Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Wizard of Oz (on DVD)

The Wizard of Oz
[DVD j Wizard]

Somehow I have managed to not see this movie in its entirety before, but it was on TV while I was on a trip so I took the chance to watch it recently. It was a pretty pleasant movie with more singing than I thought it had. I was familiar with the story but I enjoyed the beginning while Dorothy is still in Kansas and the lead up to the tornado that takes her and Toto to Oz. What I had not realized before is that the Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Wicked Witch are also characters in Dorothy’s life in Kansas (the witch didn’t like Toto in that reality either). I’m sure most people are familiar with the journey to Emerald City via the Yellow Brick Road to see the Wizard and that her shoes could have taken her home straight away, but all the same it was entertaining to watch. If you are like me and have not seen this movie before, I think it is worth watching. Some classics I feel I could take or leave, even if I’m told it’s a must, but it was really rather good in my opinion, even thought I wouldn’t probably watch it again. I think it’d appeal to a general audience, any age or interest.

[This classic story is also available in its traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Wikipedia page for The Wizard of Oz (1939) ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch 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!

The Mystery of Agatha Christie - repeat performance event this Wednesday evening!

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 75-minute presentation at the Bennett Martin Public Library, this Wednesday evening, November 7th, 2018, 6:30-7:45 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.

Bennett Martin Public Library staff member Scott Clark, who is a local community theatre actor, will present this program in character as Christie's sleuth Hercule Poirot, the character he just finished portraying in Black Coffee, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018 and early November. He will also speak about this recent theatre production.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Agatha Christie: Murder in Four Acts: A Centenary Celebration of "The Queen of Crime" on Stage, Film, Radio and TV by Peter Haining

Agatha Christie: Murder in Four Acts: A Centenary Celebration of “The Queen of Crime” on Stage, Film, Radio & TV
by Peter Haining [823 qChrYh]

As part of preparing to give a special library presentation on “The Mystery of Agatha Christie” in both September and November at two different library locations, I dug through my own personal collection of Christie-related non-fiction books, and was pleased to discover that not only did I own a copy of this particular volume, but so do the libraries!

This is a marvelous “coffee table” book that came out in 1990, to celebrate Dame Agatha’s 100th birthday. As the title indicates, it is a in-depth look at all the variations on Christie’s works that have been done for Radio, Stage, TV and the movies. There are detailed explorations of all the actors and actresses that had played Christie’s signature characters (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy & Tuppence, etc.) up through 1990. This charming book features more behind-the-scenes photographs from various Christie adaptations than I’ve seen anywhere else, including online.

If you are an Agatha Christie afficionado, you won’t want to miss this one. The only drawback is that it came out 28 years ago, and therefore doesn’t includes much about the more recent Christie media adaptations. But, it does still include David Suchet as Poirot, as he had begun that iconic role shortly before the book was published.

[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 75-minute presentation at the Bennett Martin Public Library on the evening of, November 7th, 2018, 6:30-7:45 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. But first, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, not-so-coincidentally starring this very reviewer as Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse on October 19-21 and November 2-4 2018.

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, November 2, 2018

The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Agatha Christie

The Mousetrap and Other Plays
by Agatha Christie [822.9 Chr]

For the past two+ months (September to early November), I’ve been rehearsing and then performing as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s play “Black Coffee” (finishing its run November 2-4) at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. “Black Coffee” was produced there in conjunction with a production of the Miss Marple play “A Murder is Announced” at the Community Theatre in Beatrice, NE. I was part of the play-reading team that selected both of these plays — in preparation for that, I had to read almost all 16 of the stage plays that Agatha Christie wrote, in order to find which plays could share similar, unchanging sets. I grew to have a very strong appreciation for Christie’s play writing capabilities — over the course of her career, she felt her mystery-writing became very formulaic, and in fact described herself as “a sausage factory” in the way in which she cranked out stories and novels with such regularity. But, she was truly passionate about the writing of her plays, and found them to be a far more creative process that fiction-writing was.

This marvelous collection brings together 8 of her 16 plays — Not “Black Coffee”, I’m afraid — including the three she is perhaps best known for in the theatrical world — “And Then There Were None”, “Witness for the Prosecution” and the record-setting “The Mousetrap” (which has played continuously in London’s West End theatrical district for 66 straight years, since its 1952 premiere). None of these eight plays feature any of Christie’s recurring characters — they’re all stand-alones. And, sadly, the collection doesn’t include another of my personal favorites, “Spider’s Web”. But the eight plays that ARE in this collection are all very entertaining and give you a pretty good “snapshot” of Christie’s play writing skills. Even if you weren’t able to view “Black Coffee” and “A Murder is Announced” in our local theatrical experiment, I encourage you to grab TITLE and dive into some classic mystery and thriller stagecraft. Perhaps a production of one of these will also show up in an area theatre in the future!

