Monday, April 24, 2017

Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End by Chuck Wendig

Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End
by Chuck Wendig [Wendig] 

The 3rd part of the “Aftermath” trilogy tells the story of the pivotal Battle of Jakku. There’s a fun mix of political intrigue, space battles, drama, humor and much more. “Empire’s End” lacks the “wow” factor of “Life Debt”. It is still a well-told story that keeps the reader interested. The interludes that Wendig uses are a mixed bag. Some are sort of neat, like an Interlude featuring a rather polarizing character from the Prequel Trilogy. Others are interesting, but don’t seem to really tie in with the story. If they end up being teasers for upcoming books, then this will be pretty cool. Otherwise, it is a bit of distraction from what is otherwise a fun story with lots of well-developed characters that are easy to care about.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Wars: Aftermath, and Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, both also by Chuck Wendig]

[ publisher’s official Empire’s End web site ] | [ official Chuck Wendig web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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 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, April 23, 2017

The Cheap Detective by Neil Simon (on DVD)

The Cheap Detective
by Neil Simon [DVD Cheap] 

This 1978 film, written by famed playwright/screenwriter Neil Simon, is a masterful parody of the 1940s Humphrey Bogart classics, Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. Peter Falk, perhaps best known as TV’s Columbo (1968-78, 1989-2003), stars as Lou Peckingpaugh a cynical, world-weary private investigator, who gets caught up in a complicated plot that includes thugs, crooks, Nazis, femmes fatales and lots of secrets. The best part of this parody is the huge cast of late-70s era stars who portray new takes on the classic characters from the Bogart films — Madeline Kahn plays the Mary Astor role, John Houseman the Sidney Greenstreet, Ann-Margaret the Lauren Bacall, Dom DeLuise the Peter Lorre, Louise Fletcher the Ingrid Bergman and Fernando Lamas the Paul Henreid. Additional star power comes in the form of bit parts featuring Eileen Brennan, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Nicol Williamson, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Stockard Channing, Marsha Mason, Abe Vigoda, Paul Williams and more.

The humor is extremely broad, but the dialog crackles and everyone seems to be having a fun time. If you’re a fan of the original source material being parodied, love Peter Falk, or follow the works of Neil Simon, you won’t want to miss revisiting this gem. If you’ve never seen Casablanca and/or The Maltese Falcon, it’s still entertaining, but you’re not going to appreciate many of the references. Still…it’s a hoot to watch, even after almost 40 years!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder By Death, also starring Peter Falk and written by Neil Simon (1976), which parodies a wide variety of different cinema/literary sleuths, including Sam Spade, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Charlie Chan, and Nick and Nora Charles] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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 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!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Arrival (on DVD)

Arrival
[DVD Arrival] 

Louise Banks is a linguistics professor (played by Amy Adams). One morning most of her students were missing from class and the ones that showed up asked her to turn on the news. Alien spacecrafts had mysteriously appeared in 12 different places across the globe. Banks is visited by a colonel in the military (played by Forest Whitaker) who recruits her to come to Montana where a ship has arrived in the US. There she works with physicist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner) to try to communicate with the aliens to see if they are here as friends or foe. They communicate using a markerboard with the two aliens they have dubbed Abbott and Costello. The situation becomes a race against the clock when the Chinese government decide to pursue military action against the ship located on their land instead of working with the aliens. Banks and Donnelly must find a way to understand the alien language and communicate with them before war could break out.

I really enjoyed this movie. We saw it in the theater and I checked it out just to see it again. I highly recommend it. There is a definite twist in the end.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Passengers, Interstellar or Edge of Tomorrow] [Based on the novella “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, which is available in traditional print format.]

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

Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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 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, April 21, 2017

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (on CD)

The Mothers
by Brit Bennett [Compact Disc Bennett] 

This book is a nice reflection on young adulthood and how the choices we make can follow us, for better or for worse. A college-bound young woman waits at an abortion clinic all alone, having (perhaps foolishly) expected her boyfriend to at least pick her up afterwards. We hear narration from the older ladies in the church, from the small-town gossip mill and their personal speculations about how main character Nadia Turner is coping after her mom’s suicide. Nadia’s only friend throughout the story, Aubrey, ends up dating Lucas, Nadia’s ex, but Nadia and Lucas each have their secrets about the abortion that Aubrey ends up eventually realizing. There’s much more to the story and it definitely touches on the mistakes of young love and early adulthood. It would be a great read for a college-aged reader who is looking to move past a confining small-town childhood or reflect on lost love and missed opportunities.

