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

August 2009 Recommendations

book cover  One Second After
by William Forstchen

If you like apocalyptical stories, One Second After is a scary read. One day all electronic devices stop working. What brings the United States to its knees is an EMP-electromagnetic pulse. Suddenly the USA is hurtled back into the Dark Ages. Food riots, looting, pillaging, murder and disease are all things a small town in North Carolina has to face. It's every man, woman, and child for themselves in this fast-paced, eerily realistic book. Although at times the writing is a little clumsy I was able to overlook it in favor of the subject matter and characters. [If you like this title, you might also enjoy Swan Song by Robert McCammon, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and World War Z by Max Brooks.]
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official One Second After and William Forstchen web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Deanne J.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Anguished English
by Richard Lederer [427.08 Led]

I first stumbled across this humorous little volume in the late 1980s (it was published in 1987), and it hasn't lost any of its humor since then. Lederer has gathered together a hilarious collection of misuses of the English language. The book is divided into sections -- Schoolishness, The Blunderful World of Bloopers, Inspired Gibberish, and Grammar Gaffes. The first deals with young students' mangling of words in school papers. The second features the kinds of errors or misuses that were popular on the talk shows with Jay Leno and David Letterman, where goof-ups from newspapers would be highlighted. The third section deals with misunderstand phrases or sayings, and seques into the bizarre kinds of misguided statements made by famed malapropters Samuel Goldwyn and Yogi Berra. The final section deals with common misspellings or incorrect definitions, and/or badly placed modifiers. Fans of books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves will enjoy this one, too! Lederer has come out with a whole series of language-inspired humor books, but most of those are very focused in nature. It was not until The Bride of Anguished English in 2000 that he returned to this more general format. Fun for any student of language or for anyone who is "whorrified" and the mis-use of the English language in today's publications and on the internet.
[A sequel, The Bride of Anguished English is also available in the library's collection.]

[ official Richard Lederer web site ]

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


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book cover  Death of a Cozy Writer
by G.M. Malliet

Death of a Cozy Writer is a witty tribute to the classic English country house mystery. The cozy writer is Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk who has made piles of pounds writing about a Miss Marple like character. His protagonist is Miss Rampling, an amateur sleuth who solves murders in the village of Saint Edmund-Under-Stowe. When he's not writing his stories in longhand, Sir Adrian is writing his adult children in and out of his will. Sir Adrian lures his squabbling offspring back to the family estate by announcing his intentions to remarry. The bride-to-be is Violet Middenhall who was accused of murdering her first husband for his money. Hoping to discourage their father from making an unsuitable match (and to preserve their inheritances) the brood hurries home. The result of Sir Adrian's theatrics is murder. Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Fear, are called in to untangle the knots in this intricate plot and identify the killer. [Note: Winner of the 2009 Agatha Award for Best First Novel.]

[ official G.M. Malliet web site ]

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


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book cover  Around the World in 80 Days
by Michael Palin [910.41 Pal]

In 1988, Monty Python vet Michael Palin, backed by a BBC camera crew, took on the challenge of duplicating the fictional Phileas Fogg's legendary journey around the entire globe -- in 80 days -- 115 years after that literary achievement. Limiting himself to only the methods of transportation that would have been available in the 1860s (many of which were no longer available to him!), Palin was not only filmed for his successful BBC documentary series, but he also kept a detailed journal, which is reproduced here, complete with hundreds of photos. This chaotic travelogue would have been entertaining enough, but when written by one of the Monty Python comedy troupe, you find yourself chuckling several times per page -- he can be alternately urban and witty one moment, and bawdy and unapologetic in the next. Palin has gone on to take numerous other filmed adventures around the globe in more recent years, but this first global trip still stands as one of the best. This book can be enjoyed on its own or read as a companion volume to the DVD set. In this print volume, Palin is able to provide far more details about many of the experiences he has in the documentary than would have been possible in the video format...including background about how he and his camera crew accomplished some of their incredible footage! [Note: See review of the documentary below!]
[Also available in DVD format -- see review below!]

