Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Crocodile's Last Embrace


The Crocodile's Last Embrace
by Suzanne Arruda

This is the latest entry in this fine series set in Kenya in the 1920s. Photojournalist Jade del Cameron makes her living by writing articles about Africa for the magazine, The Traveler. At heart, she is an adventurer. Before she moved to Kenya Jade drove ambulances in France during World War I. She ferried the wounded from the front line to treatment centers. After the war Jade settled in Kenya along with her close friends, Lord and Lady Dunbury. When this book opens Jade is troubled by strange visions and worried by notes that she is receiving. The notes appear to be from her dead fiancé, asking her why she let him die. Jade sets these worries aside when, one night, she witnesses a car being pushed off the side of a bridge by another car. More murders follow. Jade is drawn into investigating these murders that, on the surface, appear to involve a fraudulent gold mine. Arruda draws her characters with a deft hand. Jade is drawn so well that you expect to find the articles that she has written in the magazine's archive. The other characters also pop off the page. The indigenous people are well crafted. You get a sense of the tension between the original inhabitants and the British colonial rule. This series has everything -- adventure, mystery and romance. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Barbara Cleverly, Charles Todd, and Malla Nunn.] -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ official Jade del Cameron series page on the official Suzanne Arruda web site ]


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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dancing With the Stars exercise DVDs


Dancing With the Stars exercise DVDs
[DVD 613.71 Dan]

Looking to get fit with some fun exercises led by some of your favorite TV stars? Look no further than the three Dancing With the Stars exercise DVDs in the libraries' collections: Cardio Dance (with Maksim Chmerkovsky, Ashly Costa and Kym Johnson), Latin Cardio Dance (with Maks and Cheryl Burke), and Dance Off the Pounds (with Dmitry Chaplin, Lacey Schwimmer and Kym). Each disc features the stars (and a group of support dancers) going through a dancer's traditional warm-up, then spending 15 minutes each on the essential techniques of several dance styles, followed by a cool down period. Each disc also features healthy eating tips from Slim-Fast (one of the sponsors of the Dancing With the Stars touring show), and a "music-only" version of the DVD, in case you don't want to hear the dialog and instructions on subsequent viewings. Dances covered include: Cardio Dance (Paso Doble, Cha-Cha, Samba, Jive), Dance Off the Pounds (Swing, Jive, Quick-Step), and Latin Cardio Dance (Merengue, Cha-Cha, Samba, Mambo). Fun to watch, both from the fitness standpoint and as a fan of DWtS -- but make sure you've got plenty of room to move around if you want to actually do the moves! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you seen these? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale


Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, Or How I Learned About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat
by Gwen Cooper [636.8 Coo]

Homer was two weeks old when he was found on the streets of Miami. His eyes were so infected they had to be removed to save his life. Gwen adopted him as her third of three cats and was told he'd forever be a subdued, cautious cat. But they forgot to tell this to Homer who apparently didn't realize he was blind. He caught flies in mid-air, climbed bookshelves, and could move around a room unhindered within a few days. Homer made friends wherever he went and lived life to the fullest. A favorite chapter is Gwen moving to NYC and the logistics of flying with all three cats. Each chapter begins with a relevant quote from "The Odyssey" by Homer. The quote for the chapter dealing with Sept 11, and Gwen being unable to get to her cats for several days is especially poignant: "We wept and lifted up our hands to heaven on seeing such a horrid sight, for we did not know what to do." Homer is a wonderful tale of a lively, loving cat given a second chance. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

[ official Homer's Odyssey Gwen Cooper web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Startide Rising


