Sunday, February 28, 2010

Henry V: The Screenplay


Henry V: The Screenplay
by William Shakespeare [822.33 ShaW3b]

This is the screenplay to Kenneth Branagh's production of "Henry V." Many believe Laurence Olivier's "Henry V" to be the quintessential version, but this reviewer votes Branagh's film to be THE adaptation to define "Henry V." This book includes stills on nearly every page from Branagh's film as well as the screenplay, and an introduction by Branagh that explains how he came about to make the film. It was great fun to browse through the screenplay and hear again the voices recite their lines and see the photos. Also includes the credits. This book provided great enjoyment at only 107 pages. -- Recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Henry V is available in a variety of print, audio and video formats from the libraries. ]

[ official Internet Movie Database page for this version of the 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.

Library: An Unquiet History


Library: An Unquiet History
by Matthew Battles [027.009 Bat]

This book is a quick and relatively easy read about the history of the development and destruction of libraries. Matthew Battles takes readers from the starting point of online catalogs all the way back to libraries of cuneiform on clay tablets that were inadvertently preserved for future generations by the fires that consumed the buildings that held them. Many such paradoxes exist in human history generally, no less in the specific history of libraries. It is a quick and enjoyable read with an inviting bibliography and well-written notes and index for the curious among us. -- Recommended by Sarah E. J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Library: An Unquiet History on books.google.com ]

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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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lee and Lyn - Wilde Twins web site


Lee and Lyn - Wilde Twins

"Lee and Lyn Who?", will be the response of most. Lee and Lyn Wilde are twins who appeared in a few movies in the 1940s. They were singers and spent most of their careers traveling with big band orchestras. The website has a number of photographs from their performing days and photos of them as babies. It also features stills and images from some publicity about the girls. The biography portion is espcially good; Lee provided some of the information herself. Anyone who is interested in the 1940s might enjoy this piece of nostalgia. But the biggest reason for calling this site to our patron's attention is to point out once again the power of the web. That two somewhat obscure performers has such a nice site devoted to them rates an 'A' on any scale. [If you enjoy this, you may also like: http://www.penelope.demon.co.uk/deanna/ (The Deanna Durbin page)] -- recommended by Rianne S. - Bennett Martin Public Library

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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, February 25, 2010

I Am Legend


I Am Legend
based on the book by Richard Matheson

This Will Smith movie adaptation of the classic Richard Matheson novel can be viewed two ways -- First, as an adaptation of a well-known and respected work of genre fiction; and Second, as a standard Will Smith action/adventure film. As an adaptation of the original story, this film fails more than it succeeds. The depth of Matheson's story is never reached -- the complex relationship that Robert Neville has with the "monsters" that have taken over his world is never achieved in this film, and the shocking but thought-provoking ending to Neville's story is completely eliminated from this film. At the same time, as Will Smith films go, this film has a lot of action, some very emotional bits, and an intriguing storyline. Smith's performance here is excellent -- much better than his standard action hero roles. And the production design is fabulous -- although the novel is set in L.A., the movie is set in New York City, and the movie-makers do a remarkable job of creating an abandoned metropolis. All in all, even though I could appreciate the film as it was made, I was frustrated that they couldn't do a more faithful adaptation of the novel, and I have to downgrade this film in that regard. Note -- take a look at the Alternate Ending available on disc 2 -- though still not as strong a finish as the novel, it would have given this film a little more depth. [If you enjoy this, you should definitely read the original novel, and then try out the other loose adaptations -- The Last Man on Earth (1964 - starring Vincent Price) and The Omega Man (1971 - starring Charlton Heston).] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official I Am Legend 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.

