Thursday, August 9, 2018

Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot

Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot
by Agatha Christie [823 Chr]

This marvelous little hardback book is a pocket-sized collection of Hercule Poirot “quotations”, taken from the 33 novels and more than 50 short stories written by Agatha Christie that featured her famous Belgian detective. Throughout his career, Poirot was well known for solving his cases by exploring the human psychology of both the victims and perpetrators of crimes. Unlike, say, Sherlock Holmes, who was far more intrigued by the physical evidence that could lead to the solution of a crime, Poirot loved to explore the mental processes and motives that would lead to a criminal act. As he says in “The King of Clubs”, “In the little grey cells of the brain lies the solution of every mystery.”

This collection of quotes is broken up into thematic chapters, including “Human Nature”, “The English”, “Symmetry & Order” (so, so important to Poirot), “Detective Work”, “Truth & Lies”, “Food & Drink”, and “My Dear Hastings”, just to name a few. Within each chapter, each quote — some are very short and others are a paragraph or more in length — gets its own separate page, complete with reference to the novel or short story it original appeared in. At the end of the book are two “extras” — an afterword pulled from Christie’s papers, in which she explains the Love/Hate relationship she developed with Poirot over decades of writing his adventures, and an appendix identifying every Poirot novel and short story.

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library on Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 2:00-3:30 p.m. — a celebration of all things “Christie”, covering the author and her life (including her mysterious 11-day disappearance), her entire body of written work, and the stage, screen and television adaptations of her stories. Then, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

“It is sometimes difficult for a dog to find a scent, but once he has fount it, nothing on earth will make him leave it! That is if he is a good dog! And I, Hercule Poirot, am a very good dog!” — from the short story, “The Chocolate Box” (it also appears in the play “Black Coffee”). [Note: I found it helpful to imagine David Suchet, TV’s most famous Poirot, reading all the quotes in this book!]

[ official Little Grey Cells web site ] | [ official Agatha Christie web site ]


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!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What About Bob? (on DVD)

What About Bob?
[DVD What] 

Bill Murray has built a career on playing wacky, oddball comic characters, starting in sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, and with such hits as Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and so many more. In more recent years, though he’s remained “quirky”, he’s branched out into some acclaimed, serious, dramatic roles, in such films as Rushmore, Lost in Translation, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and Hyde Park on Hudson.

I’ll have to admit, my favorite Murray performances are those where he’s a little looser in his comedy. My favorite two Bill Murray movies are Groundhog Day (1993) and this one, What About Bob? (1991), which he did back-to-back. Murray’s offbeat chemistry (as out-of-control neurotic Bob Wiley) with Richard Dreyfuss (as uptight therapist Dr. Leo Marvin) is marvelous.

Ultimately, this is almost slapstick farce in nature, and the humor is very broad at times. But, this is still one of those movies that I laugh at every single time I see it!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Groundhog Day, or any of the dozens of other Bill Murray comedies.]

[ 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!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Colossal (on DVD)

Colossal
[DVD Colossal] 

This is an artsy, introspective sci-fi film that wants to be much more than it can pull off. Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, an aimless writer for an online magazine, and alcohol abuser. When her excesses cause her long-time boyfriend to break up with her and eject her from his townhouse, Gloria returns to the small New England town where she grew up, to try to collect herself and figure out what to do next with her life. Shortly after returning, she encounters Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), an old grade-school classmate of hers, currently running a struggling local tavern. As Gloria finds a place in her new life, connecting with Oscar and his friends Joel (Austin Stowell) and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson), she continues to drink too much and not remember anything the next day.

This part is critical, because on the other side of the world, bizarre events begin — a “colossal” 60′ tall monster has begun appearing in Seoul, South Korea and wreaking havoc, injuring people and destroying buildings, before mysteriously vanishing. Initially horrified, Gloria becomes obsessed with the fact that the monster’s appearances seem to coincide with her own drunken visits to a nearby small playground. She runs tests that confirm to her that the monster’s appearances in Seoul at 8:05 a.m. Eastern time precisely match her own actions. When she tells (and shows) her new small circle of friends about this, things take an unfortunate turn for the worse.

The performances in Colossal are all terrific, particularly Hathaway and Sudeikis. Unfortunately, the characters all become highly unlikable and go down paths that are increasingly depressing. There are moments of comic levity, and moments of introspection, as Gloria tries to sober up and take responsibility for the chaos she’s unleashed on the other side of the world. But in the end, no matter how well made the film is…it’s still vaguely depressing. Still I’m glad I watched it as a DVD from the library, and do recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different.