Startide Rising
by David Brin

Startide Rising is one of the most impressive science fiction novels I've ever read. It is the second in Brin's Uplift Saga, following Sundiver. The background and plot of Startide Rising are complex, and hard to hint at in a brief recommendation -- In the far future, an Earth space vessel crewed by uplifted dolphins, humans and chimpanzees is the first to stumble across a derelict fleet of ancient starships, presumably left behind by The Progenitors -- the oldest and most revered species in known space...the race that seeded and "uplifted" (helped to evolve) most of the other known species to space-faring capabilities. On the run from other space-faring races who would kill for access to the technologies represented by this abandoned fleet of starships, the Earthship Streaker has crashed on a water planet, trying to hide from its pursuers long enough for the crew to affect repairs to their vessel. Filled with brilliant ideas, political and military confrontations and maneuverings, and some of the most fascinating human and alien characters in genre fiction, Startide Rising won a triple crown of the three top awards the year it came out -- the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Locus Readers Award. It was followed by The Uplift War and then another complete trilogy set in the same universe. If you love Hard SF -- science fiction in which the extrapolations of believable science and technology form a critical element -- this is essential reading. Although the libraries don't own it, I recommend a companion volume Brin released, Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe. Brin's aliens can be quite unusual, and this guide helps to "see" them more accurately. It may also be helpful to read Sundiver -- although it is not essential to an understanding of what's going on in Startide Rising. You can order both through our InterLibrary Loan Service. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official Uplift Saga page on the official David Brin web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ansel Adams in the National Parks


Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs From America's Wild Places
by Ansel Adams, edited by Andrea G. Stillman [917.3 qAda]

Ansel Adams' photography is synonymous with Yosemite National Park. His photos of Half Dome are breathtaking. Yosemite is not the only park that Adams visited. He spent time in more than forty parks, traveling from Alaska to Maine to Hawaii with stops at points in between. Adams said, "a photograph is made, not taken." And he set about to make magnificent images in the parks, national monuments and national wildernesses. This book is filled with page after page of glorious black-and-white images. Many are landscapes; some are close-ups, such as the photo of the spiked sword plant that he photographed in Haleakala National Park. Anyone who loves black-and-white photography will be charmed by this book. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ Wikipedia page on Ansel Adams ] | [ official Ansel Adams Gallery web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Booklist - If You Like...Jo Beverley


Fans of historical romance fiction -- you may be interested to know that we've posted a new booklist to the pages of the BookGuide web site:

If You Like...Jo Beverley

Beverley is one of the best known of contemporary Regency Era romance novels, as well as romances set in several other historical periods.

Stop by and check it out!

The Politically Correct Stories series


The Politically Correct Stories series
by James Finn Garner [398.2 Gar/817 Gar]

James Finn Garner hopped on the bandwagon of "political correctness" parodies in the mid-1990s with several volumes which retold classic tales in a more...progressive...tone. The humor in all three of the libraries owned by the libraries (Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Once Upon a More Enlightened Time: More Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, and Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an More Enlightened Yuletide Season) is all a bit heavy-handed and blatant, but still chuckle-worthy. The holiday version, with its retelling of "A Christmas Carol", "The Hanukkah Story" and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", with the removal of all references that could be considered sexist, ageist, spiritual or imperialistic, is particularly bizarre. Give these a try if you're a fan of broad humor! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official James Finn Garner web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Hour Quilted Christmas Projects


Two Hour Quilted Christmas Projects
by Cheri Saffiote [746.46 qSaf]

Step-by-step instructions for completing 40 quilted holiday projects. Excellent projects for the beginner but enduring patterns to attract the long-time quilter as well. You'll find patterns for wall-hangings, small decorative pillows, hanging stockings, ornaments, and small quilts all in the folk art homespun style. Excellent, clear basic instructions including how to tea dye if you wish. Applique patterns at the back of the book are large enough to photocopy. Angels, Santas, snowmen, hearts, cats, stars, and holiday messages are among the basic designs. Also a section on decorative embroidery stitches. Best of all, these projects really take only an afternoon to complete. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official Cheri Saffiote web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sherlock - Season One


Sherlock - Season One
[DVD Sherlock]

