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?