Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Water From the Well (CD)

Water From the Well
by The Chieftains [Compact Disc 781.62 IreYc]

This is a nice traditional Irish music collection that reminds me of the Lord of the Ring soundtracks. It's mostly instrumental with a few vocal tracks. I'd recommend it to those who like traditional world music. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ see Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Lord of the Rings soundtrack albums.]

[ official The Chieftains web site ]


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Monday, September 29, 2014

Blood of Tyrants

Blood of Tyrants
by Naomi Novik

This is the eighth book in the Temeraire series by author Naomi Novik. This story starts out with a shipwreck which leaves our hero with amnesia on a foreign shore. Separating Captain Laurence from his beloved dragon, Temeraire, and putting him into a dangerous situation from the beginning of the book made this novel stand out as one of the best in the series for me. We are drawn back into the Napoleonic wars and thrown into battle once more -- with a Captain who doesn't remember how to fight with dragons anymore! The book ends with a cliffhanger which will undoubtedly be followed by more books in this series. -- recommended by Kim J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik, plus any books in the Hornblower series by C.S. Forester.]

[ Fan-created Wiki for the world of Temeraire ] | [ official Naomi Novik web site ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wallander (on DVD)

Wallander
based on the books by Henning Mankell [DVD Wallender]

Kenneth Branagh plays a Swedish detective in the coastal community of Ystad in Sweden in this excellent production of Wallander. The relationships between people in this series is what I find most appealing, in particular, Wallander's relationship with his adult daughter. The stories are gritty, compelling and tension-packed. Fans of actor Tom Hiddleston will want to see this as well. Series One also has an excellent documentary about the author, Henning Mankell. -- recommended by Kim J. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the DVDs of Inspector Morse, Prime Suspect.]

[Also available: The Novels of Henning Mankell that the show is based on.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Wallander on EpGuides.com ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye Walton [YA Walton]

Ava Lavender and her brother are no ordinary twins. Ava was born with wings and her brother Henry does not speak for the first decade of his life. Even when he does begin to speak, it's rare and Henry is far more likely to be petting his dog or drawing very detailed maps than communicating with others. No matter, their mother Viviane determined that they are all less likely to be hurt and teased for their oddities if they stay in their mysterious house and do not associate with the outside world, for her own experience of the outside world led her only to heartbreak and misery. The twins live with their mother, grandmother (who has endured her own tragic losses), and a man whose loyalty is unwavering, though his exact relation, Ava isn't so sure. As Ava grows into her teenage years, she yearns for the company of more than just her household and the neighbors around her age she has befriended. Ava begins sneaking out with her neighbors to meet groups of others h er age and they are surprisingly accepting of the fact that Ava has wings. Ava creates the most daring dash from her house on the night of the huge celebration her town does for the summer solstice. As she's sneaking back home, she is invited in by someone she believes to be harmless. And that's when Ava loses herself. This book is beautifully written, but very, very dark. It is not for those looking for a nice, light read, but you will feel so much as you delve into its pages. Your heart is guaranteed to ache for Emilienne, Viviane, and Ava. -- recommended by Sam N. - Gere Branch Library [ see Sam's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[ official Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendr and Leslye Walton web site ]


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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Landline

Landline
by Rainbow Rowell

Nebraska author Rainbow Rowell pens an adult novel about a troubled marriage that is falling apart among the laughter that it was founded upon. An unexpected twist in the plot lets our protagonist - Georgie, work through the hard question of where did everything go wrong...to the even more difficult question of should I try to keep my family together? A slew of friends and family try to sway Georgie's path, but she finds help in the most unlikely of places - in the most unlikely of times. -- recommended by Sarah J. - South Branch Library

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Fangirl - all by Rainbow Rowell.]