Sherlock is a reimagining of the classic tale of Sherlock Holmes, bringing the legendary, well-known characters out of the foggy era of horse-drawn carriages and into the modern era. Holmes in this case is a brilliant yet somewhat unstable man, still a "consulting detective" for Scotland Yard (and the stolid yet unremarkable Inspector Lestrade), and running a website extolling his theories of deductive reasoning. Dr. John Watson is a military veteran of the Middle East conflict, looking for lodgings and trying to reassimilate himself into society (while dealing with nightmares about his war experiences). The first episode is a very nicely done reworking of the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, introducing the Holmes and Watson characters. Beyond that similarity, however, everything is very modern and up-to-date, with the characters making heavy use of contemporary electronic technologies -- cellphones, laptops, texting, etc. Sherlock is a very stylish series, with lavish production design, funky music and a fascinating editing style -- lots of fast cuts and computer graphics super-imposed as Sherlock rapidly makes calculations about the evidence before him. The performances from Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Watson) are absolutely terrific, and they very quickly develop a likeable chemistry as the characters. That's a good thing, since there were only three 2-hour movies produced for this first season, which ends on a major cliffhanger. Holmesian purists seem split on their attitudes towards this reinvention of the characters, but I found it remarkably true to the essence of the Sherlock Holmes canon and highly recommend it. And never fear...if you're wondering if arch-enemy Professor Moriarty puts in an appearance, you won't be disappointed. Written and produced by some of the same folks who are bringing us the newest version of Doctor Who, Sherlock originally appeared on British television in July/August of 2010, then aired as part of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery series in October 2010. A second season is in production for broadcast in 2011.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Sherlock on PBS Masterpiece web site ] | [ official The Science of Deduction site maintained by Holmes in the series ]

Have you seen this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Silver Kiss


The Silver Kiss
by Annette Curtis Klause

A smart, poignant, and atmospheric young adult vampire love story, published long before beautiful and tragic teen vampires were a mainstream fad. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton.] [Note: This trade paperback edition features two new short stories by Klause.] -- recommended by Becky W.C. - Walt Branch Library

[ Annette Curtis Klause interview/semi-official web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

People Magazine's Top 10 Books of 2010


A Readerlist submitted in December 2010 by BookMan, based on the list of titles in People Magazine's year-end December 27, 2010 issue. You can see other Readerlists and submit your own reading/viewing/listening recommendations at the Readerlists page on BookGuide!

Open Room
by Emma Donoghue






Open The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebececca Skloot [Biography Lacks]






Open Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen






Open Life
by Keith Richards [Music 781.66 Richards]






Open I Remember Nothing
by Nora Ephron [305.244 Eph]






Open A Visit From the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan






Open Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand [Biography Zamperini]






Open Just Kids
by Patti Smith [Music 781.66 Smith]






Open Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
by Mark Twain [Biography Clemens]






Open One Day
by David Nicholls

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Letters From Hell


Christmas Letters from Hell: All the News We Hate From the People We Love
by Michael Lent [817 Len]

Ah...year-end Christmas letters -- that once-a-year opportunity to catch up on the happenings in the lives of distant relatives and friends (at least before you all became "friends" on Facebook). These holiday-time jewels can range from simple notes to monstrously bloated tomes filled with more absurdly self-congratulatory and/or woe-is-us news than anyone cares to read about. With this book, Michael Lent pokes a ridiculous amount of fun at this annual tradition. Lent includes 57 Holiday Letter parodies here, from both celebrities and average families. As with any comedy anthology, there are some sad misfires here, but there are enough funny or absurd letters in this collection to give you a few chuckles. The subject matter is so easy to make fun of that you're bound to find a few in this humor collection to make it worth your while. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Lazlo Letters.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Publisher's official Christmas Letters From Hell web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Readerlist - Time's Top 10 Books of 2010


Library user BookMan, submitted a new Readerlist today via the Readerlists page on BookGuide.

He suggested that a list be posted of Time Magazine's recently released Top 10 Fiction and Non-Fiction Books of 2010. Click the link to see what Time considered the best of this past year, and jump straight to our catalog to request those titles owned by the libraries!

