Thursday, December 27, 2007

Staff Recommendation - River of Doubt

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
by Candice Millard [B R67m]

After Theodore Roosevelt failed in his last attempt at the Presidency, he was talked into an expedition on a South American river that many doubted ever existed. Joined by his son Kermit, several naturalists from noted geographic societies, a priest, and a failed Arctic explorer, they set out on an ill planned venture in the unknown rain forest. Plagued by insects, Indians, fever, and shortage of supplies, Roosevelt contracted a serious illness that almost drove him to suicide. After surviving the debacle of the expedition, he returned home only to be ridiculed and doubted about his extraordinary accomplishment. For lovers of historic adventure and suspense. -- recommended by Rayma S. -- South Branch Library


Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What's Next for Some Popular Fiction Series?

There are some great series that will be getting new installments early in the 2008, and a few that got their newest addition late in 2007. Here are some of our favorites:

The Winter Rose”, by Jennifer Donnelly: Set in 1900 London, the second volume in Donnelly’s “Tea Rose” trilogy tells the story of India Selwyn-Jones. Though a noblewoman by birth, India has recently graduated from the London Women’s Medical College. Rather than set up her practice in fashionable Harley street, she heads to the dangerous streets of the East End, where she feels she will be truly needed. When one of London’s most notorious gangsters, Sid Malone, comes to her for treatment, India must face her growing feelings for a man who represents everything she detests. (Due out January 8)

“Why Mermaids Sing”, by C. S. Harris: It’s another in the new and very popular Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series, set in Regency England. This time, Sebastian must find a serial killer who is doing in the sons of some of England’s most powerful families. These crimes were mentioned towards the end of Harris’ last St. Cyr novel, and solving them will no doubt prove to be a daunting and dangerous task for the darkly charming young viscount. (Out November, 2007)

The Queen of Bedlam”, by Robert McCammon: The long-anticipated follow-up to McCammon’s much-loved “Speaks the Nightbird” reunites readers with law clerk Matthew Corbett, now living in New York, and working for a new magistrate. This book promises to be as engrossing a read as “Nightbird”, as Matthew becomes embroiled in the hunt for a serial killer that the press has dubbed, “The Masker”. Only out since October of 2007, it’s already showing up on some “Best of the Year” lists. (Out October, 2007)

“Silent in the Sanctuary”, by Deanna Raybourn: Raybourn made a smashing debut last year with her complex, historically evocative mystery, “Silent in the Grave”. Now, she gives us another tale of Lady Julia Grey and her reluctant partner in crime-solving, Nicholas Brisbane. This one has murder, jewel thieves, and an ever-increasing attraction between the two main characters. It can’t come out soon enough for Raybourn’s many fans. (Due out January 1)

“Fire Study”, by Maria V. Snyder: The next book in the “Study” series finds the magically gifted Yelena trying to stop an overly-ambitious clan from creating a magician who can control fire. Wars threaten, and danger lurks around every corner as Snyder’s smart and stalwart heroine once more tries to save her world. (Due out March 1)

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose”, by Lauren Willig: Readers who have been avidly following Willig’s time-hopping chick-lit series will rejoice at the release of yet another installment. This time, it’s up to dark-haired socialite Mary Alsworthy and the mysterious Lord Vaughan to save England from the evil plots of the Black Tulip and his spies. Adventure and romance are sure to ensue, both in the nineteenth and the twenty-first century, where literary scholar Eloise Kelly may just finally get a date with hunky Brit Collin Selwick. (Due out January 28.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Staff Recommendation - Silver Bells

Silver Bells: A Holiday Tale
by Luann Rice

A touching holiday romance with a bit of a paranormal twist. Christopher Byrne, Nova Scotia Christmas tree farmer, deals with the disappearance of his teenaged son, Danny, during their annual selling trip to New York City. Librarian Catherine Tierney mourns the loss of her husband during a previous Christmas season. Together, with the help of their friends and the timely assistance of the holidays, they can help each other come to terms with their losses and concerns to find a hope for the brighter future. This book was adapted into a very nice Hallmark Hall of Fame production for television in 2005, in which quite a bit of the supporting plot was altered, but actually improved on the storyline. Watch for it in case it airs on television again this holiday season! -- recommended by Scott C. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Reference


Have you read this one? What did you think?

This review was pulled from the archives of past Staff Recommendations on the BookGuide web site.

Staff Recommendation - Spineless Wonders

Spineless Wonders: Strange Tales From the Invertebrate World
by Richard Conniff [592 Con]

They're weird. They're creepy. They have disturbing personal habits, and they're all around us. They're invertebrates, and we share our world with them, or maybe they just share theirs with us! Conniff takes us up close and personal with such seemingly common critters as the housefly, the leech and the ant. You will never look at a beetle in quite the same way again after reading this, and you may have new respect for the hagfish and the tarantula. No, these beings are not like us, but they have lives that are just as complex and full of drama. This is a fun way to learn more about a seldom-mentioned part of the animal kindgom. -- recommended by Lisa V. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Reference


Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's a "mystery"...100 of them in fact!

Do you like "Top 100 Lists"?