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

[ official Rainbow Rowell web site ]


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell

The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
by Boris Vallejo, Julie Bill, Anthony and David Palumbo [759.58 qVal]

The field of science fiction and fantasy publishing has recently gone through some growing pains, inspired in part by negative reactions to the traditional kind of fantasy artwork that seems to objectify women. As the publishing industry moves away from book and magazine covers with beautiful women in chainmail, holding big swords, it seems worthwhile to look back at two of the artists whose fame was most notably linked to that type of cover art -- Boris Vallejo and his wife Julie Bell. This beautiful hardbound art book reproduces dozens of each of these artists' works from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, that originally appeared on book and magazine covers, in calendars, on trading cards, and in gaming literature. The colors are lush, the female figures are curvy yet powerful, and the dragons, unicorns, alien beasts, spaceships and other fantasy or scifi set pieces are gorgeous. Vallejo's work epitomized the space opera movement in those earlier decades, and even if you find the cheesecake elements of his paintings to be somewhat off-putting today, there's no denying the strength of his heroines, and the impact his work has had on fantasy illustrations for over 40 years. [NOTE: Fair warning, there is nudity involved in some of these illustrations, including those works by Julie Bell.]. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Fantastic Art of Boris, and Icon: A Retrospective of the Grandmaster of Fantastic Art by Frank Frazetta.]

[ Imaginistix -- the official web site of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Good Ol' Freda

Good Ol' Freda
[DVD Biography Kelly]

Do you draw a blank at the name Freda Kelly? I did too, but not any more. This is the story of the Beatles' "girl Friday", a likeable young woman from the same area of Liverpool as "the lads" who became their fan club president and business secretary. Now that her grandson is growing up, Freda decided to revisit her historic past life as one of the Beatles' inner circle of associates/friends and make her story available to the world at large. The bonus features are a bit hit & miss but over all this is a very engaging, informative, and absorbing remembrance of a seminal time and an unforeseen phenomenon by a woman who never let any of it change her happy and loyal but oh-so-capable character. I nominate Freda Kelly as the true "Fifth Beatle"! -- recommended by Becky W.C. - Walt Branch Library [ see Becky's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Beatles Explosion (DVD); A Hard Day's Night (DVD); Help! (DVD); The Beatles Anthology.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Good Ol' Freda web site ]

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dear Zoe

Dear Zoe
by Philip Beard

This story is about a family tragedy in the midst 9/11/01. Tess is an American teen with two younger half sisters. Zoe, the youngest at only 2 or 3, is playing in the front yard as Tess watches her. When the news of the terrorist attack comes on TV, Tess is called inside to see what's happened. Zoe, who was left alone in the yard, runs into the street, is hit by a car, and dies. The story is the aftermath of that Tuesday morning. There is not much in the way of a plot, it's more about moving on with life after a death and growing up. It's written in first person from Tess as a letter to Zoe, about guilt, grief, love, family, and coming of age. I think it would appeal to teens since it's told from a teen point of view, but adults will also appreciate it as a story of moving past a tragedy. It's a pretty quick read but some readers may need a box of tissues to get through it. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ See Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Lovely Bones, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.]

[ Publisher's official Dear Zoe web page ] | [ Philip Beard on Wikipedia ]
 

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Foul Play (on DVD)

Foul Play
[DVD Foul]

"Beware the Dwarf" is the whispered warning given to Goldie Hawn's character early in this film, which starts starts a series of comical, farcical adventures. At its heart, Foul Play is a romantic comedy, but it also has some strong mystery elements in it as well. Hawn is her typically bubbly, confused self, and Chevy Chase (in his first starring film role since hitting it big in Saturday Night Live) is the San Francisco detective who has to investigate when bizarre things start happening. This a a goofy, romp of a movie -- don't expect anything serious at all. Also features Dudley Moore (prior to his starring role as "Arthur") in a quirky turn, and Burgess Meredith in a vaguely creepy supporting role. Great music and great scenery, but it is Hawn and Chase and their clumsy romantic escapes that make this a fun film to watch. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ See Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of Chevy Chase's other films, particularly the "Fletch" movies, or any of Goldie Hawn's other comedies.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler

What would you do if your sister was removed from the family when you were five and you thought it was your fault? Would it make a difference if your sister was a chimpanzee? A touching and funny book about a unique dysfunctional family. -- recommended by Tammy T. - Collection Management Department

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Ape House by Sara Gruen.]