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

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!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

I’ve Got You Under My Skin
by Mary Higgins Clark [Clark]

Laurie Moran knows firsthand what it feels like to live without closure of a loved one’s murder. Five years ago, her husband was murdered in front of their then three-year-old son Timmy. Timmy still has nightmares about “Blue Eyes,” the only distinguishing feature of the killer. Laurie is haunted, not only by the questions of who and why but also the killer’s last words to Timmy, “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn.”

As producer of the new show Under Suspicion, Laurie examines murder cases which have gone cold. By getting viewpoints from friends and family of the victim, Laurie hopes that her show can bring new light to unsolved cases. The first episode is to feature Betsy Powell, who was killed 20 years ago after the graduation gala of her daughter and three friends. As details begin to emerge from each of the people who was in the house that night, Laurie learns that each of them had their own reasons for wanting Betsy dead.

Laurie hopes that Under Suspicion will not only capture audiences when it airs, but more importantly, bring the killer to justice. The show has already caught the attention of a pair of blue eyes…

Laurie Moran is a down to earth character that audiences will relate to. The authors do a good job balancing the heaviness of the cases with Laurie’s family life and coworkers, which bring lightness and humor to the book. The suspects are presented, and the reader is allowed to draw their own conclusions before the killer is revealed in an exciting conclusion. As the other books in this series feature the same main characters as I’ve Got You Under My Skin, readers who enjoy this title will certainly enjoy others in the series. Aside the novels that she has written with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, this is the first book that Mary Higgins Clark has co-authored.

[Note: Although this first entry is written only by Mary Higgins Clark, all subsequent volumes in the series are co-written by Clark and Alafair Burke.] [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly, A is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton or Desert Heat, by J.A. Jance.]

[ official “Under Suspicion” series page on the official Mary Higgins Clark web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
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!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way by Myrna and Harvey Frommer

It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way
by Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer [Music 782.14 Fro] 

For anyone who is a fan of classic Broadway history, this is an essential read. In the grand historical tradition of previous “oral histories”, the Frommers gathered the remembrances of dozens of Broadway luminaries — both on stage, and behind the scenes — and in this volume they let those memories flow. Sometimes the effect can be of letting Carol Channing go on a stream-of-consciousness ramble, or Celeste Holm recollect how she got her role in the original cast of Oklahoma, sometimes it’s the children of famous Broadway composers and lyricists, remembering what their noteworthy parents’ creative processes were like — growing up hearing Dad tinkle out future Broadway hit songs on the piano in his home office.

There’s a strong feeling of sitting around a cozy living room, listening to Broadway legends tell their personal little stories in this volume. Originally published in 1998, and re-printed in 2004, It Happened on Broadway captures the history of Broadway from the earliest days of vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley, up through the mid-1980s. This volume is definitely oriented towards readers who have at least a passing knowledge of Broadway’s movers and shakers in the mid-20th century. Fortunately, it also includes a Who’s Who index at the front of the book, giving nutshell biographies of all the folks who are quoted throughout the book. The oral history recollections are then broken into thematic sections, including: “Broadway Calling” (break-in stories), “Look, Look, Look Who’s Dancin’ Now”, “The X Factor” (what makes certain performers unique), “That’s the Craft” (behind-the-scenes lore from the folks whose hard work allows the actors to shine), and so much more.

This is a marvelous historical volume. My only complaint is that it ends with the 1980s — Broadway, in many ways, has re-created itself in the past 3 decades, and it would have been nice, especially in the 2004 reprint edition that I read, to share more recent stories. Otherwise, this is marvelous fun and I highly recommend it. Rather than a dry and studious volume on theatrical trends, this is a collection of memories from the folks who actually put on the shows…and the love they have for the business of the theatre shines through!

[ official It Happened on Broadway web site ] | [ page dedicated to The Frommers at Dartmouth ]
 
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 24, 2018

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

The Last Battle
by C.S. Lewis [j Lewis] 

Undeniably the last in the Narnia series as it’s the last published and the last chronologically. After reading it I can’t disagree; unlike some others in the series I strongly recommend you read all the others before this one. It begins in Narnia with a gorilla named Shift and a donkey named Puzzle who comes across a lion skin and Shift decides to dress Puzzle in it and pretend he’s Aslan so people will do what they say. Puzzle doesn’t like it at all but is very weak willed and goes along with it. Things get rather out of hand pretty quickly and word spreads that Aslan is back in Narnia. As he hasn’t been seen in so long others believe the clumsy disguise. The present king of Narnia, Tirian, is alerted to the situation and terrible things begin to happen. Tirian calls out for help and the two English children from the last book (The Silver Chair) arrive in Narnia to aid him in the final battle. There are more surprises and more characters from previous books that appear in the middle and end of the book that I don’t want to reveal. This book was much less subtle about religious overtones and themes than others in the series and has bittersweet ending. I feel like the whole series wraps up nicely and no one we cared for before is forgotten about, which I liked. I really recommend the book and the series if you want to read some classic fantasy stories, maybe looking for familiar tropes that originated here.