[ official The Mothers web site ] | [ official Brit Bennett web site ]
 
Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley and Williams Branch Libraries and the Bookmobile

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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, April 20, 2017

Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology edited by Daniel Simon

Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology
edited by Daniel Simon [ 811.08 Sim ] 

In conjunction with the statewide celebrations of Nebraska’s 150th anniversary of Statehood in 2017 (a “sesquicentennial”), this marvelous hardback anthology, covering the history of poetry by poets from Nebraska, was released at a gala event at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown on April 2nd, 2017. This book, featuring over 160 works by over 80 Nebraska poets, covers the entire 150-year history of Nebraska, from the very first poem published after our statehood was established, to selections by several of today’s most acclaimed and active poets in the state. Organized in chronological order, the first part of the book features selections from some of Nebraska’s most famed authors, including Willa Cather, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Loren Corey Eiseley and John G. Neihardt. The middle section of the book is dedicated to poets who made a strong impression in the early and middle parts of the 20th century, including long-time State Poet William Kloefkorn, two-time National Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, current State Poet Twyla Hansen and many more. The latter part of the book features selections from many of today’s up-and-coming Cornhusker wordslingers.

If you’re a fan of poetry from Nebraska, and have followed any of the 80+ poets represented within, I recommend this anthology to expand your reading. If you are dabbling in the literary world of Nebraska history as the state celebrates its 150th birthday, this is a great sampler, that may lead you to numerous poets whose more extensive works exist in the libraries’ collection. And even if you’re just a poetry fan who doesn’t care where the poets originated, this is a still a stellar collection, filled with excellent representative samplings from a variety of regional authors. And it seems especially fitting to be reviewing this volume in April, which is National Poetry Month!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try many of the volumes of poetry collections by Nebraska poets, found in the American Poetry section of the non-fiction collection — 811 (Poet’s name).]

[ official Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology web page] | [ Nebraska 150 Books challenge ]

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, April 19, 2017

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah [Biography Noah] 

I only knew of Trevor Noah from The Daily Show, and since I’ve always been in awe by both his humor and his ability to explain politics, history, and life in a way that’s easy for me to understand, I couldn’t wait to finish the other book I was reading when this fell into my hands. I’m glad I listened to my instincts, as I have been thoroughly enjoying and recommending this book to everyone.

Not only did he teach me an incredible amount about Apartheid, but (unbelievable as it is that a biography from South Africa during Apartheid could offer any light moments) he was also hilarious in describing himself as a young person who gave his mom a giant’s share of challenges with his behavior. His tribute to his mother is always a top theme among the eleven short stories in this book. She was strong and raised him to carry himself as a good person and escape poverty.

His mother is a black Xhosa woman, and his father is a white Swiss man. Since South African separated white people, black people, “colored” people (their word for those with a black parent and a white parent), and Indians into different communities to keep them separate, being seen walking with either of his parents would result in them being imprisoned for four to five years. I learned there are eleven national languages in South African.

Once I started this book, I could not put it down. I am so glad he wrote so much about his truly inspirational and strong mother.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Swing Time, by Zadie Smith.]

[ publisher’s official Born a Crime web site ] | [ official Trevor Noah web site ]

Recommended by Jodi R.
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, April 18, 2017

109 East Palace by Jennet Conant (on CD)

109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos
by Jennet Conant [Compact Disc 623.451 Con + Hoopla] 

I picked this up because after reading The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Kiernan, I was intrigued to learn more about the Manhattan Project. That book focused on the secret town of Oakridge, in Tennessee, where the uranium was being refined, whereas this book focuses on the secret location of the research center of Los Alamos, in New Mexico. What was interesting before even it even starts is that the author is the granddaughter of James B. Conant, a major figure in the project. Her personal connection to the topic is put forth in the preface, and grows through the book around Dorothy McKibbin, the gatekeeper to Los Alamos. Before anyone was allowed in, or even knew exactly where to go, they had to be issued a security pass from the office in Santa Fe by Dorothy. The book takes us through Dorothy’s life before, during and after the war. During the project, the book discusses the goings on at Los Alamos, the lives of the scientists, their families and often Oppenheimer himself. The whole project from inception, picking a site, testing, dropping the bomb, the end of the war, into the Red Scare that Oppenheimer found himself involved in, and right up to his death and Dorothy’s is covered. It did also look at the various reactions of the scientists and others living at Los Alamos on the aftermath of the bomb test and the two dropped on Japan. The feeling varied, some were pleased to contribute to bringing the war to an end and others were horrified at themselves. I really felt like whole story was here, but bearing in mind that the whole operation at Oakridge was an entire book to itself, I still wanted to hear more. It’s fascinating to me how such a large project, at both locations, was kept a secret, even to those living there. It was not quite so hush hush within Los Alamos as it was in Oakridge, however one of the world’s grandest scientific projects all in a small little community of scientists and other workers is just captivating to me. I recommend both of these books if you are interested in secret science towns as they go so well together. I listened to the audio versions of both and thought the narrators were good, although I did pick up a copy of the books too because there are photos included that I didn’t want to miss out on. Very good read even for those who don’t normally read history books.

