne Again by Ron Marz and others


Before I read this I had only read the Witchblade/Lara Croft crossover. I am reading the current series Tomb Raider comics so I know about that character, but this introduction to Witchblade made me want to read more. This graphic novel collection is available on Hoopla, so I gave it a try and I really liked it. The Witchblade is a glove that bonds into the wearer with the power to transform the them into a strong armored version of herself and gives her other powers, including healing abilities. It has been worn by numerous women in the past; currently its wearer is Sara Pezzini, a sheriff in present day NY state. The crimes she solves on the job, sometimes also involve monsters which inhabit the world (unknown to most of the citizens), which she fights using the Witchblade.

In this book there are two overlapping stories; one in the present and one in the past. The story in the past shows how she tried to rid herself of the Witchblade and lock it away safely in the Vatican so no one else could yield it and in the present, a being of light obtains part of it. There is a lot of past and present character development in this story. It’s not clear when she merged with the Witchblade in the first place, but she says it’s been so much of her life she can’t seem to separate the two. The story in the past shows that she’s had enough of fighting monsters because of the toll it took on her and her family (lost her daughter and turned to drinking). However, the story in present shows her coming to terms with the fact that she and the Witchblade are inseparable. I really enjoyed this, but I ought to say that there is violence, blood, people with their heads cut off, and creepy monsters in the pages, so if you don’t want that kind of thing in what you read, then this is not for you, nor is it for children. I liked this one because of the mystery and fantasy elements and because of the deepness and complexity the character has, so I will definitely be reading more.

If you want to try this one you can check it out on Hoopla, which is a digital streaming service our library subscribes to. There is not much in the way of set up, you simply go to www.hoopladigital.com (or follow a link from our online catalog) to create an account, and then view the book through your browser. For graphic novels like this one it allows you to see the whole page at once and or you can be zoomed in on each box to read the text easier or check out the details in the art. If you like this item, you might like these too – There are other Witchblade graphic novels available on Hoopla; I didn’t look closely when checking this out but the four issues just before this are available (Rebirth Vol. 4) as is a Witchblade / Devi crossover.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Danger Girl series, available on Hoople. It’s a bit like James Bond, with a group of spy girls and less of the supernatural stuff.] [ publisher’s official Witchblade: Borne Again web page ] | [ official Ron Marz blog ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Story of Kullervo
by J.R.R. Tolkien

For someone not familiar with the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien, this book would probably be of little interest. The Story of Kullervo, one of Tolkien’s earliest works, is based on the Kalevala. Tolkien began translating this Finnish mythology while at college and it nearly consumed him. It has been said that this work laid the groundwork for his own creation, the Silmarillion; this can be seen in the similarity between the tragic heroes in both. If I had not read The Silmarillion before this, I most likely would not have been interested in this. The book includes essays by Tolkien presented to two different literary societies in his college days. I found the book to be very interesting, but it is difficult reading with all the additional notes and glossaries. Any fan of Tolkien’s mythologies or his work on Beowulf would enjoy this book.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tolkien’s Silmarillion or his translation of Beowulf.] [ Wikipedia page for The Story of Kullervo ] | [ www.tolkiensociety.org/ ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

The Hidden Oracle
by Rick Riordan
 The Hidden Oracle is the first book in the new Trials of Apollo series from author Rick Riordan. Readers who are fans of the Percy Jackson series will definitely enjoy this book! There are several interactions with characters we know and love from that series, as well as several new characters that promise lots of interest and excitement.

Apollo has angered his father Zeus, and has been cast out of Olympus. He must learn to survive in our world as a mortal teenager until he can figure out a way to get back into Zeus’s good graces. He is not in a body he would have chosen, he is no longer immortal, he doesn’t know who to trust, and his memory is faulty because a mortal human mind doesn’t have the space for all his godly immortal knowledge. He is as full of himself as you’d expect the God of music, truth, prophecy, healing, plague, poetry, the sun and light to be, despite being cast into a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. This book has the action, drama, and humor Rick Riordan fans are used to, along with appearances by Percy Jackson!
One of my favorite parts of this book was the chapter headings. Since Apollo is the god of poetyr, the chapter headings are haikus that offer the reader a small bit of insight into what’s coming without really reveling anything!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan (first Percy Jackson book), Artemis Fowl, by Eion Colfer, and Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins] [ official Hidden Oracle page on the official Rick Riordan web site ]