Pretty Little Potholders


Pretty Little Potholders
edited by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader [746 Pre]

Yes, a book about making potholders. Over 30 patterns using applique, photo transfer, basic quilting, and/or embroidery. Suggestions for adding your own flourish to store-bought potholders. Patterns for beginners, new tricks for more experienced sewers, classic patterns, retro, and new designs. Includes a chapter on Potholder Basics. Wonderful photos and illustrations on every page. A fun browse even if you don't own a sewing machine. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

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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, February 24, 2010

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters


Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
by Ben Winters

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is Ben H. Winters' attempt to write a parody of Jane Austen's classic novel, Sense and Sensibility. I did manage to finish this book, although I admit it was a struggle to make it all the way to the end. The sophomoric humor became tiresome and had the tendency to get in the way of the story. I think that Mr. Winters would do better to parody current teen romances. His writing style is no match for Austen. [If you enjoy this, you might also like: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies] -- reviewed by Kim J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in downloadable audio> format.]

[ Wikipedia page for this book - including link to YouTube trailer ] | [ official Ben H. Winters 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.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wives and Daughters


Wives and Daughters
by Elizabeth Gaskell

This superb Masterpiece Theater production is well worth watching. Written by the same author who brought us North and South and Cranford, this drama focuses on the changing nature of relationships from the perspective of Molly Gibson, young daughter of the local doctor, a widower. When her father remarries, Molly is suddenly thrown into the position of having to deal with a step-mother and stepsister whose expectations of Molly's behavior in society does not always create harmony between them. What I find most intriguing about "Wives and Daughters" is the portrayal of familial relationships which are just as relevant today as they were in Gaskell's time. Michael Gambdon's performance as Squire Hamley in this production is excellent. [If you enjoy this, you may also like: North and South and Cranford, both on DVD.] -- recommended by Kim J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in VHS, print formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Wives and Daughters web site from PBS - tons of information! ]

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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 Surrogates


The Surrogates
written by Robert Venditti; art by Brett Weldele [741.5 Ven]

This graphic novel was the inspiration for the 2009 movie starring Bruce Willis. There are also thematic elements similar to plot points in the hit film Avatar. Set 40+ years in the future, the invention of remote controlled bodies -- Surrogates -- has allowed human beings to live a more secure, protected life. There's no more threat to you personally, if you're living your life through a remote-controlled body. However...throw in a religious movement that finds Surrogates sacreligious, and a madman using a surrogate to steal the components that will allow him to "turn off" all Surrogates in an entire city simultaneously, and you've got a science fiction/conspiracy/murder mystery story that's quite thought provoking. I enjoyed the story in this very much. My only complaint is that the highly-stylized art (by Brett Weldele) is SO stylized that it often is muddy and incomprehensible. Nevertheless, for a story about something that's rather cold and heartless, this one's got a very "human" storyline at its core. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Wikipedia page for The Surrogates ] | [ Robert Venditti at the Comic Book Database ]

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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, February 18, 2010

Fire and Ice [on Compact Disc]


Fire and Ice
by J.A. Jance

Another interesting crossover between Jance's two main series -- the Seattle-set J.P. Beaumont series and the Arizona-set Joanna Brady series. The story, itself, is fairly strong -- definitely character driven, with the harder-edged Beaumont investigating the latest victim in a series of prostitute murders, and Sheriff Brady involved with both a rural murder of an ATV park caretaker and growing evidence of malfeasance at an Alzheimer's care facility. However, when Beaumont's latest victim turns out to be the sister of one of Brady's officers, the separate casts of characters get the chance to interact. The Beaumont series is written in first person limited and the Brady series in third person omniscient, and for this audio adaptation Hillary Huber does the Brady sections and Erik Davies does the Beaumont. Both are very competent narrators. However, my only two complaints are that there were far too many plot threads left hanging at the end of the story; and I found myself vaguely put off by Davies' attempts to "feminize" the female characters' voices -- it sounded very fake. Overall, though, a good adaptation of a very good novel. [If you enjoy this, you might also like: Any of the other Jance novels, particularly Partners in Crime, the first crossover between Brady and Beaumont.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in print and Large Print formats.]