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

[ Publisher's official We Are All Complete Beside Ourselves web page ] | [ official Karen Joy Fowler web site ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Her (on DVD)

Her
[DVD Her]

In the beginning we meet our protagonist, Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix), as he is going through a divorce because of his inability to express his thoughts and emotions enough for his wife to understand. We follow the depressed Twobmly through his dreary days where his only highlight is work. Twombly works writing personal letters for other people - children to parents, employees to bosses, etc. He has it developed into an art form - the ability to express emotions for others. However, his personal life seems to be at a standstill until he meets "Samantha" - a new operating system able to grow and adapt to a user's needs. Suddenly, Twobly's life is all about Sam, and the adventure begins blindly, with our protagonist blissfully unaware of the hardships that lie ahead. Very intriguing and unique. -- recommended by Sarah J. - South Branch Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Her the Movie web site ]

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Dragon Business (audiobook)

The Dragon Business
by Kevin J. Anderson [Compact Disc Anderson]

The stylistic tone of this fantasy novel by Kevin J. Anderson is a little extreme, but if you like absurdist fantasies, you'll probably enjoy this one. Imagine Monty Python meets J.R.R. Tolkien. The Dragon Business (and at this time the libraries only own this in book-on-cd audiobook format), is a story told on two levels. In an extensive framing sequence, King Cullin "the Dragon Slayer" is taking his bookish young son on a father-son outing to a local tavern to introduce him to some of the commoners in the kingdom. While enjoying their boys' night out, King Cullin shares with Prince Maurice some tales of himself as a young lad, swept into service as a squire an apprentice dragonslayer. Only, young Cullin worked as part of a small crew of con artists, manufacturing fake dragon attacks and offering up their services to rid small kingdoms of the supposedly fearsome creatures. Until the scam crew finds themselves facing the responsibility of eliminating an actual dragon. The dialog is at times hilarious, the situations that Cullin, brave Sir Dalbry and gravedigger Reeger find themselves in are both silly and serious. And you'll find yourself rooting for young Princess Affonyl, who'd rather fake her own death by dragon attack and go on the lam than face a marriage arranged by her father. Anderson puts a lot of "modern" twists on the terminology and scenarios in the book, and those who prefer their their fantasy novels "pure" and/or realistic will want to avoid this one. But if you're looking for some laughs, give it a try! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and more of his reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, the closest match I can think of, stylistically, to this novel is the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and/or the stage musical inspired by that film, Monty Python's Spamalot.]

[ Audio publisher's official Dragon Business web page ] | [ official Kevin J. Anderson web site ]

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What's So Funny? My Hilarious Life

What's So Funny? My Hilarious Life
by Tim Conway [Biography Conway]

Tim Conway has cracked me (and probably literally millions of people) up for decades so I was delighted to see that he put out this memoir last year. It is a funny and gentle read, with a large helping of quirky thrown in. He and his immigrant parents personify the American Dream of working hard, being successful eventually, and living a happy life. I was amused to find that Tim, born "Toma", gets much of his off-the-wall personality from his parents, a tall Irish groomsman and a short Romanian-American housekeeper and seamstress. And I was surprised to learn that Tim has a wide range of educational and occupational experiences -- radio DJ, tailor, baker, army clerk, -- and he played several sports, too. And, of course, Tim reminisces about his wonderful years with the gang from the Carol Burnett Show. How can you not love a guy who would make a suitcoat and tie for himself out of the same plaid material that covered his home office walls for a "where's Tim" gag? -- recommended by Becky W.C. - Walt Branch Library [ see Becky's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try This time together: Laughter and Reflections by Carol Burnett; My lucky life in and out of show businessThe Carol Burnett Show: Show Stoppers.]

[Also available in Large Print format.]

[ official Tim Conway web site ]

 
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Customer Review: Our Man in Havana

Our Man in Havana: An Entertainment
by Graham Greene [Greene]

This a wonderful book for a lazy summer day. In order to earn more money, a vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-Castro Cuba starts reporting to MI-6 non-existant military bases and fictional agents. The powers-that-be have their doubts. Mr. Wormold, after having created the deception, finds selling vacuum cleaners the least of his worries when his fiction becomes reality and imaginary people start to die. The narrative of the story appears to spring from the Cold War, yet the humor mimicks "Who's on first". The humor is quick and simple. As simple as the humor may be, though, the reader needs to keep their eye open to sudden and abrupt developments that form. This novel is fantastic if all you are looking for is a quick and enjoyable read with a bit of mystery to spice the mixture. -- review submitted by Brandon R. - a customer of the Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