[ official Around the World in 80 Days page on the official Michael Palin's Travels web site ]

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


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book cover  Kidnapped
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped is a fast-paced adventure made all the more interesting by its historical background: many of the characters in the book are actual figures from Scottish history. This is an easy read, but modern readers would do well to seek out an edition that has both explanatory notes for the Scots terminology and a map; a brief review of 18th-century Jacobite history would also be helpful in understanding the book. [If you liked this title, you might also enjoy Treasure Island, also by Robert Louis Stevenson.]
[Kidnapped is available in a number of different editions and formats. This link should take you to a list of all variations of Kidnapped in our catalog.]

[ Wikipedia page for the novel Kidnapped ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Peter J.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Bubbles Betrothed
by Sarah Strohmeyer

When we first selected this as one of the books for the libraries' Just Desserts mystery discussion group to read, it was because the Bubbles series has been favorably compared to the extremely popular Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Not having read any of the Evanovich books, I found Bubbles Betrothed to be a mild, frothy confection of a mystery. The mystery seems fairly simplistic, and is just a framework to showcase Strohmeyer's collection of wacky characters. I think I might have enjoyed meeting Bubbles earlier in the series (this is the 5th of 6 so far), when she was merely a hairstylist. Now, she's an investigative reporter. Actually, Bubbles was far less interesting than many of the supporting characters. If you're suffering from Plum withdrawal, you might enjoy Bubbles as a lightweight fill-in. Otherwise, don't expect much depth to this series.
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official Sarah Strohmeyer web site ]

Review Score - 5
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  By a Woman's Hand: A Guide to Mystery Fiction by Women
by Jean Swanson and and Dean James [809.387 Swa]

This is one of my favorite mystery-fiction reference books, but the library has it available for checkout. By a Woman's Hand: A Guide to Mystery Fiction by Women provides brief biographical descriptions of 262 different female authors of mystery fiction (running the gamut from cozies to police procedurals to thrillers). Each "blurb" highlights the author's best-known works as well as some of her best critically-received works, and concludes with a concise "If you like this author's works, you may like the following authors as well..." The book commentaries provided brief but helpful plot descriptions. The back of the book includes a guide to recommended anthologies featuring mysteries by women authors, and index to series characters, an index by regional geographic settings (New England, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, etc.), and an index by the type of sleuths these authors write (Artists, Journalists, Police, Older Sleuths, Teachers, etc.). The original volume came out in 1994 -- so don't expect to find any of today's "newer" authors profiled. But for fans looking for some of the classic authors of mystery fiction, this is an indispensible volume still valuable after all these years. [Note: A second volume was released in 1996 but is not in the Lincoln City Libraries' collection. It is available through our InterLibrary Loan service. The same authors also produced Killer Books: A Reader's Guide to Exploring the Popular World of Mystery and Suspense in 1998.]

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


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book cover  Super in the City
by Daphne Uviller

At twenty-seven, Zephyr Zuckerman is still trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up. By day she fantasizes about saving the world. One day she finds a cure for Aids. Another day she is a lawyer saving the poor and downtrodden. By night she crashes parties with her friends. Her parents burst Zephyr's fantasy bubble. They ask her to act as superintendent of their Greenwich Village apartment building when the old superintendent is led away in handcuffs. Instead of dreaming about saving the world Zephyr dreams about a morning where she does not receive a 6 a.m. phone call from one of the tenants. Zephyr enlists the aid of a sexy exterminator to help her figure out why a tenant's dryer won't vent. (It's a good excuse to get to know him better.) While they try to solve the venting problem they find a secret staircase from the old superintendent's apartment to the apartment on the floor above. But it's a combination of her party-crashing habit and jury duty that causes the FBI to suspect her of working with the mob and the mob to suspect her of working with the FBI. Uviller created a cast of flawed and lovable characters. Besides Zephyr there's Tag, who organizes the party crashing. Lucy, who looks for the love of her life by writing notes on $10 bills. And Mercedes, a world-class violinist, who snags a celebrity boyfriend.

