Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe

A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression
by Jane Ziegelman & Andrew Coe [973.917 Zie]

Did you know: Bread lines existed in New York City long before the Depression; Spanish Rice doesn’t really have anything to do with Spain; Home Extension Agents in Iowa were all women prior to 1930; Spring Fever is an actual physical malady; “mystery” loaves made from assorted leftovers were a common food and budget stretcher long before the 1950s; Milkwheato, Milkoato and Milkorno were actual cereal products, first introduced in 1933?

Writing partners and spouses Coe and Ziegelman have served up an informative plateful of US food history with this look at the specific period of the 1930s and early 1940s and assorted points before and after. Sifting through what must have been a mountain of materials, they have come up with a readable dissection of the changing of American eating habits over time and what factors influenced it. Plus, there are a lot of culinary trivia tidbits thrown in.

Relief/Subsistence programs, whether local, state or national, were predicated on the assumption that they would meet _temporary_ needs. Due to the combination of bad weather, a stricken economy, and poor administration and/or structure of some programs in the between-the-wars era, these needs went on for years. People receiving food assistance had to deal with the stigma of dependency — embarrassment, restrictions that seemed arbitrary or severe, and the “depressing routine of organized charity”. At the same time, Home Economics, most of whose practitioners were women, came to the fore and was a boon to many of the challenges that so many people, especially housewives, were facing.

The authors, unavoidably, also touch on the politics of the times, from President Hoover’s penchant for having gourmet meals in the White House while hewing to a charity-begins-at-home conservatism in public, to Gen. MacArthur’s [yes, THAT Gen. MacArthur] forcible removal of the “Bonus Army” encampment of World War I veterans who had journeyed to Washington DC to request better aid. Interspersed throughout the narrative are song lyrics apropos to the times and situations detailed.
Over all, this is an educational and eye-opening examination of a pivotal period in our nation’s food and nutrition history as well as our general socio-economic-political past. “Eleven-cent cotton and forty-cent meat, How in the world can a poor man eat?”

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The National Cookbook by Sheila Hibben (1932) — link connects to a digitized version of this classic cookbook online, and America Eats! : On the Road with the WPA : The Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts That Define Real American Food (not currently in LCL — try our InterLibrary Loan service!)]

[ official A Square Meal web site ] | [ publisher’s official Jane Ziegelman 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, November 22, 2017

The New Camp Cookbook by Linda Ly

The New Camp Cookbook: Gourmet Grub for Campers, Road Trippers and Adventurers
by Linda Ly (photography by Will Taylor) [641.578 Ly] 


Every wonder what would happen if you turned a gourmet chef loose at a weekend campground? The New Camp Cookbook is one possible result.

Linda Ly offers up 90 delicious sounding recipes that are supposedly capable of being cooked while out in the wilderness (with caveats), while photographer Will Taylor accompanies over half of Ly’s recipes with absolutely gorgeous images of the finished dishes. Ly first provides an extensive introduction identifying the cooking equipment necessary for her recipes — 12″ skillet, 2 quart saucepan, 4 quart stockpot, 6 quart Dutch Oven, metal skewers and a roll of aluminum foil. She also identifies the pantry items (beyond the specific main ingredients) needed to fully realize her dishes — spices, sweeteners, aromatics, condiments, canned goods, quick-cooking sides, and beverages. Her recommendations for items that can be used as “flavor bombs” include citrus zest, compound butters, strong cheeses and nuts. She then goes into how to start and maintain a fire for an open grill, how to best cook packages wrapped in foil, how to cook in a Dutch Oven, and how to cook with a camp stove (like a Coleman stove).

Finally, on page 40, the recipes start, and she breaks them into types of meals — Rise and Shine (breakfasts), Midday Meals, Small Bites (afternoon snacks), Camp Feasts (dinner), and Sips & Sweets (beverages and desserts). Recipes range from incredibly simple — for instance “Grilled Guacamole”, where the avocado and onions are char-grilled before being diced and combined with seasonings for a traditional smoky guac — to moderately complex — “Grilled French Toast and Bacon Bites” (on skewers) — to quite complex — “Korean Flank Steak with Sriracha-Picked Cucumbers”. While the concept of this book is “cooking in wild wide-open spaces”, I can’t see many of these recipes working in a truly rustic environment, say someplace you have to hike to get to, or “pack in” your gear. However, at the beach, or a campsite, where you can have your car parked nearby, in which you hauled all the cooking supplies, these would be great! Or cooking out with your grill in your own backyard — some of these recipes would be marvelous!

I’d love to have a camp-out cook-out day filled with the following scrumptious recipes from this book: “Peanut Butter-Stuffed French Toast with Honeyed Blackberries” and a side of “Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pancetta Hash” for breakfast; “Foil-Pack Salmon with Pineapple Salsa” for lunch; an afternoon snack of “Grilled Guacamole” or possibly “Peak-of-Summer Peach Caprese Salad”; an evening meal of either “Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil, Tomatoes and Orzo” or “Dutch Over Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs”, with a “Summer Ale Sangria with Ginger and Peach”. And to finish off a day at the lake, or a casual evening after hiking, either gourmet S’Mores, or “Applelicious Dutch Baby“. Even if you don’t anticipate tying on a chef’s apron on your next visit to a camping site at one of our marvelous State Parks or Recreation Areas, you may still find some recipes here that strike your fancy!