The members of The Mystery Writers of America have recently assembled a list of what they consider to be the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time.

Check out their list and let us know what you think...any essential titles missing, or are there any here you're surprised to see? Any that are now on your "must read" list?

Comment here and share your views!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Staff Recommendations - The 47th Samurai

The 47th Samurai
by Stephen Hunter

The newest thriller in the Bob Lee Swagger series is highly recommended to those who like their heroes with a highly developed sense of duty and honor. In 47th Samurai, Swagger is asked to return a sword his father had taken from a Japanese soldier in a battle at Iwo Jima. Swagger makes a special trip to Japan to return the sword and shortly after discovers that the sword has been stolen and the family brutally murdered. Bob Lee begins a quest for atonement and along the way becomes immersed in Japanese organized crime, history, and culture. If you like high-action, all-out thrillers you'll love Stephen Hunter and the Swagger novels. If you shy away from graphic fight sequences, this may not be the novel for you. While the action is intense, the characters are well-developed and the plot tightly researched. -- recommended by Sean S. -- Eiseley Branch Library


Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Staff Recommendation - Pontoon [book-on-CD]

Pontoon
by Garrison Keillor [on CD]

Spend some time with the folks of Lake Wobegon as they prepare to celebrate a wedding and mourn the passing of one of their fellow denizens. This compact disc is narrated by the author and is sure to please even those who have never visited Lake Wobegon. -- recommended by Tammy T. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Collection Management


Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Staff Recommendations - A Test of Wills

A Test of Wills
by Charles Todd

This is a classic British police procedural with several twists. The setting is Upper Streetham, a small village in Warwickshire, England. The time is 1919, the world still reeling from the Great War. The detective is Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, recently returned to police duty from the bloody battlefields of World War I. The victim is Colonel Harris, a career soldier, also recently returned from the war to his estate outside Upper Streetham, where he lived with his ward, Lettice Wood. Miss Wood is recently engaged to Captain Wilton, a young soldier back from the war, also. As you might suspect, World War I and its aftermath feature prominently in this mystery. A woman in the village continues to be shunned because she fell in love with a German prisoner of war detained in the Upper Streetham during the war. Hickam, the town drunk, who suffers from shell shock, was the last person to see Colonel Harris alive. And our Inspector Rutledge, also suffering from shell shock, is dealing with his first murder case since his return to police duty, and his own very personal nightmares. As a captain in the army, Rutledge was forced to order the execution of a young soldier for refusing Rutledge's command to fight. This young soldier, Hamish MacLeod, haunts Rutledge, speaking to him in a voice that only Rutledge can hear. The central question of this mystery is who would want to kill Colonel Harris, a well-liked man for the short amount of time he actually spent in Upper Streetham in between his numerous military postings? Why has the romance between Lettice Woods and Captain Wilton suddenly cooled? Will Inspector Rutledge be able to find the killer or will he succumb to the inner torment and chaos always hovering at the edge of his next thought? With the voice of the dead, young soldier constantly questioning his judgment and character, the hunt for the killer of Colonel Harris will truly become "a test of wills." -- recommended by Evelyn D. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Technical Processes

[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.][ A Test of Wills page on the official Charles Todd web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fantasy Fiction - Good News and Bad News

The last few days have seen two newsworthy announcements in the media of interest to fans of fantasy fiction.

First, the Bad News:
Author Terry Pratchett, known for the immensely popular Discworld series (and Good Omens in partnership with Neil Gaiman), announced through artist friend Paul Kidby's website that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Click on the BBC news article for more information.

And the Good News:
Following the death of James Oliver Rigney Jr., who wrote fantasy under the pseudonym Robert Jordan, there was uncertainty as to whether the unfinished 10th and final volume in Jordan's hugely successful Wheel of Time series would ever see the light of day. Jordan's publisher announced on December 7th that Nebraska's own Brandon Sanderson has been tapped to finish Jordan's final book. See the full article on publisher Tor's web site!

Staff Recommendation - Complete Essays of Montaigne

The Complete Essays of Montaigne
by Michel de Montaigne [844 Mon]

These highly personal thoughts on a variety of subjects (friendship, superstition, the limits of knowledge, etc.) explore how one can know oneself, and thus, better know the world. -- recommended by Bob B. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Reference

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Staff Recommendation - Speaks the Nightbird

Speaks the Nightbird
by Robert R. McCammon

One of the fiction best-sellers this winter is bound to be the new book, The Queen of Bedlam, featuring the character Matthew Corbett. Matthew made his first appearance, however, in this gripping, highly entertaining novel of witchcraft and intrigue set in a small Colonial Carolina town. The year is 1699, and Matthew is acting as law clerk for a magistrate who has been called upon to hear the case of a woman suspected of witchcraft. The two men run into trouble almost immediately, and the path of their investigation never does run smoothly. There's a lot going on behind the scenes in the settlement of Fount Royal, and no one is who he or she seems to be. Pirates, Spanish gold, Satanic manifestations and more figure into this suspenseful and detailed story. Is the lovely Rachel Howarth guilty of trafficking with the Devil, or is she the victim of those who will gain by her death? That's the question that Matthew sets out to answer, and his search takes him down a twisting, turning path of deceit and death. Prepare to stay up late reading this one, and don't forget the sequel, which is getting great reviews. -- recommended by Lisa V. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Reference

[ Speaks the Night Bird page on the official Robert McCammon web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Tales of Beedle the Bard...worth $4 million?

