Friday, March 27, 2015

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist
by Jessie Burton

In 1686, eighteen year old Nella Oortman enters an arranged marriage with a much older, successful, merchant trader in Amsterdam. As a wedding gift, her husband gives her a cabinet-sized replica of their home. A mysterious miniaturist begins sending her tiny creations that replicate their counterparts in the house. These eerie gifts from the miniaturist help Nella unlock the many secrets of her new home. This book is historical fiction at its best and will keep you turning the pages as the secrets are revealed. -- recommended by Tammy T. - Collection Management Department

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.]

[ official Jessie Burton web site ]


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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, March 26, 2015

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
by Randall Munroe [500 Mun]

I've been a fan of Randall Munroe's online webcomic XKCD for many years -- he mixes heavy doses of sarcasm with a great deal of intelligence. His simple stick figure illustrations belie a very active mind behind the simplistic imagery. Some time ago, Munroe started a sideline to the XKCD strip, in which his readers and fans submit bizarre yet intriguing "What If" questions to him, which despite their patently absurd nature, he still attempts to answer. His answers combine his trademark humorous cartoons with rigorous scientific research, often with the assistance of experts in a variety of scientific fields. In this new hardback book (also available as an audiobook, narrated by actor and geek icon Wil Wheaton), Munroe gathers over 50 of these "serious scientific answers to absurb hypothetical questions", along with some lists of some of his favorite "Weird (and Worrying) Questions From the What If Inbox". Are you curious what the answers would be to the following questions -- "Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?", "What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% of the speed of light?", "How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?", "What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single giant drop?", or goofy questions like "How much Force power can Yoda output?" - look no further than this tome...you'll find your answers. Personally, my favorite parts of the book were the "rejected" questions that cause Munroe to worry abou the states of mind of his many readers. This book should appeal to anyone with an interest in the scientific research process, anyone who has a sarcastic sense of humor, or anyone who just likes pondering the unponderables! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official What If page on the site of Randall Munroe's online XKCD webcomic ]


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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, March 25, 2015

The Matched Trilogy by Allyson Condie

The Quilter's Kitchen
by Jennifer Chiaverini

I chose this book because I found it on a search in the NoveList database--I was looking for novels that include recipes. This particular story is the 13th book in a series of 20, but I was able to follow along quite well without having read the previous 12 books. The main focus of the series, I believe, is quilting, although this story definitely put a lot of emphasis on various dishes and treats enjoyed by generations. There were so many recipes at the end of each chapter, I felt the book was a bit of a treasure! The story itself was light and quick to read--I may yet go back and begin at the beginning of the series! -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Tracy's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg; or Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.]

[Also available in Large Print format.]


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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, March 24, 2015

Star Stuff by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
by Stephanie Roth Sisson [j Biography Sagan]

This picture book is an absolutely charming biography of astronomer Carl Sagan, the man who brought the original Cosmos science mini-series to television back in 1980. Told in simple phrases and illustrations that are both simplistic and yet hauntingly accurate representations of the young Sagan, this book perfectly captures what it must have been like for an inquisitive dreamer like Sagan to be inspired by the study of the unknown. Sagan did so much to popularize the studies in various fields of science for two generations of young people -- it's marvelous to see his own journey of study and exploration captured in this unique and engaging youth biography. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[ official Stephanie Roth Sisson web site ]


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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, March 23, 2015

The Expendables 3



The Expendables 3
[DVD Expendables]

When one of his team members is shot on a mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is shaken. He is assigned a new mission that has a poor chance of success, so Barney selects a new team so he will have no emotional ties to anyone in case there would be fatalities along the way. So I admit I have never seen the first movie in this series, but I enjoyed the 2nd one. I appreciated the cast in this third installment, my favorite character being Galgo (played by Antonio Banderas). I have never seen Antonia Banderas play this type of quirky, wacky character, and it made me laugh-out-loud more than once. The action was non-stop, and I was entertained from start to finish. -- recommended by Marie P. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Expendables 3 web site ]

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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, March 22, 2015

Their Eyes Were Watching God (on CD) by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston [Compact Disc Hurston]

I didn't know anything about this book before I picked it up. I hadn't known that Ms. Hurston was criticized by black, male authors of her time for not writing something that was more political, something that shined a more "positive" light on blacks in the south. I also didn't know that, while the story itself is extremely captivating, the writing is some of the most poetic I've ever known! The dialogues between characters are, in my opinion, accurate and true-to-life; but the descriptions of scenery, of people and of every day occurrences--those are absolutely lyrical! A movie was made about this book, about 10 years ago... I've never seen it, but I'm definitely going to watch it now. And more important, I'm going to read more of Hurston's work! -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Tracy's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Color Purple by Alice Walker, or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee.]
[Also available in multiple other editions and formats.]

