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

January 2009 Recommendations

book cover  Watership Down
by Richard Adams

This is a true modern classic of English language literature. On the surface, merely an adventure story featuring a group of anthropomorphized rabbits traveling cross-country to establish a new home for themselves in unknown territory, this story has a lot more depth than you might expect. The adventures of the rabbits, some uplifting and some terrifying, are interspersed with rabbit mythology tales, told from the lupine perspective. This book is filled with strong characters, fights between good and evil (and the grey areas in between), love, heroism, sacrifice and much, much more. Watership Down has been adapted into an animated movie (1978) which is fairly true to the book -- I'd caution against little kids watching, due to some fairly violent scenes. There's also a follow-up story collection Tales From Watership Down, but it's not as charming as the original novel.
[Also available as a 1978 animated movie in VHS and DVD formats.]

[ semi-official Watership Down web site ] | [ Richard Adams at Wikipedia ]

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


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book cover  Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders
by Larry Millett

Sherlock Holmes spends part of January of 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The weather is very cold, suitable for the city's Winter Carnival. Holmes and Watson have been invited to the city to solve a mystery, however, not to attend the festival. A young man, Jonathan Upton, has disappeared on the eve of his wedding. At the Ice Palace, Holmes finds a gold pin suspended in a block of ice. Then he notices the head of a man encased in another block of ice--Jonathan Upton. Holmes, of course, cannot resist the challenge of solving the murder. In addition to the stalwart Watson, he is helped by the colorful and savvy saloon owner Shadwell Rafferty. Millett has written other adventures featuring Holmes, Watson, and Rafferty. This is the best.

[ official Lary Millett web site ] | [ Larry Millett on Wikipedia ]

related lists See more books like this on our Elementary... Sherlock Holmes booklist
Review Score - 8
Recommended by Rianne S.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
by Vicki Myron [636.8 Myr]

I had heard about Dewey, the library cat for the Spencer Public Library in Spencer Iowa, through a variety of national media sources over many years in the late 1990s, and had often thought of making the drive to Spencer to "check him out". Though Dewey's no longer with us, I'm very pleased that Vicki Myron, the librarian who became his surrogate "mom", put out this "biography" of this lovable and loving cat. But this book, which should appeal to animal/pet lovers, is more than just a pet bio. Myron also shares a look at what makes a small mid-America town succeed or fail, and offers some intense insight into her own life growing up and struggling with family and health issues in central Iowa. Myron writes in a very easy-to-read style, and the story of abandoned kitten Dewey and librarian Vicki is truly heartwarming.

[ the late Dewey Readmore Books' official web site ] | [ Publisher's Vicki Myron page ]

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


This book is about so much more than just a cat. It is about a small town's struggles and individual struggles and how a cat affects them. I enjoyed it.

Review Score - 7
Rated by -- Jodene G.
Staff at the Walt Branch Library


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book cover  The History of the Hobbit
by John D. Rateliff [823 TolYr]

Those who have enjoyed Christopher Tolkien's "History of Middle Earth" series will also enjoy this book. Rateliff employs a similar format to present the extant drafts and stage-by-stage revisions made by J.R.R. Tolkien as he developed "The Hobbit". Along the way, he also offers insights into the amazingly diverse sources Tolkien drew on in creating his own secondary world, and demonstrates that this work has substantial merit in its own right, apart from being a preliminary to "The Lord of the Rings." Particularly interesting are parts of vol. 2, describing how Tolkien began (post-LOTR) a complete rewrite of "The Hobbit" which was later abandoned. This book can be challenging to read because of its format, with much crucial information relegated to extensive endnotes (many of which also have their own footnotes), but the rewards of working through it all are great.

[ History of the Hobbit page at Tolkienlibrary.net ] | [ John Rateliff page at Tolkiengateway.net ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Peter J.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The Hero of Ages
by Brandon Sanderson

This is third book in the Mistborn trilogy. It will appeal to readers of fantasy that love original worlds and mythologies. It is written by an author who was born in Lincoln, NE and recently was named as the successor to the Robert Jordan series. Fast-paced and full of clever insights into what it takes to lead and follow an apparently un-winnable campaign.

[ Mistborn trilogy page on the official Brandon Sanderson web site ]

related lists See more books like this on our Nebraska Author Brandon Sanderson booklist
Review Score - 8
Recommended by Sean S.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Muffins: A to Z
by Marie Simmons [641.815 Sim]

I saw this earlier this winter on one of the book displays in the library, and colorful cover of this small-sized cookbook grabbed my attention. Filled with 41 muffin recipes (at least one starting with each letter of the alphabet), Muffins: A to Z is a compact, easy-to-follow baking guide for exploring the world of muffins. Reading through all of the recipes, you'll discover a certain commonality about muffin ingredients. However, there's enough variety in the special add-ons -- nuts, fruits, herbs, flavorings -- that there are at least 15-20 different "types" of muffins in this book. None of the recipes are complicated or difficult to prepare. I managed to try three of the recipes before returning the book to the library, and I heartily recommend both the Toasted Almond and Apricot Muffins, and the Fabulous Banana Muffins.

