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

March 2008 Recommendations

book cover  Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond
by Don Cheadle [962.4 Che]

According to the book Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, 3.5 million Sudanese are going hungry, 2.5 million have been displaced from their homes by violence, and over 400,000 have died in Dafur to date. Don Cheadle, award winner actor who appeared in films such as Hotel Rwanda, Oceans Eleven, Oceans Twelve and Oceans Thirteen, teamed up with leading activist John Prendergast to write this memoir in order to focus the world's attention to these ongoing tragedies. Although it was a slightly slow read with little historical information, the authors' inspiring memoir offers some practical information and instructions including six small actions we, as readers, can implement ourselves to make a difference in the fate of this nation. Despite the downsides of this book, it is a decent starting point for new activities wishing to educate themselves on genocide in Dafur as the important topic of this crisis seems to be lacking in national attention as well as in other written materials.

[ official Not On Our Watch web site ] | [ NPR article/excerpt for this book ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Jessica H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense, and Other Endangered Species
by Philip Gulley [248 Gul]

Philip Gulley has a new book out, Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense, and Other Endangered Species. If you've ever read some of his other books you'll know that his writing is laugh out loud funny. These stories like in his past books, are three to four page narratives of his life as a Quaker minister in a rural town in the United States. He writes about his family, the small town he grew up in and recently moved back to, and the value of neighbors and community. Some people have equated Philip Gulley to the modern day Will Rogers. If you're looking for a book that will give you some outstanding, down home advice on the sometimes crazy world we live in, this is the one to read.

[ official Philip Gulley web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  The Green Hills of Earth
by Robert A. Heinlein

The Green Hills of Earth is a collection of short stories from one of the masters of science fiction who has held readers spellbound for over thirty years. First published in 1951, this collection includes "Delilah and the Space-Rigger," "Space-Jockey," "The Long Watch," "Gentlemen Be Seated," "The Black Pits of Luna," "It's Great to Be Back," "We Also Walk Dogs," "Ordeal in Space," "The Green Hills of Earth" and "Logic of Empire." I read it years and years ago, and loved it! I just love Heinlein!!

[ www.heinleinsociety.org/ web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Robert A. Heinlein ]

Recommended by Bob B
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Los Alamos
by Joseph Kanon

The time is Spring 1945. The place is Santa Fe, New Mexico. The victim is Karl Brunner, a security officer at the Los Alamos compound near Santa Fe. Both the Santa Fe police and the security at Los Alamos would like this homicide to turn out to be just what it appears, a sexual encounter that turned violent and then deadly. But they must make sure the murder has absolutely nothing to do with the secret project at Los Alamos. In fact, the project is so secret that the town of Los Alamos and the Los Alamos compound do not officially exist. In order for the project to remain on the fasttrack, this murder must be solved and solved quickly. Since the Santa Fe police cannot investigate at a place that doesn't officially exist, Michael Connelly is brought in from the Office of War Information in D.C. to investigate at Los Alamos and to act as a liaison with the local police. It is a daunting task. The Los Alamos compound contains over 4000 people, civilian and military. Connelly must deal with a core group of people who have been largely isolated from the outside world. Contact with the outside world would distract them from their work and would present unwelcome security risks. Indeed, Los Alamos has become a very strange community in itself. The friction between the United States Army, who run the project, and the scientists, who work to build the atomic bomb, is pervasive. Each group understands the need for the other group but it is like oil and water in many aspects. And so, Los Alamos has its picnics and its evening parties where the residents socialize rather superficially while the focus on the goal of the project, to bring the war to an end, draws them into an uneasy intimacy. Were the secrets of Los Alamos being leaked to the outside world by the security guard who was murdered? Was it for money or to warn the world of the terrible weapon nearing completion? Can we trust the scientists? Most are recent immigrants to the United States who were forced to flee their European homelands. Does a safe haven guarantee loyalty? And what of the United States' military allies? Have they been apprised about the secret weapon or are they playing the unsuspected friend while they secretly maneuver ever closer to that unofficial spot on the map called Los Alamos?

[ official Los Alamos page on the official Joseph Kanon web site ]

Recommended by Evelyn D.
Technical Processes -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Digital Photography Book: The Step-by-Step Secrets for How to Make Your Photos Look Like the Pros'!
by Scott Kelby [775 Kel]

Fun little book. Kelby saturates the content of this book with his goofball humor, explaining in very conversational terms how to take better digital photos, even if you're not a professional photographer. As he explains in his introduction, Kelby approaches all of the topics of his various chapters as if you and he were out on a photo shoot and he was trying to give you some advice on the fly. My only complaint is that in the corner of the front cover of the book, it says "Great for point-and-shoot digital cameras, too!" and I didn't really find that to be the case. 95% or more of his helpful hints are for owners/users of Digital SLRs. Since all I've got so far is a pocket digital, I don't think I'll be able to apply much of what he discusses. But...it was still a fun and helpful book to read!