[ Lynda Ly’s official Garden Betty web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman (downloadable audiobook)

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman
by Lindy West [Downloadable Audio] 

This book looks like it could be the opposite of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts… but it’s not! Since I loved Cain’s audiobook, I thought my best place to start Shrill would be with the chapter titled How to Stop Being Shy in Eighteen Easy Steps. That worked out well for me, as I ended up listening to all of Shrill and finding out, thankfully, that the ideas presented in these two titles are not mutually exclusive. Lindy West does a nice job of bringing to light some feminist issues that haven’t been talked about frequently enough, such as body image, class and color privilege, and the humans behind those nasty troll comments on the internet. Her writing is humorous throughout, and I am glad I got to learn from her perspective as a fat activist.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson, Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby or Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, by Jess Baker.]

[ official Lindy West web site ]

Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley and Williams Branch Libraries

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (on DVD)

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas
[DVD Signed]

We enjoyed the Signed, Sealed, Delivered made-for-TV movie and TV series so much, and have seen all of the related movies since. My husband delivered mail in Lincoln during college at UNL, and later returned as a mail handler for the USPS. These stories are full of good fun and humor, with a little bit of mystery and light romance included. I’m pretty sure I would not get bored watching one of these movies every day, if I had the time!.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish enjoy the other TV-movies in this series: From Paris With Love, One in a Million or From the Heart. The pilot and 10-episode series preceded this volume.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Signed, Sealed, Delivered: For Christmas web site ]

Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: The Man Booker Prize Nominees 2017

On October 23rd, 2017, at the Gere BooksTalks, and on October 27th at the Bethany BooksTalk group, Jodi R. presented a talk featuring the finalists on the "short list" for the 2017 Man Booker Prize (and the Man Booker International Prize).

You can see here list of Man Booker Prize nominees at the following booklist link:

The Man Booker Prize Nominees -- a Booktalk

Saturday, November 18, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: History...of a Sort!

On October 2nd, 2017, Scott Childers, Executive Director of the Southeast Library System, was the guest presenter at the Bethany BooksTalk group.

He presented a talk about a dozen books -- a mixture of both fiction and non-fiction -- all with a theme of "history" in one way or another.

You can see his list of recommended reading suggestions at the following booklist link:

History...of a Sort!

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner

The Big Bad Fox
by Benjamin Renner [jPB Renner] 


I was looking for a quick, lively “graphic novel” read, and saw this book on one of the youth displays — the art was distinctive and engaging, so I gave it a shot. And I really enjoyed it!

Author/Artist/Animator Benjamin Renner originally created this comical tale for publication in French in 2015, and it was recently translated into English. He also released an animated film version of the same story in 2017 (in French). The plot, in a nutshell — a downtrodden but persistent Fox is not considered a threat by the denizens of a farmyard, who greet his daily attempts to pillage their territory by welcoming him and inquiring about his health. The guard dog is disdainful of Fox, the chickens have no fear of him, and the other barnyard animals consider him, if not a “friend”, at most merely a daily nuisance. So, failing to capture any “prey” each day, he subsists on a vegetarian diet.
The local Wolf, on the other hand, decides to whip the Fox into shape, and sends him on an errand to steal the hen’s eggs. The Fox does this, but when the eggs hatch, the chicks immediately bond with the (male) Fox as a surrogate mother. Fox and Wolf agree to let the chicks plump up a bit before eating them, but as time passes, and despite his better judgement, the Fox starts to bond with his “adoptive children”. Fun ensues as Fox tries to hide this betrayal from Wolf, and also tries to conceal his adopted children from the barnyard sleuths (a comical and inept pig and duck) who are trying to track them down. When Fox (in a bad disguise as a Hen) and the chicks move to the barnyard, the real fun begins. I absolutely loved this graphic novel…it is filled with great sight gags and goofy humor alike, and the poor Fox becomes a terrific anti-hero that you root for. The bits where he bonds with the three chicks, especially when they beg him to tell them how ferocious the horrible “Fox” monster is, are hilarious! And the messages about parenting, co-parenting and adoptive parenting are inspiring!

[ official Internet Movie Database page for The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales ] | [ publisher’s official The Big Bad Fox book web page ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bagpipe Hero (downloadable music from Hoopla)

Bagpipe Hero
by The Red Hot Chilli Pipers [Hoopla Music] 

This is a rather interesting mix of songs, all preformed on the bagpipes. Scottish classics like Caledonia, Loch Lomond, Flower of Scotland and Highland Cathedral are included alongside pop/rock/alternative songs like Long Way to the Top, Chasing Cars and We Will Rock You. Again these are all played on the bagpipes and it was a little strange hearing some of these songs played that way, but it was fun and upbeat and I would definitely listen to it again. If you enjoy bagpipe music like I do, but feel you’ve listened to the same Scottish songs over and over, this is perfect and refreshing. It may also be appealing if you’ve never listened to the bagpipes and want to try it with some songs that are more recognizable to you than classic Scottish ones.