One copy of J.K. Rowling's handmade Harry Potter tie-in, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, complete with hand-drawn artwork by Rowling, bound in Moroccan leather and ornamented with sterling silver and moonstones, has been sold at a Southeby's auction to Amazon.com for $4 million.

The other six copies of the book were all apparently given as gifts to friends and associates of Rowling, with this single copy going to auction, to benefit The Children's Voice, a charity founded by Rowling and Baroness Nicholson of Britain's House of Lords.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a book mentioned prominently in the text of the final Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was released this past July.

For more information, including images of/from the book and reviews of the stories in the book, visit Amazon.com's Beedle the Bard site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Book Talk Booklist: Mostly the Truth...Sometimes Not!

Mostly the Truth...Sometimes Not!

Tag team booktalkers Carol S. and Deanne J. presented a look at a selection of interesting fiction and non-fiction titles recently for both the Gere Books Talk series (Nov 19th 2007) and Bethany Books Talk series (Nov 30th 2007). You can click any of the linked titles below to see the availability of these titles at locations of the Lincoln City Libraries, and in many cases to see plot blurbs. You can also check out the Book Talk Booklists index on BookGuide to see many other recent and past book talk lists.

Staff Recommendation - A Fatal Grace

A Fatal Grace
by Louise Penny

"A stupid, vapid and vindictive woman" is how one of the residents of Three Pines described CC de Poitiers. Chief Inspector Gamache and his team from the Sûreté du Quebec had trouble finding anyone in the tiny village that had a good word to say about CC. As a result, their suspect list was long. Her henpecked husband, her spineless lover and any of the eccentric residents. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who we first met in Still Life, came back the village of Three Pines in southern Quebec to find CC's murderer. Gamache renews his acquaintance with the artist couple that eke out a living doing what they love, a poet fixated on death and the gay couple who run a B&B and a bistro as he investigates the latest crime. It was Boxing Day. The villagers met at the legion hall for a community breakfast. Then they headed out to the frozen lake for the annual curling tournament. While everyone cheered the players CC collapsed on the ice. The locals thought it was a heart attack and rushed her to the hospital. The doctor realized that CC had been electrocuted and contacted the Sûreté du Quebec. Gamache and his team have to determine how a woman can be electrocuted while sitting on a frozen lake with a small group watching the annual curling tournament. No one else in the group even received a small electrical jolt, let alone one big enough to kill them. The rest of the villagers were sitting in stands on shore and none of them left their seats. How could someone have killed her? -- recommended by Donna G. -- Loren Corey Eiseley and Bess Dodson Walt Branch Libraries

[ Fatal Grace page on the official Louise Penny web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Staff Recommendation - Tolkien: A Biography

Tolkien: A Biography
by Humphrey Carpenter [B T578c]

I have enjoyed reading about the development of "The Lord of the Rings" into a published work -- a process that took J.R.R. Tolkien over a decade to complete! -- recommended by Kim J. -- Bennett Martin Public Library/Reference

[ The Tolkien Library web site ] [ Bio on The Tolkien Society web site ] [ official J.R.R. Tolkien Estate web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Book Talk Booklist: Cowboys, School Marms and a Good Horse

Rayma S. presented the booktalk Cowboys, School Marms and a Good Horse at the Gere Branch BooksTalk series on Friday, November 16th at the Bethany Bookstalk series, and on Monday, November 26th at the Gere Bookstalk series. Her talk, if it's not obvious from the title, was on the "Westerns" fiction genre, both classic and modern.

Links in the following list will take you to each book's individual entry in the Lincoln City Libraries' catalog, where you can see plot blurbs and check on availability.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Staff Recommendation - The Murder League

The Murder League
by Robert L. Fish

Three elderly ex-mystery writers, fallen on hard times, decide to put their intelligence to use and set up a "Murder League." They advertise for clients and will dispatch someone for £1,000 plus expenses. Their goal is £10,000 to invest for themselves and live off the interest. They successfully complete nine such arrangements, but an innocent bystander is arrested for the 10th murder. Being men of integrity (?!) they fess up to their involvement, then hire a famed defense attorney. A fast read; humorous tale. The end has a surprise twist that will make the reader laugh out loud. -- recommended by Charlotte K. -- Reference/Bennett Martin Public Library
Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mistletoe Mysteries Display

The main December fiction display is now up at the Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln, NE -- Mistletoe Mysteries, based on our extensive holiday themed booklist of the same name!

New Booktalk Booklist: Period Pieces

Period Pieces: A Book Talk

Sean S. presented the booktalk Period Pieces at the Gere Branch BooksTalk series on Monday, December 3rd, 2007. Focusing on a variety of works (mostly fiction) set in a variety of different time periods, Sean will also present the same booktalk at the Bethany Branch BooksTalk series on Friday, December 14th, 2007 at 10:30 a.m.

