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

April 2009 Recommendations

book cover  Backup
by Jim Butcher

Fans of the other books in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher should enjoy this short novella, published in a limited-run printing by Subterranean Press. Set in the Dresden Files universe, Backup is a brief adventure of Harry's half-brother Thomas Raith, one of the White Court vampires of Harry's world. Thomas has always been one of the most interesting supporting characters in the Dresden universe, and that is only built upon by giving him his own story...complete with secrets that he's keeping from Harry. There's action and humor aplenty -- Butcher's trademark writing style. But the overall Dresden Files world is carried forward and expanded as a result of this short work. Highly enjoyable, but definitely light-weight in comparison to the larger novels in the series.

[ official Backup page on the official Jim Butcher web site ]

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


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book cover  90 Minute Quilts: 15+ Projects You Can Stitch in an Afternoon
by Meryl Ann Butler [746.46 But]

Good projects for beginners to tackle. Long-time quilters may have forgotten about some of these basic designs and can revisit them to use up your stash. The first 30 pages cover the basics, tools, techniques, templates, and the color wheel. Color illustrations accompany the concepts and the step-by-step project instructions. Just enough info is provided to get you going and successfully complete a few projects; not overly technical or detailed. A wonderful way to give quilting a try.

[ official 90-Minute Quilts web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Terminal Freeze
by Lincoln Child

A SF suspense novel for fans of the original movie The Thing From Another World and the TV show The X-Files. An unknown creature is found in a block of ice in the arctic. Of course the ice thaws, the creature escapes, and a snowstorm strands everyone at the arctic base. Toss in a government conspiracy of silence (this had also happened 50 years earlier), Natives with dire warnings, and an irritating cable network that is only concerned with ratings. A bit on the gory side at times, the final four chapters I found downright scary. Well told -- I couldn't put it down.
[Also available in book-on-cd [abridged or unabridged], and Large Print formats.]

[ official Terminal Freeze page on the official Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Posed For Murder
by Meredith Cole

"I have never killed so many people in so many ways." Lydia McKenzie has this thought as she hangs the photographs in her first solo exhibit in New York. Her photos are black and white re-creations of death scenes from unsolved murders in New York. Lydia got the idea for this exhibit while reading the book Lost Lives, a novel about cold cases. Lydia re-created the murder scenes using her friends as models. During the opening party at the Bulan Gallery, the police tell Lydia that her friend Marie LaFarge was murdered. Marie's body was found dressed in the same clothes and posed the same way as she was in Lydia's photo. One evening Lydia comes home to her apartment to find that someone had vandalized it and left a photo of another friend, Jenny. In this photo Jenny is wearing the same clothes and is posed as she was in Lydia's photo. Lydia fears for her life and begins her own investigation.

[ official Posed for Murder and Meredith Cole web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  Swimming Without a Net
by MaryJanice Davidson

Fans of Davidson's "Undead" series will find the same romantic humor in her "Fred the mermaid" series. This second book in the series finds Fred still torn between two men -- one human and one merman. She also for the first time meets thousands of other mer-people and the royal family who oversees them. Read to the final climatic end where the mer-people decide whether or not make their existence known to the world's human "bipeds."

[ official Mermaid series page on the official MaryJanice Davidson web site ]


Recommended by Jodene G.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits: [It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversations]
by David Denby [809 Den]

I found Snark to be a very interesting read, but ultimately somewhat lacking. Denby tackles a topic that is incredibly huge -- the increasing use of uncivil, unpleasant, "attack"-oriented dialog, which has become the main modus operandi for columnists, political hacks, and discussion forum trolls. Throughout the course of his book-length essay, Denby offers an intriguing look at historical precedents to modern Snarkiness, all the way back to the early writer Juvenal. However, by the end of the book, although I had been disconcertedly entertained by some of his observations, I didn't really feel that Denby had succeeded in clearly enough identifying what distinguishes Snark (or snarkiness) from typical irony and/or vituperation or foaming-at-the-mouth ranting. If you're interested in the rapid degradation of common civility in public discourse, you'll probably appreciate Denby's examples and asides. If you're looking for a true academic exploration of the topic, Snark will probably fall a bit short of the mark for you. I'll definitely give Denby marks for being an entertaining writer, though -- he's a film critic for New Yorker magazine.

[ David Denby on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Cut to the Quick
by Dianne Emley

Pasadena police detectives Jim Kissick and Nan Vining are summoned to the mansion of Oliver Mercer in the Pasadena Hills in this page-turner. There they find the bodies of Oliver Mercer and his girlfriend Lauren Richards. Their attention focuses immediately on Mercer's business partner Mark Scoville because the two men had been arguing. Initially Scoville is cooperative when answering their questions. Suddenly, he clams up and asks for an attorney. Kissick and Vining wonder what brought about this sudden change of attitude. Adding to the tension but distracting Vining from the case is the reemergence of her nemesis, T.B. Mann. (T.B. Mann is the name that Nan Vining and her daughter Emily gave to the man who almost killed Vining in a vacant house. T.B. Mann stands for The Bad Man.) When T.B. Mann leaves the bloody polo shirt in Vining's garage that he wore the day he stabbed her, Vining realizes that she is again his target.