This album is available on Hoopla to download or stream, either via the app or their website hoopladigital.com.

[If you enjoy this, there are other albums by this band available on Hoopla.] [ official Red Hot Chilli Pipers web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Phasma by Delilah Dawson

Phasma
by Delilah Dawson

Phasma is a novel that gives us a glimpse behind the chrome armor of the First Order’s most iconic stormtrooper. Told in the bowels of a First Order Star Destroyer, a dedicated First Order officer interrogates a Resistance spy to learn the secrets necessary to bring down his rival: Captain Phasma. This “friend of a friend” narrative is interesting. But, the novel could have benefited from a third-person narrative that would provide more insight into the characters. The story does bog down a bit in the middle. But, overall the story is well-written and enjoyable. Vi Mondi, the Resistance spy, and Cardinal, the First Order officer, are pretty standard characters, but still fun and interesting. Overall, the presentation may be a bit flawed, but the story of Phasma’s origins are cool to learn about. I consider this a worthwhile read for any Star Wars fan.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Force Awakens, by Alan Dean Foster, Bloodline, by Claudia Gray, Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig, Aftermath: Life Debt, by Chuck Wendig or Aftermath: Empire’s End, also by Chuck Wendig]
 
[ Wikipedia Star Wars Books page ] | [ official Delilah Dawson web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of North America by Bland Crowder


The first thing that grabbed my attention about this small, pocket-size, guide was the beautiful photo of the trunk of a majestic Sequoia on the cover. That was enough to make me browse this handy, helpful little tree guide. 95% of this book is dedicated to specific breeds or varieties of trees. The remaining 5% covers general tree-growing information, including charts showing growing zones throughout the U.S. and Canada.

But it is the tree identification pages that are the most fun to page through. Each tree gets a single page in the book, with one large photo of a sample of the tree, fully leafed out. At the top of each page is the tree’s scientific name and its common average height. Accompanying the photo in the middle of each page is a list of “Key Facts”, including info about the tree’s general appearance, the leaves, the flowers/fruits and the growing range (i.e. where in the country you’ll find this variety). The bottom half of the page features a more detailed description of the nature of the tree — things about its appearance, growing pattern, root system, etc., accompanied by artists’ renderings of samples of the leaves, seeds/nuts and/or blooms.

Admittedly, the small size of this volume means that there are not detailed full-length articles about each type of tree, but the libraries have plenty of other books that go into more detail. If you’re looking for a simple, portable guide, perhaps to take while on a leisure hike on a wilderness trail, this will help you identify the trees you encounter, with helpful clear illustrations.

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, November 13, 2017

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede


This is the story of the 38 aircraft, and over 6000 passengers, that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland and the surrounding towns in Canada when airspace over the US was closed on 9/11. After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and the downing of the airplane in Pennsylvania, hundreds of international flights suddenly had to find somewhere else to land. Those that hadn’t hit the halfway point merely turned back to their point of origin, but the remainder had to continue on to elsewhere, somewhere, anywhere.

The Canadian Air Transport Control quickly organized and diverted over 230 aircraft to 17 Canadian airports. In a nerve-wracking, but exciting read, we learn civilian and wide-body passenger airplanes were entering Canadian airspace at the rate of 1-2 planes per minute. Pilots were advised of the crowding over airspace and to pay attention to their proximity alerts and keep a visual eye out.
Canadian authorities dubbed this “Operation Yellow Ribbon.” Once planes were on the ground, they had to screen passengers, provide transportation to shelter, make food and medications available, and maintain security in the event other terrorists were still hidden on incoming flights.

Over 6000 passengers doubled the population of the Gander area. The book followed several passengers and “Newfies” (those living in Newfoundland) as they dealt with the horrendous events of 9/11 and the logistics of caring for so many visitors. One family had a son in the fire department that serviced the Twin Towers and they were awaiting word on his whereabouts. Two families were returning with adopted children. A few Orthodox Jews required kosher food. Several families didn’t speak English. Animals were in the cargo bays and needed tending. Yet the locals opened their homes and did everything they could to assist.

I discovered this book, in early October, in a manner like I do so many others – someone returned it to the library for check-in and it caught my eye. I had read several anecdotes on this topic that were posted on Facebook and was pleased to learn a book had been written, and that the stories were true (a scholarship fund really has been setup for the area students). This is a heartwarming, poignant, at times sad, other times humorous tale of strangers helping strangers.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Last Man Down: A Firefighter’s Story of Survival and Escape From the World Trade Center, by Richard Picciotto [973.931 Pic].]
[ official The Day the World Came to Town web site ] | [ official Jim Defede Twitter feed ]
 
Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

What the Cat Saw (audiobook) by Carolyn Hart

What the Cat Saw
by Carolyn Hart [Compact Disc Hart] 

I’ve been a follower of Carolyn Hart’s mystery novels for many years. Initially, I fell in love with the Death on Demand mystery bookstore series. Then her novels featuring senior sleuth Henrie O. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed the audiobook adaptations of her Bailey Ruth Raeburn series, featuring a passed-on spirit who returns to her Oklahoma hometown at various times to prevent innocents from being unfairly convicted in murder cases. That audiobook series features a perfect audiobook narrator — but I was caught up with that entire series, and looking for anything else by Carolyn Hart I could enjoy on CD. So, I was pleased to discover this first volume in an all-new series by Hart — What the Cat Saw, available in both book and book-on-CD formats (narrated by Kathleen Early)!