[ official The Last Battle page on the official C.S. Lewis 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!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Legends, Icons & Rebels by Robbie Robertson and others


Legends, Icons & Rebels
by Robbie Robertson and others [j781.66 Rob]


This is a marvelous snapshot of Rock n’ Roll music history, and I’m surprised to find it only in the libraries’ “youth” collection! I’d read a glowing review of this book, and therefore wanted to give it a try myself. Legends, Icons & Rebels focuses on 25 different individuals, and 2 groups, that the editors consider to be the most influential in the early years of the evolving popular music culture. Each performer/group gets four pages in this oversized “coffee table” book. The first two pages are a gorgeous “splash page” with the performer/group illustrated by various pop artists, and a “pull quote” from the editors. The remain two pages for each entry are a short “nutshell” overview of why that artist or group should be considered significant, and a recommended playlist of their songs. The back of the book includes two CDs that collect a single “groundbreaking” song from each of the profiled musicans/groups.

This book is absolutely gorgeous, and the artists being profiled as an incredible cross-section of American musical history. To highlight just a sampling of them would be unfair, so here’s a list of the individuals and groups you’ll find in this tome: Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley, Buddy Holly, Joni Mitchell, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Curtis Mayfield, Billie Holiday, Little Richard, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Carole King, Sam Cooke, Louis Jordan, The Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding, Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan.

[ publisher’s official Legends, Icons & Rebels web page ]

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!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Crooked House by Agatha Christie (on DVD)

Crooked House
based on the novel by Agatha Christie [DVD Crooked] 

This is a stylish and well-done adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s most twisted and complex mysteries. Charles Hayward (Max Irons) is a former diplomat/spy, who’s retired and taken up private investigation. He is called in try to determine who could have poisoned the ruthless head of a wealthy and powerful family. Hayward has to negotiate hazardous waters in his investigation, as numerous family members and associates all have deadly motives for wanting the victim dead, and Hayward actually has connections to some of them

This is a marvelous cast, including such noteworthy actors as Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, Terrance Stamp, Julian Sands and Gillian Anderson. The production design (sets, costume, hair, makeup, etc.) is superb, and director Giles Paquet-Brenner keeps the pacing sharp and the tension high. Casual fans of the mysteries of Agatha Christie may think only of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, when they hear Christie’s name. But Dame Agatha also had a large number of stand-alone mystery/thriller volume, and Crooked House is among the better of those. If you haven’t sampled one of Christie’s non-series volume, I highly recommend this film.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the recent Christie adaptations Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None or Witness For the Prosecution]

[Also available in traditional print format.]

[ 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!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Red Sonja Worlds Away, Volume 2 by Amy Chu (via Hoopla Digital)

Red Sonja Worlds Away, Volume 2
by Amy Chu [Hoopla Digital] 

This graphic novel is volume two of Dynamite’s Red Sonja volume four (titled Worlds Away) and includes issues seven to eleven. If you are going to read this you really should read issues 1-6 first as it’ll be confusing if you don’t. In the previous book Sonja befriends a NYC police officer who gets transported somewhere during the last few pages. Sonja and her new modern day friends set off on a road trip to find him. It was a road trip that felt like a road trip because I kept asking myself if they were there yet; it should not take six issues to travel from NYC to California, even side tracking to take down a gang, which they do. I thought it was OK in the last book having Sonja in the modern day, but the story just drags and involves so many modern settings, sub plots, characters and dialog, that I don’t care for at all. It got very irritating after a while as I just wanted her to go back home, change out the yoga pants and use her sword again. You may like it if you haven’t read Red Sonja before, but like Dr. Who and time travel stories, but if you like Red Sonja as a barbarian by Dynamite or especially by Marvel Comics (from the 70s and 80s), then I just can’t recommend this at all.

[If you like this you might like Legendary, by Bill Willingham. It also stars Red Sonja, with other characters, in a world not their own – a steampunk one. I reviewed it a while ago and like this I didn’t care for it, but it reminds me of this one as they are set outside the character’s normal worlds.]