[Another book you may like is Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb, written by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm; it’s a graphic novel and really does a good job at explaining the science behind the story. You may also enjoy Antarctica: A Year on Ice, by which is a documentary on the McMurdo science lab in Antarctica, not exactly a secret, but still a place only very few people are allowed.]

[ publisher’s official 109 East Palace web site ] | [ publisher’s official Jennet Conant web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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 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, April 17, 2017

The Winner by David Baldacci

The Winner
by David Baldacci [Baldacci]

If you’ve never read David Baldacci, this may be a good place to start. The Winner is a fictional story about how and why a naive young lady wins the lottery and what becomes of her. A devious man recruits her and helps her win. This story is suspenseful and kept my interest.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of John Grisham, James Patterson, or Harlan Coben,]
 
[ official The Winner web site ] | [ official David Baldacci web site ]

Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt 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!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Koterba: Drawing You In by Jeff Koterba

Koterba: Drawing You In
by Jeff Koterba [741.5 Kot] 

This is a marvelous retrospective collection of examples of Omaha World-Herald editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba’s work, dating from the 1990s to 2014 (the year this book was published). Koterba provides a lengthy introduction, talking about his history as a cartoonist, and those artists who inspired him as he was growing up (particularly his predecessors at the OWH). He then breaks the collection of single-panel cartoons (each published on its own separate page in this volume) into some broad categories, and provides a page or two of background information about his artistic process for each section.

The book features both B&W and Color cartoons. Koterba does both versions for distribution, both in the Omaha paper and digitally online. He’s also one of a rare breed that still does ALL of his art by hand, not only the pencils and inks but he uses actual watercolor paints to do the color cartoons, not computer software. Political cartoons, especially if the cartoonist is willing to poke fun at all points-of-view, are usually pretty funny, as well as thought-provoking. However, Koterba’s extensive use of Nebraska-centric subjects makes this an even-more-enjoyable collection for somebody who lives here.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the books of former Lincoln Journal-Star editorial cartoonist Paul Fell, of which the libraries have quite a few. Also, Koterba’s memoir, Inklings, is a fascinating read too.] [ official Jeff Koterba web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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 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, March 30, 2017

Hard Case Crime night at tonight's Just Desserts meeting!

Mystery Fans!

Don't miss tonight's meeting of the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, at the South Branch Library, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Although the group traditionally all reads the same book for group discussion, tonight's meeting is a bit of an exception.

Instead of all group members reading the same book, or the same author, we’re all going to be reading the same publisher Hard Case Crime.

Hard Case Crime is an American publisher of noir and hard-boiled detective stories, founded in 2004 by Charles Ardai and Max Phillips. Over the past 13 years, this imprint has published close to 150 different novels, some in hardback but most in paperback or trade paperback. Some of their titles are reprints of classic older works, while others are brand-new titles in the classic Noir or Hard-Boiled style, by authors both obscure and highly recognizable (Lawrence Block, Stephen King, Ed McBain, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, Michael Crichton, just to name a few.).

Much like our “Series Share” months, everyone in attendance will be given a couple of minutes to share a description of which novel they read, and what they thought about it — “thumbs up or thumbs down”. This Just Desserts meeting will be recorded on audio for release as part of the libraries’ audio Podcast series.

You need not have read a Hard Case Crime novel to join us -- we're always happy to have guests sit in to learn about new authors and titles, and to pick up some great reading recommendations. And the "Just Desserts" theme includes a selection of actual desserts for attendees to enjoy as well!

Here’s the Wikipedia article on Hard Case Crime, including a complete list of their published novels

Official Hard Case Crime website

Here’s a link to all the Hard Case Crime novels in the Lincoln City Libraries’ collection!