[ official Publisher's web page for this book ] | [ official Daphne Uviller web site ]

Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  Face of Betrayal: A Triple Threat novel
by Lis Wiehl and April Henry

This book reminds me of the Women's Club Murder series by James Patterson. Instead of four main characters, there are three. One is a federal prosecutor, the second is a FBI agent and the third is a news reporter for a local TV station. This series is not set in San Francisco but further up the coast in Portland, Oregon. Seventeen-year-old U.S. Senate Page Katie Converse is home during the Christmas recess. One day she takes the family dog out for a walk and never returns. The dog is found a few days later. Was her disappearance a random act of violence or was one of the men mentioned on Katie's My Space page involved? The search for Katie is smoothly told from the perspectives of Allison the federal prosecutor, Nicole the FBI agent and Cassidy the news reporter. The plot provides lots of twists and turns. It was a fast paced and engaging read.

[ Publisher's web page for this book ] | [ official Lis Wiehl web site ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemAround the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin [DVD 910.41 Pal]
by Michael Palin

In 1988, Monty Python vet Michael Palin, backed by a 5-person BBC camera crew, took on the challenge of duplicating the fictional Phileas Fogg's legendary journey around the entire globe -- in 80 days -- 115 years after that literary achievement. Limiting himself to only the methods of transportation that would have been available in the 1860s (many of which were no longer available to him!), Palin was not only filmed for his successful BBC documentary series, but he also kept a detailed journal, which was reproduced as a companion book to this documentary. This 7-hour DVD set can be enjoyed on its own -- filled with footage both gorgeous and disheartening -- but I recommend pairing it with the companion book that was released at the same time. In that, Palin is able to provide more detailed background about some of his experiences than he's allowed to impart in the video format. Still, this documentary is amazing at showing cultures and ways of life in countries most of us will never have a chance to visit. [Note: See review of the book above!]
[Also available in Print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this production ] | [ official Palin's Travels web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemAustralia [DVD Australia]

This movie gives the feeling of being an epic as in films like Gone with the Wind or How the West was Won. The story begins in 1939 just as WWII is starting. Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) travels from Great Britain to Australia to meet her husband, Maitland, in northern Australia. The husband's drover (Jackman) takes her to the cattle station where they find Maitland murdered. The rest is your standard story of a woman forced to adapt to the situation, showing her strength of resolve to the doubting men around her, and winning the day and a new love. But there's more going on. The film also covers the sad treatment of the aborigines by the white settlers and does so as an integral part of the story line yet isn't preachy to the viewer. Also included is the devastating bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese in Feb, 1942 (considered to be the "Pearl Harbor" of Australia), and not to forget, the bringing to justice of the murderer of Maitland. A very satisfying film with beautiful, scenic vistas of Australia's countryside. You'll find yourself pulling out an atlas while the film is running and then watching the "extras" on the DVD after the story is ended. Set the film to "subtitles" just to catch the slang, but the Australian accent is very understandable.

[If you liked this, you might like: Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington, 994.042 Pil or DVD Rabbit-Proof Fence. (FYI: In the film "Australia" we learned that half white-half aborigine children were forcibly removed from their families by the gov't and placed on an island to be re-educated and forget their families. This is the story of a girl and her two younger cousins who escape from that island and walk across Australia to return to their families using a white picket fence the gov't placed across Australia to try to thwart the rabbit population.) Or, The Far Country by Nevil Shute or DVD Shute. (FYI: Another romantic/adventure of Australia. A German doc is forced to work at a death camp for the Nazis then after the war is able to build a new life for himself in Australia. Of course he falls in love with someone but his hidden past may come to light.).]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Australia web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset Collectors Edition [DVD Avengers]