Recommended by Kolette S.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

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Friday, July 15, 2016

The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane

The Wounded Sky
by Diane Duane

In the early years of professionally-published Star Trek fiction, I read every Trek novel published by Bantam in the 1970s, and most of the first 100 or more of the “classic Trek” novels put out by Pocket Books starting in the 1980s. Once the Star Trek spin-off series — Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise — came on the scene, the number of novels being published across the franchise by Pocket Books became far more than I could keep up with — check out our Star Trek: The Reading List booklist to see how many there were! None-the-less, over the 50-year history of Star Trek, I have read probably 250 to 300 of the Star Trek novels, and I will have to say this is one of my top ten favorites. In my opinion, Diane Duane is perhaps one of the two best Star Trek fiction writers (overall) around, alongside Peter David. This novel was written in an era when authors could take chances with the established principle characters, as well as create original “new” crew members who could share the limelight. Not too many years after this was published, the powers-that-be put much stricter guidelines on what could be written for officially published Star Trek. But The Wounded Sky benefitted from coming out during an era of greater freedom for authors. Duane nails the characterization of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the well-known crew perfectly, but it is her original characters, including K’t’lk, a crystalline spider-like scientist whose experimental new drive system the Enterprise is testing, that she creates something unforgettable. I can’t recommend this Star Trek novel highly enough!

Interesting note: The plot of this novel was modified dramatically, in order to adapt it into an early first-season episode of Star Trek the Next Generation“Where No One Has Gone Before”.

[If you enjoy this, then I also strongly recommend that you try Diane Duane’s other Star Trek novels, including Doctor’s Orders, Spock’s World, Dark Mirror, and the novels in her Romulan series, including My Enemy, My Ally, The Romulan Way (which features a terrific inclusion of a Horta crewperson!), Swordhunt, Honor Blade and The Empty Chair.]

[ The Wounded Sky page on Memory Alpha — the Star Trek wiki ] | [ official Diane Duane web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman [Backman or CD Backman] 

I identified very strongly with this story, even though the protagonist is a 59-year-old Swedish male and I am a 56-year-old American woman. Our age bracket is about the only similarity between us, on the surface, that is. This is a contemporary tale about love and loss – really it is, stick with it! — and how the past influences the future, and how the future can be brighter than one might think after having lived through various tragedies and injustices over a lifetime. Ove (oo-vuh) is someone you would most likely characterize as crabby and unhappy, much like the “You kids get off my lawn!” persona, until you get to know him much better. Which goal his new neighbor, a very pregnant Iranian woman with a tall blond husband and two young daughters, sets out to achieve. Along the way, I found myself agreeing with Ove on almost every subject about which he had an opinion, and that’s most everything. I also found myself engrossed in the story of Ove’s life and how he coped with and overcame many obstacles that would have crushed a lesser, less focused person. That’s not to say that Ove doesn’t want to give up at times, but I’ll let you discover more about that yourself. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that Ove is more like an onion than a potato, which latter he eats on a regular basis, and his layers are revealed with humor and heartache in equal parts. I listened to the audio edition of the book which is narrated by American actor George Newbern, who does a wonderful job of giving each character a distinct voice and capturing the blend of bluster and benevolence of “a man called Ove.” (The novel contains occasional swearing and some adult subject matter.)

[ official A Man Called Ove page on the publisher’s official Fredrik Backman web site (author’s own official site is in Swedish) ]

Recommended by Becky W. C.
Walt Branch Library

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
by Agatha Christie
 This is the fourth book in the Poirot series; the detective has recently retired and settled down in an English village, but does not tell anyone of his past profession. However someone figures it out after one of the villagers is murdered and come to him for help. This novel is narrated by his neighbor, the village doctor, who accompanies him throughout the case like Captain Hastings does from time to time. I do really like the stories that are narrated in this way, in the first person, because I feel reminded of the Sherlock stories that are narrated by Watson. Although I did guess correctly at the ending, it still was not a disappointing read. I would really recommend it if you want a good mystery.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie] [ official Murder of Roger Ackroyd page on the official Agatha Christie 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, July 12, 2016

The Sharknado series on DVD

Sharknado series [DVD Sharknado] 
 