[ official Their Eyes Were Watching God page on the official Zora Neale Hurston web site ]


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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic

Mandatory Fun
by Weird Al Yankovic [Compact Disc 781.66 Yan]

This album is done in the usual Weird Al style. He sings parody versions of pop songs with his own strange lyrics and polka influences. They are funny, but are more enjoyable if you've heard the original song. This one came out recently so it has recent pop tunes tracks. I didn't think this one was as good as previous ones, but I don't listen to pop music much these days, so I didn't know too many of the tunes. I'd recommend it if you want a laugh, although you might try some older Weird Al albums too if you're like me don't keep up with pop music anymore. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ see Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Weird Al Yankovic's other albums, includingo Poodle Hat.]

[ official Weird Al web site ]


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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, March 20, 2015

How to Fake a Moon Landing by Darryl Cunningham

How to Fake a Moon Landing
by Darryl Cunningham [001.9 Cun]

As the subtitle to this book says, this is a very straight-forward book about "exposing the myths of science denial". Cunningham uses the graphic novel format to tackle 8 hot button topics, all of which have been in the news in recent years. Each of these topics has a great deal of verifiable scientific evidence, accumulated over years, even decades, of testing an observation, to lend support to views that have somehow become political and religious hot potatoes -- each and every topic's facts have people who are diametrically opposed to accepting the evidence placed in front of them. Cunningham doesn't suffer fools gladly, and uses humor and sarcasm to shine a light on such subjects as: The Moon Landing Hoax, Homeopathy, Chiropractic treatments, the MMR Vaccination Scandal, Evolution, Fracking, Climate Change and the basic category of Science Denial in general. This book should appeal to anyone with an open mind, who prefers the scientific method of testing an d observation over blind acceptance of dogma. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[ official Darryl Cunningham blog ]


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

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

The Matched Trilogy
by Allyson Braithwaite Condie [YA Condie]

In this YA dystopian trilogy (Matched, Crossed, Reached), Ally Condie weaves together the stories and lives of three youth on the very cusp of adulthood. Cassia, the protagonist of the novel, believes she is living in a perfect society; she has just been "matched" with her best friend Xander and is currently training for her dream job as a sorter. After arriving home from the match ceremony, Cassia is in for a shock when another face appears on her port screen after Xander's. It's Ky the mystery boy from down the block. Does this mean she has two matches? How did this happen? The Society attempts to convince her it was a rare malfunction, but as Cassia begins to spend time with Ky, she soon discovers that the perfect society she thought surrounded her turns out to be more controlling and flawed than she realized. She and her two matches, Xander and Ky, are thrust into an adventure that forces them to go against everything they have ever known and one they may not survive. This trilogy is so full of suspense, romance, and intrigue you won't want to put it down. -- recommended by Katrina S. - Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Giver by Lois Lowry.]

[Available in the following formats --
Matched: downloadable audio, book-on-cd, downloadable E-book and Traditional Print
Crossed: book-on-cd, downloadable E-book and Traditional Print
Reached: downloadable audio, downloadable E-book and Traditional Print.]

[ official Matched pages on the official Ally Condie web site ]


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

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

I read this book a number of years ago, and I decided to re-read it, as I'm nominating it for One Book, One Lincoln. This is actually one of the first dystopian novels I've ever read. I remember being a bit frightened, as well as thrilled, by the concept that our society had gotten so out of hand--so gluttonous and vile--that there was a complete overhaul. I felt that way again reading this story for a second time... in fact, even more so this time around! Our main character is now known as Offred, and she is a Handmaid for a Commander in the new society. Her sole purpose in this new life is to provide a child for the Commander and his wife. She does not speak with anyone unless spoken to, she may not read or do anything else to amuse herself or occupy her time. Where are her husband and daughter, from before? She does not know, and sometimes, she doesn't WANT to know... Will Offred survive in her new surroundings? Will "surviving" be enough for her? -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Tracy's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try 1984 by George Orwell; Divergent by Veronica Roth; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.]

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ Wikipedia page for this novel ] | [ official Margaret Atwood web site ]


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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, March 12, 2015

Crash (on DVD)

Crash
[DVD Crash]

I remember, when this movie came out in 2004, there was a LOT of buzz about it--there was an all-star cast, the music was supposed to be so fabulous, and it won three Academy Awards. But I didn't get around to seeing it until 11 years later. The story is about several different individuals and couples, and how their lives intertwine as they're living in Los Angeles. I had to keep in mind that this film was made just a few years after 9/11, and America's wounds were still very fresh. I was stunned by the blatant racism and anger that was portrayed by people of ALL races in this story! I think I had assumed that such open animosity was something that wouldn't be expressed in a place like LA. I couldn't be more wrong. This movie was very emotionally stirring for me, especially since there have been recent events that proved, to me, that we haven't really come that far yet, with regard to racism and prejudice. It was a great reminder for me. -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Tracy's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Grand Canyon, Boyz n the Hood, Brokeback Mountain and American History X.]