[ Wikipedia page for The Mousetrap and Other Plays (including sub-pages for each individual play) ] | [ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 75-minute presentation at the Bennett Martin Public Library on the evening of, November 7th, 2018, 6:30-7:45 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. But first, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, not-so-coincidentally starring this very reviewer as Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse on October 19-21 and November 2-4 2018.

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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Mirror Crack'd (From Side to Side) by Agatha Christie

The Mirror Crack’d (From Side to Side)
by Agatha Christie

This is a Miss Marple novel featuring a movie star who recently moved into her village. The actress holds a party and a guest ends up dead after a drink. At first there is no clear motive so it seems it was an accident, but the poison in the drink was put there intentionally, so we have a mystery. The actress and her husband are not very forthcoming with information to aid the police; thankfully Miss Marple does her usual poking around and observing human nature to come to the truth. It took me a while to get into this one because revolves around the lives of the rich and famous along with the gossip and rumors that surround even fictitious ones, and this is not something I really pay attention to in real life. However, it was quite interesting the further into it I read and the solution to the mystery was quite believable, so I did enjoy it. I’d recommend this to British mystery readers and or those who enjoy the celebrity gossip scene as you may like it more than I did.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Hollow, a Hercule Poirot novel, also by Agatha Christie.]

[ official The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 75-minute presentation at the Bennett Martin Public Library on the evening of, November 7th, 2018, 6:30-7:45 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. But first, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, not-so-coincidentally starring this very reviewer as Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse on October 19-21 and November 2-4 2018.

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, October 29, 2018

Ladycastle by Delilah S. Dawson and Ashley Woods

Ladycastle
by Delilah S. Dawson (writer), and Ashley A. Woods (artist) [YA PB (Graphic Novel) Dawson]

A delightful fantasy graphic-novel (a compilation of shorter comic-book format issues), that turns traditional fantasy tropes on their ear!

Having met fantasy/SF author Delilah Dawson at a local genre convention here in Lincoln a few years ago, I recently searched online to see what she’d been writing lately, and stumbled across this marvelous little comic-book series, which was collected into a graphic novel format. Written by Dawson, with art by Ashley A. Woods, Ladycastle tells of the adventures and misadventures of a group of highly capable young women in a faux-medieval setting — what most epic fantasy sagas tend to be set in. The big difference here is that the small kingdom of Mancastle is missing all its men. They’ve all gone off on a military expedition, leaving their wives, sisters, and female children to run the walled city in their absence. When a lone soldier, Sir Riddick, returns to announce that all the men have been eaten by a dragon, and a curse has been placed on the Kingdom of Mancastle that attracts “monsters” to attack the walled city, the ladies all decide they’re going to become the kingdom’s leaders. The blacksmith’s wife, Merinor, becomes the King, a princess who had been locked in a tower to await an arranged marriage becomes the head of the armed forces, etc., etc. Sir Riddick, a bit of a blowhard and buffoon, soon finds himself training a large group of very capable women in the arts of warfare, survival and governance.

When the monsters start coming, the women’s completely different approaches to warfare lead to some fascinating plot twists. The characters are all vibrantly realized, particularly Merinor the “King”. The artwork by Woods is absolutely fabulous! This was a terrific little find for me, and I was highly disappointed when I reached the end of this graphic novel compilation. It ended on a cliffhanger, however it appears that the series did not continue beyond what is included in this volume. None-the-less, I do recommend sampling this one, especially if you like light-hearted fantasy works that don’t play by the rules!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Dragon Business, by Kevin J. Anderson, the Disc World series, by Terry Pratchett.]

[ publisher’s official Ladycastle web page ] | [ official Delilah Dawson 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, October 28, 2018

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding (on CD and Downloadable Audio)

Bridget Jones’ Diary
by Helen Fielding [Compact Disc Fielding and Downloadable Audio]

I saw this movie ages ago–not when it came out, but after it had been out on video for about five years. It was pretty funny, but I wasn’t thrilled with the cast, I think. I don’t know. I felt the movie was “just okay.”

For some reason, though, I saw the audiobook for this story recently, and I thought, “Hmm…. I wonder how different the book is? Would I like it? Would it be fun to listen to?” The answers–yes! yes! YES!!!

