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

March 2009 Recommendations

book cover  Quick Study
by Maggie Barbieri

Alison Bergeron, an English professor at a small Catholic college in the Bronx, ran afoul of the law and is performing community service. Alison is serving meals at a soup kitchen where she meets Hernan Escalante and his extended family. Alison hires Hernan and his nephew, Jose Tomasso to paint her dining room. Soon afterwards, Jose disappears and his body is found floating in the Hudson River. Alison does not feel that the police will take this crime seriously because Jose was an illegal immigrant. Alison puts on her sleuthing cap and the humorous adventure begins as she searches for the killer -- much to the consternation of her police officer boyfriend, Bobby Crawford.

[ publisher's official Quick Study and Maggie Barbieri web pages ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  The Man With the Strange Head and Other Early Science Fiction Stories
by Miles J. Breuer

This collection of a short novel and 10 short stories highlights an influential early writer of science fiction who heralded from Lincoln, Nebraska. Miles J. Breuer was a medical doctor in Lincoln, who was a prominent contributors of SF stories to the early pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, particularly the groundbreaking magazine Amazing Stories. Breuer had pretty much fallen off the radar of most genre fans, but the University of Nebraska Press released this collection, with biographical notes by UNL's Michael R. Page, in 2008 as part of their Frontiers of Imagination reprint series. Although the stories are quite dated now, I still highly recommend this collection to those wanting a look back at one of the early 20th century masters of the genre. Lincolnites in particular should find references to our city, both overt and subtle, in several of Breuer's stories. Particularly enjoyable among the shorter stories are "The Gostak and the Doshes" and "A Problem in Communication."

[ Miles J. Breuer page at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database ] | [ official Man With the Strange Head page on Bison Books' site ]

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


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book cover  Healing Yourself With Foot Reflexology: All-Natural Relief for Dozens of Ailments
by Mildred Carter and Tammy Weber [615.855 Car 1997]

Mildred Carter has been practicing reflexology for over 40 years. She is the master of natural pain relief. Her book Healing Yourself With Foot Reflexology is very comprehensive, with over 300 pages of easy to understand charts, diagrams, and instructions. I have read many of the reflexology books in print today, but I always come back to Mildred Carter's for her complete knowledge of the subject matter.

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


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceThe Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Katniss lives in a futuristic dystopia where "The Capitol" keeps the outlying districts under control by forcing each of them to send two teenagers to compete in the annual Hunger Games - a big-time TV production of a survival fight to the death. The teens must fight each other as well as the elements, which are controlled by the game handlers. If they are lucky and have been appealing on the pregame interviews, they will have sponsors who will send them supplies to help them survive. Lots of suspense, some romance, and plenty of big questions about government control, make this survival tale by the author of the popular Gregor the Overlander series a real page-turner.

[ official The Hunger Games web site ] | [ official Suzanne Collins web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceBeyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song
by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song is Book One in a new set of stories that continue the story of the Grace family, but seen through the eyes of a surly pre-adolescent boy living in Florida. The authors bring us into yet another disfunctional family to explore the world of their own creation. I found this book very difficult to read because of how unlikeable the characters are. Also, the authors made themselves characters in this book by making the main characters come to one of their book signings at a local bookstore. It seemed to me that the whole book was just an attempt to make money off of the success of the previous books. Unfortunately, this one does not seem as well written and was a disappointment all around.
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official Spiderwick Chronicles web site ]

Review Score - 2
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
by Steve Dublanica [647.95 Dub]

In this hilarious book (that originated as a blog), Dublanica takes us with him from his journey beginning as a waiter in u pscale restaurants. From learning the lingo to dealing with big wigs and their clientele, Dublanica will have you clutching your sides as he works the floor (and his co-workers) with quick wit.

[ official Waiter Rang blog ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Sarah J.
South Branch Library


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book cover  In a Strange City
by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman weaves the tradition of the Poe Toaster into this novel. Each year on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday, January 19, a mysterious man goes to Poe's grave, raises a cognac toast to the author and leaves three red roses and a half bottle of Martell cognac by the headstone and disappears into the night. Private investigator Tess Monaghan is lured the cemetery to watch the ritual of the Poe Toaster. She is startled to see two Toasters wearing black capes and carrying roses and bottles of cognac appear. One man shoots the other and disappears. Soon after, roses and messages quoting Poe are left on Tess' doorstep. Tess is forced to solve the murder to find her stalker.

[ In a Strange City page on the official Laura Lippman web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD format of this titleThe Tender Bar
by J.R. Moehringer [Compact Disc B M719]

Moehringer's memoir of growing up fatherless in his grandparent's chaotic household under the tutelage of his bartender uncle Charlie and the regulars of Long Island's Publicans bar. Moeringer's view of his mentors- seen through both the eyes of youth and experience- are lovingly brought to life, each individual's character carefully sketched to reveal both their heroic attributes and their fatal flaws.
[Also available in print format.]