Handout/Checklist for Hard Case Crime

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gilgamesh: A New English Version, edited by Stephen Mitchell

Gilgamesh: A New English Version
edited by Stephen Mitchell [299.92 Gil 2004] 


This epic poem reminded me of reading Beowulf. They are both quick reads because of the lengthy introductions and notes sections make the actual story is only about half of the book. Gilgamesh is the main character and is a king of super human strength who is not a particularly nice guy. During the book he befriends a man named Enkidu, a wild man of nature created by the gods to befriend and reform Gilgamesh. He’s tamed by a woman from the city who goes to him in the wilderness and later takes him to the city. Gilgamesh and Enkidu have many epic adventures together but in time Enkidu passes away. So saddened and moody by the death of his friend, and contemplating his own life, Gilgamesh undertakes a journey to find eternal life. He is sort of successful, but it does not turn out like he wanted. In the end he realizes and accepts humans can’t live forever but humanity and his city are able to carry his legacy farther into the future than he’ll be able to live. I thought it was a pretty good story with a lot of adventure, different characters, and food for thought. It’s definitely a story with a moral or message to it but different people will interpret it differently. If you like reading classic literature and enjoy philosophical/literary discussions you’ll probably like this book. I think it may work well for a book group book, even if it’s just a two person book group, because there are a lot of potential conversations you can have about it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, by Seamus Heaney, 829.3 BeoYH, The Song of Roland, 841 Cha 1992]

[ Wikipedia entry for Gilgamesh ] | [ official Stephen Miller’s Gilgamesh 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!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!, Julie Newmar (on DVD)

[DVD To] 

Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) tie for the winner of a drag queen competition in New York and win plane tickets to fly to Hollywood to compete in a national contest. After the competition they come across Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo), a down-on-her-luck drag queen who lacks confidence and decide to take her under their wing. Instead of flying they decide to buy a car and drive to Hollywood, however along the way their car breaks down in rural Nebraska – it doesn’t actually say it’s Nebraska but since it was filmed in Loma (and Lincoln and Omaha) I’m calling it Nebraska. The town’s mechanic says he can fix it but they’ll need to stay in town until the part arrives. They stay in a boarding house owned by the mechanic and his wife, played by Stockard Channing. The town residents are simple folks who have never seen drag queens before and believe them to be real women. They decide to make the stay worth their while and give the town and its residents a much-needed makeover.

My fiancĂ© was shocked when he learned I had never seen it and forced me to watch it simply because it was filmed in Nebraska (in 1994). I didn’t know what to expect from the title, but drag queens road tripping and getting stuck in Nebraska was nowhere on my list of theories. Much to my surprise I loved every minute of it. It’s filled with great one-liners and really has you rooting for them along the way.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Rocky Horror Picture Show, Themla and Louise or available through ILL: “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” which was filmed right before this one, people say this was ripped off from it but it was already in production before that was released.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Esquire Magazine article: “When John Leguizamo Fixed Up My Hometown” ]

Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched 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 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, March 27, 2017

How the Lincoln Public Schools Were Named by Mike Callaghan and Kathi Friesen

How the Lincoln Public Schools Were Named
by Mike Callaghan and Kathi Friesen [R 371.61 Cal]

This fascinating little 28-page pamphlet is one of the rare jems in the Bennett Martin Public Library reference (non-circulating) collection. Published in 2000, this booklet, published by the Library Media Services department of the Lincoln Public Schools, compiles all the known history about the origin and naming of each Lincoln Public Schools facility (through 2000). Curious about where Lefler Middle School got its name? How about Cavett Elementary? When was there are College View Elementary? Or a Jackson High School? Filled with all sorts of fascinating trivia about Lincoln’s history, if you’re at all curious about how the many different LPS buildings got their names, I recommend stopping in at the downtown library and taking a look at this handy little guide!

[ official Lincoln Public Schools web site — each school has its own page, with some of the same history listed ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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 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, March 26, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: Marcy's Reading List - 2017

On March 20th, 2017, at the Bethany Branch BooksTalk, and on March 31st at the Gere Branch BooksTalk, Marcy G.. from the South Branch Library presented a booktalk featuring some of the titles she's been reading recently.

The booklist from her booktalk is now available online via the libraries' BookGuide readers advisory resources, on the BookTalk Booklists archive page. You can click that link to see all past BookTalk Booklists, or you can click on the following link to jump straight to this new entry.

Marcy's Reading List - 2017 (March 20th 2017, Bethany Branch BooksTalk and March 31st, 2017, Gere Branch BooksTalk)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: American Inventions

On March 6th, 2017, Sandy W. from the Gere Branch Library presented a booktalk featuring books about famous American inventors and inventiosn, to the Gere Branch BooksTalk group.

The booklist from her booktalk is now available online via the libraries' BookGuide readers advisory resources, on the BookTalk Booklists archive page. You can click that link to see all past BookTalk Booklists, or you can click on the following link to jump straight to this new entry.