[ Marie Simmons official A-to-Z Books web site ]

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


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book cover  Slash
by Slash with Anthony Bozza [Music 781.66 Sla]

This is a captivating autobiography of one of the most talented and well known lead guitarists in the music industry. Slash was a member and original founder of the rock band, Guns n' Roses. This is one of the better biographies that I have read with new information and an inside look of what really went on between the members of Guns n' Roses. Slash includes his life story from his early childhood years up to the current day. There are many great photos. The guitarist addresses the many, many rumors of Guns n' Roses as well as past speculations and reports on his outrageous, living on the edge personal life. He discusses his battle with drugs and alcohol, his chronic infidelity, his new projects as well as how he has finally become sober and settled into a traditional family life including a wife and two children. At the end of the biography, Slash answers once and for all the reason for his decision to leave one of the most famous rock bands in history at the height of their popularity.

[ official Guns n' Roses web site ] | [ Book's page on Wikipedia ]

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


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book cover  Miss Melville Regrets
by Evelyn Smith

At the posh annual East-West Association Dinner, the very proper, very upper crust Miss Susan Melville excuses herself from her table to powder her nose. The corridor is empty so she may pursue her real reason for attending the dinner: she takes her .38 out of her handbag and fires at the speaker, a foreign ambassador, and a neat little hole appears in his forehead. The demure Miss Melville is a professional assassin. During the course of the book the reader learns the reasons for Miss Melville's career choice and whether or not she relishes her work. Miss Melville is certainly not a tradional heroine and much of the book is tongue in cheek; both qualities intensify the appeal. This effort inspired a series; Miss Melville Regrets is far superior to the other titles.

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Rianne S.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceThe Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth Speare

In 1687, Kit Tyler, who was raised in colorful Barbados, must adjust to Puritan life in the Connecticut Colony. Her silken gowns and embroidered gloves offend some in the colony, as does her friendship with an outcast Quaker, Hannah Tupper, who is accused of witchcraft. Kit herself does not escape the same charge. Although this book was written 50 years ago, its story is timeless and deserves a look from today's reader.
[Also available in audiotape and Large Print formats.]

[ Witch of Blackbird Pond and Elizabeth George Speare pages on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Rianne S.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Code of the Woosters
by P.G. Wodehouse

Uproarious adventures ensue when Aunt Dahlia Travers asks her nephew, Bertie Wooster, to pinch (steal) a silver cow creamer for her husband, Tom, who collects antique silver. A rival collector, Sir Watkyn Bassett, has acquired the piece, which Aunt Dahlia feels rightfully belongs to Tom. Of course, Bertie refuses, but he does accept an invitation to Totleigh Towers, Sir Watkyn's manor house, where he must contend with the following: Madeline Bassett, who mistakenly believes that Bertie is in love with her; Gussie Finknottle, Madeline's current fiance and one of Bertie's best friend; the thug Roderick Spode, who harbors a secret; and, of course, Sir Watkyn himself. (Bertie once came up before him for stealing a policeman's helmet.) Only Bertie's super intelligent valet, Jeeves, can sort out the tangled threads that the visit produces.

[ Wikipedia page for P.G. Wodehouse ]

related lists See more books like this on our If You Like...P.G. Wodehouse booklist
Review Score - 9
Recommended by Rianne S.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Bank Job
[DVD Bank]

Fascinating and entertaining suspense film about one of the biggest bank heists in England's history. I picked this up because I hadn't seen any Jason Statham action films, and I'd heard that he was the "next big action hero". Oddly enough, this is not an action film but a suspense drama, and Statham is one of the strongest performers in the film. A loose gang of small-time thieves is conned into attempting to rob the vault of a British bank, by manipulative forces in British Intelligence, in order to recover some damning photographs and negatives. This fast-paced film features numerous stand-out performances, beyond Statham, including David Suchet as an oily porn mobster. Based on a real incident. Note: Although I enjoyed this very much, it is rated "R" for nudity, violence and language -- of which there is quite a bit.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official Bank Job web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Desk Set
[DVD Desk]

Fifty years later this film is still relevant with staff fearing they are about to lose their jobs to a "mechanical brain" (computer). Katherine Hepburn is a comedic genius to Spencer Tracy's straight man. This romantic comedy classic will have the whole family laughing.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Recommended by Jodene G.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemIndigo: A Film of Faith and Family
[DVD j Indigo]

This film, co-written and starring Neal Donald Walsh, author of the popular Conversations with God book series, tells the story of a family forced to deal with the many problems that have eroded their unity. Spurred on by a series of unexpected events, the granddaughter of the family uses her enlightened knowledge as an Indigo child, to show her bitter family the beauty and wonder that life can be filled with. The movie brings out to the public, the belief that children, born on earth at this time, have an energy within them that allows them to connect to the spiritual world in astounding ways.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemOnce
[DVD Once]

This is the eclectic story of a street musician, sidelining as a vacuum repairman, who meets up with a young piano player. Together, they pursue an intense week long relationship, one that fuels the creative need within each of them to live out their dreams. Both characters pulse with an honesty and sharpness, allowing the viewer to feel the strength and passion inherent in all creative endeavors. Filled with astounding music, this is one movie that you will want to watch more than once.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official Once web site ]

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


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last updated December 2008
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