Links in the following list will take you to each book's individual entry in the Lincoln City Libraries' catalog, where you can see plot blurbs and check on availability.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Staff Recommendation - The Lovejoy Mysteries, Season 1

Lovejoy [Season 1 on DVD]
Based on novels by Jonathan Gash [DVD Gash]

Based loosely on the series of Lovejoy novels by author Jonathan Gash, the Lovejoy television series aired in 1986 and again from 1991 to 1994 on the BBC in the U.K. and on the A&E network here in the States, a total of six seasons. Borrowing plots from some of the Gash books, the series also featured many original episodes written exclusively for the screen. The series starred Ian McShane (Deadwood) as the charming rogue known simply as Lovejoy -- an antiques dealer and appraiser based out of East Anglia in England. Aided by his young apprentice, Eric Catchpole, and his more senior assistant Tinker Dill, Lovejoy gets involved in numerous mysteries and scams in the antiques field, and maintains a "will they or won't they" relationship with his friend, Lady Jane Felsham. Marketed as a "mystery" series, the Lovejoy episodes are much lighter in tone than the occasionally dark and violent books by Gash, but are rich in colorful settings and quirky characters. A great deal of inside knowledge about the world of antiques is also provided over the course of the series' run. Anyone with a love for British television, especially with a healthy dose of mystery and/or suspense should get a kick out of them. But if you're looking for the same dark tone as the books, you'll probably end up somewhat disappointed. I saw the show before I read any of the books, and have to admit I prefer the geniality of the television series over the brooding qualities of the novels. Your mileage may vary!

[ The Books of Jonathan Gash ]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ Annotated episode guide for this series ]

Have you seen these episodes? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Staff Recommendation - The Man Who Never Was

The Man Who Never Was
by Ewen Montague [940.548 M76m]

Exciting true story of how the Allies worked to deceive the Germans in the Second World War about where the D-Day invasion would come -- using a dead body.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Staff Recommendation - The Tennis Partner

The Tennis Partner: A Doctor's Story of Friendship and Loss
by Abraham Verghese [610.92 Ver]

The Tennis Partner is a story of medicine and tennis, a curious duo played out by Abraham Verghese, a physician and recreational tennis player. As the book opens, he has just moved to El Paso, Texas, to practice and teach at Texas Tech School of Medicine. Moving from the lushness of Tennessee to the arid spaces of the southwest desert signifies a change he welcomes. His marriage to Rajani is disintegrating. Their outsider status, which had previously bound them together during the storms of early adutt life, cannot provide a single touchstone or connection in El Paso, a border city full of outsiders. While supervising the medical interns at the hospital, he meets David Smith, an Aussie who was once on the professional tennis circuit. They strike up a friendship built around their regular tennis matches. An odd couple they make, Smith playing at a part of his life which no longer consumes him and Verghese awakening to his former passion for the game. Verghese re-reads his many boyhood notebooks filled with the intricate details of wrist position and racket angle and his thoughts on the great tennis players of his youth. Verghese sees this attention to details and appreciation of the pure art of tennis much the same as he sees the art of healing for the physician/clinician. Verghese learns that David is a recovering drug addict, facing his last chance to make it through medical school. Failures, excuses and apologies are all too familiar to David as he struggles to maintain his equilibrium in the high-pressure environment of medical internship. But the friends and the support of colleagues cannot keep him clean. Just as he learns he has secured a favored residency position, he succumbs to the familiar demon. David's suicide leaves Verghese with enough haunting questions to fill a new set of notebooks. Why couldn't David be saved? For that matter, why couldn't his own marriage be saved?

[ official Reading Group Guide for this book ] | [ Wikipedia page for Abraham Verghese ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Staff Recommendation - Welcome to Wahoo

Welcome to Wahoo
by Dennis and Elise Carr

"Welcome to Wahoo" is a light read for young adults and anyone else interested in the lives of high-schoolers and/or in learning 'life lessons' such as tolerance, integrity, loyalty and responsibility. Victoria Julianne Van Wyck is a spoiled but smart rich girl enrolled at the ultimate Swiss boarding school when she is suddenly propelled into hiding under a new identity in Wahoo, Nebraska. There she must try to keep a low (haha) profile as she adapts to an allowance and circle of friends that are both much smaller than before. She pals up with a brainy girl and gets a part-time job at the public library while at the same time trying to apply damage control to a smear campaign being waged against her by the high school's star quarterback, whom she rebuffed at a makeout party. Things eventually turn out well for our heroine, who dispenses pearls of wisdom along her way, and who may still be lurking in the Cornhusker State even now! (Note: at times it seems the authors must have originally set their story in Washington or Idaho, as potatoes seem to be the side dish to every meal!) -- recommended by Becky W.C. -- Bess Dodson Walt Branch Library

[ official Welcome to Wahoo! web site (also the official author web site) ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

R.I.P. - Ira Levin

Ira Levin, American novelist and playwright, died on November 12, 2007 in New York City, at the age of 78.