[ official Cut to the Quick pageon the official Dianne Emley web site ]

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


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book cover  A Fool and His Honey
by Charlaine Harris

Before Charlaine Harris started writing her popular Sookie Stackhouse series, she wrote an enchanting series about a petite librarian in Lawrenceton, Georgia. Aurora Teagarden, known as Roe, is almost five feet tall and has a penchant for finding dead bodies. There is a knock at Aurora's door and when Aurora opens it she is stunned to see her husband's niece, Regina holding a baby. Regina has come from Corinth, Ohio for a surprise visit. Roe settles Regina and her son Hayden in the apartment above the garage. Roe and her husband Martin go out for dinner. When they get home there is a dead man lying on the stairs to garage apartment, Regina is gone and Hayden is crying in the apartment. The dead man is Craig, Regina's husband. The next morning Roe is sitting in the den when a man's head suddenly appears behind the couch. Roe screams and Martin comes running. They sort things out. The young man, Rory Brown, is a close friend of Craig and Regina's. Rory and Craig drove to Lawrenceton after Regina. They found her in Roe and Martin's kitchen, heating a bottle for Hayden. Regina and Craig started to argue. Rory was tired and went into the den to sleep. When Martin and Roe find him the next morning, Rory doesn't know that Regina disappeared and that Craig was murdered. Martin and Roe decide that they need to trace Craig and Regina's steps back to Corinth, Ohio find the answers to this puzzle.

[ official Aurora Teagarden page on the official Charlaine Harris web site ]

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


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book cover  'Tis Herself
by Maureen O'Hara [791.432 Oha]

First my daughter read it, and sent it to my mother. Then my mother read it and gave it to me. 'Tis Herself is the kind of autobiography that keeps you turning the pages. Don't skip any paragraphs or you'll miss the eavesdropped story about Mickey Rooney or the fight with Lucille Ball or the time the stunt crew trussed O'Hara up so her incision would not break open in a mudslide. O'Hara's seventy years in Hollywood stretches long past its Golden Age and she gives us all an entertaining view from the inside. So relish the book, then enjoy the movies she writes about: Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man or How Green was My Valley.
[Also available in Large Print format.]

[ official Maureen O'Hara online magazine ] | [ Internet Movie Database page for Maureen O'Hara ] | [ Maureen O'Hara page on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kay V.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a Magazine or JournalRomantic Times Book Reviews
edited by Kathryn Falk

Romantic Times Book Review is the ultimate magazine for fans of the romance fiction genre. Each monthly issue featues profiles of classic and up-and-coming authors, news about the romance publishing industry, columns about writing/editing/publishing romance fiction, interviews, forthcoming publication previews, gossip and discussion forums, where readers can trade bookstore news, "whatever happened to?" inquiries and praise/complaints about trends in the romance publishing industry. But...the most important and useful feature of each issue of Romantic Times is the reviews. Every issue has several hundred reviews of new romance novels, broken up into helpful categories -- Historical, Mainstream, Teen Scene, Inspirational, SF/Fantasy, Romance Suspense, Mystery, Contemporary, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Series Romances, and Erotica. Although the reviews are fairly short, and only books with relatively positive reviews are featured, this is still an incredible assist to the romance fan on a limited budget. Romantic Times also has an impressive web site (see link below), where you'll find thousands more reviews, as well as information about the RITA Awards for the best romance fiction published each year. The libraries maintain a collection of only the current two years of this title, located at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown. [Note: We have a RITA Awards booklist here on BookGuide.]

[ official Romantic Times Book Reviews web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Me Talk Pretty One Day
by David Sedaris [817 Sed]

This is a collection of essays by David Sedaris that had me in stitches the whole way through. David comments on particular moments in his life in a humorous, often sarcastic way, even though sometimes the memories aren't all pleasant. The book is split into two main sections, 'one' which takes place in America, and 'deux' which chronicles his time spent in France. Both are equally entertaining. David Sedaris' sense of humor easily kept me hooked the whole way through.
[Also available in downloadable audio, unabridged book-on-cd, and abridged audiotape formats.]

[ official Bio and Appearance Schedule for Sedaris on his agent's web site ] | [ David Sedaris page on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Stephanie G.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Sirens of Titan
by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan was Kurt Vonnegut's first published book, and is a quirky cross-over between the science fiction genre and mainstream fiction. Cloaked in a science fiction setting, The Sirens of Titan allows Vonnegut to offer up a rather scathing exploration of religion, predestination, commercialism, the military mindset and the gullibility of the common man. For those familiar with others of Vonnegut's works, including Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle, Deadeye Dick and so many more, you'll find his patented voice of absurdity front-and-center. You'll also find plenty of his surreality as well. Straight science fiction fans may find this one a bit hard to swallow, but if you've developed a fondness for the works of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams (the latter of whom admits he was heavily influenced by The Sirens of Titan), you'll probably enjoy Vonnegut's first novel. Personally, although I enjoyed it, I didn't find it quite as well-developed as his later works.

