Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Carrie by Steven King (on CD)

Carrie
by Steven King [Compact Disc King] 

Carrie is one of the first books of Stephen King’s I ever read. I saw the movie shortly after I read the book, and then I promptly forgot about it. This fall, I decided to try listening to the audiobook, since Halloween was, at that time, approaching. When I saw it was read by Sissy Spacek, I knew I’d love it! In fact, I’m going to look into audiobooks a bit further to see if I can find any others Sissy Spacek has narrated–I could listen to her all day! Her voice, while at times sounding a tiny bit nasally, has this soft, soothing lilt to it, and she enunciates very clearly.

This story is set in Maine, as are many of Stephen King’s stories. It centers around a senior in high school, Carrie White, who has spent a lifetime being bullied by her peers as well as being tormented and punished for every little thing by her religiously fanatic mother. Carrie is a “late bloomer”, developing into womanhood far later than typical… and this brings on memories of telekinetic behavior as a child, as well as a discovery of a strengthening within herself of those powers. When push comes to shove, Carrie shoves right back, and then some!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Firestarter by King, or Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin.]

[ official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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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, December 28, 2015

Chasing Ice (on DVD)

Chasing Ice [DVD 551.312 Cha] 

James Balog, a photographer and glaciologist set up cameras at multiple angles of multiple glaciers around the world to track their seasonal and long term changes. The result is a multi-year record of how glaciers are changing in modern times. It felt to me like a documentary of how he and his crew go out to set up and maintain the cameras, rather than a documentary on climate change, even though that is a running theme in the show. The group Balog started is called the Extreme Ice Survey and if you like the documentary you can check out their website www.extremeicesurvey.org for more information, pictures and videos. The images online and on the DVD are some that most people don’t get a chance to see in person, so I think it is well worth viewing.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Chasing Shackleton [DVD 910.45].] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Chasing Ice web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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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!

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits


From the strangely genius mind of David Wong, comes Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. Set in the not-too-distant future of self-driving cars, holograms and an omnipresent social network known as the Blink, Zoey Ashe finds herself the target of an army of super-powered, hyper-violent alpha males. Armed with a snarky attitude, her talents as a barista, a community-college degree and her very smelly cat, Zoey finds herself joining forces with a mysterious, semi-trustworthy group known as the Fancy Suits to thwart the schemes of a wannabe super-villain. “Blade Runner” meets “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in a fast-paced and very enjoyable read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders, both also by Wong.]

[ official David Wong web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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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, December 27, 2015

Hogfather (on DVD)

Hogfather [DVD Hogfather] 

Based on the Pratchett novel of the same name this movie is all about the season of Hogswatch and the Hogfather. In the Discworld universe Hogswatch is similar to Christmas and the Hogfather is basically Santa. This year however a terrible thing has happened. The Hogfather is missing. But because Hogswatch must go on someone else must take his place. Death (who is an actual character, not just an event) steps in to deliver presents to the children, while his granddaughter (yes Death has a granddaughter) goes looking for Hogfather. It’s an unusual Christmas story with a twist at the end. It may not be an enjoyable film for everyone but if you are looking for a holiday movie you haven’t seen year after year, this is for you.

[Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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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!

Pivot Point by Marie West

Pivot Point
by Marie West [YA West] 

As a Searcher, Addison Coleman is guaranteed to always make the right decision. When she is faced with a choice, she can look into her future and see both outcomes. She has been able to save herself from bad decisions, and sticky situations.

When Addie’s parents tell her they are getting a divorce, she is faced with a choice: go live with her dad, who is leaving the Compound to live with normal people, or “Norms,” or stay with her mom, and the life she has always known.

After searching six weeks into the future, Addie sees that she is happy in both outcomes, but every potential path has positives and negatives. After Addie’s dad is asked to consult on a murder that has taken place in the compound, she is drawn into the dangerous mix as well. So what decision is Addie going to make?.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Split Second, also by West.]