Born and raised in New York City, Levin attended the prestigious Horace Mann high school, then both Drake University and New York University. He had known he wanted to be a writer since he was 15, and as a senior in college he submitted a script to a screenwriting contest that was ultimately produced as an episode of NBC's Lights Out. Levin spent his Army years writing training films for the armed services, then sequed into scripts for 1950s television.

Levin's first novel was 1953's A Kiss Before Dying, a mystery which ultimately won him the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best "first novel". Levin then focused on stage plays for a dozen years, authoring No Time for Sergeants, which helped launch the career of comic actor Andy Griffith. In 1967, he returned to the novel form, producing the darkly atmospheric horror novel Rosemary's Baby. Horror also dominated his next two novels, This Perfect Day (1970) and The Stepford Wives (1972). 1976 brought international thriller The Boys From Brazil, and Levin continued to write for the stage as well, producing Veronica's Room (1973) and perhaps his best-known play, Deathtrap (1978), a comic mystery, among others.

Though his output was less prodigious in more recent years, he managed the thriller Sliver in 1993 and Son of Rosemary: The Sequel to Rosemary's Baby in 1997. Levin may not have produced a huge number of novels, but his style influenced many other genre writers, including Peter Straub, Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk, and his works continue to entertain and thrill to this day.

Here are some links to additional Ira Levin information:

Ira Levin's works in the Lincoln City Libraries catalog

Ira Levin's entry in the Internet Movie Database
New York Times article on his death

Obituary in The Guardian

R.I.P. - Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer, one of the leading figures of what came to be known as The New Journalism in the 1960s through the 1980s, died November 10, 2007 at the age of 84.

Mailer was born Norman Kingsley, into a traditional Jewish family in Long Branch, New Jersey. Following a family move, Mailer had a typical upbringing in Brooklyn, NY, and eventually attended Harvard, starting in 1939. Graduating with an aeronautical engineering degree in 1943, Mailer was drafted into the U.S. Army, and served in the Philippines during WWII. Having become fascinated with writing while at Harvard, Mailer turned his experiences during the war into his first novel, The Naked and the Dead, in 1948. This novel received critical and popular acclaim and has gone on to be listed as one of the Top 100 English Language Novels by the Modern Library.

Other prominent Mailer novels included Barbary Shore (1951), The Deer Park (1955), Ancient Evenings (1983), Harlot's Ghost (1991) and his most recent best-seller, The Castle in the Forest (2007).

Although the novel form was Mailer's favorite writing format, it is perhaps for his non-fiction books and essays that he will remain best known. His non-fiction often took an experimental "fiction-like" form, and his topics and views could be incendiary. Some of the non-fiction works for which he is reknowned would include: "The White Negro" (1957 essay), Advertisements for Myself (1959), The Armies of the Night (1968), The Fight (1975) and Why Are We At War? (2003). Mailer also wrote several noteworthy biographies of prominent individuals, including Marilyn: A Biography [Marily Monroe] (1973) and Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man (1995). He also dabbled in plays, screenplays, and film directing.

In his public life, Mailer became something of a political and social activist, running for Mayor of New York City on a radical platform, participating in anti-war activities opposing the Vietnam War, and lobbying on behalf of prison inmates. His personal life could be problematic -- he had 8 children from 6 marriages, and fought both drug and alcohol abuse at various times during his career.

In the end, whether readers agreed with his politics or not, he is considered an American original -- one of the more innovative and thought-provoking authors in the latter half of the 20th century, and a voice whose absence will be noted.

Here are some links to additional Norman Mailer information:

The Norman Mailer Society
Mailer's named essay, The White Negro
New York Times' obituary for Mailer

Monday, November 19, 2007

Staff Recommendation - An Ice Cold Grave

An Ice Cold Grave
by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connelly returns in this third book using her "gift" of finding dead bodies to help solve crimes. In "an ice cold grave" she encounters her first serial killer. Her quest to bring the 8 teenage boys' killer to justice puts her own life in danger. This newest mystery by Harris will have your heart pounding through the final pages as you wonder if Harper will survive for a fourth book! -- reviewed by Jodene G. -- Bess Dodson Walt Branch Library

[ official Charlaine Harris web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Oprah Selection: The Pillars of the Earth

Oprah Winfrey has just announced her latest selection for the Oprah's Book Club -- Ken Follett's 1989 novel, The Pillars of the Earth.

Ken Follett had long been a staple of the bestseller lists for his novels of intrigue and espionage. Then came The Pillars of the Earth, a grand novel of epic storytelling that readers and critics quickly hailed as his crowning achievement

In 12th-century England, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral signals the dawn of a new age. This majestic creation will bond clergy and kings, knights and peasants together in a story of toil, faith, ambition and rivalry. A sweeping tale of the turbulent middle ages, The Pillars of the Earth is a masterpiece from one of the world's most popular authors.

