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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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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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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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!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Secrets to the Grave (on CD) by Tami Hoag

Secrets to the Grave
by Tami Hoag [Compact Disc Hoag]

I received this book on CD for free at a conference, but it is available for check-out at Lincoln City Libraries. I have never read any of Tami Hoag's work before, but I think I will again in the future. This is a great mystery set in the early 1980's. Marissa Fordham, a local free-spirited artist and single mother, has been brutally murdered. Although the town of Oak Knoll is recovering from the previous year's string of serial murders, this murder appears not to be connected in any way. Yet, there's no lack of suspects running around. Everyone loved Marissa, but clearly, someone wanted her dead. This was the first audiobook I've listened to that had the reader doing various 'voices' for the different characters. It got a little tiring, for me, as some of the voices sounded a little hokey--but when there's only one person doing ten or twelve voices, it's going to be challenging, I'm sure. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and was pleasantly surprised by the ending! -- 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 Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton or Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant.]

[Also available in traditional print format.]

[ official Tami Hoag web site ]


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Life Could Be Verse by Kirk Douglas

Life Could be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss and What Really Matters
by Kirk Douglas [Biography Douglas]

This is a slim but delightful little volume from the legendary actor Kirk Douglas. Though he has been a poet for most of his life, finding comfort in expressing himself through verse, it has been since his January 1996 stroke that Douglas has spent more time on his written words -- the stroke left it very difficult for him to speak normally. In this little volume, Douglas combines his poems with an extensive collection of photographs from throughout his lengthy career. Douglas is 98 years old at this time, and as he looks back over an unforgettable life, to share some bits of pieces with the reader, we are treated to his terrific sense of humor and can really see the joy he feels in his career and family accomplishments. There are other, more detailed, biographies of Douglas available, including his own book My Stroke of Luck, but if you're looking for a light read, filled with rare photographs, and some surprisingly touching poetry, I recommend giving this short book a try! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try My Stroke of Luck.]

[ publisher's official Life Could be Verse page ] | [ Wikipedia page for Kirk Douglas ]


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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, February 24, 2015

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (on DVD)



The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
[DVD Secret]

This remake film, directed and starring comedic actor Ben Stiller, is a completely updated and expanded version of the 1947 film that starred Danny Kaye -- both are adaptations of a classic short story by James Thurber, about a nebbishy put-upon man who escapes his annoying reality by slipping into flights of elaborate fantasy. In this Stiller version, Mitty's fantastic daydreams lead him to actually take on a globe-trotting real-life adventure, to the far corners of the planet, in search of an elusive photographer whose work may or may not be able to save the jobs of Mitty and the co-worker with whom he's obsessed. The cinematography and set design are very impressive in this film, and Stiller lends a sense of sadness and pathos to a man whose life desperately needs a jump start. I very much enjoyed this quiet little film, but would also highly recommend tracking down the original 1947 film if you have a chance! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Secret Life of Walter Mitty web site ]

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It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along
by Andie Mitchell [Biography Mitchell]

In this touching memoir, Andie as an unhappy and obese adult looks back on her childhood, adolescence, and college years - and the relationships she had with food as well as people during those years to find out why she has a food addiction. We catch up on her past and root alongside her as she tries to lose it all to gain the happiness and freedom she desperately desires. We follow her triumphs and struggles with hilarious insight that lead to her present success. A non-preachy, knowledgeable voice that still understands the struggles and heartache, Andie's book is quick and enjoyable read. -- recommended by Sarah J. - South Branch Library
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Andie Mitchell's blog, started before the book at canyoustayfordinner.com.]

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

[ official Andie Mitchell 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, February 23, 2015

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Evil Librarian
by Michelle Knudsen [YA Knudsen]

I'll admit, I checked this book out purely because of the title. I had no idea what it was going to be about. I was pleased when I realized it was a YA book, as I really tend to enjoy a lot of things I read in this genre. This is the story of a girl whose high school is gradually being taken over by demons. Not only that, but her best friend is deeply smitten with the main demon, the new school librarian. The book reminds me a little of the Twilight series, but honestly, the writing is so much better. There are some scary parts, and the language gets a bit rough, but for the most part, this story is cute and funny. I really enjoyed this one a lot. And it sort of seems to have set the stage for potential sequels. I'll keep an eye on this author! -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try An Absence of Light by Meradeth Houston or Nolander by Becca Mills.]