I love the format of the story–Bridget keeping an almost daily diary, starting each entry with her weight, the alcohol “units” consumed that day, and the number of cigarettes smoked that day. Sometimes, she’ll add little notes, like “v.g.” for “very good,” or “v. poor” for “very poor,” etc. Then she’ll go on and describe the events of the day. It’s deliciously funny, the way she goes through the exact events… sometimes, if she’s struggling (like putting off cooking something, or trying to set up her video machine to record a TV show for her mother), she’ll break down the event in five minute increments… it really illustrates how much of a procrastinator she is, how deeply she struggles with absolutely mundane things, etc. I found it embarrassingly funny, because I know I’ve done the same things!!! The story takes place largely in London, and Bridget and the other characters are all British… so there’s a bit of slang that one has to weed through now and then. For example, Bridget would note, for several days in a row, how many “instants” she went through that day. She finally explains, down the road, that they are instant lottery tickets, similar to our pickle cards or maybe scratch-off tickets. I enjoy this about the book, though. I like they way the story flows and you either figure the language out on your own, or she eventually clears it up for you.

The narration is done by Imogen Church. I’ve listened to a couple of other books narrated by her (The Woman in Cabin Ten; Into the Water; etc.), and I will be picking other audiobooks to listen to largely because she’s the narrator. She does a fabulous job!!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella.] [ Wikipedia page for Helen Fielding ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
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!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Winchester (on DVD)

Winchester
[DVD Winchester]

Having toured the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, I was looking forward to seeing this film, which was filmed (in part) in that huge, rambling structure. Add to that that I’m a fan of Helen Mirren, who portrays Sarah Winchester in the film, and I greatly anticipated what story the film-makers would tell.

I was hoping for a legitimate biographical story of Sarah Winchester, the widow who inherited the fortune built on the Winchester Repeating Rifle. She was a fascinating historical figure — supposedly haunted by the ghosts of every who had been killed by her family’s rifles. She started a never-ending construction project on her mansion in the countryside outside of San Jose, CA — the constant noise and bustle of construction supposedly kept some of the “spirits” at bay. Also, many of the bizarre and unrelated rooms she had built onto the house were designed specifically to contain and restrain vengeful ghosts. If you ever have the chance to see an actual documentary about Sarah and her house, or every find yourself with an opportunity to tour the house, don’t pass it up.

Unfortunately, the film they chose to make is much more of a traditional “horror” film, with a little historical semi-accuracy thrown in to provide flavor. Mirren as Winchester, and Jason Clarke as Dr. Eric Price, a visiting physician (brought in to help determine if Sarah is sane), both provide excellent performances, as do Sarah Snook and Finn Scicluna-O’Prey, as the young aide to Sarah, and her son living at the mansion. Those performances, and the marvelous set design and costuming, almost salvage this film. But the “shock” nature of the horror, and the limited views we get of the actual mansion, left me a bit disappointed. Horror fans may appreciate this one (and learn a little bit about a true historical person and location). But those seeking more than just standard horror fare may feel a bit let down.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for Winchester ] | [ official Winchester 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!

Friday, October 26, 2018

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

There’s Someone Inside Your House
by Stephanie Perkins [YA Perkins]

Moving from Hawaii, running from some incident that is unclear to the reader, Makani Young has restarted her life with her grandmother in Nebraska. New friends, new job, new boyfriend. Things are going well until students from her high school start being murdered. First the lead of the school play, then the football star, and it continues. Makani’s boyfriend Ollie is thrust into the forefront of the investigation. Makani and Ollie try to clear his name and figure out who is committing the gruesome murders.

Part romance, part slasher-thriller, this book is a slightly odd combination. There are definitely some cheesy parts, but as a reader from Nebraska, there are also some comical parts. Some tense moments make this a good book for the month of October.

[ official There’s Someone Inside Your House web site ] | [ official Stephanie Perkins 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!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Doctor Who: The Fearmonger by Michael Blum (audiobook)

Doctor Who: The Fearmonger
by Michael Blum [Compact Disc Blum]

I’ve been a Whovian — a Doctor Who fan — since first seeing the series on our local PBS television station back in the early-to-mid-1980s. For a series that has had 13 different actors portray the main character over the course of 55 years, I still find myself drawn to the versions of The Doctor from the series’ original run (1963-1989). One Doctor I haven’t really seen in many episodes, the 7th, Sylvester McCoy, never aired in our local TV market, and the libraries unfortunately do not have any of his adventures on DVD. However, I was able to enjoy this original audiobook, featuring McCoy recreating his role in a full-cast audio recording.

