Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle

Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle
by Nancy A. Collins and Luke Lieberman [Hoopla Digital Service] 

Red Sonja is one of my top three favorite comic book characters. As dark as this story arc is, I think it’s one of the best I’ve read. Red Sonja, if you aren’t familiar with her is a barbarian woman who lives in the same world as Conan, although she’s from Hyboria and he’s from Cimmeria. In this story, Sonja is older and instead of roaming around, she’s now settled down as a teacher of combat. Peace however is only temporary in her life. A foe becomes apparent on an outing to town for supplies which then begins to threaten the school. The birth of the enemy is pretty gruesome, in the imaging and the storyline. It’s so terrible that to even stand a chance to defeat it, Sonja must ask for the help of a god which transforms her in a fiery being who acts on impulse more than thought. I thought this story was awesome and is my favorite Red Sonja story arc. Red Sonja stories in general are fairly bloody, but this one is a bit more graphic in nature than usual and does contain some nudity too. Some people don’t like this, so it’s just something to be aware of beforehand. If you are looking for a slightly tamer Sonja story, I recommend you try “The Black Tower” on Hoopla; it’s a good one too, but I do prefer Vulture’s Circle. You can search for either title in the catalog and it’ll link you to Hoopla’s website where you can read them instantly through your browser or download them to the Hoopla App.

[If you are looking for a Red Sonja Conan crossover story you can check out ‘Red Sonja/Conan: The Blood of a God’ on Hoopla. There are others, but they aren’t available on Hoopla or in hard copy at the library at the time being. The website ComicVine is very useful when trying to find particular comic issues, characters and story arcs — http://comicvine.gamespot.com/] [ Nancy A. Collins blog ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read this one? 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!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Star Trek Speaks by Susan Sackett

Star Trek Speaks
by Susan Sackett, with Fred and Stan Goldstein [Not in library collection — order through InterLibrary Loan

One of my favorite Star Trek non-fiction titles, and long out-of-print, this one is available through the InterLibrary Loan service at the library. Susan Sackett, longtime production assistant to Star Trek Gene Roddenberry, has put out several volumes about Trek history, including Letters to Star Trek and The Making of Star Trek the Motion Picture. This particular volume organizes on-screen character dialog as quotes, into a variety of thematic categories. Nearly everyone’s familiar with some of Star Trek’s most well-known tropes and lines, from Dr. McCoy’s various “I’m a doctor, not a ____” complaints, to the oft-misquoted “Beam me up, Scotty” (a line never uttered in the original series!). However, a lot of classic Star Trek’s dialog has filtered into pop culture without most users even being aware they’re quoting Mr. Spock, or Uhura, or Scotty. I recommend this volume if you grew up on the original series, and would like to enjoy the nostalgia of revisited familiar bits of your youth. It will also get you prepared when your Trekkie friends challenge you to a trivia contest. In addition to the lines/quotes, this book is filled with dozens of black & white photos from episodes of classic Star Trek. A must for most Trek fans.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Letters to Star Trek, edited by Susan Sackett.] [ Star Trek Speaks on Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? 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, September 24, 2016

New Book Talk Booklist: The Man Booker Prize 2016

Did you miss Jodi R.'s recent book talk presentation to both the Bethany and Gere Branch BooksTalk groups, focused on this year's Man Booker Prize nominees?

Never fear, her booklist, including all the books on the "short list" and "long list" for consideration for this literary award, is now available in the archives on BookGuide.

The Man Booker Prize nominees - 2016

Keep in mind, some of the nominees for this award are not in the Lincoln City Libraries collection at this time -- in fact, a few have not yet been published in the U.S. (the award is presented for best English language work published in the U.K.!), so our online booklist has hotlinks to the library catalog only for those titles owned in our system currently.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places
by The National Geographic Society [910.4 Nat] 
 This oversized coffee-table photography/travel book is a marvelous travelogue to some of the most exotic and beautiful places on planet Earth. This collection is what resulted when National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines asked their top photographers and photojournalists to select photos from their favorite places on Earth, and to write short articles about each of those locales. In additional to breathtakingly gorgeous full-page (and sometimes two-page) photographs, each site being profile has a detailed description of the location, with tips about the best time of year (and even time of day) to be there, and travel advice for those adventurous enough to want to plan a trip. This book is divided up until sections, dealing with Nature Unbound (the natural world), Hand of Man (humankind’s greatest creations), Sea & Shore (where land meets the water), Mountain Majesty (mountainous glory), and Town & Country (where human culture and the countryside combine). In addition to the many specific locations profiled in detail, the editors also include many add-ons, profiling additional sites worth visiting, which didn’t manage to make the cut for the detailed blurbs. As someone who both loves to travel and who loves to take photographs, this book was a wonderful treat to find at the library.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try World’s Best Travel Experiences, by the National Geographic Society, and Journeys of a Lifetime, by The National Geographic Society] [ publisher’s official Destinations of a Lifetime 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, September 21, 2016