When Nela Farley agrees to substitute for her sister Chloe in Chloe’s job at a charitable foundation, so that Chloe can take an unexpected trip, Nela doesn’t have any idea what she’s gotten into. Nela will be staying in the home of a recently deceased executive of the Haklo Foundation, in order to cat-sit the late woman’s pet, Jugs. But when Nela gazes into the eyes of Jugs — she gets a disjointed mental message (the thoughts of the cat!) that she first ignores, but then begins to believe…leading her to suspect that the woman’s accidental death was actually anything but accidental.

This is a competent and engaging mystery, with some really well-drawn characters, particularly Nela and Steve Flynn, the investigative reporter with whom she both clashes and cooperates with. Both of them are wounded characters — Nela is still recovering from the death of her military fiance, and Steve is distrustful of women after being burned by his ex-wife. I really liked the slight touch of the paranormal, with Nela’s ability to have brief but confusing psychic connections with the cat, a gimmick which I don’t think was over-used. If you like traditional amateur detective mysteries, with a bit of an “unexplained phenomena” twist, give this one a try, particularly as an audiobook.

[ official What the Cat Saw page on the official Carolyn Hart 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!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fire and Ice (via Hoopla Video)

Fire and Ice
by Randy Norton, Ralph Bakshi, Frank Frazetta [Hoopla Movie]

While I was having a discussion about animation styles and methods with someone, they gave this movie as an example of rotoscoping and showed me the first few minutes so I could see what they were talking about. This method of animation is when they film live people acting out the film then use that to create the animation. The result is very real looking human movements and features. It was odd at first because animation does not usually look real at all, even for things like people and animals that are real, so at first it looks kind of awkward, but got less so the more I watched. I didn’t feel like turning it off after the first 10 minutes, which was the intent, and ended up watching the whole thing. The plot is there that is a king with a son and a daughter in the kingdom of fire, and an evil ruler and his mother in the kingdom of ice. Hence the title – Fire and Ice.

The kingdom of ice is on a glacier and is invading lands here there and everywhere. They reach the kingdom of fire and ask the king to surrender; when he says no, the ice minions kidnap the princess. She’s not exactly a damsel in distress however because she escapes her captors and in the process meets two other people set on bringing down the ice kingdom. One, a solider who’s band of brothers were killed in battle against the ice kingdom and the other a mysterious Batman / Conan type character with his own reasons, which are more implied than laid out for us (even after the whole movie is over it’s unclear, but hinted at). It’s set in a fantasy world, if that was not yet obvious, so in addition to the humans there are various beasts and winged dinosaur looking creatures they get to ride on. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone and it’s not a kid’s movie either. Most of the characters don’t don much in the way of clothes, there is blood, murder and battle; this makes it sound like Game of Thrones (Song of Fire and Ice), but they are not related. This predates even the Game of Thrones books from 1996, as this movie came out in 1983. At any rate, if you want to see it, you’ll need to do so on Hoopla, either streaming it or downloading it on PC or mobile device.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Fire & Ice page on Ralph Bakshi’s web site ]
 
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Friday, November 10, 2017

100 Photographs by Time Inc.

100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time Time Inc. Books, edited by Ben Goldberger and Geoff Dyer [779.1 One] 

Gandhi at his spinning wheel, Betty Grable’s legs, Che Guevara, the Hindenburg explosion, Neil Armstrong standing on the moon — these iconic photographs are collected in this companion book to the online project of the same name by TIME magazine. A panel of photo editors and historians selected a hundred photo images that encapsulate a person, an event, or a representation of time/place that are indelible in common consciousness. Some of the pictures are exceedingly well known, and a number are more obscure but still important. From the oldest extant photographic print, of rooftops in a French village, to the first cell-phone snapshot — of a newborn baby, of course! — or from Matthew Brady’s studio portrait of Senator Abe Lincoln to Nebraska native Harold Edgerton’s stop-motion milk drop, these are images that did and will resonate with the clarity, urgency, and permanence that photographs can contain. In a way, the book is as depressing as it is inspiring, due to the sheer number of war and atrocity inclusions, but from a documentarian’s perspective, it makes sense to include most of them. The book does not contain an index but, since each photo is accompanied by background information and ways in which it affected the course of history or culture, it is well worth poring over.