Criminal Minds


Criminal Minds
[DVD Criminal]

Criminal Minds is a modern, fascinating procedural crime series about the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. The BAU team members study the crime scene and pull together clues that enable them to establish psychological profiles of the criminals, to think as they do, and ultimately move one step ahead of the next crime to capture the "unsub" (unknown subject). Initially starring Mandy Patinkin as Jason Gideon; Joe Mantegna was added to the team (as David Rossi) when Patinkin left the series (early in the third season). Team members include Unit Chief Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner (Thomas Gibson, of Dharma & Greg), Lola Gladini as sex-crimes expert Elle Greenway (who left the series in season two), Paget Brewster as multi-lingual Emily Prentiss, Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) a man with a private history we later learn about, young genius Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), uber computer tech Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) -- a very colorful character, and media liaison Jennifer "J.J." Jareau (A.J. Cook, who left the series early in season six). There are the occasional criminals who carry over between episodes, but for the most part each crime is resolved each week. The storylines are the main stars, but the histories of the characters and their interaction with each other are important as well and add to the flavor of the show. This is an intelligent, suspenseful series following characters we come to care about. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available are several Criminal Minds tie-in novels, which you will find listed in the TV Tie-Ins booklist here on BookGuide]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Criminal Minds web site ]

Have you seen this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Side Jobs


Side Jobs
by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files is one of my favorite fantasy series and this anthology of short stories is like icing on the cake for a big fan. While I've read many of the stories in other compilations, I liked reading them all together and I particularly enjoyed the personal note from the author for each story. Best of all, the last story was an all-new tale set right after the ending of Changes, the most recent book in the series. -- recommended by Rebecca A. - Walt Branch Library

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

[ official Side Jobs page on the official Jim Butcher web site ]



Click here to subscribe to Rebecca's newsletter A Few of My Favorite Things (part of the libraries' Books, Movies & More service) to see more of her recommendations each month.


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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Anteater of Death


The Anteater of Death
by Betty Webb

Zookeeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley must defend Lucy, the Giant Anteater, from a charge of murder. Grayson Harrill, a member of the Gunn Landing Zoo Board of Directors is found dead in Lucy's enclosure. Initially, Lucy was the suspect because she slashed Harrill with her razor-sharp claws after he entered her enclosure. An autopsy revealed that Harrill was killed by a gunshot. Lucy is off the hook but suspicion now falls on the humans involved with the zoo -- the employees, the Board of Directors and the Gunn family. Grayson Harrill was married to Jeanette Gunn and was a proponent of breaking the family trust -- putting the Gunn family high on the suspect list. The sheriff, who happens to be Teddy's old high school sweetheart, asks Teddy to become involved in the investigation because she grew up in the same social circle as the Gunn's. Teddy eventually sorts things out with help from an assortment of eccentric characters. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Donna Andrews, Ellery Adams or Tracy Kieley.] -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ official Gunn Zoo mysteries page on the official Betty Webb web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Booktalk Booklist: Everything Neil!


Sarah D., from the Gere Branch Library, presented an all-new booktalk as part of the Gere Branch BooksTalks on December 6th, focusing on the works -- for both adult and young readers -- of master modern fantasist, Neil Gaiman.

Her list of titles -- Everything Neil -- is now available on the BookGuide web site on the Booktalk Booklists page. Check it out for some good reading suggestions! You can also check out the master index to all past Staff Recommendations on the BookGuide site for some additional recommended reading titles (scroll down the list alphabetically by author).

Ghost Trails to California


Ghost Trails to California: With Selected Excerpts from Emigrant Journals
by Thomas H. Hunt [917.8 qHun]

What drew me to this book is Thomas Hunt's eloquent prose. Hunt allowed his imagination free rein as he backpacked along remnants of the California trail. He wrote "there are alpine valleys where one can conjure images of travel-battered wagons drawn up beside the gurgling, crystalline waters of snowmelt streams, while beyond them the bony oxen fairly groaned with pleasure and contentment in swales of knee-deep mountain grass." Hunt and Adams became interested in the California Trail because as they hiked and backpacked in the Sierras they came across vestiges of it -- a rusted barrel hoop here and a shard that had been a pioneer's crock over there. They used emigrant journals, maps and guides in order to follow the adventurers' routes as closely as possible. They spent six years and traveled about twenty thousand miles to follow all nine segments of the California Trail. They used their own breath-taking photos and excerpts from emigrants' journals to illustrate each branch of the trail. One traveler, Isaac Wistar, wrote in his journal about the trials of moving their wagons over the mountains. Wistar wrote "The whole day had been employed in the hardest labor, dragging the wagons over rocky ledges, and hoisting and lowering them over 'jump-offs' by 'Spanish Windlasses' and other mechanical means. At dark we found ourselves at the top of, and looking down into, a deep rocky gorge with impassible precipices on either hand." I marveled at the undertaking of these people. They packed up their belongings and, with only scant information, headed west to make better lives for themselves in California, the Promised Land. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time After Time