American Inventions (March 6th 2017, Gere Branch BooksTalk)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
by Shirley Walker [Hoopla digital streaming service] 


Wonderful music from a wonderful movie. Unfortunately the movie is not available in the library’s collection as of right now. You can however listen to the soundtrack on Hoopla by streaming it or downloading it to the Hoopla App. The music itself is mainly instrumental with some vocals, but it is not obvious Batman music unless you are familiar with it already. Since watching the movie I have put the music on a few times while I’m studying because it’s so good. Even non-Batman fans could easily enjoy the music on its own, particularly if you like epic soundtracks, and I would recommend it to anyone.

[If you are inclined to watch the movie, it’s very good and you don’t need to know much about Batman beforehand to understand what’s going on or who the characters are. Quite a bit of the movie is flash backs, so you see the present day characters and the same characters in the past, so everything is well intact in the one film. The movie is from 1993, so the animation is not the new computerized type that we get a lot of today, and I like that aspect too. I would rate both the music and the movie 10 stars, and I’d recommend them to anyone.]

[ Wikipedia page for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ] | [ Wikipedia page for Shirley Walker ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you listened 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 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, March 23, 2017

A Gift From Bob by James Bowen

A Gift From Bob
by James Bowen [Biography Bowen] 

I’ve really enjoyed the first two man-and-cat autobiographies written by British author James Bowen, in which he shared how the love a orange tabby cat raised him from his struggles out of drug addiction on the streets of London to becoming a minor international celebrity. In this volume, Bowen reflects back on one of the last Christmas seasons he and Bob shared when they were still struggling to make ends meet, before their literary fame occurred. // Bowen’s writing style is very fluid and conversation — it’s like sitting with a friend and hearing them talk. His gratitude at how their lives have turned out (even before the fame) is tangible, and you feel like you really get to know not only James and Bob, but the people around them. This isn’t a long or complicated read, but if you’ve enjoyed the earlier books, you’ll enjoy this one just as much. If you haven’t met James and Bob the Streetcat, this is a good introduction to them, and you’ll want to follow up with the two earlier volumes as well.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life and The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Streetwise Cat, both also by James Bowen]

[ official James Bowen & Streetcat Bob Facebook site ] | [ British publisher’s official James Bowen web page ]

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, March 22, 2017

Mind Your Manors by Lucy Lethbridge


This delightful book covers all aspects of cleaning Great Houses or Manors in Victorian England. As a fan of the television series Downton Abbey, I kept imagining the various characters of the show (such as Mrs. Hughes) teaching these techniques to newly hired staff. Not only is this book historically accurate in the methods used to clean every part of the home and the clothes of its residents, the book is also humorous as well. Recipes are provided for various cleaning solutions that are easily created without lots of nasty chemicals. I highly recommend this book even if you are not planning to work as an Under-Butler or Kitchen Maid in the near future.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the materials on our If You Like…Downton Abbey booklist!]

[ publisher’s official Mind Your Manors web site ] | [ official Lucy Lethbridge Twitter feed ]
 
Recommended by Kim J.
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!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown! (on DVD)

Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown! (and Don’t Come Back!)
[j DVD Bon]

I had this movie on tape when I was a kid, so when I saw the library had it on DVD, I had to check it out. There are some movies I enjoyed as a kid and watching them as an adult is just not the same. This one though, was just as good as I remember it being. Charlie Brown, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie all go to France as exchange students; Snoopy and Woodstock tag along. The girls stay at one house and the boys and Snoopy stay at a chateau. It’s dark and stormy as they arrive at the Chateau after dropping off the girls, and no one is home. Snoopy acts as guard dog, but eventually heads for the pub for a night of root beer and jukebox tunes. It’s mystery and comedy as they try to figure out who and where the chateau owners are. It’s Peanuts, so it’s suitable and enjoyable for all ages.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Boy Named Charlie Brown, also on DVD.]
 
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you watched 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 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, March 19, 2017

New Booktalk Booklist: Irish Authors - 2017

On March 13th, 2017 and again on March 17th, 2017, Jodi R. from the Gere Branch Library presented a booktalk featuring some of her favorite Irish Authors, to the Gere Branch BooksTalk group and the Bethany Branch BooksTalk group.

The booklist from her booktalk is now available online via the libraries' BookGuide readers advisory resources, on the BookTalk Booklists archive page. You can click that link to see all past BookTalk Booklists, or you can click on the following link to jump straight to this new entry.

Irish Authors - 2017 (March 13th 2017, Gere Branch BooksTalk & March 17th 2017, Bethany Branch BooksTalk)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

New Booktalk Booklist: Recent Reads by Mindy

On January 30th, 2017, Mindy P. from the Gere Branch Library presented a booktalk featuring some of her favorite recent reads, to the Gere Branch BooksTalk group.