Star Trek Deep Space Nine (on DVD)





While my first and best love among the various Star Trek series will always be the original 1960s-era Star Trek (1966-69), my second favorite is definitely Star Trek Deep Space Nine (1993-99). The series broke new ground by being the first to NOT be set aboard an exploratory ship, and it also had the first commanding officer who wasn’t a white male — in this case, African-American actor Avery Brooks as Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko. Gene Roddenberry insisted, in the Star Trek series he controlled, that human beings in the future would be living in a conflict-free environment, and that all our social ills would have been solved. That was the set-up for Star Trek the Next Generation. However, the producers of Deep Space Nine decided to tinker with that policy, and the series is set aboard a massive space station on the edge of Federation space, run in partnership between the Federation and the Bajorans. The cast of characters was made up of multiple different alien species, different political and religious factions, and different motivations. Over the course of seven seasons, the United Federation of Planets ended up getting into an extended intergalactic war with the invading Dominion forces, coming through a wormhole right next to DS9, opening up the writers to telling war stories.

Deep Space Nine, while true to the Trek ideals, was also groundbreaking in some of the storytelling it took on. In many ways, the “black and white” simplicity of some previous iterations of Trek took on a lot of grey tones. Performances by all of the main cast were superb, with my favorites being Rene Auberjonois as the shape-shifting security chief Odo, Marc Alaimo as the noble yet nefarious Cardassian Gul Dukat, and Armin Shimerman as the devious, greedy Ferengi bartender/merchant Quark. What could have been a mistake, when The Next Generation’s character Worf joined the cast, turned out to opening the show to even more intriguing storylines. All in all, this is a series well worth watching, with plotlines that grew over seven whole years to reach a conclusion that was quite shocking. A lot of fans have a love-it or hate-it relationship with this particular Star Trek series. You can place me firmly in the “Love It” category.

[Over 90 Deep Space Nine novels have been released by Pocket Books. You can find them listed in our Star Trek: The Reading List booklist.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Star Trek franchise 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, September 20, 2016

The Martian Child by David Gerrold

The Martian Child
by David Gerrold

“The Martian Child” is based on the true story of Gerrold’s adoption of his son. Every adoptive parent can relate to the fear that the adoption agency will find the adoptive applicant lacking in some way, and he does a good job of running the reader through all the paperwork, the outside reading he did, and the overwhelming bureaucracy potential parents deal with. But in Gerrold’s case he was also dealing with being an openly gay man trying to adopt a foster child who had a large agency file outlining the boy’s many emotional and behavioral issues. His family, friends, and even the agency try to talk him out of this particular boy, but Gerrold is convinced this is the child for him. Afterall, the boy thinks he’s from Mars, and Gerrold is a science fiction writer – peas in a pod.

Told with humor and poignancy, we follow Gerrold through all his paperwork, and the home visits with the child, and after several weeks the boy is allowed to move from the foster home to Gerrold’s home on a trial basis. Eventually the honeymoon phase of their relationship passes and Gerrold has his hands full with a fearful boy with low self-esteem who has been dumped by his mother when a toddler, and abused at every foster home. Dennis is now acting out constantly by stealing and lying, and deliberately breaking things at every opportunity.

Gerrold is at his wit’s end but is determined to stick with his promise to this boy to never fail him. It is very moving to watch Gerrold work through these issues as he realizes his motivation for this adoption is to build a family, and family sticks. This revelation suddenly makes everything fall into place.
Most amazingly, a large number of children available for adoption announce that they are from Mars. They relate the exact same story of how they have arrived at earth, what their mission is, and that they will be returning to Mars. As he methodically presents his facts about this phenomenon the hair on the back of your neck will rise. SPOILER ALERT. If I didn’t know that this story would have a Happy Ending, knowing Gerrold writes sci fi and having grown up on Twilight Zone, I would fully expect this tale to end with Gerrold ineffectively chasing a Martian ship that has reclaimed his son.