Time After Time
[DVD Time]

Time After Time is a marvelously inventive film -- part science fiction, part fantasy, part romance, part thriller, and filled with terrific performances. Directed, and with a screenplay, by Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II, The Seven Percent Solution), Time After Time posits that H.G. Wells is not only the writer behind The Time Machine, but that he's actually invented a working model. One of Wells' group of 1890s associates turns out to be Jack the Ripper, and must quickly disappear once the authorities start tracking him down. Having seen Wells' working model of the time machine, "Jack" steals it, and travels to 1979. Wells, guilt-stricken at having allowed his former friend to get away, follows. The rest of the film is a psychological thriller, as both men adjust to late-20th century San Francisco and a pretty young banker becomes a pawn in a menacing game of cat-and-mouse between the two time travelers. Malcolm McDowell makes a great flawed hero, and Mary Steenbergen is nice as the modern woman who falls for him. But David Warner steals the show as the legendary Jack the Ripper transplanted into a new killing ground. Absolutely terrific and entertaining film! Note: This DVD version features a commentary track with McDowell and Meyer. Fun to listen to! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Have you seen this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

The Farm Chicks Christmas: Merry Ideas for the Holidays


The Farm Chicks Christmas: Merry Ideas for the Holidays
by Serena Thompson [745.594 Tho]

Country decorating ideas for Christmas from the Farm Chicks. Colorful photos on every page of wonderful vintage decorations - old style Christmas lights, vintage patterns on dishware and mugs, plastic light-up Santas from the 1950's, cardboard villages, mini pine trees. They also offer new uses for old items (hadn't thought of turning an ugly, wire 3-tiered desktop organizer into a cute holder for candies, candles, and ornaments). The Chicks reminisce about Christmases past and offer suggestions to make your own holidays special. Also included are several holiday recipes for beverages, cakes, and cookies. A thoroughly enjoyable table book especially if you appreciate country decorating, vintage Christmas, and cutting down your own tree. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official Farm Chicks web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mistletoe Mysteries Booklist - Updated for 2010!


It must be December -- the Mistletoe Mysteries book display has gone up again at Bennett Martin Public Library downtown, highlighting winter holiday-themed mystery fiction from both the past and present!

In addition to sampling the books on the display at the downtown library, the Mistletoe Mysteries booklist on the BookGuide site has been completely updated, to include new holiday-themed mysteries added within the the past year. If you're a fan of this traditional mystery sub-genre, stop by the online booklist to see what new titles have been added!

New Booktalk Booklist - Dog Training and Drawing


Marcy G., from the Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries, presented an all-new booktalk at Bethany Branch on September 10th and at Gere Branch on October 18th, which included both fiction and non-fiction on two of her favorite topics.

Her list of titles -- Dog Training and Drawing -- is now available on the BookGuide web site on the Booktalk Booklists page. Check it out for some good reading suggestions!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Profiles of Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans


Profiles of Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans
by Elmer A. Kral and Jean Sanders [920.078 Kra] [Gage County Historical Society]

This book provides short biographies of Nebraskans who have distinguished themselves in many fields, including the arts, business, education, public affairs, science and sports, to name a few. All areas of the state are covered with biographies of nationally-known representatives, as described in the Foreword -"from western Nebraska with Frank Cyr, father of the yellow school bus, to central Nebraska with Jay Forrester, co-pioneer of the modern computer, and the eastern area with Hollywood film star Robert Taylor." I was impressed with the fact that many people were included that I had never heard of, such as Charlotte Buettenback Johnson, co-designer of the first Barbie doll, and Charles Purcell, chief engineer of the SanFrancisco-Oakland bay Bridge. There are also biographies of more well-known Nebraskans such as Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards, and Charles E. Taylor, the mechanic who built the engines for the Wright brother's airplanes. This book does not attempt to provide information about every famous Nebraskan, but it does help fill in the gaps by providing sketches of Nebraskans who are not as well represented in past publications. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in famous Nebraskans or in historical research. -- recommended by Kim J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official Gage County Museum web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Marnie