[ official 100 Photos web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Celtic Garden by David Arkenstone

Celtic Garden: A Celtic Tribute to the Music of Sarah Brightman, Enya, Celtic Woman, Secret Garden and More
by David Arkenstone [Hoopla Music]

Perfect music to study or read to, and well worth listening to over again. It’s all Celtic music as the title implies and contains some songs by Enya and some from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, which I quite enjoyed. There are instrumental and vocal tracks included. This would appeal to those looking for relaxing world music. I don’t have any negative feedback on this, other than I wish it were longer.

This album is available on Hoopla to download or stream, either via the app or their website hoopladigital.com.

[ official Celtic Garden on Allmusic.com ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie

The original 1974 film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s masterwork, Murder on the Orient Express, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and a cast of mid-1970s all-stars, is one of my all-time favorite films, and I’m looking forward to the new version, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh (and another cast of all-stars, this time from our contemporary film era) -- opening Friday, November 10th, here in Lincoln NE. In the process of adapting all the Poirot tales, David Suchet starred in a TV version of the story in 2010. And Alfred Molina starred in a 2001 TV-movie version, which modernized the tale.

But none of these would have existed if it weren’t for Christie’s original novel. When critics try to distill the best of Agatha Christie down into the 5 or 6 of her novels that come most highly regarded, there can be differing opinions. However, it is rare for Murder on the Orient Express not to appear on any “best of” list. This is one of the 33 Hercule Poirot novels, and finds the famed Belgian sleuth having completed a case elsewhere in the Middle East and needing to return to London as quickly as possible. He books passage on The Orient Express, a stylish railway car, expecting it to be nearly empty, as winter is not a busy tourist season. Instead, the train is booked solid, with individuals from around the world. When an obnoxious American entrepreneur, Ratchett, attempts to bully Poirot into taking a case — protecting Ratchett from a threatened attack — Poirot turns him down…“I do not like your face, M. Ratchett!”

But, overnight, as the train ends up stalled by a massive snowfall blocking the tracks, Ratchett is killed in his sleep, stabbed repeatedly and violently. The rail line’s executive on board appeals to Poirot to solve the murder before the train resumes travel and local authorities have to board it and take over the investigation, muddying the investigation and possibly bring bad press down on the railroad company. Poirot must use his “little grey cells” and interview a dozen suspects to try to figure out who had motive, and opportunity, to dispatch the despised Ratchett in such a brutal and violent manner. However, Poirot’s investigation isn’t into the physical evidence, but instead into the minds and psychology of his fellow rail travelers.

This is truly Dame Agatha at her very best, and perhaps one of Poirot’s two or three most memorable cases! Enjoy the film, in all its many incarnations, but I highly encourage you to return to the original source material to truly appreciate this classic mystery story!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The 1974 Film starring Finney, or David Suchet’s version from 2010.]
[ official Murder on the Orient Express page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]
 
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Essential John Carpenter Film Music Collection (on Hoopla)

The Essential John Carpenter Film Music Collection
by John Carpenter [Hoopla digital streaming service]

Film director John Carpenter is considered to be one of the modern masters of horror or dark suspense films. In addition to writing and directing most of his own works, Carpenter has also created the music for many of his films…though not all of them. This 18-track music collection features some of the signature themes from several of Carpenter’s best known film soundtracks, including: Escape From New York, Halloween, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween II, The Thing, Dark Star, They Live, Prince of Darkness and Village of the Damned. Of these, only two films have scores attributed solely to other artists — Starman (Jack Nitzsche), and The Thing (Ennio Morricone). On all others, Carpenter is the sole composer or a co-composer.

Carpenter’s soundtrack music is heavy on electronics, and emphasizes rock and roll. But, he can also craft a creepy track now and then. For me, one of the most memorable things about Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York and They Live is the highly atmospheric score and background songs. And Morricone’s score to The Thing is masterful as well, contributing to the claustrophobic and xenophobic tone of that incredibly frightening film. If you’re like me, and you like reliving your movie-going experience after the fact with soundtrack music, you’ll enjoy this collection of Carpenter tracks — initially a single-disc CD, but currently available from the libraries only as a downloadable resource from our Hoopla streaming service. It’s not quite as fun as listening to a full soundtrack to any of these films, but this is a fine sampler to put you in the mood for the full films or full soundtracks.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try viewing the various films attributed to John Carpenter as the writer/director.] [ official John Carpenter web site — including sound files ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you downloaded and/or 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!