Gerrold’s off-beat sense of humor and his slightly skewed views on everything he observes makes this book very enjoyable. It’s a quick read at 190 pages, and has a sweet epilogue.
David Gerrold won a Hugo in 1995 for Best Novellette, “The Martian Child,” which appeared in “Fantasy & Science Fiction” magazine in September, 1994. He expanded the story into this novel which was published in 2002. A movie based on the novel, “The Martian Child,” was released in 2007 starring John Cusak, but be aware the movie changes the father’s orientation to that of a straight widower.

[ official David Gerrold web site ]

Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? 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!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Inside Star Trek: The Real Story by Herb Solow and Robert Justman

Inside Star Trek: The Real Story
by Herb Solow and Robert Justman [791.457 StaYs] 

Herb Solow was a television programming executive at the time that Gene Roddenberry was trying to get Star Trek launched, and in fact was one of the first two people that Roddenberry made his first, limited “pitch” of the show to. Over the course of the creation of Star Trek’s two (!) different pilots and then the production of the first two (of three) seasons of the show, Solow and co-author (and fellow Star Trek Producer) Robert Justman were intimately involved in the series’ day-to-day fights with the networks over what kinds of stories could be told. Solow is an irascible and outspoken guy, and this comes through in his somewhat edgy recollections of what it took to produced Star Trek in the early years — Gene Roddenberry tended to take all the credit for the creation of overseeing of Star Trek, and that simply wasn’t the case. This isn’t the first book I’d point people towards for an account of the origins and tribulations of early Trek, but it is a different version, from a different perspective, than most of the other “making of” books that are out there on the subject. And it’s interesting to read this in conjunction with some of the other Trek history volumes, to see different sides of some of the arguments.

[ Inside Star Trek: The Real Story at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? 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!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Digital Retro by Gordon Laing


This book provides short histories of various old computers and videogame systems from 1975 to 1988. There is a history and description for all of them with large photos. I was really fun to look and read through. Some I had heard about from family, one was the Apple computer I first remember using at school, I remember playing a few things NES, and the Sega Master System I’ve recently come to know is also included. One thing I learned is how Sega was named. The company originally made games for military units in Japan in the early 1950s and was called Service Games of Japan; later on the name was shorted to Sega. I also enjoyed reading about the ZX Spectrum, a micro-computer that was very common in Britain at the time, which had a lot of games in its library. The book really has more history to it than computer specs, so I think it’d appeal to people who used the computers or are interested in the history, not just techies. If you are interested in older computers, videogames and video game consoles that were before your time or not common in the part of world you are from, then I think you’d like this. Also it’s free of all the differing options you’d get online about which system is better. It’s definitely worth picking up for a trip down memory lane.

[You might also like the website Worldoflongplays.org which has a large selection of videos of someone playing entire games start to finish. They can be fun watch to get a feel for a game or game system that you never had the chance to play, or are considering getting.] [ official Gordon Laing web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read this one? 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!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Galaxy Quest (on DVD)

Galaxy Quest
[DVD Galaxy] [No longer in library collection — order through InterLibrary Loan]

Galaxy Quest is often referred to as “one of the best Star Trek films ever made”, and with good reason. While on the surface, it appears to be a parody of Star Trek, mocking both on the on-screen tropes of that legendary TV and film franchise, and also poking gentle fun at the larger-than-life personalities of the actors associated with Trek, when you look at this film in a larger sense, you can see that it is only poking fun because it loves the source material so much. Tim Allen stars as Jason Nesmith, the actor who formerly played Commander Peter Quincey Taggert of the starship NSEA Protector, the main character of the 1970s era TV series Galaxy Quest. Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub , Daryl Mitchell and Sam Rockwell all play other actors who had portrayed regular characters on that TV series. They’ve been supplementing their meager incomes with appearances at science fiction conventions, or by portraying their “cult favorite” characters in cheesy promotional commercials (“By Grabthar’s Hammer, What a Deal!”).
After Nesmith throws a fit and gets drunk after hearing how is former co-stars think so little of him, a group of aliens kidnaps him (and the rest of his “crew”), believing them all to be the space-faring characters they played 20 years earlier on TV, and needing the help of a heroic starship crew to fight back against some monstrous aliens threatening their peaceful civilization. Nesmith and his fellow out-of-work actors must somehow become the heroic characters they once pretended to be, in order to save a peaceful race, and in the meantime find purpose in their own aimless lives.