Marnie
directed by Alfred Hitchcock

A young widower fails in love with a woman with a troubled past. Such is the premise of this 1964 suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The young woman, Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedron), makes her living by embezzling from her employers, moving on and changing her identity. She is caught in the act by one of her employers, Mark Rutland (Sean Connery). Instead of turning her over to the police, Mark blackmails Marnie into marrying him. On their honeymoon he learns that besides being a compulsive thief, she cannot stand to have a man touch her and she won't discuss it or the nightmares that plague her. After their return to Philadelphia, Mark hires a private investigator to look into Marnie's past. Armed with this information, Mark confronts Marnie's mother and forces her to tell them the truth. The movie is based on the novel Marnie by English author Winston Graham. He set this book in England. Hitchcock changed the setting to the United States, changed some of the story details and made the ending more optimistic. Marnie became a milestone movie for Hitchcock. It was the last time that a "Hitchcock blonde" would have a central role in his films. It was also the last time that he would work with three of his key team members. Two died after the movie was completed and Hitchcock fired the third, composer Bernard Herrmann.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Have you seen (or read) this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip


Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
by Steve Dublanica [647.95 Dub]

A waiter's look at life as a server in upscale New York restaurants. Fast-paced, some language, but overall a very enjoyable read. Learn why you should avoid restaurants on a holiday, read some of the sad stories of customers (who knew the waiters really noticed us?); feel elated when he gets back at rude ones. Based on the blog he began while waiting tables. A very well-written, witty tale that sucks in the reader and makes you sorry when the story ends. (And yes, he's at work on a sequel.) [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef by Marco Pierre White; or Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.] -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

[ official Waiter Rant web site ]

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

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide web site. 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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cut, Paste, Kill


Cut, Paste, Kill
by Marshall Karp

This book is a hoot! Wisecracking Los Angeles Police detectives, Terry Biggs and Mike Lomax, are charged with solving a "scrapbooking" murder. Biggs and Lomax are called to the scene of Eleanor Bellingham-Crump's murder. By her body is a scrapbook that details the crime that Bellingham-Crump committed. She was driving drunk and hit and killed a ten-year-old boy. Bellingham-Crump couldn't be prosecuted because she was the wife of a British diplomat and was covered by diplomatic immunity. The FBI tells Biggs and Lomax about two other murders, apparently by the same killer, a vigilante who targets criminals that evade justice. This book is the fourth in this funny series. It works well as a stand-alone so you don't have to read the previous books to appreciate this one, but you will want to. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Chris Grabenstein and Craig Johnson.] -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ official Lomax & Biggs web site ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Note (on DVD)


The Note
based on a book by Angela Hunt

The Note is a charming, heart-felt tear-jerker of a tale -- part romance and part "personal journey". Genie Francis (General Hospital) plays newspaper columnist Peyton MacGruder, whose "human interest" column has come under fire from her editor for lacking "life". Given a mandate to make her column more meaningful, Peyton is also dealing with some emotional issues of her own, as well as the beginnings of a flirtatious relationship with a fellow reporter. When an airliner tragically crashes in the ocean off the coast, and Peyton comes across an unsigned farewell note in a sealed sandwich bag on the shore, she begins a quest, via clues in the note, to find the person to whom the note was addressed, writing columns about the process along the way. The story is rather predictable and schmaltzy, but its a pleasant kind of schmaltz and the characters are very likeable...you want to see things turn out well for everyone. I enjoyed this quite a lot and have no hesitation in recommending it to most viewers. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jake's Women


