Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: They Call Me Guero by David Bowles


They Call Me Guero
by David Bowles [jPB (Non-Fiction) Bowles]

This is a charming collection of poems written by a middle-schooler living on the border, not only between Texas and Mexico, but also between grade school and young man, and the border of cultures: as a “guero” his fair-skin can complicate his life as he lives on the border between being hispanic and white. While his classmates might tease him for fair skin and red hair, his father admonishes him to use those attributes to help open doors for the rest of the family.

In my favorite poem, Spanish Birds, Bowles compares the different “melodies” that each of his family members uses when speaking Spanish to different kinds of birdsong. It evokes my most significant takeaway from this book–Bowles’ family is made up of quite the cast of characters and they’re held together by their love for one another.

Of course, you can’t have a book about a middle-schooler that doesn’t feature a confrontation with a bully, and this is no exception . . . except that . . . when the bully calls him a name, the hero of our story retaliates by writing a furious and clever poem in rap.

Poem by poem, Bowles constructs a world and furnishes it with scenes and characters that engage the reader and enrich their understanding of life on the border.

I read a lot of YA books about immigrants/refugees/New Americans; I’m especially interested in stories told from the viewpoint of the children. This one was particularly engaging.

[ publisher’s official They Call Me Guero web page ] | [ official David Bowles web site ]

Recommended by Carrie K.
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 reviewer’s recommendations!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: A Million Little Pieces by James Frey


A Million Little Pieces
by James Frey [362.29 Fre]

I had heard about this book when it hit the Oprah’s Book Club list…. then I heard about it again when the “truth” was “revealed”…. that it wasn’t actually a memoir, as touted, but a work of fiction… ooh! the CONTROVERSY!!!!

I picked it up at a book sale or in a bargain bin about a year ago, having always been curious about it. Yes, I knew it was a work of fiction, or at least more fiction than truth… but I was still interested in the actual story.
I’m glad I finally started reading it–it was REALLY intense and very interesting. Regardless of whether or not it’s a true story, it was very, VERY good! I was immediately sucked into James’ story. I’m incredibly curious about the Road to Recovery for addicts, and this, to me, was a clear picture of how difficult and harrowing it can be. There were a lot of things I’m sure happen to some people, in reality, and they were naked and scary and ugly and painful. I appreciated that candor. I also appreciated, by way of reading this story, how lucky I am to have missed these problems. It became clear to me, once again, that addiction can hit anyone at any time, regardless of class, race, upbringing, values, etc.

I think everyone should read this! **I will note, there were things about the way this book was written that just drove me nuts! The author capitalizes just the WRONG words, seemingly willy-nilly. It’s bothersome to me… if you’re uptight about grammar, the way I am. But I opted to overlook it, since the story was so good.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try High on Arrival, by Mackenzie Phillips, or Last Night I Sang to the Monster, by Benjamin Alire Saenz.]

[ Wikipedia entry for A Million Little Pieces ] | [ official James Frey web site ]
Recommended by Tracy T.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

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 reviewer’s recommendations!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

New Booktalk Booklist: Women's Historical Fiction Booktalk



 On March 19th, Jen J., from the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown, gave a booktalk to the Lincoln Chapter of the PEO, featuring a variety of both Fiction and Non-Fiction looking at other era.

Check out her list of recommended reading at the following link: 



Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: Kedi (on DVD)


Kedi
a film by Ceyda Torun [DVD 636.8 Ked]

I’ll have to admit to two things — I’m much more of a “dog” person than a “cat” person, and I’m strongly opposed to cats roaming loose — I have a hate/hate relationship with several neighborhood cats that have chosen to use parts of my yard as their personal litter boxes.

None-the-less, when I saw the trailer for this film on another DVD I was watching from the libraries’ collection, it looked fascinating. And I’m glad I watched it. This documentary is charmingly look at human-cat relationships in Istanbul, a community which has had thousands of cats living on the streets since the days of the Ottoman Empire. The film cuts between fluid footage following several specific cats on their rounds through the city, to interviews with the humans those cats choose to interact with. The humans don’t claim to “own” any of these feline friends, but several have been adopted by some of the four-legged types. The humans have various poignant observations to make about the therapeutic and even spiritual advantages of relationships with the cats — “They absorb all your negative energy,” one shopkeeper comments. “They do me good.”

But most of the film focuses directly on the lives of the cats, with a calm, soft-spoken narrator offering brief explanations of the different cats’ personalities, and how the changing urban landscape of Istanbul is impacting these furry citizens of the city.

This is a pleasant, low-key stroll through an exotic city, its residences and street-front businesses, in the company of some fuzzy locals who enjoy the company of human beings, but don’t feel the need to be restricted to one patch of ground. Recommended for cat lovers and anyone interested Istanbul, Turkey.