This film is a tour-de-force of science fiction humor, with one of Alan Rickman’s best performances in any movie. The special effects are top-notch, while still poking fun at classic Star Trek’s kinda of cheesy-looking aliens and monsters. At its heart, however, Galaxy Quest is a love letter to the fans, who gather at convention to relive the glory days of television shows like Star Trek/Galaxy Quest — in fact, it is the fans of Galaxy Quest who end up ultimately saving the day as the evil aliens pursue Nesmith and his crewmates back to Earth. This is a hilarious, and yet touching, film. Other than a little problem with pacing, I can’t recommend this one highly enough! I’m disappointed to see that the libraries no longer own any copies of this, but you can easily get ahold of it through our InterLibary Loan service, and it should probably be available through various streaming services online.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched this one? 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!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Fireman by Joe Hill (audiobook)

The Fireman
by Joe Hill [Compact Disc Hill]

This is a new release by Joe Hill. I’ve read one other book of his (NOS4A2) and enjoyed it. Plus, Joe Hill is one of Stephen King’s sons, and I love Stephen King’s work (as well as that of his wife, Tabitha). I was able to get my hands on the audiobook for this story, and I was immediately thrilled to find that Kate Mulgrew was the narrator. She’s got an incredible voice, and I’ve enjoyed her in a few of the roles I’ve seen her play in movies/TV. She made this book even better than it would’ve been if I’d read it quietly to myself!
The story takes place in modern day, but it’s what you might call post-apocalyptic or dystopian. That is to say, it’s basically the end of the world (as we know it)…. Millions of people have died off due to a “spore” called the Dragon Scale. It infects people, and they become covered in beautiful tattoo-like markings that are black but have an overlay of gold to them. The problem is that once infected with this spore, a person will randomly burst into flames and die. Nobody knows what causes the spore or how to prevent it from spreading. Harper, our protagonist, leaves her husband once she becomes infected, as he blames her for being a nurse and caring for the infected–she’s brought the infection home, and he’s NOT happy. After leaving her husband, things go from bad to worse, as Harper is trying to avoid being caught by Cremation Squads (who do “mercy killings” of the infected to prevent the spore from spreading). She stumbles onto a group of infected people hiding out, including a Brit known as The Fireman. The group may have discovered a way to prevent the inevitable self-destructive fires, but will they find it in time to save themselves?

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Stand, by Stephen King] [ official Joe Hill web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this book? 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!

Monday, September 12, 2016

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek by Dave Marinaccio

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek
by Dave Marinaccio [158.1 Mar]

This light-hearted 1994 pop psychology volume tapped into the popularity that Star Trek was enjoying at the time, with Star Trek the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine both being on the air, and obviously having followed in the original Star Trek’s footsteps from the 1960s. Marinaccio takes the format of the popular Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and puts a Star Trek spin on it. Broad psychological or philosophical themes were played out in many episodes of every generation of Star Trek, leading to lots of lines of dialog or show guidelines that are sweeping statements of philosophy and/or psychology. Take for example “Whatever you are doing, answer a distress call. The most important time to help someone is when they need it.” Or “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for play.” “The unknown is not to be feared. It is to be examined, understood and respected.” “Close friends become family, and family is the true center of the universe.” “End every episode with a smile”. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek philosophy of IDIC — Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations — is explored here in many different examples.
Despite being about philosophy, this volume isn’t really a heavy one — instead, it’s a fun little quick read, that highlights how Star Trek’s messages can filter down as life lessons for even the casual observer.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek: Make It So — Leadership Lessons From Star Trek the Next Generation, by Wess Roberts and Bill Ross.] [ All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek entry at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or made use of this book? 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!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Force Awakens (on DVD)