Jake's Women
by Neil Simon

Alan Alda recreates his Broadway role in this movie. Jake (Alan Alda) is a writer who can't get past his first wife's death in a tragic car accident. In an attempt to cope with his grief, he holds imaginary conversations with the women in his life -- his sister, his therapist, his daughter, his current wife and his dead spouse. When Jake's wife Maggie (Anne Archer) asks for a separation, Jake is forced to deal with anguish over losing Julie. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making Rounds With Oscar


Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat
by David Dosa [636.8 Dos]

Oscar is a nursing home cat in Rhode Island on the floor for patients with advanced dementia. And he knows when someone is close to passing away. Not only does he maintain a vigil with the patient until the end, but he also provides solace for family members. Based on a paper written for the "New England Journal of Medicine" by a physician in that nursing home, Dr. Dosa attempts to understand Oscar's behavior. A quick read, be prepared to cry your way through the book as you meet the patients and families. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in downloadable format.]

[ official David Dosa web site ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ghost at Work


Ghost at Work
by Carolyn G. Hart

I've been a big fan of the works of mystery writer Carolyn G. Hart for many years, particularly her Death on Demand series, featuring mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance-Darling. A fellow mystery fan recommended the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series to me so I gave the first volume and try and found myself enjoying it. Bailey is a fun character -- spunky, with a lot of southern charm. Which is saying a lot, considering that she's a ghost. Bailey and her husband died decades ago, but she's a bit bored in Heaven, and has asked to be sent back to Earth to provide "guardian angel" assistance. She is granted her request, but before she can be properly trained in the essentials of the job -- how NOT to manifest herself around mortals -- she's dropped in her old hometown and finds herself trying to prevent the local pastor's wife from being accused of murder. This is a fun, light-weight mystery, with some quirky characters and a definite Texas twang. It's not Hart's best written or edited work -- the hardback edition had lots of typos and some serious plot loopholes. But, if you're looking for a quick, upbeat mystery this should fit the bill. Hart has released a new Bailey Ruth Raeburn title each of the past three Octobers. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in downloadable, and book-on-cd formats.]

[ official Bailey Ruth Raeburn page on the official Carolyn G. Hart web site ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

The Sea Wolves


The Sea Wolves
based on the book Boarding Party by James Leasor

This movie celebrates the exploits of the Calcutta Light Horse during World War II. It is March 1943 and Allied ships are being torpedoed by German U-boats at an alarming rate. British intelligence officers, Colonel Lewis Pugh (Gregory Peck) and Captain Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore) learn that three German radio ships docked in neutral waters in the Portuguese colony of Goa are transmitting information about Allied ship movements to the U-boats. Military forces cannot breach Portugal's neutrality and attack the boats, so Pugh and Stewart devise a daring plot to destroy these radio ships. They turn to the Calcutta Light Horse led by retired officer Colonel Bill Grice (David Niven) to carry out the operation. The Calcutta Light Horse is part of the British Indian Army. These men last saw action forty years before during the Boer War and there are some funny moments when they get ready to go to war after so many years. In this movie they are described as "a mixed bag of boozing, middle-aged, pot bellied businessmen," The plan for is these men to sail a rickety old barge from Calcutta around the tip of India to Mormugao, Goa. In Mormugao they will sabotage the ships. If they are caught, their story is that they are drunken businessmen who boarded the ships as a lark. The end credits state "during the first 11 days of March 1943, U-boats sank 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean. After the Light Horse raid on Goa, only one ship was lost in the remainder of the month." -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ape House


Ape House
by Sara Gruen

Isabel Duncan is a scientist who studies the linguistics of bonobos. Isabel not only studies the animals but considers them her only family. After an explosion at the Great Ape Language Lab, the bonobos are "liberated" and become the stars of a reality show called Ape House. John Thigpen is a reporter who becomes consumed with trying to help Isabel figure out who caused the explosion and is exploiting the bonobos. This story is entertaining and is also appealing to animal lovers who can relate to Isabel's affections for the bonobos. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Water for Elephants, Riding Lessons and Flying Changes, all by Gruen.] -- recommended by Alyse S. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in downloadable audio, e-book, and Large Print formats.]