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt

The Dynamite Room
by Jason Hewitt

One intersecting week in 1940 in the lives of Lydia Pendell, a 12-year-old British evacuee, and Lance Corporal Heiden, a German infiltrator, is fraught with danger, despair, and regrets but also holds a faint glimmer of hope for redemption, and belief in a happier life ahead. How will Lydia cope with this very calculating yet somehow vulnerable enemy spy being in her family’s home, wearing her father’s clothes? How will Heiden fulfill his mission and/or reclaim his soul after what he has seen and done and lost? Hewitt has penned a gripping tale of the Second World War — or any war — that is intricately constructed and morally complex, with moments of both horror and transcendence.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Summer of My German Soldier, movie, not in Lincoln City Libraries collection, Inglourious Basterds, directed by Quentin Tarantino, Paths of Glory, eBook, movie not in Lincoln City Libraries collection, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Eric Maria Remarque, or The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane.] [ official Dynamite Room page on the official Jason Hewitt 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!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Being Human (both US and UK) on DVD

Being Human
[DVD Being] 

There’s a long-standing tradition of American TV series that are based on popular British TV series, but there’s usually a gap of a few years before the Americanized version pops up on our screens — the US series Sanford and Son started in 1972, based on the UK’s Steptoe and Son in 1963. The US All in the Family started in 1971, based on the UK Till Death Do Us Part in 1965. Even the relatively recent US Life on Mars series (2008-2009), was at least a year behind the UK version (2006-2007).

Being Human was an unusual exception. The UK version of this paranormal drama ran from 2009 to 2013 (and aired on the BBC America cable network), while the US version at pretty much the same time (2011-2014) on the Syfy cable TV network. Both were fascinating in their own way, but despite a similar start, they also both charted their own separate courses. I enjoyed both series, which feature a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all rooming together — one set in London and the other in Boston — and helping each other out with the complications their respective afflications have on their lives, and trying to retain as much as possible of their original humanity. The casts for both series were terrific — in the U.S. version, Sam Witwer is Aidan the vampire, Sam Huntington (marvelous!) was Josh the werewolf, and Meaghan Rath was Sally the ghost. I think I actually liked the British cast better — Russell Tovey was George the werewolf, Lenora Crichlow was Annie the ghost, and for me, the standout was Aidan Turner as the vampire John. Turner has gone on to far greater fame as Ross Poldark in the newest version of the Poldark series on PBS. The British show lasted for 36 episodes in short, 6 to 8 episode series, while the American version ran for 52 episodes in 4 13-episode seasons.

The acting, writing, and production values were all top-notch. Both series are definite “modern” horror shows, and featured a lot of gruesome, blood-and-guts violence. But at the heart of each show, they were about friends trying to salvage their humanity in the face of overwhelming odds against them. I recommend them both, but would ultimately give the British version an “8” and the American version a “7”. As of the time of this review, the libraries have all seasons of both shows in our collection on DVD.

[NOTE: Another simultaneous-airing series recent occurred when Doctor Who actor David Tennant starred in the UK series Broadchurch in 2013, an Americanized version, Gracepoint in 2014, and returned for 2015 and 2017 seasons of Broadchurch back in the UK — all basically the same show, but with setting and character names changed.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for the British series ] | [ Internet Movie Database entry for the American series ]
 
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched either of these? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful? Do you have a preference between the US and UK versions of Being Human?

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, October 28, 2017

Check out Haunting Homicides on BookGuide


Looking for a good "Halloween" or "Fall Harvest"-themed murder mystery? Check out the Haunting Homicides booklist on the Lincoln City Libraries' BookGuide readers advisory website.

From Kathie Aaron's Behind Chocolate Bars to Valerie Wolzien's All Hallows Evil, you'll find several dozen reading suggestions in the category of "pumpkin spice slayings"!

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
by Christie Golden

Novel tie-in’s to video games tend to be a mixed bag. Fortunately Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden is a pleasant exception. “Inferno Squad” centers around Iden Versio, an ace Imperial pilot, a decorated officer and one of the few survivors of the Death Star’s destruction. Iden is recruited into Inferno Squad, a small group of Imperial elite tasked with countering the threat posed by the Empire’s enemies. Inferno Squad is tasked with infiltrating and eliminating the Dreamers, remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans and devoted to destroying the Empire by any and all means. “Inferno Squad” is a well-paced, character-driven story in which no one is completely heroic nor truly villainous. The ending is a bit abrupt and a touch clunky. It is also a touch frustrating that to find out the rest of Inferno Squad’s story will require purchasing and playing the video game (or at least waiting for Wookieepedia to summarize the plot and story). However, knowledge of other Star Wars books or video games is not required to enjoy “Inferno Squad.” Those who have seen “Rogue One” and “A New Hope” will have all the background needed to understand the novel’s context. Fans of the “Clone Wars” cartoon will get a bit more enjoyment from the book as it reference’s events that took place in the series. Overall, I would recommend this book to just about any Star Wars fan.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, by Alexander Freed, Rebel Rising, by Beth Revis, or Battlefront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed.]

[ official Battlefront II: Inferno Squad page on Wookiepedia ] | [ Christie Golden page on Wikipedia — her own website appears to be off-line ]
 
Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs and David Lawrence

Mercy Thompson: Homecoming
by Patricia Briggs, with art by David Lawrence

This is a graphic novel story that’s part of the larger prose novel series titled Mercy Thompson. Mercy Thompson is the main character of this super natural series and her special power is the ability to transform into a coyote. This does mean she’s a werewolf, there are plenty of those in this book, but there are also vampires and other fae. She is in her 20’s or 30’s and is interviewing for a teaching job in a new town but ends up flipping burgers and working in a mechanic’s shop for a while. In this new town her secret ability is discovered by the local werewolf pack, which is having a territory war with another pack, and Mercy becomes entangled in this plot. In the end the two alphas of the packs fight it out. It was a decent standalone story that was readable to me even though I knew nothing of the series at all before I read it. If you like werewolves and or vampire fiction, then this is for you. I think it’d also be fun to read in October for Halloween to get in the spooky mood, although it’s not really frightening. There is blood, violence and some partial nudity; when she transforms from coyote to human her clothes don’t just appear back on her like magic, same for the werewolves, so it’s not a comic for kids. If you really like this, you should try out the rest of the series (there are ten novels so far).