[ Sirens of Titan page on Wikipedia ] | [ official Kurt Vonnegut web site ]

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


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book cover  Serenity: Those Left Behind
story by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, art by Will Conrad [741.5 Whe]

Those Left Behind is a tie-in graphic novel to the late, lamented cult-favorite SF series Firefly (see review below), which aired in 2002 (and which was followed by a movie, Serenity, in 2005). This 3-part story, originally released as a monthly comic-book with art by Will Conrad, perfectly captures the appearance of the characters from the series. More importantly, since Firefly had created such a unique "world", this graphic novel very effectively captures the tone and style of Firefly, particularly in terms of the dialog and quirkiness of the characters. Although there is a bit of a cliff-hanger to the story at the end of this volume, Those Left Behind still serves as a fine introduction to the 'Verse of Joss Whedon's Firefly for those who've never been there before, while still adding to that universe for long-time fans.

[ Those Left Behind page on Wikipedia ] | [ Firefly page on Wikipedia ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemColumbo: The Complete First Season

I enjoyed watching Colombo on TV in the 1970?s. When I checked out the DVD of the first season, I hoped that the series would still entertain me. To my delight, the series has held up well over the years. Colombo ambles around in his rumpled raincoat, holding a cigar in his hand collecting, what appear to be trivial clues, and pestering the person he thinks is the prime suspect. When the episodes open the audience sees the murder committed and watches the murderer cover up the crime. The question is not ?who did it?? but ?how will Colombo figure it out?? Colombo nags and nags his suspect. He starts to leave the suspect, then he stops and turns around with his trademark comment "Oh, there's just one more thing ...." and drives to suspect to distraction.
[The library system also owns numerous original books based on the Columbo series. ]

[ Episode Guide to Columbo ]

related lists See books based on shows like this on our TV Tie-Ins booklist
Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemFirefly
created and produced by Joss Whedon

Marvelously inventive but short-lived science fiction series from the mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: The Series (not to mention the currently airing Dollhouse). Firefly is set in a future in which humanity has spread itself out through known space, and survived a major civil war in which the "bad guys" won. This Joss Whedon created universe, known to its inhabitants as "the 'verse", is peopled by corrupt bureaucrats, wily assassins, brutal thugs and heartless mercenaries. The heroes of Firefly are the captain and crew of a Firefly-class merchant ship that hire themselves out for cargo runs, passenger ferrying, strong protection and miscellaneous odd jobs. The look of the series is "gritty", with a strong western theme -- the characters frequently wear pistols and use "western slang". The stories run the gamut, from "holding up a supply train" to "breaking into a high-security government medical facility". The main character range from the honorable-yet-downtrodden Captain Mal, to the avaricious Jayne, to the idealistic doctor Simon and his mentally-damaged sister River. There's a certain amount of "suspension of disbelief" to accept a futuristic environment in which most of the characters look like they should be riding horses instead of spaceships, but the characters and stories really stand out in this series. I highly recommend Firefly, as well as the movie spin-off that came afterwards.
[ The Library also owns the follow-up movie Serenity (2005), as well as two graphic novels based on the series and movie: Serenity: Those Left Behind (see review above), and Serenity: Better Days formats.]

[ Official Firefly site on the Sci Fi Channel where the series airs in reruns ] | [ Firefly series entry on Wikipedia ]

related lists See books based on shows like this on our TV Tie-Ins booklist
Review Score - 10
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Our family watched the entire "Firefly" series on DVD and thoroughly enjoyed it. We also liked the movie "Serenity." Although it is an unbelieveable sci-fi series, the characters are funny and relationships are interesting. We wanted the series to continue.

Review Score - 9
Rated by -- Kathy H.
staff member at the South Branch Library

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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemFireproof
directed by Alex Kendrick

This movie is very entertaining and well made. The DVD stars Kirk Cameron who plays a man who takes his job as a firefighter seriously, but has had alot of trouble lately in his marriage. When his wife serves divorce papers, his father shares an idea that may help save his son's marriage. Watch it and see what transpires during the next six weeks of their lives. Bring some tissues, because you many shed a few tears. Rated PG for thematic material and peril. Note: Heavily tied into the novel, The Love Dare, written by this film's screenwriter.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official Fireproof: The Movie web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kathy H.
South Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemWater
written and directed by Deepha Mehta

A heartbreaking glimpse into the lives of a group of widows in India during the 1930s. A moving film that will make you stop and think about how women have been treated throughout the world.

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

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Tammy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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last updated April 2009
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