[ official Michelle Knudsen 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, February 22, 2015

Heart of the Gaels (on CD)

Heart of the Gaels
by various [Compact Disc 781.62 Ire]

This is a really pleasant CD. It's Scottish and Irish music performed by various artists. Some of the tracks have vocals and some don't. Some songs are rather upbeat with quick pace and others are slower and more subdued. It leaves you feeling both calm and uplifted. Listeners who like Celtic or world music would enjoy this one. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ see Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

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Awkward Family Holiday Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

Awkward Family Holiday Photos
by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack [817 Ben]

Alternately hilarious and discomforting — this is the second volume of photos from the Awkward Family Photos website to have been colllected and released in book format — the libraries have the first only as an ebook. In this volume, editors Bender and Chernack selected a whole ton of photos that celebrate the holidays — and not just Christmas and Easter (though those are the best sections of the book) there are also photos from Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and many more. When you look at some of these images, you have to wonder what the heck was going through people's minds. The photographic atrocities range from entire families of 10 or more people posing mostly nude for a Christmas card, to to dads letting way too much hang out as they celebrate Father's Day, to horrific images of evil-looking Easter Bunnies or Santa Clauses, terrifying small children, unintentionally. Anyone with a warped sense of humor should appreciate this book and this website. I'd also recommend the books by humorist James Lileks, if you go for this kind of dark humor. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Awkward Family Photos (available from LCL only in ebook format).]

[ official Awkward Family Photos web site - from which this book originated ]


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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, February 17, 2015

Silent Night by Stanley Weintraub

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
by Stanley Weintraub [940.4 Wei]

100 years ago at Christmas time Europe was literally entrenched in World War I. It had been going since August 1914 and many thought it was already overdue to be finished. The Western Front running through France had become a muddy, icy mess as winter set in and the physical and mental fatigue the soldiers felt sparked a 'spontaneous' 3-day ceasefire in many quarters of the fighting. As the author puts it so aptly in one of his chapter titles, there was "an outbreak of peace." Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day saw a deliberate lull in the war in numerous places along the battle line. Both Germans and Allies took pause to celebrate the holidays as best they could, and to reach out across "No Man's Land" for conversation, exchanges of goods, singing, putting up tannenbaum, tending to their dead, and even playing some sports. Of course this was contradictory to the protocol of war and the dictums of the high commands but yet it happened, in ultimately f utile hopes it would mean a quick end to the conflict. Weintraub uses much original source material to illustrate events, breaking them down into real time. However, I did not care for his repeated technique of going off on tangents of fictional descriptions and scenarios in the midst of the factual accounts. I did appreciate, though, that he outlined a variety of alternate-history outcomes if the Christmas Truce had affected the course of the war in a more significant way. Weintraub also succeeds at giving a good feel for everyday life in the trenches. This is a good read for anyone interested in military history and general history, and reminds us how extreme humanity's good and bad qualities can be. -- recommended by Becky W.C. - Walt Branch Library [ see Becky's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[ The Christmas Truce background page on History.com ] | [ Wikipedia page for Stanley Weintraub ]


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Monday, February 16, 2015

Roots (on DVD)



Roots
[DVD 929.2 Hal 2007]

Roots is, arguably, one of the most significant television productions of all time. When it aired in 1977, Roots was a ground-breaking achievement -- a long mini-series, focusing on a long-ignored chapter in United States history -- the long, shameful involvement of multiple generations of Americans engaged in the practice of slavery. The cast was phenomenal, from the young LeVar Burton and James Amos as two different versions of Kunta Kinte, Louis Gossett Jr., Georg Stanford Brown. Cicely Tyson, Leslie Uggams and Ben Vereen. The stellar cast also included dozens of caucasian actors in significant roles, including Ed Asner, Lloyd Bridges, Lorne Greene, George Hamilton, Burl Ives, Sandy Duncan, Brade Davis, Ian McShane, Vic Morrow and Ralph Waite, to name but a few. The production values were tremendous, with incredible set pieces, costumes, emotionally resonant music and tight editing. I clearly remember watching every installment of this with my family when it originally aired. Even 30+ years later, this important television milestone still stands up to the test of time. What's most impressive, when watching and appreciating the work of art that Roots should be considered, is that the entire thing is based on the real-life family history of the author Alex Haley. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Haley's original book, upon which this is based.]