[ official Digital Photography Book page on the official Scott Kelby web site ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Night Passage
by Robert B. Parker

Jesse Stone is a drunk and has benn asked to leave the L.A. Police Dept. He accepts the job of police chief in the small town of Paradise only to find that he was selected because of his background with alcohol. When the city fathers develop a gruding respect when they find that they can't push him around during a murder investigation. Jesse turns out to be a character the reader will empathize with as he works his way through this new series by Parker. A great read.
[Also available in DVD [TV movie adaptation], and Large Print formats.]

[ official Jesse Stone section on the official Robert B. Parker web site ]

bonus info  If you're a fan of the Jesse Stone mysteries, join the Just Desserts mystery group in discussing "Trouble in Paradise" at Bennett Martin Public Library on March 27th! -- 

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Rayma S
South Branch Library


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book cover  Dangerous Beauty: Life and Death in Africa - True Stories From a Safari Guide
by Mark C. Ross [599.096 RosYr]

Reading Dangerous Beauty is like sitting around a campfire in the savannah listening to Mark Ross talk about his experiences leading safaris. His words paint crisp images of close encounters with lions and elephants on his safaris. He describes trailing lions in his Land Cruiser. As soon as they get near the animals, Mark and his clients get out the vehicle and edge within camera range of these magnificent beasts. He recalls the excitement of watching the mass migration of thousands of zebras and wildebeests in the Serengeti. He talks about the heart-stopping moment when he lured a stampeding elephant away from his clients. He remembers the night that he was sleeping by a campfire and was jostled awake because he was being drug along the ground in his sleeping bag. A Hyena had grabbed a corner and was pulling him away from the camp. Mark yelled, scaring the Hyena off. His friend Leon, who was sleeping next to him, was no help. He was too busy laughing. Mark, unhurt, carried his sleeping bag back to camp. He reminisces about growing up on an Illinois farm where he became fascinated with nature. His love affair with Africa started on Sunday nights watching Wild Kingdom on TV. As a wildlife biology major in college Mark got an opportunity to study in Kenya. He finished his degree but East Africa with its vast expanses and open skies pulled at him and he moved to Kenya and became a safari guide. Mark recalls taking clients to Uganda to see the mountain gorillas. He described slow climb up the slippery, 7,000-foot trail in the Impenetrable Forest and their pleasure at seeing the shy creatures. Their terror when they returned to camp were captured and held hostage by Rwandan rebels.

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  A Simple Plan
by Scott Smith

A Simple Plan is the story of an ordinary guy who finds fortune in a wrecked airplane while he's out hunting with friends. They decide to take the money they find and not report the accident. Things go downhill from there in a masterpiece of gory, black humor. If you like Stephen King, you'll like this book.

[ official Publisher's web page for Scott Smith ] | [ Wikipedia page for Scott Smith ]

Recommended by Rayma S.
South Branch Library


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book cover  Snow Crash
by Neil Stephenson

One of the most influential books in recent science fiction. Stephenson has a brilliant grasp of what sociological/technological changes are only a short distance in our future, and what the impact of those changes is going to be on our world. This book is stylistically all over the place, but if you can get past the seeming chaos, you'll see that Stephenson very accurately predicted the worlds of social networking and deep databases on the world wide web, and he's dead on in predicting such increasingly popular virtual environments as Second Life. In addition to being an extremely prescient science fiction novel, it's also a rock 'em sock 'em adventure and high-tech espionage book, with liberal doses of multi-culturalism and religious exploration thrown in for good measure. Don't pick this book up if you're looking for a traditional linear reading experience. But if you want an excellent example of cutting edge, mind-blowing, high-tech scifi, you won't want to miss this one!
[Also available in unabridged audiotape format.]

[ Wikipedia page for Snow Crash ] | [ official Neal Stephenson web site ]

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


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book cover  How to Draw and Complete Impossible Mazes
by Robert Stevenson [793.73 qSte]

This is one of the quirkiest books I've come across in the libraries' collection in several years. This oversized volume features Stevenson's instructions/advice on how to create challenging mazes for friends and family, and then presents 5 large, complex mazes for the reader to attempt to solve. Solutions are provided at the back of the book. If you're in the mood for some visual brain teasers, this collection of mazes should keep you busy for a while. Best used in conjunction with tracing or onion paper, so that you can see the maze through the thinner sheet that you're drawing on. Should appeal to puzzle lovers and brainiacs.

[ Wikipedia entry on mazes ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemDon't Touch That Dial
by Bill Kelly [DVD 791.45 Kel]

Here is another notable documentary produced by our very own, Nebraska Educational Television. Don't Touch That Dial, explores the advent of television in Nebraska. Many firsts in television happened in the state of Nebraska and it is fun to watch the evolution of the stations, in terms of locally produced programming, to the current, almost all network programming. In this DVD you'll see and hear interviews with many notable Nebraskans involved with television, and see the early days of Johnny Carson and Tom Brokaw. This documentary is an excellent chronicle of Nebraska's first experiences with television.

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


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last updated March 2008
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