Have you read this latest Oprah selection? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Staff Recommendation - The Recruit

The Recruit (Cherub #1)
by Robert Muchamore

A new take on the ever-popular espionage genre. James is a recently-orphaned child who has problems controlling his temper. When he is sent to an orphanage, he gets caught up with some of the trouble-makers at the home. He wakes up one day to find himself in a mysterious campus, where he is presented with two choices: join our organization, or go back to the orphanage. He chooses the former, and enters into a super-secret training program. Recruits must undergo intensive training, and then they must pass the test of their lives to be accepted into the program. This program is a division of Britain's MI5 agency. All the agents are between 10 and 17. The beauty of the program is that no one expects children to be spies, so they can infiltrate places that no adult possibly could. Find out what happens to James - does he pass the test and get to go on missions? Is he booted out of the program as a failure? What about his sister Lauren? -- reviewed by Julie H. -- Walt Branch Library

[ cherubcampus.com -- the official web site of the cherub series ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Read...Discuss...Repeat! for November 2007


November 2007
Guns, Germs and Steel
Jared Diamond [1997]

The November 2007 selection for Read...Discuss...Repeat! has been posted to the BookGuide site.

You can find some background information, including links to related websites and some "readalikes" for this month's title, by visiting: This month's Read...Discuss...Repeat! page. You can also find all previous R...D...R! selections listed and/or comment on them, as well, at the main Read...Discuss...Repeat! index page.

We then encourage you to leave your thoughts and opinions about this month's selected title either via the comments form on the linked page, or by replying in comments right here in the BookGuide blog!

Staff Recommendation - Gifts for the Family

Gifts for the Family: Over 120 Projects to Make for Those You Love in Under 30 Minutes
by Readers Digest [745.5 Rea]

Targeted for a general interest audience this book is intended for the novice, or child with supervision, eager to create easy, inexpensive, yet attractive or useful gifts. Each project has a color photo of the finished item along with a full page of complete instructions including color photo demonstrating each step. Provides a list of materials needed to complete the project. Also includes three alternative projects with instructions and photo of each finished product. -- reviewed by Charlotte K. -- Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog over the course of the entire month.

New Book Talk Booklist - Tender Vittles

A new book talk booklist has been added to the BookGuide site. Based on Scott C's presentation at the Gere Books Talk series on November 5th, this Tender Vittles booklist includes over 30 books in the categories of cookbooks, culinary biographies, and books dealing with the history of food and/or the food industry.
This blog edition of Tender Vittles is a "titles only" affair, but you can click on the links into the libraries' catalog to see summary descriptions and check on the availability of individual titles.

You can find this and many other past examples of booktalks on the Book Talks Booklists page of the BookGuide site!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Staff Recommendation - A Title to Murder

A Title to Murder: The Carhenge Mystery
by James C. Work

This light mystery's title is a play on words, as it hints at two of the threads throughout the novel -- famous works of fiction, and automobiles. The subtitle is "The Carhenge Mystery, a Western story". Professor David McIntyre is a visiting instructor at Western Nebraska Community College in Alliance, teaching a summer course in literature, and trying to sleuth out what happened to a former student suspected of murder. Cass Deering was a young woman who had a keen interest in classic literature and was known for gifting acquaintances with books which showed them parallels to their own lives. Then a man was found dead in her apartment and she disappeared, possibly with a second man. Prof. McIntyre, with the help of an attractive and clever female colleague, susses out what probably happened to Cass and with which literary heroine she identified. And, yes, Nebraska's motor vehicle replica of Stonehenge is part of the plot! Author James C. Work is a native of Colorado and was, himself, a literature professor. He has done some work for the University of Nebraska Press, as well. -- reviewed by Becky W.C. -- Walt Branch Library

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Ten new reviews are available each month on BookGuide's Staff Recommendations page. You can click the link to see them all now, or wait to see them here on the Blog over the course of this month.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Staff Recommendation - The Last Town on Earth

Ten new November reviews are available on BookGuide's Staff Recommendations page. Click that link, or wait to see them here on the BookGuide blog over the course of the month!

The Last Town on Earth
by Thomas Mullen

In 1918, World War I and the influenza pandemic threaten the world. A small lumber town in Oregon decides to protect itself from the flu by imposing a quarantine, allowing no one to enter or leave until the disease has passed. Graham Stone and Philip Worthy are standing guard when an obviously sick, hungry soldier approaches. Graham shoots the stranger and sets off a chain of events within the town. In a neighboring city, the repressive American Protective League has targeted the quarantined town as one which harbors "slackers" and is "anti-American." Violence within, violence without and flu all over town - the city is under seige. This is the story of how individuals deal with such dreadful pressures. The parallels to issues facing the country today are unmistakable, though the author says he did not intend to produce an allegory. This book is thought provoking and provided a basis for great discussions. It is Thomas Mullen's first book and I will be eagerly awaiting his second. -- reviewed by Kaye A. -- Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

[ Publisher's web site for this book ] [ official Thomas Mullen web site ]


Have you read this one? What did you think?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Staff Recommendation - An Adventure

Ten new November reviews have shown up on BookGuide's Staff Recommendations page. Click that link, or wait to see them here on the BookGuide blog over the course of the month!