[Also available in traditional print and book-on-cd formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview by Sam Weller

Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview
by Sam Weller [not in library]

Towards the end of his life, iconic fantasist Ray Bradbury identified journalist Sam Weller as his "official" biographer -- he and Weller had conducted numerous interviews over a multi-year period, and the two had become very close friends, as Weller dug into Bradbury's memories and psyche to figure out what made him tick. In this volume in Meville House Publishing's Last Interview series -- which reproduce the final interviews conducting with literary figures before their passings, Weller reproduces the content of the final few interviews he conducted with his friend and mentor, including a few earlier transcripts from Bradbury appearances to fill out the relatively slim volume. Through the content of these interviews, you can see Bradbury's health waning, but you can also tell that his mind was still hard at work, watching and contemplating the world around himself. In addition to being one of the most influential and prolific grand masters of the science fiction and fantasy publishing field, Bradbury lived an eclectic and mesmerizing life, interacting with the worlds of popular entertainment (he was a film buff), politics and literature in equal parts. In his final interviews, he revisits many of the parts of his life that had emotional impact on him, and as a reader, this helped me to connect even more strongly with him as a creator. At this time, the libraries don't own this Bradbury volume in the Last Interview series, however they have added the volumes for James Baldwin and Kurt Vonnegut. I'm hoping they'll add some of the other existing volumes in the series, which include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lou Reed, Hannah Arendt, Jorge Luis Borges, David Foster Wallace, Robert Bolano and Jacques Derrida -- I highly recommend the entire set! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Listen to the Echoes and The Bradbury Chronicles, two earlier intervew/biography volumes from Sam Weller about Ray Bradbury.]

[ official The Last Interview web site ] | [ official Ray Bradbury web site ]


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes
by Stephen King

As Stephen King has been known to do in the past, he quickly got me hooked on characters in this story; I could NOT put the book down until it was finished. Bill Hodges is a retired cop, or "ret det", as he's called by Brady Hartsfield. Brady was the one who killed and injured so many people at the job fair when he ran them over with a stolen Mercedes. He claims that'll be his last crime, but will it? When he writes to Hodges--who retired with that crime unsolved--trying to goad him into suicide, it's likely he actually believes the job fair incident was his last crime. But will it be? -- recommended by Tracy T. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The City by Dean Koontz.]

[Also available in book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]

[ official Stephen King web site ]


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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver

The Bone Collector
by Jeffery Deaver

Lincoln Rhyme is a former head of the NYPD forensics dept but, due to an accident at his last crime scene three-and-a-half years ago, he is a quadriplegic from the shoulders down. Emotionally unable to continue with his life as it is, he has finally located a euthanasia group willing to assist him in his "self-deliverance." But at the last minute, former colleagues entice him with one last case. A couple got into a yellow cab from the airport but never made it home. The man is found murdered, but obscure clues found at his crime scene point the direction to the woman's location. If Rhyme can decipher the clues and get the authorities there in time, she can be rescued. At the second scene are clues for a third victim, and at the third scene are clues for locating a fourth, and on it builds. Some of them are rescued, and others, well... Sometimes a procedural mystery is dry and boring, but this one is fascinating as you watch them sift through the clues and their possible meanings. Over the course of the weekend, it becomes clear that the roots of the killer and his behavior are a part of Rhyme's past. This is the first book in the Lincoln Rhyme series, with the eleventh title released just last May. A riveting mystery with interesting characters. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Charlotte's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[ official Jeffery Deaver web site ]


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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Book Stops Here by Kate Carlisle

The Book Stops Here
by Kate Carlisle

As I read this amusing book I was reminded of the Stephanie Plum series. Admittedly, there are more differences than similarities between the two series. The humor in Carlisle's books is more sophisticated than the inane silliness found in the Evanovich books. Carlisle's character, Brooklyn Wainwright, does not live a paycheck to paycheck existence. She is a well-regarded rare-book restorer and appraiser. Brooklyn has a hunky live-in boyfriend with a sexy British accent. In this book Brooklyn is the rare book appraiser on This Old Attic a hit TV series. Her first appraisal leads to murder and to a meeting with an eccentric millionaire who is obsessed with Mae West. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department [ see Donna's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Janet Evanovich, Erika Chase, Lorna Barrett and Ellery Adams.]

[ official Kate Carlisle 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!