For many years, the Syfy channel on cable, previously known as the SciFi Channel, has been known for two things — the production of fairly high quality science fiction drama series (Farscape, the various Stargate series, Warehouse 13, Eureka, The Dresden Files, Continuum, Battlestar Galactica, Sliders, Alpha, Tremors, etc.), and schlocky, horribly cheesy Saturday Night Movies (Dinocroc vs Supergator, Android Apocalypse, Ghostquake, Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep, and the legendary Mansquito!). In the summer of 2013, a new installment in this series of goofball horror films premiered on the network — Sharknado. as with many of Syfy’s original horror films, the cast was comprised of either former child stars, or B-list and C-list actors. In this case, the lead was Ian Ziering (previously a minor star on Beverly Hills 90210, and featured on an early season of Dancing With the Stars) as Fin Shepard, and Tara Reid as Fin’s ex-wife. A freak storm causes water spouts to suck up huge numbers of man-eating sharks off the coast of southern California and deposit them in flooded areas inland. The storyline is ridiculous, the acting is atrocious, and the special effects are beyond cheesy. And yet…this became one of the most popular of Syfy’s made-for-TV-movies, even earning a DVD release. Syfy has subsequently produced a second and a third film in the series, set in New York, and Washington D.C. respectively, which aired in 2014 (Sharknado 2: The Second One) and 2015 (Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No!), and a fourth entry is scheduled to premiere July 31st, 2016 (Sharknado: The Fourth Awakens). Ziering continues to be the lead character as Fin, with Reid’s character becoming more prominent as the stories progress. The rest of the casts of each of the films has been comprised, again, by former stars or unknowns. Don’t watch any of these expecting high quality or you’ll be disappointed. Even the filmmakers realize this, going to further and further extremes for their zany “flying sharks” gimmicks. But, if you find yourself invested, even the tiniest bit, in these characters, it’s fun to watch them go through their exaggerated lives. I give the series a rating of “8” not for the quality, which is really more like a “4” or “5”, but instead for its silly entertainment value! Turn your common sense off and enjoy some Sharknado!

[ Internet Movie Database entries for these films ] | [ Syfy’s official Sharknado 4 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!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee and Peter David

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir
by Stan Lee and Peter David

It seems only fitting that the official autobiography of legendary comics publisher and pop-culture icon Stan Lee would be printed in graphic novel format! Co-written by comics writer Peter David, with absolutely beautiful art by Colleen Doran, Lee roams backwards and forwards through his life and career, sharing anecdotes about the events that proved formative to his publishing/writing style, and the fellow comic book legends whom he worked with over the course of over 5 decades behind Marvel Comics.

Though Lee is frequently accused of not giving enough credit to the fellow creative types that worked with him in creating such iconic comic book characters as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron-Man, Doctor Strange, The Uncanny X-Men and so many more, in this telling he certainly pays tribute to the many fellow artistes that were involved in those seminal events — Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and so many more. Lee’s autobiography is told with a great sense of self-deprecating humor, and Lee breaks the “fourth wall”, stopping to talk to the reader from the comic panels, even as the other illustrated figures wonder who he’s talking to.

Having had the opportunity recently to see Stan Lee live and in-person at a Kansas City Comicon (reportedly one of the last conventions the 93-year-old icon will attend), I’m proud to own a signed copy of this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Lee’s version of Marvel Comics history. Just keep in mind that other creators may have different interpretations of some of the events than Lee did!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee, How to Write Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics, by Lee Daniels or Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire, and Both Lost, by Dan Raviv.]

[ publisher’s official Amazing Fantastic Incredible web site ] | [ official Stan Lee 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!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pole to Pole with Michael Palin (on DVD)

Pole to Pole
by Michael Palin [DVD 910.4 Pol] 

Traveling from the North to South Pole, avoiding air travel when possible, Palin goes through 16 countries in 141 days: North Pole to Greenland, Norway, Finland, the USSR, Turkey, Egypt, Cape Town, then a flight to South America, traveling down to Punta Arenas and then to Antarctica where he reaches the South Pole. This is not the first or last trip of this caliber that Palin has been on, but that does not diminish its originality or excitement. Like his other adventures including Full Circle, Himalaya, Sahara and New Europe, I whole heartedly recommend it to a traveler or adventurer.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Around the World in 80 Days or Full Circle, also starring Michael Palin.] [Also available in traditional print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this mini-series ] | [ Pole to Pole on the official Palin’s Travels 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!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie (on CD)

Peril at End House
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie] 