With how big the franchise is I don’t feel it necessary to introduce this much. Personally I was not too excited to see it when it came out, but I went with family anyway because they wanted to see it. As I watched it I got more into it and ended up really enjoying it. I’d watched the three original movies before, just because I felt like the only person who had not seen them. Despite the fact that they are such classics, I just didn’t get into them or connect with any of the characters. ‘The Force Awakens’ was different for me. Not only was there plenty of action and adventure, but it was a bit mysterious too as it ends with unanswered questions. I really liked BB8 because it’s funny and cute; I also kind of felt sorry for him because he’s being hunted. Rey’s character was interesting because so much of her past is unknown to the viewers and the character, but I also liked how she and Finn worked as a team. As I said I really liked this movie even though I didn’t care much for the previous ones, but I would still recommend you watch them before you see this one (if you haven’t already), so you aren’t as confused as to who is who.

[If you might also like the Witchblade graphic novel series, avaliable on Hoopla. It’s also a sci-fi starring a strong female protagonist with a special power, although it is set on Earth in modern times.] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Star Wars: The Force Awakens web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read or made use of this book? 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, September 10, 2016

The Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael Okuda

 As has been pointed out in previous Star Trek book reviews here on BookGuide, our modern era includes such wonderful sources for online Star Trek research as www.startrek.com and Memory Alpha — for anyone wanting to look up the minutia of details about any element in Star Trek history. However, for those of us who prefer to look things up the old-fashioned way in books, one of the most reliable sources for Star Trek information for years has been the various different editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia, edited and compiled by Michael Okuda (the graphic designer behind the “look” of all the computer screens in Trek series from Star Trek the Next Generation on). (The library has the 1997 edition). Anything and everything that has ever been referenced in a Star Trek episode or movie, is cross-cataloged in these huge tomes — planets, aliens and other life forms, technology terms, ships, obscure characters, significant events, etc. You can also cross-reference writers and directors of the many Trek episodes as well. Packed with illustrations — photos, schematics, occasionally artwork — the various editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia are beautiful to look at, excellent for anyone doing Star Trek research (I’d call them a fannish reference book), and they’re fun to just pick a random page and read a few entries! The libraries’ 1997 edition clocked in at 627 pages, but a brand-new two-volume slipcased edition to celebrate Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016 is scheduled for release in October 2016, which adds 300 additional pages of new entries.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future, also by Mike Okuda.] [ Star Trek Encyclopedia entry at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or made use of this book? 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!

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (audiobook)

The Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom [Compact Disc Grissom] 

A friend of mine had listened to this audiobook and highly recommended it. I think they simply meant I should read the book, but when I saw the audiobook was available, I jumped at the chance to listen to it. It’s read by two different women, in the voices of two of the main characters, Lavinia and Belle.
This book takes place in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, on a tobacco plantation in Virginia. Lavinia is a 7-year-old white girl from Ireland who, for various reasons, is taken in by the plantation owner but is assigned to live and work with the slaves who work the Kitchen House (basically doing the cooking and/or cleaning for the folks in the Big House, as opposed to those slaves who do field work and live “down in the Quarters”). Belle is instructed to look after Lavinia, and initially, this is a chore she’d really rather not have. Time progresses through the book and follows the lives of Lavinia and Belle and the different paths their lives take.

I’ve read a number of books, over the years, covering slavery and usually from the perspective of the slave. The thing that really struck me about this particular book is that this white girl from Ireland starts out being treated somewhat like a slave (and is loved by and cared for by the slave family there in the Kitchen House); but at some point, Lavinia reaches woman-hood and is no longer considered low enough to spend her time with the slaves. In fact, there comes a point where she is even their mistress. It’s harder for Lavinia to wrap her head around than it is for her black family. I felt like this story really put some things in perspective for me, in a way that other books about slavery have not done as clearly for me.
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try 12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, or Roots, by Alex Haley] [ official Kathleen Grissom web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to 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!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever (audiobook-on-cd)

Happy 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's first airing!

Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever
by Harlan Ellison (audiobook-on-cd)


[not currently in library collection -- considering ordering through InterLibrary Loan (or purchasing through link at end of review, as this is a brand-new release)]

A must-hear for every Star Trek fan.

The “City on the Edge of Forever” episode that was broadcast on the television show “Star Trek” was not the version that Ellison had initially written. Both are award-winning stories – Ellison won The Writer’s Guild Award in 1967 for Best Episodic Drama on Television for his teleplay, and Roddenberry’s version won the 1967 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation – but I was always curious about Ellison’s original story as compared to the fan favorite that actually aired.