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 reviewer’s recommendations!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Review: Lost Omaha by Janet Daly Bednarek


Lost Omaha
by Janet Daly Bednarek [978.225 Bed]

As someone interested in Nebraska history, I thought that this book offered an interesting look at Omaha’s history. I was especially interested in the section on Peony Park having spent time there as a teenager. The book has great photos of buildings and landmarks in Omaha that are no longer there. I also enjoyed the research that went into the making of this book.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Historic Omaha : An Illustrated History of Omaha and Douglas County, by Bob Reilly.]

[ publisher’s official Lost Omaha web page ]
Recommended by Kim J.
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 reviewer's recommendations!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman


Bird Box
by Josh Malerman

Wow! I haven’t flown through a book this quickly in a long time. I picked this up about three, maybe four days ago, and I just finished tonight. (For me, that’s pretty fast.) I’d seen a few things about the movie, but as it was on Netflix, I wasn’t able to watch it. I’m so glad I read the book. This is an edge-of-your-seat, who-can-you-trust kind of book!!! I LOVE that the protagonist is a woman and a mother! This book had me mildly frightened most of the time, and at times I was exclaiming out loud in fear! Loved it!!!!!

[ official Bird Box page on the official Josh Malerman web site ]
Recommended by Tracy T.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

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 reviewer’s recommendations!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Review: The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (as an audiobook)


The Word is Murder
by Anthony Horowitz [Compact Disc Horowitz]

While trying to decide what books to use for upcoming meetings of the libraries’ Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, I kept looking at The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (creator of Foyle’s War). Ultimately, there weren’t enough copies of The Word is Murder floating around the library system to make it a good Just Desserts selection, but the description sounded fascinating, and the Book-on-CD version was read of British actor Rory Kinnear — it was also only 7 discs, while many modern mysteries on CD can be 9 to 13 discs long. So…I decided to give it a try. And, boy, am I glad I did!

The Word is Murder is extremely “meta” — it is told from the point-of-view of mystery writer Anthony Horowitz himself. In the context of this story, Horowitz states that a British ex-cop, Daniel Hawthorne, who served as a technical consultant on a TV series he created (Injustice, which actually did air in 2011) contacts Horowitz and asks him to take on a job — following Horowitz as he consults on a bizarre murder case that he is consulting on for the police, and writing a novel out of the experience. Hawthorne, a brusque, unlikable man is still a brilliant sleuth, and the case he’s working on intrigues Horowitz — a woman goes to a funeral parlor to arrange her funeral in meticulous detail, only to wind up murdered in her home just six hours later.

With serious misgivings, Horowitz agrees to Hawthorne’s request, despite the fact that the detective won’t reveal more than minor details about his own life or his sleuthing methodology. This mystery is really the story of an inexperience “Watson”, forced to follow and chronicle the exploits of an uncooperative “Holmes”. But the way Horowitz tells the story, and the life he breathes into all the characters, made for a compelling tale.

I’ll admit that the solution to the main mystery wasn’t all that complicated — for the most part, enough clues are scattered throughout the scenes to piece it all together, even if a few “reveals” are saved for near the end of the book. But…this isn’t necessarily to be read/listened-to for the mystery — it’s more a character study. And an excellent one at that.

A fun read, and Rory Kinnear does a terrific job doing the voices of numerous different characters. His gruff, growly voice for Hawthorne was perfect. Strongly recommended!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try anything else by Horowitz, particularly The Magpie Murders, which also plays around with the conventions of the traditional mystery story. Though in that case, it is more a tribute to the old Agatha Christie style, where The Word is Murder is contemporary.]

[ official The Word is Murder page on the official Anthony Horowitz web site ]
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to 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 reviewer’s recommendations!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

New Lincoln Community Playhouse booklist - Mame!



The Lincoln City Libraries created a new “recommended reading” list in association with the latest production at the Lincoln Community Playhouse – the classic Broadway musical “Mame!”, which ends its run today. Whether or not you saw the show, you may find some books and DVDs on this list that will spur your interest!

Check out the list of recommended reading at the following link:

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Review: Unfinished Song (on DVD)


Unfinished Song
[DVD Unfinished]

It’s amazing how easy it is to stumble across unknown little gems in the libraries’ DVD collection. This was a 2012 film my wife found for us to watch, and I’ll have to admit — I’d never heard of it. But it turned out to be marvelous little movie!

Vanessa Redgrave and Terrance Stamp play Marion and Arthur, an older, retired couple in a typical British “working class” suburb. She’s the vivacious, outgoing type and he’s the grumpy, grouchy type. But that doesn’t stop Arthur from taking his wife to the regular meetings of the small local choir she’s a member of…even though she’s dying of cancer. That choir, led by charismatic young choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton), is experimenting in non-traditional song choices as they practice to appear in a singing competition.

When Marion succumbs to her disease, Arthur is left on his own — estranged from his son James (Christopher Eccleston), and not interested in his late wife’s more “social” friends. But something pulls him back to the choir group, and ultimately he takes Marion’s place in the choir. It’s the first step — of many — as Arthur attempts to reconnect with the world around him, post-Marion.

This is a sweet, sad, sentimental film, with tremendous performances by Redgrave, Stamp and Arterton. Strongly recommended!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Calendar Girls.]


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!