[ official Graphic Novels page on the official Patricia Briggs web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Kolchak the Night Stalker (TV series available on DVD through InterLibrary Loan)

Kolchak: The Night Stalker
[not currently in library collection — easily available through InterLibrary Loan] 

The 18-episode TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975) grew out of two TV movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973). All featured Darren McGavin as intrepid and annoying newspaper reporter Karl Kolchak. In 1972’s The Night Stalker, Kolchak follows a story that leads him to believe that a vampire is stalking the alleys of Las Vegas — although he uncovers the truth and helps the police to destroy the vampire, nobody wants the story told and he’s run out of town. In 1973’s The Night Strangler, Kolchak has landed in Seattle, where he follows a lead to uncover an ancient man preying on young women to extend his own life. Again, Kolchak helps destroy the creature but is run out of town.

In the 1974-75 series, Kolchak is now a stringer for a news service in Chicago. And he keeps stumbling across supernatural menaces — this time on a weekly basis. For the mid-1970s, the stories that this series told were pretty edgy — dealing with werewolves, voodoo zombies, mythological sewer creatures, Native American monsters, headless motorcyle riders, demonic politicians, a Rakshasha, aliens, killer robots, a succubus, a witch, a preshistoric reptile, and even Jack the Ripper. One episode was a direct sequel to the original 1972 TV-Movie, featuring a vampire created by the original vampire. As the series progressed, the stories got occasionally silly, but they still managed to provide for plenty of scares. The show was NOT played for laughs — it took itself very seriously, although there was comedy in the characters — Kolchak was an abrasive character who annoyed everyone around him, and who used humor to deflect hostility. Carl’s co-workers at the news service, including his editor Tony Vincenzo (played by the inimitable Simon Oakland), fellow reporter Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage), and the elderly crossword editor Emily Cowles (Ruth McDevitt) — were all comic characters, and Kolchak’s relationships with each providing laughs that balance out the horrors Carl attempts to report on.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker served as the inspiration for producer Chris Carter when he created The X-Files, 20 years later. In fact, he wanted to have Kolchak appear on the show, but Darren McGavin did not wish to reprise the role — McGavin did appear as retired FBI agent Arthur Dales (“the father of The X-Files”) in two episodes, during the 5th and 6th seasons of that series. A re-imagined version of Kolchak appeared as simply The Night Stalker during the 2005-2006 TV season, with Stuart Townsend taking on the role. The series didn’t last long — less than a full season — and had a very different style and tone from the 1970s version. But it did feature one unique connection to the original. Through the magic of digital manipulation, McGavin’s original Kolchak character appears in a newsroom background scene in the pilot episode of the new show — a bit of a tribute to the original show.

Sadly, the libraries do NOT have Kolchak: The Night Stalker, nor either of the two original TV-Movies, in our DVD collection. However both can be ordered through InterLibrary Loan, and you can find some of the episodes on YouTube. The full-series DVD box set is also commonly available for purchase.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The X-Files, Supernatural or Shadow Chasers (a marvelous comedy drama about investigating the paranormal, unfortunately not available on DVD — find it on YouTube and other online sources). I also recommend the graphic novel Cry of Thunder, which crosses Kolchak across time with Sherlock Holmes, and the book The Night Stalker Companion, by Mark Dawidziak, which is a marvelous look at the making of the series. Dawidziak is also the author of The Kolchak Papers: Grave Secrets, a 1994 tie-in novel, which is one of the best TV Tie-In novels I’ve ever read — you can get this through InterLibrary Loan, as well as the two paperback novels by Jeff Rice that came out associated with the original two TV-movies. The two original TV-movies are also available in a single DVD pack, through InterLibrary Loan.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Wikipedia page for Kolchak: The Night Stalker ]

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!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Optimists Die First
by Susin Nielsen [YA Nielsen-Fernlund] 

What do a phobic teenage girl and a “bionic” teenage boy have in common aside from their therapy group and their normal young-adult hormonal state? And how do rescued cats with names like Stuart Little factor in? Infused with both light and dark humor, this study of traumatic loss and the resulting guilt and coping strategies is an engaging read. Along the way you’ll find out why: Petula’s picture is on her high school principal’s desk; Jacob doesn’t want his name on his homemade videos; love does NOT conquer all; it IS possible to die as the result of a paper cut; and iconic mime Marcel Marceau remains relevant. (Due to some sexual situations and harsh language, parents may want to review this before letting younger teens read it.)