The epic animosity between Harlan Ellison and Gene Roddenberry as a result of their disagreement over “City’s” rewrites lasted decades until Roddenberry’s death in 1991. This book begins with an essay read by Ellison giving his side of the story. It’s a fascinating tale complete with creative insults as only Ellison can do. (If you ever saw him on the Scifi – now SyFy – Channel providing commentary to anything that struck his fancy you’ll know what I mean.)

Then we hear two re-written versions of his story by Ellison, and are treated to a play production of his story that won the Writer’s Guild award, including Ellison voicing “Trooper,” the character he’d written for himself to play in the TV episode (Trooper was cut in the Roddenberry version). Several “Star Trek” actors give voice to the characters.

Other writers provide commentary including David Gerrold (“The Trouble with Tribbles,” “The Martian Child,” “When H.A.R.L.I.E. was One”) and D.C. Fontana (“The Enterprise Incident” and “Journey to Babel” along with eight other episodes for the original series).

This audio book was originally a Kickstarter-funded project for Skyboat Media in March, 2016 (Kickstarter is an online fundraising website). Be aware that Ellison recorded his parts after his stroke and a few of his words and phrases are difficult to understand, but for the most part he is comprehensible. Overall, a very enjoyable audio book for Trekkies.

[ Skyboat audio’s official web site for this audiobook product ] [ Six Science Fiction Plays — including Ellison’s original teleplay ] [ Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever — book about the making of this episode ]

Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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The Star Trek Book by Dorling Kindersley Publishing

Happy 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's first airing!

The Star Trek Book
by the editors at Dorling Kindersley [ On Order ] 

This Star Trek themed entry in publisher Dorling Kindersley’s “Big Ideas Simply Explained” series (humorously subtitled “Strange New Worlds – Boldly Explained!”), is a marvelous look back at 50 years worth of Star Trek history here in the 50th anniversary year. Dorling Kindersley as a publisher is particularly known for its beautiful and extensive illustrations, and this entry is no exception. Every significant character in Trek history has a detailed profile, with multiple photos, background information, statistics, etc. Similarly, all the “worlds” and “alien species” introduced in everything from Classic Star Trek to Enterprise get their due. This is a wonderful introduction to the underpinnings of Star Trek for anyone who doesn’t know much about it, or who is only a marginal fan. My only complaint is that they didn’t have room to provide full episode guides and movie descriptions for the 700+ hours of Star Trek that has been produced for both small and big-screen enjoyment. But there are many other resources for finding that kind of information — instead, The Star Trek Book is a beautiful “snapshot” of a pop culture phenomenon, that you can read at your leisure, without having to worry about having an internet connection.

[ On a marginally-related note, I do recommend the other non-Trek volumes in DK’s “Big Ideas Simply Explained” series. I personally have purchased the Sherlock Holmes and Shakespeare volumes, but they have many more, on broad topics such as History, Psychology, Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Religion, Business and more.] [ Publisher’s official The Star Trek Book web page ] | [ The Star Trek Book entry at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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The Making of Star Trek by Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry

Happy 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's first airing!
 
The Making of Star Trek
by Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry [Not in library collection — order through InterLibrary Loan
 If I had to recommend only one single book about Star Trek in this month where we celebrate the original series’ 50th anniversary (September 2016), it would be The Making of Star Trek, by Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. Originally published in 1968, when the second season (of three) of the original Star Trek was still on the air, this book is a detailed look at what went into the making of a television series in late 1960s terms. In interviews with creative types both in front of and behind the camera, including network executives, make-up artists, conceptual designers, costumers and writers, you can see the nuts-and-bolts details of how a TV show was created, produced and marketed. This book is historically significant, as the first book ever published about Star Trek, but numerous creative people in the entertainment industry have pointed to The Making of Star Trek as a book that inspired them to get into the television industry as a career. Considering that there was a lot of friction between NBC and the production company, the existence of this book is something of a publishing miracle. Includes two B&W photo sections.
[ The Making of Star Trek at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Vol. 1: 1969-70 by Dean Mullaney and others

Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Vol. 1: 1969-70
by Dean Mullaney and others [741.5 Sta Vol 1: 1969-70] 

In 1969, before Star Trek had even started airing on any British television network (it aired 1966-69 in the U.S.), a comic-book format of Star Trek premiered in serialized form, 2 to 3 pages at a time, in British newspapers and magazines. The writers and artists creating this serialized graphic version of Star Trek weren’t given a lot of background information to work with, and in the early days of this comic strip, the Enterprise was led by Captain Kurt, and was far more militaristic — ignoring the “prime directive” of non-interference. Mr. Spock (i.e. Commander Spock) was extremely aggressive — seemingly “shouting” his dialog in very undignified manner. For many years, it was believed that these rare British Star Trek comic strips were lost to the ages, however this new oversized hardback book reprints the first two years’ worth of the British strip, with more to come.