The Avengers was the quintessential light-hearted British spy drama series, which aired from 1961 to 1969 in the UK (and quickly migrated to the U.S.). Patrick Macnee starred as the deceptively charming John Steed, opposite a variety of co-stars. In the series' first season, the stories were treated with a great deal of seriousness, and Steed the Spy was paired with Dr. David Keel - the Civilian. The series' 2nd and 3rd seasons dropped Dr. Keel in favor of Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) and the tone of the show lightened up considerably. However, most fans agree that the series high point came during the 4th, 5th and 6th seasons, when Diana Riggs took over from Blackman, as Mrs. Emma Peel -- the ultimate female foil for Macnee's dashing Steed. With a wink and a nudge, this duo investigated some of the most bizarre espionage cases ever seen on television. If you're looking for classic TV espionage, or classic British television, the Emma Peel years of The Avengers are a can't-miss series. [As this review is appearing, the libraries' copies of this series are currently missing...however you can still order this series through the InterLibrary Loan service.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official The Avengers DVD releases web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Dick Francis Mysteries [DVD Francis]

I originally watched the movie version of Blood Sport, after the Just Desserts mystery discussion group used that Dick Francis novel for one of its monthly mystery discussions. Quite a bit of the novel was changed to turn it into a vehicle for Ian McShane (Deadwood, Lovejoy, Kings) as Francis' investigator David Cleveland. As an adaptation, I found Blood Sport somewhat lacking...especially considering the powerful depression/suicide subtext of the original novel. However, ignoring that novel, the movie Blood Sport itself was actually pretty good...which convinced me to watch the other two stories in this 3-DVD set. Admittedly, I haven't read either Twice Shy or In the Frame, so I can't comment on how well they serve as adaptations of Dick Francis novels, but as movies (or TV-movies), they're also quite good. McShane can play both charming and dangerous equally well, which is necessary for the role of Cleveland. And the British horse-world scene is well represented in all three tales. If you're looking for a set of solid mystery-thrillers with a British flavor and lots of horses, I recommend the Dick Francis Mysteries. If you're looking for faithful adaptations of Dick Francis novels, be forewarned that these may play a bit fast and loose!
[The stories included in this DVD set are also available in print format: Twice Shy, Blood Sport, and In the Frame.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for In the Frame ] | [ Internet Movie Database entry for Blood Sport ] | [ Internet Movie Database entry for Twice Shy ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemDirty Jobs with Mike Rowe - Collection 1 [DVD Dirty]

My wife and I have made made the watching of Dirty Jobs a "must see TV" event. Every week, host Mike Rowe finds himself learning the ins-and-outs of a new job, somewhere in the United States (although there have been a few "overseas" episodes as well). Most of these jobs are of the filthy and pungent variety, from garbage collectors and sewer workers to hot tar roofers and big animal veterinarians. The "gross-out" factor is one of the show's appeals, however that's just a "surface" factor. Beneath the disgusting appearance of many of these jobs, Mike is paying heartfelt tribute to the men and women across our country who do such jobs for a living, wading hip-deep daily into disgusting and thankless tasks that most of us would try to avoid. I've gained a serious appreciation for the unsung individuals who do what I could never do. Hour-long episodes of the TV show usually feature Mike in anywhere from 1 to 3 different jobs (depending on how much humor and/or fascination he can wring out of the experience). This DVD set pulls 24 different jobs together, though not necessarily in the exact same pairings as were shown on TV. Episodes from this set that I would highlight include: Pig Farmer, Ostrich Rancher, Disaster Cleaner-Upper, Coal Miner, Fuel Tank Cleaner, and the infamous Monkey Caretaker (in which Mike and his entire filming/production crew are terrorized by a small but vocal monkey in Africa).

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Dirty Jobs web site on Discovery.com ] | [ List of Dirty Jobs episodes on Wikipedia ]

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


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last updated September 2009
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