[ official Amy Chu 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, July 19, 2018

Red Sonja Worlds Away, Volume 1 by Amy Chu (via Hoopla Digital)

Red Sonja Worlds Away, Volume 1
by Amy Chu [Hoopla Digital] 

This graphic novel is the beginning of Dynamite’s Red Sonja volume four. In the first few issues Red Sonja, barbarian from fantasy times past, is in battle with a sorcerer named Kulan Gath. During the battle she is transported to modern day NYC, meets and befriends a cop, makes some other friends and has a face off again with Kulan Gath, who also had been transported to NYC, although quite a while earlier. At first I really liked it as a fish out of water story. They even had her speaking in Hyrcanian rather than English, so there were language barriers amidst the multiple Sonja versus authority encounters. I thought it was neat that through this language barrier she finds a police officer who can understand and talk to her in Hyrcanian. We later find out that he too was transported (as a very young child) to NYC from Sonja’s world and while he can’t remember this, he does remember his birth parents and their language. They team up and have no problem finding Gath has he’s a multimillionaire whose name everyone knows. While I liked the idea here and the early issues did get me hooked on the story, it started to drag on a little too much. I also didn’t like that there was a switch somewhere that Sonja could all of a sudden speak English perfectly. I understand gradually learning words and phrases, but the language barrier went out the window before this novel was over. It is in my opinion not worth re-reading, as I enjoy the older Red Sonja comics by Marvel too much, however if you have not read Red Sonja before and don’t like barbarians very well, but do like strong female leads in modern day settings, you this might be for you.

[ official Amy Chu 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!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pet Friendly by Sue Pethick

Pet Friendly
by Sue Pethick [not currently in Lincoln City Libraries’ collection — try InterLibrary Loan

If you like the Hallmark Channel’s romance and light mystery movies, or the tone and devices of “Murder, She Wrote”, this short novel should appeal to you and would be a handy vacation/beach read. A combination of modern G/PG-rated romance, a non-homicidal mystery, and a lovable little dog, this story gives the male protagonist as much or more consideration as the female ‘heroine’. The basic setup involves a 30-ish game-app millionaire in ‘retirement’ who inherits a very intelligent dog and then literally stumbles upon a vacation inn from his youth, along with the woman owner who became his first love there. Throw in his self-absorbed fianceĆ©, the tricky pooch, and a paranormal convention and let the complications ensue. This is a quick and entertaining read, although I had an issue with some of the characters’ names and the sparse treatment of some of the characters’ backgrounds. Also, the conclusion seemed rushed and was incomplete at tying up all of the dangling plot threads. Nicely, however, a bonus section at the back of the book describes the website gopetfriendly.com and gives a lot of suggestions for traveling with pets.

This title is not currently in Lincoln City Libraries’ collection but can be acquired through Interlibrary Loan in print or as an audiobook.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Unleashing Mr. Darcy, by Teri Wilson, the Chet and Bernie mystery series, by Spenser Quinn, the Pet Rescue mystery series, by Linda O. Johnston, the Animal Magnetism romance series, by Jill Shalvis or the Rescue Me romance series, by Debbie Burns.]

[ official Pet Friendly page on the official Sue Pethick web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt 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 17, 2018

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider
by Stephen King [Downloadable Audio]

I don’t consider many of Stephen King’s books to be actual “mysteries” in the technical sense, where you’re wondering throughout the story “whodunit.” But this is, indeed, a mystery. And I loved it! It had all those elements that, I believe, a good mystery should have–all the forensic details, the eliminations of suspects, and the tracking down of elements of proof, etc. Sometimes, the way those things are put together make a fabulous story, and sometimes they’re just, what I call, “meh.” I found this story to be, undoubtedly, FABULOUS!!!

Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for any Stephen King novel. I can’t help it. It’s like he’s speaking directly to me–like he sat me down and said, “Tracy, I’m going to tell you a story.” And, just like that, I’m on the edge of my seat from beginning to end! This book was no different, despite the fact that I’m not typically a lover of mysteries. (It’s not that I don’t like them–it’s just that I don’t seek them out to read, and I’m a little picky about the authors.)

This book DOES have an added bonus, which I won’t spoil. I’ll only point out that IF you’ve read the Mr. Mercedes series, you’ll be in for a surprise. (On the other hand, if you haven’t read that series, the book stands alone quite well.)

I’d give this book three or four thumbs up if I could; but since I only have two, I’ll give it two thumbs up!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Joyland, also by Stephen King.]
 