I highly recommend this collection to any true Star Trek fan — just be aware that it is a product of its time, and you’ll be shocked at how little the early storylines adhered to established Star Trek styles and philosophies. If you’ve never read anything associated with Star Trek before — stay away from this…it should never be your introduction to the 50 years’ worth of Star Trek history that’s out there!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics, (in 2 volumes) by Thomas Warkentin.]

[ publisher’s official Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics web site ]
 
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

A Pocket Full of Rye
by Agatha Christie

A Miss Marple mystery involving a woman she’d trained to be a housekeeper. The housekeeper now works for a man in another town; the man dies suddenly and violently in his office at work. Police find in his pocket rye grains. When Miss Marple arrives on the case she notices that things seem to be following the nursery rhyme ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’. But who’s doing it and why? I found it to be pretty enjoyable; the Miss Marple books are always a bit more relaxed than the Poirot series. So while it doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat it is a fun puzzler.

[ official Pocket Full of Rye page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Flash: Season Zero by Andrew Kreisberg

The Flash: Season Zero
by Andrew Kreisberg [YA PB DC Kreisberg] 

This “graphic novel” trade paperback compiles several issues of a comic book that ties directly into the new Flash tv series on the CW network. There’s a twist — obviously The Flash on the CW is based on the character of The Flash (Barry Allen in his civilian life), introduced into the DC comics universe back in the 1940s. The producers of the TV series have altered some of his origins and created a team of supporting characters for their version of the character. This comic book/graphic novel tells all-new comic-style stories, but based on the current TV version of the character, NOT based on the version of The Flash as seen throughout 70+ years of comics history — in some cases the differences are minor and in other ways they are major.

The stories in this graphic collection are all set between episodes of the first season (2014-15) of this new tv series, and integrate well (sometimes even expanding upon) the plots in those TV episodes. The artwork ranges from excellent to not-so-good. If you are a big fan of the TV series starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, then I highly recommend this to you. If you are a fan of the long-time Flash comics character, but haven’t tried the TV series, this would still be a good read. If you’re unfamiliar with the history of the character of Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash), you’ll probably want to pass on this one.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Flash, starring Grant Gustin.] [ The Flash: Season Zero page on the Arrowpedia ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

All Dressed in White
by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke [Clark] 

I’ve heard great things about both Mary Higgins Clark AND Alafair Burke, and when I saw this new item (something I could check off my 2016 Reading Challenge list–namely, “an item published this year”), I jumped at the chance to read it!

I really loved the premise of this story–it’s about a gal who is a TV Program producer, who specializes in bringing cold cases to light and attempting to solve them on video. This is the second in a series, but it didn’t seem to hurt me, not having read the first one. There are obviously characters that had been introduced before, but they were reintroduced in such a way that it didn’t seem redundant to me. (It’s important to me, when I jump into the middle of a series, to be able to pick it up without feeling like I’ve missed anything; but I also don’t want to feel like I’m being patronized by the author striving hard to bring me up to speed–this book was the perfect balance, in that respect.).

[ publisher’s official All Dressed in White web page ] | [ official Mary Higgins Clark web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Windows on a Lost World by V.E. Mitchell

Star Trek: Windows on a Lost World
by V.E. Mitchell [Hoopla Digital Service]

