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INDEXES TO PAST STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: BY TITLE | BY REVIEWER | TV SERIES/SPECIALS ON DVD/VHS

February 2007 Recommendations

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceEstrella's Quinceañera
by Malin Alegria

Estrella Alvarez, a Mexican-American girl, is turning fifteen. For as long as she can remember, her mother has been planning Estrella's quinceañera, a Mexican celebration girls turning fifteen and becoming identified as a woman in society. Her mother visualizes an elaborate party, complete with a mariachi band, cheesy decorations, and a hideous, tangerine colored dress.

Estrella does not want the traditional party and knows that her parents cannot afford such an expense. She'd much rather have an understated dinner party at an elegant, downtown restaurant so she can invite her two best friends from private school - friends who have no idea Estrella lives in the barrio.

Ever since Estrella began attending the elite prep school, Estrella no longer feels like she can relate to her two old friends, but her new friends make her feel like a fake. Estrella tries to keep her home life a secret from her school friends, but things get even more complicated when she falls for Speedy (a boy in her neighborhood who dresses like a “cholo” or Mexican style gangster) whom her new friends and her parents would definitely disapprove of.

When Estrella finds herself caught between what her family wants and the allure of her rich, prep school friends, Estrella is forced to make some difficult decisions. You will definitely fall in love with Estrella’s character as she struggles with friends, family and relationships as well as with the same desires and challenges all young adults have to face.

[ official Book and Author web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Jessica H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings
by Rob Brezsny [299.93 qBre]

This book is here to renew your faith in the world. There are many exercises that you can do. The book can be read from start to finish or you can open it up and start where ever you want. Each chapter can stand alone. Be ready to experience a glowing awareness of your divine self. Most importantly though, be ready to have fun!

[ official Rob Brezsny's Freewill Astrology web site ]

Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon

Part "Romance", part "Historical" and part "Time-Travel Fantasy", Outlander is an amazing amalgam of storytelling. Claire Randall, a 20th century nurse, finds herself separated from her husband and flung 200 years back in time while visiting a Scottish ring of stones. Unable to return to her own time, she struggles to integrate into the Scottish culture at the time of the second Jacobite rebellion, and soon finds herself forced into an unwanted marriage with an honorable young Scottish warrior. This book is peopled with remarkably well-drawn characters. The descriptive text is rich in details, and the language of the dialog is musical and a delight to listen to. If you like your Romance novels with a strong sense of place and a strong-willed female protagonist, give Outlander a try. If you like you Time Travel novels with a heavy helping of historical detail and romantic adventure, give Outlander a try. And if you like your Historical fiction with a big dose of romance, adventure and 18th century political warfare, give Outlander a try. I've both read the novel and listened to the unabridged book-on-cd, and highly recommend both of them! [This is the first in what has become a popular and length series of novels by this author.]

[Also available in unabridged audiotape and book-on-cd formats.]

[ official Diana Gabaldon web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Island of Lost Maps: The True Story of Cartographic Crime
by Miles Harvey [025.176 Har]

If you have ever been interested in maps, then you will most likely find this book fascinating. Early maps were created by a combination of geographic discoveries, developments in astronomy and many years of personal observation. Ancient maps were very important for countries to use in controlling exploration and trade routes. Many maps have become quite valuable in books or as separate entities. This has led to much thievery, especially from libraries where security has usually been limited and unsophisticated.

Other items mentioned in the book: -- California and other places represented as islands -- the first person to accurately measure the Earth's circumferance was a librarian, Erothsenes of Alexandria -- the complex process of map reproduction -- satellites aid in modern map making.

[ Publisher's page for this book ] | [ official Miles Harvey web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Lane I.
Walt Branch Library


Average Customer Review Score - 8
Rated by -- Julie H.
Customer of the Bess Dodson Walt Branch

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book cover  Farm: A Year in the Life of an American Farmer
by Richard Rhodes [630 Rho]

If you want to understand the challenges and pleasures of farming, this is the book for you. Repairing machinery, installing drainage tile, government support applications, wild animals--they're all here.

Recommended by Bob B.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Ruins
by Scott Smith

This long awaited novel by the author of A Simple Plan takes a turn into horror when a young couple on vacation in mexico decide to go in search of their new friend's brother. What was supposedly a day trip to an archeological site ends up in disaster as the group finds themselves in an area that even the natives won't enter. Part thriller and part good old fashioned horror story, it'll keep you up at night trying to find out what happens next.

[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]

[ official The Ruins web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Rayma S.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


Average Customer Review Score - 8
Rated by -- Julie H.
Customer of the Bess Dodson Walt Branch

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book cover  The Mennyms
by Sylvia Waugh

The Mennyms--mother, father, grandparents, and five children--live at Number 5 Brocklehurst Grove. There is a secret at Number 5, that if exposed would threaten the family's very existence.

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Peter J.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson
by Peter Ames Carlin [Music 781.66 WilYc]

As a fan of Brian Wilson's music for over 40 years, this book was a must-read for me. The author explores all aspects of Brian's troubled life, giving behind-the-scenes accounts of events that led to the emotional breakdown of the genius behind the Beach Boys. The author is brutally honest in his descriptions of Brian's family and friends, providing details of family feuds and lawsuits not found in other books on the Beach Boys. I would suggest caution in recommending this book to younger readers because of the constant use of vulgar language, but otherwise recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about Brian.

[ Publisher's page for Catch a Wave ] | [ official www.brianwilson.com ]

Review Score - 5
Recommended by Kim J.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  How Clean is Your House?
by Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie [648.5 Woo]

"Ooh, what a honk! Keep your bathroom smelling fresh by placing a fabric softener sheet in the wastebasket." In this book, Lifetime Network personalities Kim and Aggie have fun showing you how to clean your house from top to bottom - and keep it that way. You'll learn how to clean parts of your home you may have never thought about before. Examples include: the back side of your television and the underside of your mattress. Includes great photos guaranteed to make you feel good about how clean your house already is.

[ official Lifetime TV Network site for the series that inspired this book ] | [ official BBC America page for this tv series ]

Recommended by Jodene G.
Walt Branch Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemWire in the Blood
based on characters created by Val McDermid

If you like your mysteries dark and difficult to figure out, and your detectives slightly twisted, "Wire in the Blood" is the series for you. Dr. Tony Hill, played by the superb Robson Green, is a gifted criminal psychologist who has a knack for seeing things through the eyes of the killers he profiles. He forms a close working relationship with DC Carol Jordan, played by Hermione Norris, who works for the homicide division of the local police force. Together, they track down some of the Newcastle area's worst offenders. This is definitely NOT for cozy mystery fans-it's not for the faint of heart or the squeamish, either. But if you long for challenging plot lines, great acting and innovative production methods, you'll find them all in Wire in the Blood.

[Available in three separate season sets: Season One, Season Two, Season Three ]

[ BBC America page for this series ] | [ Internet Movie Database page for this series ] | [ official Val McDermid web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Lisa V.
Gere Branch Library


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last updated July 2007
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