Original Doctor Who audiobooks are a huge thing — there have been dozens of them produced over the years, primarily from a company known as Big Finish Productions, almost all of which bring back the original actors to have portrayed The Doctor, as well as many of their co-stars (i.e. their “companions” on the series). These are always extremely well-produced and performed, and The Fearmonger is one of the better ones I’ve had a chance to sample. Originally released 16 years ago in 2002, the topics and tone of The Fearmonger eerily presage the divisive political climate we currently live in. The Doctor and his human female traveling companion Ace find themselves in a hostile political landscape, in which outsiders are being treated as villains, and shock radio hosts are capitalizing on social divides. However, in this case, the natural human drama is being amplified by an interfering alien presence.

The full cast on this one makes The Fearmonger a far more entertaining listen than with a single narrator, and the sound effects and music make this a much richer listening experience overall. I highly recommend the entire series of Doctor Who audio adventures, especially those by Big Finish, and I enthusiastically recommended this specific entry in the series!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the many, many Doctor Who novels, in both print and audiobook, available through the libraries!]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you 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!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tales From Earthsea by Ursula K. Leguin

Tales From Earthsea
by Ursula K. Leguin

I first read the Earthsea Trilogy over 40 years ago and enjoyed the series immensely. It was only recently that I discovered that she wrote three more books in the series nearly twenty years ago. I just finished the last of these, “Tales from Earthsea,” which provides some ‘prequel’ stories to give the reader background for the earlier books. Of these last three books, this was by far the best one. Characters were well developed and the new stories were gripping. I especially liked “Bones of the Earth.” I only wish that LeGuin would have written more of these! Author Ursula LeGuin died this past January 2018 and left an amazing legacy of books for her fans to enjoy for years to come.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Riddle Master of Hed, by Patricia McKillip, the Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik, the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling or The Left Hand of Darkness, by Urusla K. Leguin.]

[ Wikipedia page for Tales From Earthsea ] | [ official Ursula K. Leguin web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
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!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Little Shop of Horrors - in various formats

Little Shop of Horrors
by various [various call numbers]

Every October, I like to review at least one (if not more than one) title in the libraries’ collection with a “horror” or paranormal theme. As I looked for something to review here in October 2018, I realized that BookGuide has never featured a review of Little Shop of Horrors in any of its many different versions!

This enduring storyline first cropped up in a 1960 horror film by horror film schlockmeister Roger Corman, King of the B Pictures. It featured Jack Nicholson in one of his early minor roles. Written by Charles B. Griffith and directed by Corman, the original Little Shop of Horrors is something of a farce, and its “horror” is rather laughable. Nicholson’s presence is one of the only things to keep this little cult film in the public’s eye, though is role is very small.

In 1982, a horror/comedy/rock-musical version of Little Shop of Horrors was developed for the stage, featuring music and lyrics by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. This stage musical plays up the black humor and introduces us to several catchy Broadway tunes, including the titular “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Downtown (Skid Row)”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, “Dentist!” and “Suddenly Seymour”. The story, about a struggling floral shop on New York’s skid row, which may or may not be saved with nebbishy clerk Seymour Krelborn purchases a bizarre alien plant — which turns out to be a fast-growing man-eater! — features numerous memorable characters, including Seymour’s wanna-be girlfriend, Audrey (he names the bloodthirsty plant Audrey 2), Mr. Mushnik (Seymour’s florist boss) and Orin Scrivello (a sadistic dentist who gets a fine comeuppance). The music is cheery, despite the serial killer plot, and most stage productions feature a tremendous Audrey 2 plant puppet.

In 1986, a feature film version of the stage musical was released, featuring Rick Moranis as Seymour, Vincent Gardenia as Mr. Mushnik, and comedian Steve Martin as the evil dentist Orin Scrivello. The only cast member to transfer from Broadway to the feature film was Ellen Greene, who really “owns” the character of waif-like Audrey. The music for this film is basically the same as the stage musical, though the storyline was expanded for the film. This is a terrific adaptation of the musical, and should appeal to fans of both musicals and horror films.

The libraries have Little Shop of Horrors available in various formats — although not the original 1960 film. If you’re looking for a little horror with a heavy dose of black comedy, give Little Shop of Horrors a try. If you’re a fan of musicals, you’ll be humming the tunes from this one for quite some time to come! And if you ever have a chance to see a staged production of the off-Broadway musical, don’t pass it up — it’s a favorite for high school theater programs and community theaters around the country! My highest recommendations among the various versions are the soundtracks of both the off-Broadway musical and the film musical!