Probably the best word for this book, is weird. It’s a bit longer (3 hours) than some of the other Star Trek audio books on Hoopla, and that just made it a bit worse. The story is this – Kirk and crew are on a planet’s surface when some windows appear in the ancient ruins they are exploring. Kirk and Chekov ‘go through’ the windows and are somehow merged into the same body as large bug/scorpion like creatures, and while the alien has its own motives, Kirk and Chekov still retain their personalities. Spock, as he does, finds them and figures out who they are because Kirk can control the coloring of his body’s skin and communicates with Morse Code. They of course eventually get back into their own bodies, but if you think it’s weird now, it just gets more so. The females of this species are the only ones with the knowledge to help them, but are resistant to help males, who are just seen as dumb underlings. I found this so ridiculous I’m not really sure why I finished listening to it. At first it reminded me of Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’, but this is much more bizarre. There are some things that are so bad they’re actually good in a campy way, so as I was listening, I was hoping it would turn out that way, but it didn’t. I really would not recommend it, but if you do still want to try it you can check it out on Hoopla, which is a digital streaming service our library subscribes to. 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 like this item, you might like these too – Checkout the Star Trek recommendations page on the libraries’ BookGuide readers advisory pages for more reviews of other titles you might like.]

[ V.E. Mitchell entry on Memory Alpha ] | [ official V.E. Mitchell web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Sisters (on DVD)

Sisters
[DVD Sisters]

I knew, when this movie came out, that I would have to watch it. I’ve always loved both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, when working solo OR together. They were fantastic together on Saturday Night Live. I really enjoyed the memoirs each has written. So I knew this movie would be perfect for me. A part of what Fey and Poehler bring to this movie is not just their own comedic genius (which there’s a heaping amount of), but they also add in guest appearances by several big-name stars. Most of all, because I happen to be in the same age-bracket as these women, the jokes they made about their younger selves in the 80’s also rang true for me. Whether your were the “party girl” or the somewhat socially awkward one, you’ll find something to relate to in this film!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Baby Mama (another Tina Fey and Amy Poehler collaboration) or Mean Girls (Tina Fey & Amy Poehler together again).]

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Delicious Dump Cakes by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore

Delicious Dump Cakes
by Roxane Wyss and Kathy Moore [641.865 Wys] 

I was unfamiliar with the concept of “dump cakes”, when I saw this book on our “new books” display, and the colorful cake it uses on its cover (Peace Melba Dump Cake) caught my eye. “Dump Cakes” involve an absolutle minimum of muss and fuss, frequently encouraging the cook to use a pre-made boxed cake mix as part of the ingredients — although the book does have recipes for making a vanilla, chocolate or yellow “homemade” boxed-cake-mix. The instructions are incredibly simple. Ingredients are simply placed in layers in a baking pan/dish, without any real “mixing” necessary. The photographs in this book are gorgeous and mouth-watering, particularly the “Plum and Port Dump Cake”, the “Lemon Blueberry Dump Cake”, the “Rocky Road Dump Cake” and the aforementioned “Peach Melba Dump Cake”. My only complaint is that there aren’t photos of each recipe — in fact they’re there for only about half the recipes in the book. None-the-less, for cooks who who don’t have the time or patience for creating complicated desserts, this book provides lots of terrific ideas for sweet dishes that should please any discerning diner.

[ official Plugged Into Cooking website — Rosanne Wyss and Kathy Moore ]

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!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ollie's Odyssey by William Joyce

Ollie’s Odyssey
by William Joyce [j Joyce] 

Blend The Velveteen Rabbit, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a bit of Calvin and Hobbes, and a fair dose of Toy Story, and you’ll have some idea of what this new book from William Joyce is like. Ollie is a homemade plush toy, partly like a teddy bear and partly like a rabbit, who has many pretend “A-ventures” with his boy, Billy. But his status as Billy’s favorite draws the attention of the “Creeps,” the frankentoy-like minion creations of Zozo, an evil toy clown. The Creeps kidnap Ollie and take him to Zozo’s lair, but Ollie escapes even as Billy sets out alone in the middle of the night to search for him. By the end of the book both Billy and Ollie find themselves changed in significant ways. The story is enhanced by Joyce’s own gorgeous illustrations.

The publisher suggests that this book is for ages 7-11, which seems about right; parts of it are probably too dark for younger readers. But there’s plenty here to keep adults engaged as well, including pop-cultural allusions to Star Wars, King Kong, The Wizard of Oz, and even The Magnificent Seven.

[If you like this item, you might like these too – The other titles mentioned in the review.]

[ publisher’s official Ollie’s Odyssey web site ] | [ official William Joyce web site ]

Recommended by Peter J.
Virtual Services Department

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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!