[ official Kasie West web site ]
Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Make 'Em Laugh by Debbie Reynolds (on CD)

Make ‘Em Laugh: Short-Term Memories of Longtime Friends
by Debbie Reynolds [Compact Disc Biography Reynolds] 

I was looking for a short, funny, autobiography as a book-on-cd, and this latest collection of remembrances by legendary entertainer Debbie Reynolds fit the bill perfectly. In a series of interconnected chapters, Reynolds reminisces about some of the many people whom she’s crossed paths with over the course of a lengthy entertainment career. Debbie has two autobiographies to her credit already, so in this volume she picks some stories that didn’t make it into either Debbie: My Life (1988) and Unsinkable (2013). Explore her friendship with — or, in the case of Milton Berle, bare tolerance of — the classic comedians. Read about her experiences as a young starlet making her way through the treacherous waters of “casting couches”. Learn about the various personal assistants Debbie has had over the years, and how much of an impact they’ve had on her life. Laugh at Debbie’s recollections of funny encounters with daughter Carrie (Star Wars) Fisher, and how Debbie’s granddaughter has carried on the family acting tradition, even to the point of landing a role in the new Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.

I would have loved to have had Debbie narrate this short volume herself, but she doesn’t. Instead, actress Judith Ivey provides very capable narrating skills. In fact, Judith makes an obvious attempt to sound somewhat like Debbie, so it’s easy to feel lulled into a sense that it is Debbie sharing her stories directly. There’s not a lot of depth here, but if you’re looking for some light-hearted, feel-good entertainment industry stories, I recommend this one!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Debbie: My Life and Unsinkable, also by Reynolds.]

[ Publisher’s official Make ‘Em Laugh web site ] | [ official Debbie Reynolds web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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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!

Hercule Poirot's Christmas (on CD)

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie] 

Set in an old English house, an old father invites his family to Christmas. One of his sons and his wife lives with him and they are not enthused to have the whole family round, but they can’t sway him on the matter. The family has not been together since their mother died, nearly two decades ago, and when everyone arrives it’s clear why. Loaded with family feuds and grudges, the house is near boiling point when their elderly father is murdered. In addition to the local police, an inspector and Poirot take up the case. Full of surprises, this holiday tale does have a happy ending when the remaining family members put the past (distant and recent) behind them and look forward to a cheerier Christmas next year. This is one of my favorites in the series, so far as I have read. I enjoyed the audiobook version narrated by Hugh Fraser, but however you read it, it’s a grand story.

[If you like this item, you might like these too – I also recommend The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. In a lot of ways this is completely different from ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’, but it is a holiday story with mysteries of it’s own; it’s not a murder mystery.
 
[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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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, December 17, 2015

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (on DVD)


With Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens opening a brand-new chapter in the history of the Star Wars universe tomorrow, I can’t help but look back at the original film that started it all on May 25, 1977. Simply entitled Star Wars (the subtitle IV: A New Hope didn’t get tacked on until many years later), it was described as the first entry in what was going to be a nine-film saga called The Adventures of Luke Skywalker. By the time the prequel trilogy had completed, the series looked more like the adventures of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, but who’s quibbling? Constructed with many of the same types of elements as the old serialized pulp thrillers, mashed up with the Flash Gordon whiz bang sci-fi elements, this tale of a young farm boy with a special gift, who leads the scrappy underdog rebels in a fight against the monolithic Empire, was groundbreaking movie-making at its best. Star Wars, and Jaws a few years before it, established the benchmark for summer blockbuster films — thrills, adventures, battles between good guys and bad. Little could anyone have guessed how much influence it would ultimately have on the movie-making industry or on pop-culture. But here we are, 38 years later, and several generations of film fans later — the original’s fans are taking their grandkids to the premiere of the 7th film in the franchise, now owned by the Walt Disney Company.