[ Wikipedia links for the various Little Shop of Horrors versions ] | [ Little Shop of Horrors at the Internet Broadway Database ] [ the film Little Shop of Horrors at the Internet Movie Database ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read, watched 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!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Silent Alarm
by Jennifer Banash [YA Banash]

This is one of the books I’ll be covering for a book talk (about school shootings) in my library system, so I won’t go into detail about the book here. I do want to say, though, that this was one of the better written books on the subject that I’ve read. I tried reading something similar recently – that is, I tried reading another book written from the standpoint of the shooter’s family member – and it just didn’t pull me in. I couldn’t get interested in it. I believe it was the format of the book itself, the way it jumped around between various characters, including a family member of the shooter, and it was hard to follow.

Silent Alarm in interesting, not only because you get the obvious heated and angry treatment from the families and friends of victims toward those relatives of the shooter – that’s what you would anticipate, and that’s what does happen… but you also get the psychological downfall of that family member as she tries to deal with her own feelings of guilt and loss. It’s very compelling.

[ publisher’s official Silent Alarm web page ] | [ official Twitter feed for Jennifer Banash ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
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, October 21, 2018

Cemetery Girl: Haunted, Book Three by Charlaine Harris and more

Cemetery Girl: Haunted, Book Three
by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden and Geraldo Borges [741.5 Har]

Having enjoyed the first two volumes in the Cemetery Girl graphic novel series by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, with art by Don Kramer in 2014 and 2015, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the next entry. Apparently, in the intervening years, this project jumped from one publisher to another, and in the process lost its illustrator. Well, Cemetery Girl is back now, with a final volume, in what is being described as a trilogy. Artist Geraldo Borges replaces Don Kramer, but otherwise, this final entry seamlessly fits in with the preceding volumes, Pretender and Inheritance.

Calexa Rose Dunhill isn’t her real name. But she can’t remember what that is. She was dumped in a small cemetery, near death, and awoke with no memories of who she was. What she quickly discovered, however, was that she had the ability for her body to be temporarily inhabited by the spirits of the recently deceased. And she’s being hunted by somebody who wants her dead. In this final volume, the events of the two earlier entries give Calexa hope that she might be able to have a normal life again. But the threats that took away her memory are still out there, and she may be endangering the friends who’ve become her new family.

The artwork in this volume is spectacular, and the storytelling is crisp and fast-paced. Charlaine Harris is perhaps best known for the Sookie Stackhouse paranormal novels (that were turned into the TV series True Blood). Christopher Golden has made a name for himself in TV and movie novelizations. Together, they tell an engaging story, filled with characters that you easily grow to care about. I’m sorry to see that this series is ending, but if it does have to end, at least it did so with a satisfying conclusion.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the first two in this trilogy, The Pretenders and Inheritance, by the same authors.]

[ publisher’s official Cemetery Girl web site ] | [ official Charlaine Harris 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!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Young Frankenstein on DVD

Young Frankenstein
[DVD Young]

This was a pretty funny movie that parodies Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel, which I haven’t read, so can’t compare and contrast. In the movie, a young doctor and medical professor in America gets a letter from his deceased grandfather’s estate in Transylvania requesting his presence. His last name is Frankenstein and because his grandfather was well known as being rumored to have reanimated a dead body, he does not enjoy people commenting on the matter. He dislikes it so much that he even insists that his name be pronounced differently, just to be taken more seriously. Despite his feelings on his family matters, he still makes the journey, leaving his fiancĂ© behind in America; however, she eventually pays him a surprise visit. It’s very funny throughout, even his journey to his grandfather’s castle, during which he meets a woman who sort of ends up being his assistant. Once he arrives, he discovers in his grandfather’s papers that he did indeed bring someone back to life and there are notes recounting exactly how to do it. Curiosity gets the best of him so he tries it out – after collecting a dead body – and it works. It never ceases being humorous and I for one found it especially funny that Dr. Frankenstein is played by Gene Wilder who I know best as Willy Wonka from the older version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I would definitely watch this movie again and recommend it to anyone looking for a comedy.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch 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, October 19, 2018

Girls and Boys by Dennis Kelly

Girls and Boys
by Dennis Kelly [downloadable audio]