The booklist from her booktalk is now available online via the libraries' BookGuide readers advisory resources, on the BookTalk Booklists archive page. You can click that link to see all past BookTalk Booklists, or you can click on the following link to jump straight to this new entry, which is a printable PDF.

Recent Reads by Mindy (January 30th, 2017)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (audiobook-on-cd)

Shockaholic
by Carrie Fisher [Compact Disc Biography Fisher] 

As with “Wishful Drinking” by Fisher, I opted to listen to the audiobook, since she reads it herself. I think Carrie Fisher was absolutely brilliant, and this book is further proof of that. It’s amazing to me, only two months after her death, that this book was published in 2011…. if only because she mentions her upcoming death at least twice in this book. It was a bit eerie.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this book. Carrie Fisher was a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is woman who sounds like she took no crap from anyone, except herself, of course. She was a tortured soul, but it seemed like she was really coming to terms with things and getting her life in order. This was, of course, before the 7th episode of the Star Wars saga…

What I appreciated most, perhaps, about this book was the talking she did of other famous people that she knew–specifically, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and her father (Eddie Fisher), among others.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes, or But Enough About Me: A Memoir, by Burt Reynolds, all read by their authors as audiobooks.]

[ official CarrieFisher.com web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you listened to (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 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, March 14, 2017

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

Snow White: A Graphic Novel
by Matt Phelan [j Phelan] 

The stark simplicity of this book’s cover caught my eye on the library’s new books display, with a typeface that screamed “1930s”. This book is a re-imagining of the classic Snow White fairy tale, told in a setting of 1930s Depression era New York City. The “evil Queen” is Snow’s stepmother, a vain performer who has become the “Queen of Broadway”, the “magic mirror” is a stock-market ticker-tape machine that spits out messages. And the Seven Dwarfs are seven street ruffians who rescue snow from muggers and take an immediate liking to her. // The artwork is fairly stark — black and white with only a few splashes of significant color added for effect. In some scenes, the artist manages an almost dream-like quality. I’ll have to admit, not ALL of the art appealed to me, so I’ll drop my rating of this from what would have been a 9 to an 8. Otherwise, a very imaginative read. I recommend this for anyone who is a fan of this classic storyline…you may enjoy this twist!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the TV series Once Upon a Time, which similarly takes well-known fairy tales and spins them in new directions]

[ official Matt Phelan web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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 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, March 13, 2017

Masterminds on DVD

Masterminds
[DVD Masterminds] 

This is a comedy based on the true story of the Loomis Fargo robbery in October of 1997. David Ghantt – a guard at an armored car company – falls in love with former coworker Kelly Campbell. Campbell pretends to love him back and convinces him to steal the money he transports daily, around 17 million dollars. Campbell is following the orders of Steve Chambers and convinces Ghantt to leave the money with them and that she will meet him in Mexico soon. Chambers sets him up to take the fall, sending a hitman to kill him while he lives the rich life. Now Ghantt must evade both the police and the hitman while attempting to get his life back in order.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Keeping Up With the Joneses] [Also available in traditional print format.]

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

Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched 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 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, March 12, 2017

New Booktalk Booklist: Mixed Theme Booktalk

On January 23rd, 2017, Tracy T. from the Bennett Martin Public Library presented a booktalk featuring a wide variety of materials, to the Gere Branch BooksTalk group.

The booklist from her booktalk is now available online via the libraries' BookGuide readers advisory resources, on the BookTalk Booklists archive page. You can click that link to see all past BookTalk Booklists, or you can click on the following link to jump straight to this new entry, which is a printable PDF.

Mixed Theme Booktalk (January 23, 2017)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

New Booktalk Booklist: Best of Non-Fiction Book Tasting

On February 17th, 2017, Brenda E. and Pat S. from the Gere Branch Library presented a booktalk on the theme of new non-fiction titles, to the Gere Branch BooksTalk group.

The booklist from their booktalk is now available online via the libraries' BookGuide readers advisory resources, on the BookTalk Booklists archive page. You can click that link to see all past BookTalk Booklists, or you can click on the following link to jump straight to this new entry, which is a printable PDF.

Best of Non-Fiction Book Tasting (February 2017)

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Clocks by Agatha Christie

The Clocks
by Agatha Christie

While this novel was an engaging mystery, I was disappointed that Poirot was absent for most of the story. He does play a part in solving the case, but he does not visit the scene or interview witnesses. His friend who approaches him with the case brings him all the data he needs and solves it by sitting in his armchair. It was kind of like The Hound of the Baskervilles in that respect, in which Watson is sent out to investigate while Holmes stays at home just coming in at the end. It was still a good book and I still would recommend it to mystery fans, but just didn’t feel like a Poirot novel. Here is the basic plot: a man is found dead in a home of a blind woman with more clocks than usual in the room. Not only do they need to find the killer, they also don’t know who the victim is or how he came to be there – the secret lies in the past.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Five Little Pigs, by Agatha Christie, or The Valley of Fear, also by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.]