[ official The Outsider page on the official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hank (on CD)

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks [Compact Disc Hanks] 

I think I may hate Tom Hanks now. He truly is a renaissance man, with the golden touch — it seems that everything he tries, he’s successful at. I still remember him starring with Peter Scolari in the sitcom Bosom Buddies in 1980-1982, as an outrageous and desperate young advertising man who had to cross-dress in order to secure a room in a woman’s boarding house. Since then, he’s gone on to win multiple Oscars (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) and Emmys (for producing mini-series and others), as well as dozens of other awards for his acting, voice work, producing and screenwriting. Now…he’s put out his first volume of fiction — a short story collection, including 17 stories, all featuring typewriters in one way or another (Hanks is enamored of these old-fashioned writing implements, and has an extensive collection of these classic machines). The typewriters may be integral to the plot of the story, such as in “These Are the Meditations of My Heart”, in which a young woman recovering from a break-up decides to buy a typewriter to put her thoughts down on paper but the shop owner has to match her up with the perfect machine just for her. But the typewriter element may also be very tangential to the plot of some stories. There are four stories told as folksy newspaper columns from a small town columnist who’s resisting the march of progress — these are perhaps the least successful entries in the collection. And there are three interlinked stories featuring the same group of young friends and their quirky adventures — these are perhaps the most fanciful of the stories included. The tone ranges from light and fluffy to dark and introspective, and the writing style runs the gamut from “newspaper column” to traditional prose fiction to press release to screenplay format.

Hanks does a good job of creating quirky characters, but none of them are particularly deep. In many cases, I felt like I was just scratching the surface of the character(s) in several of the stories, and they could easily have been expanded into novellas or novels. And other stories are just perfect at the length they are presented. Overall, this is a very enjoyable collection, and I particularly recommend it in the audiobook format, where Hanks reads his own stories. For the audiobook, Hanks convinced a bunch of his actor friends to help him read one of the longer pieces in the collection — the one written in screenplay format — which is an added treat.

[ publisher’s official Uncommon Type web page ] | [ official Tom Hanks Twitter account ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to 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, June 28, 2018

The Late Show by Michael Connelly (on CD)

The Late Show
by Michael Connelly [Compact Disc Connelly] 

In 2017, author Michael Connelly launched a new series, featuring L.A.P.D. detective Renee Ballard, ostracized from many of her co-workers after a failed sexual-harassment suit, and assigned to the Hollywood bureau’s late shift (a.k.a. The Late show). Connelly is best known for his 20+ novels featuring L.A. detective Harry Bosch (also adapted into a streaming TV series from Amazon Prime), and Bosch’s half-brother, the “Lincoln Lawyer”, Mickey Haller. Connelly loves telling stories focusing on police work, but Bosch had aged enough that he was no longer with the police department, so Connelly needed to create a new police character he could tell stories with. And in Renee Ballard, he’s created a winner — a strong-willed, highly competent and extremely motivated officer. In The Late Show, several seemingly unrelated incidents from one night on the late shift all stick in Ballard’s mind, and she can’t let go of any of them, working various angles to see if she can create viable cases. In the process, she comes up against: an ex-partner who let her down, institutionalized bias, bureaucratic red tape, societal homephobia, and a psychopath with a penchant for physical violence.

I absolutely loved The Late Show, which the libraries’ Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group read for our January 2018 discussion. Ballard is a dynamic and compelling character, who holds her own in a male-dominated field. One thing that many readers were wondering about was how soon it would be before Connelly would cross Ballard over with either of his other continuing characters. The answer: Not long, as a Renee Ballard & Harry Bosch crossover novel – Dark Sacred Night – is scheduled for release this October!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try pretty much anything else written by Michael Connelly!]

[ official The Late Show page on the official Michael Connelly web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Don't miss tonight's monthly Just Desserts book discussion group meeting -- we may not be discussing Michael Connelly, but you'll still pick up some great reading ideas, if you're a mystery fan. The book actually being discussed tonight will be Robicheaux by James Lee Burke, followed by a "round robin" in which all attendees can mentioned what other mysteries they've been reading lately that they'd like to recommend!
 
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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 27, 2018

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (on CD) + One Book discussion tonight!

Beartown
by Fredrik Backman [Compact Disc Backman]

Beartown is the first of this year’s One Book – One Lincoln finalists that I had the chance to read, or in this case, listen to, as I enjoyed the Book-on-CD version of Fredrik Backman’s novel. Though set in the author’s native Sweden, this felt like it could’ve been any small northern U.S. or Canadian town. Beartown is a community that is hockey obsessed. The entire community relies, in one way or another, on the industry of hockey, and the young men who play on either the “junior” team or the “A” team hold exalted positions within Beartown society. The events and perspective of the novel Beartown rotate among a wide variety of characters throughout Beartown’s community, from the young players, the groupies, the local businessmen sponsoring the team, and the coaches and managers, to the families of the players, the also-rans that never quite succeeded, and the folks who just don’t “get” why hockey is so important.