[ official The Tender Bar web site ] | [ J.R. Moehringer at Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Vicki W.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel
by Judith and Neil Morgan [B G2696m]

Dr. Seuss is a name almost everyone knows, but few people know the complicated man behind the name. Ted Geisel was insecure at times, a perfectionist, a prankster, a loyal friend, and more. While I love the Dr. Seuss books, it was fascinating to see the man and the process behind them.

[ publisher's Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel web site ] | [ official Dr. Seuss web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Sandy W.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Shot Girl
by Karen E. Olson

This book is a roller coaster ride around New Haven, Connecticut. When Annie Seymour attends her co-worker's bachelorette party at a local nightclub she is shocked to find that the bar manager is her ex-husband, Ralph. Ralph kisses Annie and Annie demurs with a well-placed kick. Shortly after this altercation, Ralph is found dead outside of the bar. Annie is the prime suspect until the autopsy reveals that Ralph died of a heart attack. Meanwhile, Annie is taken off the police beat by her editor at The New Haven Herald because of a perceived conflict of interest. She is relegated to covering community events. Even as Annie covers these stories she keeps crossing paths with Ralph's cohorts. Annie doesn't believe in coincidences and investigates.

[ official Shot Girl page on the official Karen E. Olson web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  The Fur Person
by May Sarton

For cat-lovers only. A charming, intelligent story about a homeless cat and what happens when he decides to find himself a home. You'll recognize all the behaviors of your cat in this well-written "tail." Can read this in one evening. Similar titles: The Silent Miaow by Paul Gallico. Currently only available through Inter-Library Loan. Allegedly written by a cat to instruct other cats on how to find and takeover a home.

[ May Sarton on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room


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

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemAugust Rush
by [DVD August]

This is the mystical and enchanting story of two musicians who fall in love, but due to outside interference, are together for only a brief time. It is also the story of an orphaned boy who hears the music that no one else hears. It is as if the music calls him out into the world to search for parents that he has always believed he would find. He also has a prodigy like ability to play and compose music. This ability stuns the music world and sets him out on a journey that creates both conflict and unwavering faith in his life.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official August Rush movie web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemBe Kind, Rewind
by [DVD Be]

Amusing, quirky, light-hearted, sentimental, and filled with movie in-jokes, Be Kind, Rewind is a treat. Efforts by a couple of video store clerks (and eventually their entire neighborhood) to save a run-down videotape rental business whose stock as been accidentally erased prove to be both broadly humorous and oddly touching. Mos Def and Jack Black star as the hapless friends, who attempt to refilm their own short versions of all of the classic movies (Ghostbusters, RoboCop, Driving Miss Daisy, etc.) with their neighbors as the actors. Although the film takes a slightly surreal twist at times, it is still a pleasant little diversion of a comedy, which should particular appeal to film buffs. Also stars Danny Glover, Sigourney Weaver and Mia Farrow -- but the real stars of the film are all the Passaic, NJ locals who had odd little bit parts.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official Be Kind Rewind movie web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemBlue Butterfly
by [DVD Blue]

This is the story of a ten year old terminally ill boy who, with his caring and determined mother, convinces a noteworthy entomologist to take them on a trip to the rain forest of Costa Rica to search for the Blue Morpho. Seeing and catching this beautiful blue butterfly is the one dream that Pete has in his life. Follow the mother, son and scientist as they journey to a remote village in the rain forest, and set out on a journey that is transforming for everyone involved.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official Blue Butterfly movie web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemA Hard Day's Night
by [DVD Hard]

I believe this was Richard Lester's first film featuring the Fab Four. This zany adventure shows what life was supposedly like for the group as they toured Europe. The odd thing about this movie is the plot involving a "little old man" (Paul's grandfather) who manages to get the group into all sorts of trouble. Personally, I enjoyed "Help!" more than this film, but it is still worth watching, particularly if you are a Beatles fan.
[Also available in compact disc album format.]

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemPicnic at Hanging Rock
by [DVD Picnic]

I first saw this film nearly 20 years ago and was impressed by its moodiness as well as the intriguing story. The setting is Valentine's Day at a private girls' school in Australia, 1900. The girls prepare to go for an outing at a remote location known as "Hanging Rock." Several girls and a teacher mysteriously disappear during the excursion. Is it an alien abduction or a kidnapping? This is a wonderful film to watch if you like unexplained mysteries.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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See our Index of previous Staff Recommendations by Date/Title
See our Index of previous Staff Recommendations by Reviewer

last updated April 2009
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