This is one of those stories that you don’t even realize what it’s about until at least three quarters of the way in, if not more. I really, honestly didn’t know what the actual “main thrust” of the story was for the longest time. And I didn’t care. I just wanted the story to keep going! It could have ended up not having any final reveal, and I’d have been okay with that. It was captivating from the very start, and all I wanted to do was have my own small part in it–that of the listener. Once I had a tiny inkling of what was going on, I was even more committed. This is one of those audio books that I wasn’t content to just listen to briefly in the car… I took it with me everywhere, devouring every second of it, then wishing it could have gone on longer! There are, I think, three main themes in this story: one focuses on the relationship between a man and a woman, initially burning hot with passion, then ice-cold; the second involves the minutia of day-to-day life as a mother of small children, how things can drive you mad and then fill your heart to bursting within the span of five minutes; the third is the violent tendencies of man (I would say humans, but ultimately, it’s more often than not men who commit violent acts), even in men whom you’d never think capable of such acts.

Carey Mulligan does an amazing job narrating — if at all possible, listen to the audio version of this story! *At this time, Lincoln City Libraries does not have the audio version of this, but the e-book is available on Hoopla.*.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver.] [ Wikipedia page for Dennis Kelly ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
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!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories
by Agatha Christie

During the course of her writing career, Dame Agatha Christie wrote 33 full-length novels featuring her iconic Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, starting with The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920 and ending with Curtain in 1975. In the intervening years, she also wrote over 50 short stories that featured the detective, and which were collected in various smaller stories collections at various times. Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories collects all of those shorter works in one large omnibus collection, placing them in chronological order according to their first appearances.

If you’ve only ever sampled Poirot before, or, perhaps, only read some of the more famous full novels to feature him, this collection gives you a perfect opportunity to fill in all the gaps in his long-running storyline. If you’re mainly familiar with the televised Poirot stories, in which he was played by David Suchet in 70 episodes over the course of 24 years, you will find the original source material for most of those episodes here in this collection. I will admit, even as a Christie and Poirot fan, that this is a dense volume — there are A LOT of stories to read in this collection. This is the type of book to savor over a lengthy period of time — pulling it out whenever you are in the mood for just a little Poirot, and then putting it away again for another rainy day.

None-the-less, if you are a Christie and Poirot complete-ist, as I am, this should be an essential part of your reading collection. Put your “little grey cells” to work and start catching up on this extensive body of mystery classics!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the 33 full-length Hercule Poirot novels by Agatha Christie. Check out this Hercule Poirot reading list on BookGuide.]

[ publisher’s official Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories web page] | [ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 75-minute presentation at the Bennett Martin Public Library on the evening of, November 7th, 2018, 6:30-7:45 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. But first, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, not-so-coincidentally starring this very reviewer as Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse on October 19-21 and November 2-4 2018.

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, October 17, 2018

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

The Reformed Vampire Support Group
by Catherine Jinks [YA Jinks]

If you are looking for a fresh take on vampires, this is the book for you. Nina Harrison is a vampire who was “fanged” when she was fifteen. She is tiny and is still treated like a child by her mother, and everyone else in her Vampire Support Group. The group meets every week and encourages each other to share their feelings and struggles, and encourages each other in their attempts to never fang a human. When one of their group is discovered as a pile of ash in his coffin, the members of the group are thrust into a mystery. Who killed Casimir, and is the rest of the group going to be targeted as well? Nina is finally going to get the adventure she has always wanted.

This downloadable audiobook is narrated by Caterine Lee. The book takes place in Australia, so the audio was fun to listen to for the accents.

I listened to the downloadable audio from Omaha Public Library, but the item is available in book format from Lincoln City Libraries.

[ official Reformed Vampire Support Group page on the official Catherine Jinks 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!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Curtain Up: Agatha Christie - A Life in the Theatre by Julius Green

Curtain Up: Agatha Christie — A Life in the Theatre
by Julius Green [Biography Christie]

I was part of the play reading committee for our local community theatre last year, as that group was contemplating producing an Agatha Christie play. As part of that process, I read a dozen of Christie’s sixteen published/produced stage plays, helping the Lincoln Community Playhouse select “Black Coffee” (Christie’s one-and-only full-length Hercule Poirot play), and the Beatrice Community Players select “A Murder is Announced” (an adaptation for stage of one of Christie’s Miss Marple novels).