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The Outsmarting of Crminals

The Outsmarting of Criminals
by Steven Rigolosi

This breezy novel introduces us to Felicity Prim, a criminal outsmarter. Criminal outsmarting is Miss Prim's second career. She had lived in New York City and worked in a doctor's office until she was mugged. After the mugging Felicity looked at her life and decided that she wanted something different. She retired and moved to Greenfield, Connecticut where she hoped to become a sleuth. Her first opportunity to work as a detective came while Felicity was settling into her new home. She found a secret entrance to a cellar in her kitchen. At the bottom of the stairs Felicity found the body of a recently deceased man. When she told the police about the man she asked Detective Ezra Dawes if they could work together. She pointed out that two heads are better one when solving crimes. He graciously agreed. Felicity made friends (and frightened people with her erratic driving) while trying to figure who the man was and how he got into her basement. This witty book is populated with warm and wacky characters. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department [ see Donna's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]

[ official Steven Rigolosi web site ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ripper Street - Season One (on DVD)

Ripper Street - Season One
[DVD Ripper]

Set in London just months after the Jack the Ripper killings in the neighborhood of White Chapel. Inspector Reid, Sergeant Drake and Jackson, an American surgeon, work together to solve crimes. The first episode is about a murder that may or may not be the work of the Ripper again. The following episodes are not directly related to the Ripper cases, but the burden of the unsolved mysteries surrounding Jack the Ripper are evident around the police station. What was really enjoyable about this was how the characters develop over the season. At first the focus is on the case at hand and then we see more of their personalities and back stories, including more about Inspector Reid's missing/deceased daughter. The atmosphere of the series is rather dark and gritty. It is not rated but I do warn viewers that there is not an episode with out some or all of the following: blood, guts, violence, prostitution, nudity, autopsies, drug use, and murder. Because of the dark a nd graphic scenes this show is not for everyone, but I do highly recommend it you you like crime scene investigation shows or historical mysteries. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [ see Kristen's Reviewer Profile and more of her reviews ]


[If you'd like to know more about Jack the Ripper I'd recommend The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion by Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner.]

[Also available: Season Two.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Ripper Street web site ]


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The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide: Contraptions, Creations and Curiosities Anyone Can Make

The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide: Contraptions, Creations and Curiosities Anyone Can Make
by Thomas Willeford [646.48 Wil]

I've been on a Steampunk binge for the past couple of years -- reading a lot of Steampunk fiction, and looking at the increasing collection of Steampunk related non-fiction books the libraries have been picking up -- dedicated to costuming, jewelry making and decorating. The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide is a marvelous addition to the libraries' Steampunk collection. Classified as an "adult" item, this is actually aimed at responsible teens and even pre-teens. Each chapter of this nifty volume features a short continuation of an ongoing Steampunk adventure story, focusing on the escapes of a couple of brilliant but reckless kids, lavishly illustrated by Phil Foglio, whose work in Dragon magazine many years ago was among my favorite fantasy art. In recent years, he has written and illustrated the adventures of Girl Genius -- a series of Steampunk graphic novels. Alternating with the storyline in this volume are sections in which author Thomas Willeford provides detailed step-by-step instructions for how to create pieces of Steampunk costumes, from things as simple as airship goggles, to as complex as glider wings, a rocket pack, or a rivet gun. The illustrations that accompany each craft project as simple and straight-forward, and Willeford adopts a very easy-to-follow conversational tone in his instructions. Anyone with an interest in Steampunk trappings and a modicum of craft skills will find this book an excellent introduction to how to create accessories for simple Steampunk costumes. I particularly like Willeford's "invention" of Fleather -- a flexible craft fabric made of soft craft foam and double-sided duct tape, which very closely resembles leather if not examined too closely. [Check out my Steampunk booktalk booklist for some great reads to put you in the mood to create your own costume!] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [ see Scott's Reviewer Profile and his other reviews ]

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the libraries' many other Steampunk craft books, almost all of which are aimed at a far more adult audience.]

[ Publisher's official Steampunk Adventurer's Guide web page ] | [ official Thomas Willeford (author/crafter) web site ] | [ official Phil Foglio (illustrator) web site ]


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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!