The characters are all well drawn and defined. I particularly enjoyed following players Benji, Bobo and Amat, as well as the various coaches, sponsors and colorful residents of Beartown. The main plot of the novel hinges on an incident in which the star player of the junior team rapes one of the girls in his class, who just happens to be the daughter of the hockey club’s general manager. This sets up a battle of morals, ethics, partisanship and community survival that is actually painful to observe.
The audiobook adaptation, narrated by Marin Ireland, was extremely well-done, and I strongly recommend this version of the story, if you’re a fan of audiobooks. Of the three things I’ve read or sampled by Backman, each has had a completely different style/tone. This is the darkest I’ve seen from him so far. For those who like this, I’m pleased to see that Us Against You, a sequel to Beartown, came out the first week of June!

[ publisher’s official Beartown web page ] | [ official English-language Fredrik Backman web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Don't miss tonight's One Book - One Lincoln Discussion of Beartown at the Francie & Finch bookstore in downtown Lincoln, 6:00-7:00 p.m.! Join fellow fans to discuss this specific One Book finalist!
 
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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 25, 2018

Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love and Lead Like a Star by Tim Federle


Tim Federle has had a quirky and quixotic writing career. I very much enjoyed the two volumes in his juvenile series about Nate Foster, a pre-teen taking a shot at trying to break into Broadway. He’s also the writer of two stand-alone novels for teens — Tommy Can’t Stop and The Great American Whatever. He has three themed cocktail recipe books, tied into films, fairy tales and literature — Tequila Mockingbird, Hickory Daiquiri Dock and Gone With the Gin. And he wrote both the Broadway musical adaptation of Tuck Everlasting, and the screenplay to the recent hit animated film, Ferdinand.

You can now add an inspirational self-help title — Life is Like a Musical. Federle has long been involved with the stage, and this short motivational title couches all of its self-improvement suggestions in musical theatre metaphors, with chapter headings such as: “Congratulate the Person Who Got ‘Your’ Part”, “Dance Like Everyone’s Watching”, “Remember: The Show Must Go On”, “Realize We’re Each the Lead of Our Own Life”, “Find Your ‘I Want’ Song”, “Save the Drama”, “Clap Loudest for the Undertstudies”, “Keep a Photo of the Worst Gig You Ever Had” and “Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal”. Each chapter is just a small nugget — two to five pages at most, with lots of humor but also lots of practical advice, albeit with a “survival on the stage” twist.

Federle has a wry, sarcastic sense of humor, which really comes through in this short chapters. If you like his combination of bubbly effervescence and witty snark, you’ll probably appreciate his light-hearted (yet still honest and sincere) take on the standard self-help manual. I, personally, love his style, and found this to be a fun read. Your mileage may vary…

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to sample Better Nate Than Ever, Tequila Mockingbird, and The Great American Whatever, all also by Tim Federle.]

[ official Tim Federle web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Primal Rage (from Hoopla Movies)

Primal Rage
by Andrew Joseph Montgomery [Hoopla Movies] 

Primal Rage is a Sasquatch horror movie. This is outside my usual genres but I still thought it was a decent movie. There is a young couple, one of whom is just picking the other up from prison. There is a bit of tension between them during the car ride, which comes to an abrupt stop when they hit a pedestrian on a remote highway in the forested Pacific Northwest. They panic, get out of the car, get pelted with rocks, fall down a hill into the forest and end up in a river. Now lost in the forest the Sasquatch stalks them, even when they stumble upon a group of local hunters. What follows is not exactly happy trails, not even the ending, but this is a horror movie. I don’t feel I’d watch it again but it was ok for an evening with popcorn. Maybe a bit odd but my favorite aspect of the movie was the scenery; there were beautiful shots of the forest from the road and while they were in the forest that I really liked especially having driven through that area of the county before. I’d recommend it if you are looking for a sort of scary movie for an evening – defiantly a night time movie, not morning or afternoon.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Article about Norfolk, NE native Andrew Joseph Montgomery starring in Primal Rage ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler (on CD)

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea
by Chelsea Handler [817 Han] 

I totally want to be friends with Chelsea Handler!!! She’s hilarious! I haven’t had a chance to see her in much of anything (she’s done stand-up, as well as a couple of different series on TV), and this is the first of her books that I’ve read. Lucky for me, I listened to the audiobook, which she read herself. It. Was. HYSTERICAL!!! She’s so snarky and clever, and she’s a bit of a lush. She’s also quite a foul-mouth, so this book is not for those with ‘delicate sensibilities.’ I would say this is probably a collection of essays, rather than an autobiography or memoir… She basically tells a few stories about life events, but she is sure to just throw in her opinions on things (e.g. the redhead she “accidentally” found herself in a relationship with, despite her disdain for redheads… or, as she calls them, “orange-heads.”)