[ publisher's official Fire and Ice web site ] | [ official J.A. Jance 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, February 17, 2010

Maria


Maria
by Maria Von Trapp [Music 780.92 Tra]

The Sound of Music has always been my favorite musical and one of my favorite movies. For years, I have wondered if the portrayal of Maria von Trapp in the movie was anything like the real person. This book answers that question with delightful stories told by the real Maria. [If you enjoy this, you may also like: Around the Year with the Trapp Family by Maria von Trapp and The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp] -- recommended by Kim J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Wikipedia page for Maria Von Trapp ] | [ Maria on the official Trapp Family Lodge 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, February 16, 2010

Organize Your Corpses


Organize Your Corpses
by Mary Jane Maffini

Charlotte Adams is a professional organizer hired by her former high school teacher to bring order to the house she'd inherited. This teacher was feared and hated by nearly everyone in town and her friends are amazed Charlotte has accepted the job. Unfortunately the woman is found dead in the house and Charlotte finds the body. She also manages to make herself the prime suspect. Even worse, her high school rival is the chief investigating officer and is determined to find Charlotte guilty of the crime. A fun, light-weight, mystery-cozy, that includes organizing tips at the beginning of each chapter! Two more books in the series, The Cluttered Corpse and Death Loves a Messy Desk. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ the Charlotte Adams page on the official Mary Jane Maffini 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, February 14, 2010

Dick Francis, 1920-2010


Popular and prolific British mystery writer Dick Francis -- whose experiences as a champion jockey in the 1940s and 1950s influenced the themes of his 40+ novels, died February 14, 2010, at his home in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.

Following his 1957 horse-racing autobiography, The Sport of Queens, Francis turned to fiction, crafting a series of equine-themed mystery/thrillers from 1962 to 2006 (with the assistance of his wife, until her death in 2000). Beginning in 2007, he is listed as co-authoring additional horse mysteries with his Son, Felix, who plans to continue his father's series.

Although he introduced a few repeating characters, most of Francis' novels were standalones. Fans loved his books for the accuracy of the horse-racing environments he depicted -- he was well-known for the extensive research he conducted prior to writing. Francis received numerous literary awards for his novels, and to-date is the only 3-time winner of the Edgar Award for best mystery novel (for Forfeit [1970], Whip Hand [1981] and Come to Grief [1996]). A handful of Francis' novels have been adapted to film or television (see below).

BBC News announcement of Francis' death


Official Dick Francis web site

Wikipedia page for Dick Francis (with complete list of credits)

FantasticFiction page for Dick Francis (with complete list of credits)

Internet Movie Database page for Dick Francis (with list of screen credits)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Castle


Castle

This is the first season of the current ABC television series, Castle. This series easily straddles the line between romantic comedy and suspenseful crime drama. Nathan Fillion plays bestselling thriller author Richard Castle, who has recently killed off his long-running series character Derrick Storm, and is looking for inspiration for a new character. He finds it in NYC homicide detective Kate Beckett (played by Stana Katic). By the mayor's special request, Castle is allowed to shadow Beckett and her team of detectives, so that he can write a new series of thrillers featuring "Nikki Heat". The snappy dialog and awkward attraction between Castle and Beckett are enough to recommend the series all by themselves, but in addition, there are some truly challenging mystery cases. Castle's observations on the murder investigations always prove creative yet plausible -- coming from the overactive mind of a thriller writer, and even though the episodes become somewhat formulaic, the formula is an easy one to swallow. A great cast, great writing, great production values; I can't recommend this one highly enough. Castle is now in its successful second season, Mondays at 9:00 p.m. [If you enjoy this, you might also like the novel Heat Wave, attributed to Richard Castle.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available -- Heat Wave the first "Nikkie Heat" novel.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Castle web site from ABC ]

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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, February 8, 2010

Prayers for Sale


Prayers for Sale
by Sandra L. Dallas

Set during the 1930s, Hennie Comfort is fast approaching the age of 90 and will soon be moving from her Colorado home to spend the rest of her days with her daughter in Iowa. As she prepares to move, she reflects back on her life, through a series of stories that she shares primarily with Nit Spindle, a young newlywed and new neighbor to Hennie. This is an enjoyable read that includes a few twists and turns along the way to a surprising (for some) conclusion. Be watching for the clues to the Blue Dress pictured on the cover. -- recommended by Sheila J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