[ official The Clocks page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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 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, March 9, 2017

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman


Poignant and bittersweet with moments of happiness and fun, this novella by acclaimed Swedish author Backman [“A Man Called Ove”] imagines what it must be like inside a mind that is being destroyed by dementia and depicts how such a person’s family-cum-caregivers provide for and accompany him or her on the long good-bye. The tale focuses on 3 main relationships revolving around the central character, an unnamed man: Grandpa and Noah (“NoahNoah”); Dad and Ted; and “darling you” and “my love” (a.k.a. Grandma). Noah loves math and space and being silly and adventuring, just like his Grandpa, so their times together become all the more precious in memory. Dad and Ted have always had a slightly uncomfortable bond but love each other nonetheless. Man and Wife have loved each other fiercely and happily and forever since they first met. This tale, which the author notes was not originally intended for publication, may be slightly confusing at first until you figure out the alternating perspectives and events. Even though it is a short book, it pays to re-read small segments as you go, to absorb and savor the layers of emotion and meaning, and the beautifully crafted writing/translation. And then read it again a few more times. Those who have gone through a loved one’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease or a comparable condition will recognize and sympathize with many elements of the story, and those who have yet to endure such a challenging journey may become better prepared to make it..

[ official And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer page on the publisher’s official Fredrik Backman web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt 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!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hamilton: An American Musical - The Original Broadway Cast Recording

Hamilton: An American Musical – The Original Broadway Cast Recording
by Lin-Manuel Miranda [Compact Disc 782.14 Ham] 
 A hip-hop musical about one of America’s founding father? Didn’t sound like something I would necessarily enjoy, since hip-hop is not one of my favorite music categories. But, because Hamilton: An American Musical became an international sensation in 2015 and 2016, I decided to give it a shot. And I am so glad that I did. This is one of the most compelling and engaging musicals I’ve ever listened to!

Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Heights on Broadway, and the soundtrack of the recent Disney animated film Moana), studied the true life story of Alexander Hamilton and found that he could identify with Hamilton’s personality and struggle. Years of writing and sharing with fellow musicians ultimately led to this musical, which on Broadway has been color-blind in its casting, putting actors and actresses from different cultural and racial backgrounds into roles based on what would have exclusively been caucasian figures in American history — Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Burr, etc. This level of creative diversity in and of itself is impressive, but what is most impressive is how the political, military and economic struggles of America’s earliest days are brought to vibrant life with Miranda’s pulsing and driving music.

I challenge anyone with an open and willing mind to not be moved by such Hamilton songs as “My Shot”, “The Story of Tonight”, “Wait For It”, “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”, “Dear Theodosia”, “The Room Where it Happens”. I’ll even have to admit, when I listen to the show closing number “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”, I get a bit weepy. These songs are filled with powerful lyrics, told in creative and unexpected ways.

Though the original Broadway cast of Hamilton has now moved on to other projects, PBS’s Great Performances on TV showed a behind-the-scenes “making of” special about Hamilton, which features snippets of the show. You can still view much of that special on the PBS website. And, hopefully, touring companies of the show will ultimately take it on the road to either Omaha or Lincoln. In the meantime, don’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy the music behind this 2016 Tony Award Winning Best Musical.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda (the libretto) [782.14 Mir], Hamilton: The History Behind the Revolutionary Musical, by Kristine Dawson [782.14 Daw] or Hamilton: An American Musical – Vocal Selections, by Lin-Manuel Miranda [782.141 Mir]]
 
[ official site of the Broadway musical Hamilton ] | [ official Lin-Manuel Miranda 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!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Singin' in the Rain (on DVD)

Singin’ in the Rain
DVD Singin] 