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Beatle Meets Destiny, by Gabrielle Williams, and The Lonely Hearts Club, by Elizabeth Eulberg.]

[ official Optimists Die First page on the official Susan Nielsen 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!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Complete Book of Kitchen Collecting by Barbara E. Mauzy

The Complete Book of Kitchen Collecting
by Barbara E. Mauzy [683.82 qMau]

This is technically a price guide of hand-driven (non-electric) kitchen gadgets and kitchen items of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, but with lots of photos to browse and reminisce over.
The author covers salt and pepper shakers, mixing bowls, butter dishes, (egg) beaters, ricers, cake savers, rolling pins, ice picks, potato mashers (39 pages of potato mashers), scoops, sifters, and garnishing tools just to name a few.

Each chapter begins with a short history and use of the item, sometimes info about the handle color and how value is determined. Color photos accompany each item along with a listing of the manufacturer, a short description, and approximate value.

I had a good time looking through the photos and inflicting them upon my coworkers with “I have that!” or “Grandma had that!” Sadly, I also found a few items I can’t live without, and will be pursuing at the local antique shops.

[ Today’s Pleasures, Tomorrow’s Treasures — Barbara E. Mauzy’s ebay page ]

Recommended by Charlotte M.
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, October 23, 2017

Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

Frankenstein: A Cultural History
by Susan Tyler Hitchcock [398.45 Hit] 

This is a fascinating scholarly look at the 200 years of cultural history behind the phenomenon that has grown up around Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein: Or…the Modern Prometheus. But it is not simply for literary scholars — Hitchcock writes with great accessibility, and this book can easily be enjoyed by just the casual reader.

The book is broken into three primary sections — “Part One: Birth”, explaining the origins of Mary Shelley’s story, both in myth and reality; “Part Two: Coming of Age”, exploring the expansion of the Frankenstein story via popular feature films, and how the story was co-opted by other writers and mythologized; “Part Three: Our Monster”, examining how Frankenstein has exploded in the popular culture, and taken on new life in ways that Shelley could never have imagined. Hitchcock provides a coda at the end, “The Monster and His Myth Today”, that synopsizes how broadly the Frankenstein story has permeated cultures around the world.

I found this book a fascinating read, especially for its sense of completeness — even rare, obscure versions of the Frankenstein story get worked into Hitchcock’s narrative — Of course, one of my all-time favorite films, Young Frankenstein, is mentioned prominently, but so is Frankenstein: The True Story, a 1973 TV-movie version by Christopher Isherwood. The history of the creature in a variety of comic-book forms was fairly detailed as well. And Herman Munster from The Munsters gets plenty of mentions.

If you’re even just the slightest bit interested in the history of Dr. Frankenstein and his namesake monster, you’ll enjoy browsing this volume, or even reading it cover-to-cover!

[ publisher’s official Frankenstein: A Cultural History web site ] | [ unofficial Susan Tyler Hitchcock background on Encyclopedia.com — author’s official website appears to be off-line ]

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!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (Hoopla Digital Video)

Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster by Yosuke Natsuki [Hoopla Digital Streaming Service] 

If you haven’t seen a Godzilla movie before this could be a good starting point because it’s got four monsters in it; however, Godzilla is not really the bad guy here as he is in other movies. Even though this is called Ghidorah, Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra (in caterpillar form) also appear. Not everyone who watches giant monster movies really cares about the humans; sometimes I’m like this and sometimes not, but in this one it’s pretty entertaining. There is a princess in danger of assassination that flies to Japan, where she’ll supposedly be safe. While in route, she seems to become entranced and jumps out of the plane seconds before it explodes. She’s presumed dead, but then starts appearing on the news claiming to be from Mars and predicting the future. She says the world is doomed because the space monster Ghidorah, who destroyed her home planet, is here on Earth and will destroy it too. Meanwhile a team of scientists are examining a strange new meteorite impact out of which eventually comes Ghidorah. The Martian Princess also says the monsters Rodan and Godzilla will return soon. She’s right, and after all the monsters come out, it’s fighting time. First Godzilla and Rodan fight, then caterpillar Mothra (summoned by twin fairies at the request of the Japanese government – this is not a joke) tries to stop them and get them to join in its fight against Ghidorah. The fights are absolutely hilarious. Rodan, pecks at Godzilla’s head, Godzilla throws and kicks rocks, there’s tail biting and all kinds of goofiness. Its people in large rubber suits fighting, so there’s only so much they can do. It’s not a movie to take seriously or else you probably won’t like it. If you want a laugh, that’s what this is. It’s not trying to make a statement, it does not have character development, the plot is weird, there is no impressive computer graphics, it’s just a movie pretending to be scary and serious and failing miserably. It’s greatly entertaining and is available on Hoopla to download or stream, either via the app or their website hoopladigital.com.

[If you enjoy this, more giant monster movies are available on Hoopla, including but not limited to: Gamera the Giant Monster, Gamera vs. Gyaos, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Rodan, Godzilla’s Revenge and Destroy All Monsters] [ 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!