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

[ publisher's official Prayers for Sale web site ] | [ Reading Group Discussion Guide for Prayers for Sale ] | [ official Sandra Dallas 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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chess in Concert


Chess in Concert
music by Benny Andersson, Tim Rice and Bjorn Ulvaeus [Compact Disc 782.14 Che]

Thrilling! Spectacular! Moving! Intriguing! Can you imagine that any of these could apply to a staged musical about the classic mental game of chess? Well they do! The original recording of this show, released in the mid-1980s and featuring the vocal talents of Elaine Paige, Murray Head and Tommy Korberg, is one of my favorite soundtracks, even though I've never seen an actual production of the musical. In 2008, a pair of concert-format performances of the songs from this show was given at the Royal Albert Hall, which featured multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban and Tony nominees Idina Menzel (Wicked) and Adam Pascal (RENT). This non-dramatized version of Chess in Concert was then shown on PBS and released as a double-disc CD set. Chess, as a story, features a political, emotional and strategic battle for supremacy between rival chess players over the course of two world-championship chess tournaments. Defections, both political and romantic, taint the pureness of the mental challenges of the game, and rivals find themselves uncertain of who and what they are playing for. The musical features some powerful songs, including "Quartet", "Budapest is Rising", "One Night in Bangkok", "Someone Else's Story", and my particular favorites, "Where I Want to Be" and "Nobody's Game". In this version, Groban is terrific, as expected, but I was particularly impressed by both Menzel and Pascal, who each have strong, flexible voices. My only complaint about this excellent album is that the recordings were live, and audience applause (though justified) reduces the emotional impact that silence would have had at the end of several tracks. Though both versions of this soundtrack are worth hearing, I'd definitely recommend giving this one a try! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[Also available in original 1984 show and Selections from Chess (sheet music) formats.]

[ official Chess in Concert 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, February 4, 2010

Hunter's Run


Hunter's Run
by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham

Exciting, visceral, thought-provoking science fiction at its best. This novel, begun in the late 1970s by authors Martin and Dozois, languished in a desk drawer for nearly two decades than was handed over to Abraham to update and conclude. It's amazing how it doesn't feel like a multi-author work. Ramon Espejo is a mining prospector working on the distant planet Sao Paulo. Ramon's got a temper that easily goes out-of-control, and after a violent incident in a bar leaves a man dead, Ramon needs to escape into the planet's wilderness for some "away time". Unfortunately, the discovery he makes in the remote mountains starts him on a desperate race back to civilization with an alien threat close on his heels. What, on the surface, is ostensibly an action-packed scifi adventure has a lot more going for it. Ramon is an intensely unlikeable character, who grows on the reader as the story progresses. The settings are gritty and believable. The aliens introduced in the story are fantastic. And the issues raised -- what it means to be human, how to control one's baser instincts, how to empathize with the inhuman -- will keep you thinking long after you've finished the book. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Publisher's official Hunter's Run web page ]

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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, February 2, 2010

Heat of the Sun


Heat of the Sun

Trevor Eve plays Inspector Albert Tyburn, a Scotland Yard detective who takes justice into his own hands and is subsequently exiled to Colonial Kenya, in this 1930s-set PBS Mystery presentation. Though there are some occasional discrepancies in period setting, props and plot logic, the performances and atmosphere of this short-run series more than make up the difference. Eve is marvelous as Tyburn, as is Susannah Harker as his romantic interest, the pilot Emma, and Julian Rhind-Tutt as Assistant Superintendant James Valentine. This is a series of 3 two-hour episodes (originally aired in hour-long installments), and the stories are gripping. The set designers did a marvelous job of capturing the era of British Colonialism in Kenya. My only complaint is that the relationship between Albert and Emma seems to progress far too rapidly, considering how "damaged" he is as a character when they first meet. Otherwise, if you're a fan of historical mysteries, this should be right up your alley! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett martin Public Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this 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.