In the process of reading all of these plays, I became fascinated by Christie’s long and successful relationship with the world of the theatre, so I was incredibly please to stumble across this marvelous book and be able to recommend it as a purchase for the libraries. Curtain Up is a biography of Christie, but focusing only on her involved with writing and producing stage plays. There are many other excellent biographies about Christie that cover the rest of her life, but few of them take much notice of her play-authoring experiences. From a very young age, Agatha Christie was fascinated with the world of the theatre. In her teens and twenties she acted in a few plays and/or musicals, and wrote many playscripts, none-of-which were produced at that early age. It was not until 1930, nearly a decade after she had achieved success as a novelist, that her first full-length play was produced in London — Black Coffee, a Hercule Poirot story written directly for the stage (and not novelized until 20 years after her death). Christie took a bit of a hiatus from writing her mystery novels in the early 1950s and wrote several successful plays — in fact, she still holds the record of being the only female playwright to have three hit shows running in London’s West End theater district simultaneously (in 1954).

Of Christie’s play output, readers may already be familiar with The Mousetrap (which has run now for 67 straight years in London), And Then There Were None, and Witness for the Prosecution. But she has several other very entertaining works to her credit. I have to admit to a little bit of bias in enjoying Black Coffee (since I ended up getting to actually portray Poirot in the Lincoln production of the play), but I also recommend Spider’s Web, Towards Zero, Verdict and The Unexpected Guest. This highly-detailed and extensively-annotated volume goes into the writing and producing of each and every one of her plays, as well as those that have never been produced. If you have even the slightest interest in Agatha Christie, play-writing in general, or the the history of the British theater scene, you’ll enjoy this book.

In all honesty, I will have to admit, even I found the writing of this one a bit dry and academic at times, but at the same time, author Julius Green injects quite a bit of humor into his writing, which lightens the academic parts quite a bit!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Mousetrap and Other Plays, by Agatha Christie — a collection of 8 of her 16 produced plays (sadly not including Black Coffee!] [ publisher’s official Curtain Up web page, including online addendums ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 75-minute presentation at the Bennett Martin Public Library on the evening of, November 7th, 2018, 6:30-7:45 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. But first, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

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 30, 2018

Early Man (on DVD)

Early Man
[DVD j Early] 

This 2018 film from Aardman Animation, the folks who’ve previously brought us Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep, didn’t stay in theaters long in early 2018, on its initial release. This is probably due to its very originality — they weren’t capitalizing on any of their established characters, but were trying to break new ground. And, for whatever reason, the audience just didn’t “connect” with it as much as with their previous films. That’s a shame, because this a delightful, entertaining film.

The plot, in a nutshell, involves a tribe of Stone Age primitives, represented primarily by Dug (voice of Eddie Redmayne), struggling to protect the valley where they live, from incursion by miners from a Bronze Age city, represented by the venal local Bronze Age leader Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). The chosen battlefield where their conflict comes to a head is…a soccer field, where Lord Nooth believes his experienced players will easily dominate the primitives, who’ve never played before. Little does he realize that Dug’s ancestors invented the game of soccer years ago, or that a rebellious girl from his own society, Goona (Maisie Williams), will help the Stone Agers to train and give them a fighting chance at saving their homeland.

The film has lots of humor, ranging from simple heartfelt comedy to broad slapstick farce. Director Nick Park provides the “voice” of warthog “Hognob”, Dug’s persistent sidekick, and gets some of the funniest scenes and “lines” for himself. The voice work is terrific across the board, as is the Aardman clay animation. There are a lot of visual jokes to catch, if you’re paying close enough attention. And for fans of “extras” on DVDs, there are a couple of very nice “making of” specials that are worth checking out. A fun film, although I do still prefer the previous offerings from Aardman.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep (which is definitely aimed at a much younger audience).]

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

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you seen 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!

The Mystery of Agatha Christie -- today at the Gere Branch Library, 2:00-3:30!

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library today, 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, and the play A Murder is Announced, starring Miss Marple, at the Community Players Theater in Beatrice.

Note: Attendees at this event will be eligible to be entered for a door-prize drawing of tickets to the play Black Coffee, which will be drawn at the end of the presentation!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sleeping Murder: The Final Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie

Sleeping Murder
by Agatha Christie

A young woman, newly married, moves to England from New Zealand to find a house while her husband finishes military duty. She finds one that instantly feels like home and after moving in experiences some strange recollections as though she’d lived there before. With the help of her husband and Miss Marple they discover that she had in fact lived in that very house as a toddler. More memories surface and more about the past comes to light the more they poke around. They find a murder took place in the home and while she’s advised to let sleeping murders lye, after a point, it’s too late to stop unearthing the truth. I really enjoyed this one and would say it’s one of my favorite in the Miss Marple series (and I only have one more to read). This one reminded me of another Christie novel, Five Little Pigs, which also involved delving into a young woman’s childhood for not so pleasant truths about a murder in the family. If you enjoy mysteries set in the past and or in Britain, or books about family secrets then I recommend this to you.