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

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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, March 11, 2015

A Match Made in Texas: A Novella Collection

A Match Made in Texas: A Novella Collection
by Karen Wilemeyer (and others) [Wilemeyer]

This is a collection of four novellas, each about 100 pages long. They were lighthearted and humorous, great for a quick read over your lunch break! -- recommended by Marie P. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ publisher's official A Match Made in Texas web page ]


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

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I Am Not Spock (and) I Am Spock, by Leonard Nimoy

I Am Not Spock [791.092 Nim] and I Am Spock [791.452 Nim]
by Leonard Nimoy

In the wake of the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy on February 27th, much mention was made in his various tributes, obituaries and remembrances online, of his two autobiographies. I Am Not Spock (1975), seemingly a knock on the iconic Star Trek character with which Nimoy was forever linked, is far more than that. A struggling actor, who joked with his children that he frequently didn't have any jobs that lasted for longer than a week-or-two at a time prior to Star Trek, Nimoy was justifiably concerned of being typecast after Star Trek's 3-year run ended, but the fans refused to let Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others fade from memory. I Am Not Spock should more accurately have been titled "I Am Not Just Spock", and readers should enjoy Nimoy's look back at his early career.

So many critics misinterpreted the earlier autobiography as a slam against Star Trek and its obsessive fans, that it seems that Nimoy had little choice but to flip the argument around with his later, second, autobiography, which he titled I Am Spock (1995). Looking back at a much more extensive career, Nimoy fully embraced his half-human/half-Vulcan alter-ego, relishing the many opportunities that Spock provided for him. Nimoy was much more than merely an actor. He directed films, he was a poet, a philanthropist and a photographer. If you are interested in learning more about this fine actor's career, I highly recommend reading both of these books, back-to-back -- they provide for a "fascinating" perspective on his career, at least up through the late 1990s. It is too bad that he couldn't have written a third volume, that caught us up to his later career achievements, including his involvement in the rebooted Star Trek feature films, and his recurring role on Fringe (2008-2013). In the meantime, it is only logical that you should read these two volumes...and then reflect on Nimoy's final Twitter post: "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" He certainly did "Live Long and Prosper"! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[ Leonard Nimoy's Twitter Feed ] | [ Wikipedia article on Leonard Nimoy ] 

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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, March 2, 2015

Joyland by Stephen King

Joyland
by Stephen King

This is a shorter novel, as far as King's novels go, though it's not quite a novella. I enjoyed it largely for that fact — sometimes I like a quick read, but I still want the quality of work that I can expect from King. The protagonist in this story is writing about the summer job he once held at an amusement park — Joyland. It's got a bit of mystery, a small bit of romance, and a little less of the gore-factor I'm used to with King, but it was no less worth my time. This is one of those stories that really made me feel like I was there, experiencing it as it was happening! -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Tracy's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, also by Stephen King.]

[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official Stephen King web site ]


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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!

Celtic Heartbeat (on CD)

Celtic Heartbeat
by various [Compact Disc 781.62 IreYc]

This album is performed by various artists. The back cover of the CD says that there is an element of surprise on these tracks. It was pretty good but there were two songs that didn't sound very Celtic, and that's the surprise I think. I'd suggest it if you like world music. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ see Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[ Celtic Heartbeat on BBC Radio Wales ]


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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Brave (on DVD)



Brave
[j DVD Brave]

Princess Merida doesn't like acting like a princess; she prefers riding her horse through the Scottish woods doing archery. Her mother's attempts to get her to put down the bow and arrows aren't always successful. When Merida comes of age, a contest is held for her potential suitors. At her wits end with her mother and being forced into a marriage, she asks a witch to help her. The spell turns her mother into a bear, which was not what she expected or wanted. The two have to learn to respect and understand each other to get out of the predicament. It's a bit different in that respect to other Disney princess movies, in that it's about a mother and daughter, not a princess and a prince. It is full of songs, great animation and heart, so anyone who likes Disney movies, I think will like this one too. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ see Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Frozen (jDVD Frozen), Heart of the Gaels (CD 781.62Ire), The Best of Scottish Pipes and Drums (CD 781.62 ScoB ).]

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

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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!

Let Him Go by Larry Watson

Let Him Go
by Larry Watson

Having lost her son, Margaret Blackledge refuses to lose her grandson as well. Her daughter-in-law, Lorna, has left and married another man. Margaret is determined to find her grandson and her husband, George, will not let her go on this journey alone. Unfortunately, Lorna has married into a violent family that will not give up the boy without a fight. Set in 1950's North Dakota and Montana, the book's language is as sparse as the landscape. -- recommended by Tammy T. - Circulation Management Department

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Montana 1948 by Larry Watson and Plainsong by Kent Haruf.]

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ official Let Him Go page on the official Larry Watson web site ]


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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!