In 2017, the classic movie musical Singin’ in the Rain is enjoying the 65th anniversary of its 1952 release. This two-disc DVD set was released to commemorate the film’s 60th anniversary in 2012 — and was also available as part of a much more elaborate boxed set (with Blu Ray and various other goodies). Considering its legendary status — Singin’ in the Rain shows up in the Top 10 or Top 14 on most fans’ and critics’ All-Time Best Movies lists — I would be surprised if anyone is NOT familiar with the plot. But for those who haven’t seen it, the film is set during the period when the movie industry was switching from Silents to Talkies. Gene Kelly is Don Lockwood, a heart-throb of the silent movies, partnered with squeaky-voiced Lena Lamont (played by Jean Hagen), who will obviously not make it in Talkies as easily as she did in the Silents. To salvage their failed attempt to make a Talkie, Don and his musical partner, Cosmo Brown, along with young up-and-coming actress Kathy Selden, hatch a scheme to turn that film into a song-and-dance musical, with Kathy’s voice substituted for the high-pitched Lena. Fillled with unforgettable music, from “Make ‘Em Laugh”, “Good Morning”, “Moses Supposes”, “You Were Meant For Me” and “Singin’ in the Rain” (among others), all by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown had all appeared in other musical films, but are packaged perfectly here, tied together by a plot by screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green. But it is the perfect cast — Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor as Cosmo, and Debbie Reynolds as Kathy — that elevate this to his place of cinema perfection. This two-disc anniversary set includes an entire disc of “special features”. These include: “Musicals Great Musicals” (a documentary about Arthur Freed, “What a Glorious Feeling” (a documentary about the making of Singin’ in the Rain, film clips of the prior uses of Singin’s songs in earlier films, audio song excerpts (including unused tracks), and more. This movie cannot be recommended more highly!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try pretty much any other Arthur Freed musical, or Gene Kelly song-and-dance musical, including “An American in Paris”.)

(Also available is Singin’ in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece by Earl Hess.)
( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )

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!

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The Wyrd Sisters
by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series is fairly lengthy with over forty titles. The series can be broken down into smaller groups based on who the main character(s) is (are) and where in the Disc World it’s set. This book is part one of the witches sub-series. There are two older witches and a younger trainee witch and in this novel, they place a baby prince with a couple who agree to raise him as their own. For their own safety, and the prince’s, they don’t tell the new parents the baby’s true identity nor that his father had been murdered. Over time the dead king, who is now a ghost, and the witches bring the truth to light about the murder and the real identity of the prince. There is also a love story involving the king’s fool and the trainee witch. I’d say there are a lot of goings on throughout the story, which is not separated by chapters or even much of a break in the page. It’s very continuous in that way so at times I got a bit confused when the scene had changed abruptly without much visual break on the page, but I would not say it’s a negative, it’s just different. I did enjoy this book as it’s full of humorous dialog and funny situations. The plot itself is really funny, especially at the very end with the big identity twists. I’d read one other Pratchett before (Small Gods) and was not too eager to try him again, but I got talked into it and I don’t regret it. If you are looking for something funny and kind of off the wall with witches, ghosts, Death personified, and a training school for assassins, maybe this is your book.

Other books in the Witches’ series are Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum. I have not yet read these but have been told that they are best read in order, starting with Wyrd Sisters. They do appear in Equal Rights, Wee Freemen, and Hat Full of Sky, but the Terry Pratchett fan I know (whose read the whole Disc World series) suggested I skip out on these (the later two are written for teens).

( official Terry Pratchett Books 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!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hardcore Henry (on DVD)

Hardcore Henry [DVD Hardcore] 

I had heard the buzz about this movie when it came out in the theaters, back in 2015, but missed seeing it at the time. So I was glad to see it come out on DVD! I’m glad to have seen it now, but I’ll be the first to admit that Hardcore Henry is not going to be for everyone…in fact, it is probably only for a niche group of viewers.

Hardcore Henry is an extremely violent action/thriller film with some strong science fiction elements thrown in. It is told/shown from the visual point-of-view of the main character — Henry — with Henry’s eyes providing our camera angle. In other words, we (almost) never actually see what Henry himself looks like. The film opens with Henry on an operating table, having artificial limbs (with superhuman strength) attached to one arm and one leg. Henry doesn’t know who he is or where he is, and his throat has been damaged so he cannot speak. Henry is almost immediately thrown into a state of chaos and disorder, when the medical lab he is in is attacked by military types, and he and the doctor escape in an escape pod, from what turns out to be a top secret facility high in the atmosphere.

Reaching the ground, Henry finds himself constantly on the run, pursued by violent military groups, and starts to piece together his own story — he appears to be a highly trained killer. He keeps running into different versions of the same man (played by Sharlto Copley), and receives mysterious instructions to get to a particular place to receive more answers to who he is and what is purpose is. To tell anything more about the plot would be to spoil several surprises.

What I can say is that this movie is visually compelling. Hardcore Henry is literally told like many modern day combat video games — in First Person Shooter style. The action is bloody, EXTREMELY violent, and non-stop. If you like FPS games, you’ll probably love this film. For fans of experimental movie-telling, this will hold appeal. If, however, you’re in the slightly bit sensitive to violence, avoid this one like the plague.
Intriguing, and recommended with considerable reservations!

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Hardcore Henry web site )
 
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched 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 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!