An Adventure
by Charlotte Anne Elizabeth Moberly [133.12 M71a]

Many years ago, I saw a film called Miss Morison's Ghosts starring Dame Wendy Hiller and Hannah Gordon. This film is a haunting tale of two well-educated English women who experience a time-travel journey into the French court of Marie Antoinette while on a visit to Versailles. We are very fortunate to own a copy of the book that this film was based on: An Adventure by Miss Moberly. This book describes with incredible detail the experiences that Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain had on several visits to Versailles in the early part of the twentieth century. Not believing what they had actually experienced, the scholars use scientific research to try to determine what happened to them in the gardens of Paris. Complete with maps, research, and first-person accounts of the events, this book is a wonderful example of paranormal activity in Europe during the turn of the century. -- reviewed by Kim J. - Reference - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for Miss Morrison's Ghosts]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Staff Recommendation - Ritual Bath

Ten new November reviews have shown up on BookGuide's Staff Recommendations page. Click that link, or wait to see them here on the BookGuide blog over the course of the month!

Ritual Bath
by Faye Kellerman

This delightful series has been around for 20 years and this is the first title. Peter Decker, homicide detective was raised a Protestant but has recently discovered his birth parents were Jewish. He meets a beautiful Orrhodox Jewish woman, Rina Lazarus, while investigating a crime and the rest, as they say, is history. Kellerman makes her characters very real with human shortcomings and enriches each tale with details of Jewish life. Read the rest of the series...it won't disappoint! -- reviewed by Rayma S. -- South Branch Library

[ official Ritual Bath page on the official Faye Kellerman web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ready...Set...Write!

It's only a few hours and counting until thousands of aspiring writers and wordsmiths around the world launch into the annual event known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).

Participants can go to the NaNoWriMo website, sign up for a free account, and then begin writing their own version of the Great American Novel. Everyone who takes part is encouraged to shoot for the ultimate goal -- start with 0 words on November 1st, and finish with a complete 50,000-word novel (or longer!) by the stroke of midnight at the end of November 30th.

Looking for some moral support as you keyboard your way to literary greatness? You can hang out with the 340+ other Nebraskans who are registered participants -- bemoan your progress in the discussion forums -- identify your friends as Writing Buddies and track their daily word count -- get together at regularly scheduled NaNoWriMo gatherings in Lincoln -- and look forward to the big celebration party for local writers after the November 30th deadline has passed! You can keep your writing completely private or open it up to everyone else to read and critique.

Although a complete 50,000 novel in a month may prove to be too much for you, the creative and supportive environment of NaNoWriMo is sure to get your literary juices flowing, no matter whether you're writing a political thriller or Chick Lit!

So...check out NaNoWriMo.org, get started writing, and drop us a note in the comments here to let us know what your "handle" is on the NaNoWriMo site...we'll keep an eye on your progress!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation - The Horror Readers Advisory

To see all October 2007 Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

The Horror Readers' Advisory: The Librarian's Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses
by Becky Siegel Spratford and Tammy Hennigh Clausen [809.386 Spr]

Though primarily intended as a training tool for librarians, this can also serve as a handy little guide for horror fans as well. It breaks the broad horror genre down into 11 digestible chunks, in chapters such as: "The Classics", "Mummies, Zombies and Golems: The Walking Dead Under Wraps", "Werewolves and Animals of Terror: The Best Walks Among Us", "Black Magic, Witches, Warlocks and the Occult: Double, Double, Toil and Trouble"; "Scientific and Biomedical Horror: The Doctor Will See You Now"; and "Splatterpunk or Extreme Horror: Horror's Cutting Edge" (and more!). Each section provides a background blurb identifying characteristics that are common to that type of horror-writing, then lists 20 to 30 noteworthy titles that really stand out in that category. Non-librarians may wish to skip the sections on collection development and marketing, but may enjoy the background provided about the major horror-related literary awards. This one is a quick read, but especially useful for the casual horror reader looking for top-flight recommends of what to read next!

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation - The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural

To see all October 2007 Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural
edited by Jack Sullivan [809.387 qSul]

Although somewhat dated (published in 1986), this 480-page oversized volume does a nice job of presenting entries about people, places and things of a supernatural or horrific nature in a compact encyclopedic form. Special emphasis is placed on biographical entries about prominent horror writers, novels and noteworthy horror films. Large entries are also available for all of the standard horror tropes -- vampires, ghosts, werewolves, golems, etc. The book is liberally illustrated with a variety of black and white images -- woodcuts, line-drawings, photographs, etc. Also of note -- there are over 50 lengthy essays on themes that are native to horror and the supernatural. Although this is a somewhat "dry" text, due to its encyclopedic nature, it is still filled with detailed entries on obscure topics that may surprise even long-time horror fans!

[ Wikipedia page for this book ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation - Poe's Tell Tale Heart on DVD

To see all October Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

by Edgar Allan Poe [DVD Poe]

Poe's classic short story about murder, insanity, betrayal and revenge is brought to life in this odd video adaptation. Using very simple filming techniques, the story is told almost like a stage play. Decent acting, though, and an atmospheric set design. For true Poe devotees, this one may fall a bit short. But for casual Poe readers, this film version is worth a look.