While Poirot is on vacation he says he is there no way that a case could distract him. He finds it difficult to resist however; whilst chatting to a young woman at the hotel she narrowly escapes being shot at during their conversation. Like others in this series, there are twists up to the very end. The narrator, Hugh Fraser, does a good job with the different voices for the characters. He actually plays the part of Captain Hastings in some of the TV adaptations, who is the character who narrates the story. Although not my favorite story in the series so far, it's still really good.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Death in the Clouds or Murder in Mesopotamia, also by Agatha Christie] [ official Peril at End House page on the official Agatha Christie 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!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Star Trek 365 and Star Trek the Next Generation 365 by Paula Block

Star Trek 365
by Paula Block and Terry Erdmann [791.457 StaYb] 

In this year (2016) when the original Star Trek series will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, I’ve been enjoying revisiting some of my favorite Star Trek non-fiction behind-the-scenes books. Star Trek 365 is one of the best. Paula M. Block’s look back at the history of the production of the original series is chock full of rare photos and illustrations, many never seen in publication previously. Much like a Day-by-Day calendar, where you look at a different photo, comic or witty observation each and every day, Star Trek 365 (and the similar volume Star Trek the Next Generation 365 for the follow-up series) has 365 short chapters, filled with obscure yet fascinating trivia and production minutiae. These books have an unusual format — they are short in height but very thick in content. The depth of research that went into assembling these treasure troves of Star Trek history is impressive.

These two books are definite must reads for anyone who truly considers themselves a Trekkie or a Trekker, but they should also prove to fascinating reads for general TV science fiction fans.

[ Star Trek 365 page at Memory Alpha ] | [ Paula M. Block page at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriarty

The more I listen to audiobooks, the more I find that I especially enjoy listening to a reader with an accent. I don’t know why that is–what is it that we, especially mid-westerners who lack any type of accent at all, find so attractive about the dialect of people from another part of the world? It’s fascinating to me; and if that makes me shallow, so be it!

Anyway, beyond the lovely voice and accent of the reader, I found this book to be very entertaining and captivating. It focuses on three different women who, from the start, would seem to have little or nothing in common. As the story goes on, however, you find that their lives are incredibly intertwined. Although this book isn’t cataloged as a mystery, it certainly would qualify as one in my opinion. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I definitely felt a bit of the “whodunnit” suspense going on throughout the story!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple]
 
[ official The Husband’s Secret page on the official Liane Moriarty 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!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Wild (on DVD)

Wild
[DVD Wild]

Cheryl Strayed’s blistering autobiography Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was one of my absolute favorite reads three years ago, and when I heard that it was being turned into a biographical film to star Reese Witherspoon as Strayed, I was filled with both hope and trepidation. The book was such a personal story, and opened up so much of Strayed’s troubled life, in its exploration of how a 1000+ mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail allowed her to purge some demons and come to terms with loss, that I wasn’t sure a film would be able to honestly capture that emotion.
Admittedly, I am a fan of Reese Witherspoon, and she does turn in a marvelous, nuanced performance in Wild. However, the book is far more powerful, in part because the filmmakers had to telescope the book’s events and cut out several key moments from Strayed’s experiences. The cinematography is terrific, the supporting cast was fine. And the storytelling gimmick of jumping backwards and forwards in time is (for the most part) effective. However, the film just felt somehow…disconnected…from the emotional events that seemed so powerful in the book. If you haven’t read the book, I do recommend this film. However, I recommend reading the book (or listening to the audiobook, as I did) even more!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Wild 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!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Toni Tennille: A Memoir by Toni Tennille

Toni Tennille: A Memoir
by Toni Tennille and Caroline Tennille St. Clair

Toni Tennille has been one of my favorite female vocalists since she burst onto the music scene with her Grammy-winning recording of “Love Will Keep Us Together” with husband Daryl Dragon back in 1975. Daryl Dragon was better known as “Captain of the Keyboards” in his position as keyboardist for the Beach Boys on tour and the name “Captain” stuck. Daryl soon brought along his girlfriend Toni to join the band as an additional keyboardist, giving her the distinction of being the only female to be a part of the Beach Boys touring band back in the 1970s. Since that time, Toni has distinguished herself with having a prime-time music show on ABC, her own talk show, and a successful run with an off-Broadway production of Victor/Victoria. She recorded her own series of music CDs of Big Band songs and has performed with orchestras all over the country. With what appeared to be a perfect marriage and successful music career, the world was astounded when Toni suddenly filed for divorce as she and Daryl neared their 40th wedding anniversary. This book explains in great detail what led to that decision and how Toni survived so many years in a loveless marriage. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to any fan of the Captain and Tennille.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the Beach Boys book reviews, also by this reviewer.] [ official Toni Tennille web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?
  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!