In my opinion, the original has held up very well, even 38 years later. Director George Lucas has tinkered with it — several times — over the years, releasing “Special Editions” with updated or expanded special effects, and/or changed content in scenes — despite what he did, I’ll always hold the opinion that “Han shot first”! But, whether you judge the film on the original theatrically released version or any of the tweaked versions which have followed in the decades since, the story still holds together well. The performances are brash, enthusiastic, or dignified and serious. The special effects were astonishing in their day and still look great, despite the intervening years. All in all, this is STILL the Star Wars movie I would show to anyone if I had to limit them to a single film in the series! May the Force be With You…Always!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try all the other films in the extensive Star Wars series.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Star Wars web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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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, December 16, 2015

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Lost Stars
by Claudia Gray [YA Gray]

A surprisingly good novel with appeal for a wide range of readers. Anyone from middle school to adult who has seen any Star Wars movie will find something to enjoy about this novel. It’s part romance, part coming-of-age story and part space opera. It features a pair of quintessential star-crossed lovers, a very engaging story and several cameos from some familiar Star Wars characters. Both casual and devoted Star Wars fans will enjoy this one.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Aftermath by Chuck Wendig.] [ official Claudia Gray web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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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, December 15, 2015

Star Wars Reviews on the libraries' BookGuide web pages


With the opening of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens this week, interest in all things Star Wars is at an all-time high. Your friendly neighborhood librarians are Star Wars fans too, and we've gathered all our Star Wars-related reviews into a single page on our BookGuide readers resources pages.

Click the logo above, or this link, to see an archive of every review, booklist or booktalk booklist that has appeared on BookGuide from 2006 to the present!

Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger

Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
by Tom Angleberger [j Angleberger]


Tom Angleberger, longtime Star Wars fan and creative force behind the “Origami Yoda” series, pens a well-crafted retelling of “Return of the Jedi”. Though it’s primarily written for kids, any adult that is still in touch with the inner child will enjoy the story as well. Even those, like myself, who are very familiar with “Return of the Jedi” will find Angleberger’s take a delight to read. The author uses a whimsical narrative and humorous footnotes to give the reader some entertaining (though potentially non-canon) insights of minor characters in “Return of the Jedi”. Any Star Wars fan with a sense of humor will find “Beware the Power of the Dark Side!” an entertaining and worthwhile read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, also by Angleberger.] [ official Tom Angleberger web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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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, December 14, 2015

Star Wars - Original Motion Picture Soundtracks by John Williams

Star Wars – Original Motion Picture Soundtracks
composed by John Williams [Compact Disc 782.14 Sta]

I grew up on the original trilogy of Star Wars films — they premiered, respectively, when I was 14, 17 and 20 years old. John Williams was one of the first composers whose soundtrack work I fell in love with, and whose soundtracks I would go on to collect in the intervening years. In the days before Compact Discs, I bought all three of the LP albums (each was two discs) for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, and listened to them over and over and over. In fact, I probably wore out the grooves on my copy of The Empire Strikes Back, I played it so much. One of my favorite elements of my CD collection is my mid-1990s Star Wars: The Original Soundtrack Anthology — a longbox containing four discs and a marvelous book of liner notes for how the music was created for all three of the original films in the trilogy

In the years since those three films originally came out, those soundtracks have been re-released and repackaged several times, including a Sony Music re-release of all the Star Wars film soundtracks in 2004 that added considerable previously-unreleased music. It is these 2004 soundtracks that the library has, for each of the original trilogy of Star Wars films, and also for some of the “prequel trilogy” as well. The sound quality has been sharpened for all of these 2004 releases, and although the liner notes are not as extensive as for some of the other releases, if you simply want to relive the film experience by re-listening to the orchestral scores, you can’t go wrong with these copies. The only thing missing from the 2004 releases are the final two tracks from the original Return of the Jedi soundtrack — those two tracks were replaced with all-new music in “Special Edition” re-edited re-releases of the films, and the 2004 soundtracks opt to only include the newer tracks.

Williams’ music is just as iconic as the films have become. “The Imperial March” (a.k.a. “Darth Vader’s Theme”) is one of the most recognizable musical riffs for dramatic menace that exists — you hear it at sporting events and numerous other social environments, and how many of us use it as a cellphone ringtone for somebody? “Princess Leia’s Theme”, “The Death of Ben Kenobi”, “Yoda’s Theme”, “Cantina Band” and the unforgettable “Star Wars Main Theme” are embedded in the popular consciousness. As Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens opens this month, John Williams returns to provide yet another Star Wars score. Take this opportunity to revisit some of his most iconic music from the past!

[ Wikipedia page for The Music of Star Wars ] | [ Wikipedia page for John Williams ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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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!