Have you seen this one? What did you think?

2007 Nebraska Book Festival

Lincoln-area Book Lovers --

2007 Nebraska Book Festival -- October 26-28 -- Lincoln, NE

Downtown Lincoln businesses, museums, University facilities, and the State Capitol will open their doors to the Nebraska Book Festival, offering venues for readings and presentations, book signings, poet sightings, photo exhibits, award ceremonies, aardvarks and String Beans, music and food, a film screening, and other fun activities for children and adults.

Visit the official Nebraska Book Festival website for full details, including the official NBF schedule, plus a schedule of storytelling activities for children.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October Staff Recommendation - X-Files Book of the Unexplained

To see all October Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

The X-Files Book of the Unexplained [Volume 1]
by Jane Goldman [001.95 Gol]

Rather light-toned look at the various scientific and paranormal topics brought up in episodes of the hit X-Files television series. The subjects are covered a bit cursorily, however the "unexplained" elements of the episodes' plots are tied in nicely to concepts of "could this really have happened?" This book will appeal most to X-Files fans who have an open mind and strong sense of curiousity about the dark shadowy corners of our world.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Monday, October 22, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation - Heart-Shaped Box

To see all October Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

Heart-Shaped Box
by Joe Hill

This is a book with an aging rocker protagonist, who has a morbid facination with anything occult. In fact, this facination leads him to purchase a dead man's suit that evidently includes a bona fide ghost. The story really begins when the suit comes in delivery on a cold morning. People who enjoy Stephen King will enjoy his son's first full-length novel written under the psuedonym Joe Hill. This is a book worthy of the King name and as wonderfully well-written.

[ Joe Hill's official web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Reminder -- Final Just Desserts of 2007 this Thursday!

Mystery Fans --

Just a reminder...the final Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group meeting for 2007 will be held at Bennett Martin Public Library this Thursday at 7 p.m.. The book we'll all be discussing is Nebraska mystery author Mignon Eberhart's "The Mystery of Huntings End". We'll be taking our traditional two-month hiatus in November and December so as not to conflict with participants' holiday travel plans.

Just Desserts will return in January, and our January and February selections have already been posted to the Just Desserts page on BookGuide -- We'll be discussing James D. Doss' "Shadow Man" on January 31st, 2008, and Ngaio Marsh' "Grave Mistake" on February 28th, 2008.

Just Desserts meets the final Thursday of each month (Jan-Oct) from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Reference Reading Room (1st floor) at Bennett Martin Public Library. Participants are encouraged to all read the same book to facilitate discussion -- we alternate between "classic" and "contemporary" authors -- although we try to reserve time for general mystery discussion at the end of each meeting. Participants are also encouraged to bring a small dessert selection to share with fellow mystery fans. Drinks are provided.

Hope to see you all there!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation - The Shining

To see all October Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

The Shining
by Stephen King

A delightfully creepy tale of a family alone in a mountainside hotel. This is a story of a struggling writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker at a distant hotel. He brings his family along. What he doesn't know is that the hotel is haunted by some not-so-friendly ghosts. His son, who has a sort of psychic ability, has some frightening experiences with the local ghosts. The solitude of the snowed in mountain, along with the man's pent-up frustrations, causes him to lose his mind slowly. Horror ensues as the family fights to live. [Loosely adapted into a 1980 film directed by Stanley Kubrick, and a true-to-the-book TV mini-series adaptation in 1997 with a screenplay by King himself.] -- reviewed by Julie H. [Bess Dodson Walt Branch]

[ official Stephen King web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation - Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials

To see all October Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide

This wonderful illustrated guide is an essential part of any serious science fiction fan's permanent library. Wayne Barlowe has been described as the John James Audubon of otherworld creatures. Here, he brings to vivid life fifty alien and inhuman creatures made popular in works of science fiction, fantasy or horror literature. His illustrations are so detailed, they often appear to have come from anatomy textbooks. Curious to see what the Mesklinites from Hal Clement's "Mission of Gravity" look like? How about Larry Niven's three-headed Puppeteers? The Thing, from John Campbell's unforgettable "Who Goes There?" Or take a gander at the Overlords, from Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End". These and many more -- including an artist's sketchbook -- await you within the pages of this unique genre gem. Also...if you enjoy this one, try Barlowe's The Alien Life of Wayne Barlowe and Barlowe's Inferno. -- reviewed by Scott C. [Bennett Martin Public Library]

[ Wikipedia page for Barlowe ] [ official Wayne Douglas Barlowe web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An October Staff Recommendation -- Society of S


To see all October Staff Recommendations, visit the Staff Recommendations page on BookGuide.

Society of S
by Susan Hubbard

An intellectual vampire novel about Ari, a young woman trying to discover more about herself and her family. This coming of age story follows Ari as she discovers more and more about Vampirism and the sinister things that not just vampires harbor inside. Those that enjoyed The Historian by Kostova will enjoy this shorter novel about another aspect of the vampire legend. -- reviewed by Sean S. [Loren Corey Eiseley Branch Library]

[ official MySpace page for the Society of S ] [ official Susan Hubbard web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?