[ official Sara Gruen web site ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

United Cakes of America


United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State
by Warren Brown [641.865 qBro]

I love looking through recipe books. I picked up this one because the cassata cake on the cover caught my eye. It's a white-frosted temptation dotted with plump red strawberries. The title is misleading because the book showcases other desserts in addition to cakes. As Brown explains in his introduction, "I deferred to local specialties or alternative desserts that stole the show during the taste-test portion of the research. I took the liberty because the recipes are just that much more interesting." As I paged through the book I came across the recipe that represents Georgia, the Coca-Cola Cake. A pharmacist, John Pemberton, created the formula in Atlanta in 1886. Once Coke was bottled and sold to the public, people started cooking and baking with it. This chocolate cake is one of these soft-drink inspired recipes. Nebraska is represented not by a cake but by the kolace. Why choose this fruit-filled delight over a cake? Because Nebraska is home to the largest percentage of Czech-Americans in the United States. Since the huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho, Brown chose the huckleberry cake to honor Idaho. This is not a cake but a quick bread filled dark red berries. If you can't find huckleberries he suggests that you substitute blueberries in this easy-to-make recipe. Brown weaves culinary history among the recipes. For example, one might think that German immigrants brought the german chocolate cake recipe to America, but that was not the case. A Dallas, Texas woman developed the recipe in 1957. This moist cake got its name from one of the ingredients -- Baker's German Baking Chocolate. Samuel German, created the sweet baking chocolate in 1852 for the Baker's Chocolate Company and in return, the company named the confection for him. Warren Brown, a bakery owner and former food show host, has written a book filled with colorful photos and mouth-watering recipes that that will tempt bakers into getting out their mixing bowls and turning on their ovens. Those of us who like to read recipe books will learn interesting bits of trivia such as the favorite desserts of some of our presidents. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ Warren Brown's official Cake Love web site ]


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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 individually over the course of the entire month.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Adder: Complete Collector's Set


Black Adder: Complete Collector's Set

Black Adder was a series of short-run British comedy series, each of which focuses on the exploits of a different member of the nefarious Black Adder family, each portrayed by comic actor Rowan Atkinson (Mister Bean). Each six-episode series is set in a different era of British history, and Atkinson is able to apply his acerbic wit at poking fun at various conventions of being British. The first series -- The Black Adder -- is set in the late 1400s, during the Middle Ages, and this particular "Black Adder" is Edmund, the Duke of Edinburgh -- something of a dolt. In the second series -- Black Adder II -- Edmund Blackadder is a toady of Queen Elizabeth in the 1500s, and is a smart, scornful, manipulative (but somewhat unlucky) man -- the type of character he'll remain in all the remaining series. In the third series -- Black Adder the Third -- E. Blackadder is butler to the Prince of Wales (a pre-House Hugh Laurie) in the Regency era. The fourth series -- Black Adder Goes Forth -- is set on the Western front during WWI, and featurese Captain Blackadder trying to avoid being killed. This boxed set also includes three specials -- Blackadder: The Cavalier Years, A Blackadder Christmas Carol, and Blackadder: Back and Forth (in which we time-travel through the various different eras of Blackadder's history). The humor in all of these is very biting, with a tinge of nastiness. The supporting casts for the various series feature hilarious performances from such noteworthy actors as Brian Blessed, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Miranda Richardson. Tony Robinson co-stars in most episodes as Blackadder's right-hand man throughout the ages, Baldrick -- a repulsive, filthy, generally thick-headed and idiotic manservant. Black Adder: Complete Collector's Set can be an acquired taste for many, but if you like this type of dark humor, you shouldn't miss this complete set of all the Black Adder episodes. My personal favorites are from the second and third series, when the actors really started to hit their stride...particularly the episode "Potato", which parodied the grand and noble idea of exploring the world via sailing vessels. One quirky note: Each Black Adder character is presumed to be a descendant of the Black Adders portrayed in earlier series -- somewhat difficult since all the characters die in messy ways in the final episode of each season!

[ Wikipedia entry for these series ]

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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 individually over the course of the entire month.