Something I truly enjoyed about listening to this book was that it sounded as though she was merely talking to me, rather than reading something she’d written earlier. I guess that’s the sign of a master stand-up comic…being so familiar with the material that it sounds fresh each time. In that case, I’m going to be looking for anything I can find of her stand-up material and/or any of the shows she’s done.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, by Sarah Silverman, and I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons, by Kevin Hart.]

[ Wikipedia page for Are You There, Vodka. It’s Me, Chelsea! ] | [ official Chelsea Handler 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!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

The Massacre of Mankind
by Stephen Baxter

This is the first-and-only authorized sequel to H.G. Wells’ classic 1897 SF novel, The War of the Worlds. Though numerous unofficials sequels and follow-up volumes have been published over the years, The Massacre of Mankind is the first approved by the Wells estates. Baxter has been writing acclaimed SF for decades, both on his own and partnered with such genre luminaries as Arthur C. Clarke and Terry Pratchett.

The Massacre of Mankind is set in the1920s, some 14 years after the events in Wells novel. In most ways, this novel is not only science fiction but also “alternate history”, as the events of 1897 have had a severe impact on England (and most of the rest of the world) — government has become more dystopian, and across the planet, preparations are underway to fight back, if a new wave of Martian invaders is detected. Many don’t believe it will happen again, but Walter Jenkins, the narrator of the Wells’ original novel, has been researching and studying, and he believes the earlier invasion was merely a scouting mission, and that the full-scale invasion is still to come. Though he is correct, he’s having difficulty getting anyone to believe his outlandish theories. Fortunately, he convinces Julie Elphinstone, his ex-sister-in-law, and an American investigative journalist…just before the little puffs of smoke on the surface of Mars indicate a new invasion fleet has launched — and this time there will be hundreds of them coming to our world.

This is a fast-paced adventure, with fascinating explorations of the scientific concepts that the characters could have debated at the time, based on what was known to them — sure, from our time period nearly a century later, some of the science looks a little shaky, but for the 1920s, it was fairly cutting edge. Baxter does an incredible job of matching the style of storytelling that Wells employed in the original novel — this really does feel like a classic genre novel from 100 years ago! And yet, unlike the majority of fiction from that era, The Massacre of Mankind features a number of very strong female characters, who are shown to be just as, if not more, capable then their male counterparts. This novel is huge — a bit of a doorstop of a book — but in the end, I enjoyed it very much, and I do highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of Wells’ original novel.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Time Ships, an officially authorized sequel to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, also by Baxter.]

[ publisher’s official The Massacre of Mankind web page ] | [ official Stephen Baxter 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 20, 2018

Wired by Julie Garwood (on CD)

Wired
by Julie Garwood [Compact Disc Garwood] 

13th in Julie Garwood’s Buchanan/FBI series, this has a strong, tech-savvy heroine who finds herself working with the FBI. While Alison is beautiful and smart, she’s also a little bit broken due to her childhood. This book is a fast paced thriller/romance that is a quick read. I listened to the CD and can recommend it to those who prefer audio books.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to seek out the series A FBI Thriller and A Brit in the FBI by Catherine Coulter.]

[ official Wired page on the official Julie Garwood web site ]

Recommended by Sandy W.
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, June 19, 2018

The Creeps: A Deep Dark Fears Collection by Fran Krause

The Creeps: A Deep Dark Fears Collection
by Fran Krause [741.5 Kra] 

This one caught my eye on the New Books display at the downtown library, and I decided to give it a chance. Artist Fran Krause collected a wide variety of different people’s personal “fears”, then illustrated them in comics/graphic-novel format. Each “fear” gets either a single-panel cartoon or a short comic strip to graphically represent how that fear would play out. Some of the “fears” are merely thought=provoking, or simply ironic. Others, however, earn the book its title, and are extremely creepy or even grotesque, made even more so by the ordinariness and simplicity of the cartoon art style. In many ways, I would recommend this volume to anyone who is a fan of Gahan Wilson’s surreal cartoons, or Charles Addams’ single-panel newspaper and magazine cartoons (the artist best known as the creator of the macabre Addams Family). Perhaps, the closest artist in style and tone is Edward Gorey and his Gashlycrumb Tinies, which imagines 26 different horrible deaths, one per letter of the alphabet.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The World of Edward Gorey, by Edward Gorey, or I Paint What I See, by Gahan Wilson.]