[Note: This is the final Miss Marple mystery, written in the 1940s and published in 1977 after Agatha Christie’s death.]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Five Little Pigs, also by Agatha Christie]

[ official Sleeping Murder page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library tomorrow, 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.

If you’re a fan of the works of Agatha Christie, check out the Agatha Christie Reviews page on BookGuide!

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!

Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell (on DVD)

Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell
[DVD Tremors]

This straight-to-DVD movie is the latest film in the Tremors saga, which started with a feature film back in 1990, and has grown to include six movies, TV-movies, or straight-to-DVD movies, plus a short-lived 2003 13-episode TV series on the SciFi channel. I would put this close to the kitschy level of the Sharknado TV-movies that the (now) Syfy network continues to air, but the Tremors films actually try to take themselves somewhat seriously. The one unifying factor in all of them is the presence of Michael “Family Ties” Gross as Burton Gummer, a gun-toting, reactionary, conspiracy-theory-spouting anti-government militant. He also seems to be the go-to guy for fighting back against an increasingly varied bunch of mutated, predatory life forms. The Tremors monsters, frequently nicknamed “Grabboids”, are 25′-long underground burrowers, that surface to grab onto their victim and suck them below the sand or soil. They have added aerial versions (“Assblasters”), that fly and emit concussive blasts. The creatures primarily live underground, and track their prey by the sound vibrations of their movement on the surface of the ground (i.e. the “tremors” caused by footfalls and other movements).

In this latest installment, Gummer and his estranged, opportunistic son, played by Jamie Kennedy (introduced in the 5th movie), are roped into going to the frozen wastelands of Canada’s Nunavet territory, where a new version of the grabboids has cropped up — they’re normally a desert-based lifeform but now apparently don’t mind the cold. Multiple different groups of people, with differing motivations, are all threatened by this new version of the monsters, and in the process of fighting them, Gummer is infected with grabboid venom — requiring the rest of the humans to work together to capture a grabboid in order to procure some of its venom to create an antidote. The acting is comical and all-over-the-place, and the use of a frozen, snow-covered environment would have been an interesting variation of the typical Tremors concept. Unfortunately, other than a few scenes in a snowy setting at the beginning of the film, the rest of this movie could have been set anywhere in the northern U.S. or Canada where there are woods and hills. Still, this one is kind of entertaining, in a “traffic accident — you can’t look away” kind of way. If you like cheesy, over-the-top monster movies, this one is for you. But…it will make a lot more sense if you watch some of the earlier Tremors productions first! (Note: the 4th Tremors film was a prequel, also featuring Michael Gross, set during Wild West days.)

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the other Tremors movies or TV-movies (1990-2018), or short-lived television series (2003 – 13 epsodes), all with Michael Gross.]
 
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Early Man web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you seen 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 28, 2018

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King
by Tricia Levenseller [YA Levenseller] 

Captain Alosa is successful when she gets herself kidnapped by another pirate crew who are expecting a large ransom for the daughter of the feared pirate king. However, they do not know that getting kidnapped is exactly what Alosa wants. Her father has sent her on a mission to locate part of a map which is somewhere aboard the ship on which she is now captive. It’s a battle of wits as she and her interrogator Riden, the attractive first mate, try to get information from each other.

Alosa is a feisty, quick-witted and stubborn character, and her exchanges with Riden and the crew are humorous. This was a fun, quick read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Daughter of the Siren Queen, also by Tricia Levenseller.]

[ “Daughter of the Pirate King on the official Books page on the official Tricia Levenseller 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!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Julian is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love [jP Love] 

I picked up this book because from first glance you can tell that this is a story about a young person figuring out who they are in this world. The cover is beautiful to me, and the illustrations inside are even more dazzling. I enjoyed reading this book because of the little glimpses of loving talk in a Spanish-speaking family. This book had a beautiful message to it, as abuela allowed Julian to dress up how they wanted to and even took them around to see others in similar jubilant garb.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Natsumi!, by Susan Lendroth, or Jerome By Heart, by Thomas Scotto.]

[ publisher’s official Julian is a Mermaid web site ] | [ official Jessica Love web site ]

Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley 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!