[ publisher’s official The Creeps web page ] | [ official Fran Krause Tumblr feed ]

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, June 18, 2018

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (as audiobook)

The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware

Despite the fact that there was tragedy upon this “boutique” cruise, I couldn’t keep myself from looking up information on luxury cruises — bucket list item, for sure!!! This was another one of those stories I just couldn’t stop listening to — loved the writing and the story-line, and OH EM GEE, did I ever adore Lo Blacklock! I wanna be besties with her!!! While I claim to not be a huge fan of mysteries, I would definitely say this book falls into the “mystery” category. In fact, it was so intriguing that I really couldn’t stop listening to this book! I can definitely see myself buying this in print copy to read again and again! I listened to the audio copy of the book — excellent narrator (Imogen Church)!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins, The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena or The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty]
 
[ publisher’s official The Woman in Cabin 10 web page ] | [ official Ruth Ware 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, June 17, 2018

John Wick, Chapter 2 (on DVD)

John Wick, Chapter 2
[DVD John] 

This was not quite as good as the first movie, but it wasn’t bad. It starts where the first movie left off and I’d recommend you watch the first one before this one (I reviewed it a few months ago, so you can check out the details there). I don’t think it’d be as enjoyable if you missed the story and character building in the first movie, throughout which the protagonist John Wick re-enters his previous life in the criminal underworld after being away having a normal married life. He convinced himself that he’s only there temporarily in the first movie, but he’s back in full force in this sequel repaying a debt. There was much less story in this than before and it felt very generic, which was disappointing because of how good the first movie was. It’s not a movie I’d watch it again even though I would re-watch the first one. I can’t recommend it too highly but it’s the sort of movie to watch when are ill and you don’t really care if things make sense and because there is little plot to keep track of, if you fall asleep during parts of it it won’t matter too much.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official John Wick web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Fit Cat by Arden Moore


I recently adopted a cat and not having had a one before, even as a child, I needed some sort of guide. This one was laid out really well and covered basics and more specialized topics. It was the basics I was after and I found it very helpful in understanding body language, grooming, and the different stages of a cat’s life. It also covers more particular topics including traveling, introducing new pets and living with more than one cat. It uses a lot of bullet pointed lists with quick information on a number of cat topics, so if you are looking for in depth information then this is probably not the ideal pick. I’m novice enough that I’m not sure how useful it would be for people who have had cats before, but for a new cat owner, I highly recommend it.

[ publisher’s official Fit Cat web page ] | [ official Arden Moore 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!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Star Trek: New Visions (series) by John Byrne (via Hoopla)

Star Trek: New Visions (series)
by John Byrne [available only via Hoopla] 

Back in 1977-1978, the Bantam publishing company released a series of 12 Star Trek Fotonovels, which took stills from popular episodes of the 1966-69 NBC TV series Star Trek, super-imposed text in word balloons, and basically retold the plots of those 12 episodes of Trek in a different format. These were moderately popular but never went beyond the first 12 volumes.

Star Trek: New Visions is a modern take on that, but with a serious twist. Legendary comic book artist and writer John Byrne has been a fan of Classic Trek for many years, and starting in 2014, he began a creative experiment that has been quite successful. Byrne had access to clean, sharp still images from screen captures from all 79 original Star Trek episodes, as well as the Star Trek feature films featuring the classic cast, and even the subsequent later generations of Star Trek. In Star Trek: New Visions, Byrne creates all new adventures of the Enterprise and its crew, combining still images from existing episodes with digital trickery and some new computer-generated artwork. These “new episodes” are presented in comic-book/graphic-novel format, as single issues, and have later been compiled into multi-story larger collections. Byrne opened New Visions with a two-issue sequel to the classic Trek tale, “Mirror, Mirror” (in which several Enterprise crew members are thrown into a dystopian alternate reality and have to survive long enough to make their way back to their own reality). As of 2018, 21 individual issues of New Visions have been published, and Byrne has indicated he plans to wrap up the series in just a few more issues. This is a shame, as Byrne is an excellent storyteller and definite has a good handle on these classic Trek characters — these really do feel like they could have actually been legitimate episodes of the original series.

Although the libraries don’t have physical copies of the Star Trek: New Visions volumes on our shelves, some of them are available through the graphic novels collection of our Hoopla digital offerings. If you love Classic Trek, I highly encourage you to sample New Visions…it’s the closest thing I’ve found the style and tone of the original series!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try tracking done some of the highly-collectible 12 original series Star Trek Fotonovels. Our local libraries don’t own any, but you can regularly find them in used book stores, and a few are available through InterLibrary Loan from other libraries around the country.]

[ publisher’s official Star Trek: New Visions web site ] | [ official John Byrne 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!