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

August 2010 Recommendations

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceReturn to the Hundred Acre Wood - In Which Winnie-the-Pooh Enjoys Further Adventures With Christopher Robin and His Friends
by David Benedictus [j]

This delightful book picks up where A.A. Milne's books left off nearly 80 years ago with the return of Christopher Robin to his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood after he has been away at school. In addition to the well-known characters of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and their friends, a new character is introduced: an otter named Lottie. What I enjoyed most about this book was the all-new illustrations drawn in the style of E.H. Shepard by illustrator Mark Burgess. Although I did not think that the writing style of David Benedictus was as entertaining as the writing of A.A. Milne, the stories were fresh and interesting, particularly when coupled with the color illustrations by Burgess. My six-year-old enjoyed these stories immensely.. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try "Winnie the Pooh", "The House at Pooh Corner" and "Now We Are Six" -- all by A.A. Milne.]

[ official Return to 100 Acre Wood and David Benedictus web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD2 Bodies for the Price of 1
by Stephanie Bond [Compact Disc Bond]

This is a good series for readers waiting for the next Stephanie Plum book. The author has taken what is normally a heartbreaking story and turned it on its ear and made it a laugh out loud delight. We meet Carlotta Wren ten years after she and her brother were abandoned by their parents. Their father, Randolph, was accused of investment fraud. Randolph maintained that he was framed. Instead of staying and fighting the charges Randolph and their mother, Valerie, left Atlanta leaving 18-year-old Carlotta to raise her nine-year-old brother Wesley. Carlotta and Wesley have struggled to adjust from wealthy childhoods to living from one payday to the next on Carlotta's salary as a sales clerk at Marcus-Neiman. Carlotta charges way too much on her credit cards and Wesley's addiction to poker led him to a relationship with loan sharks. 2 Bodies for the Price of 1 is the second book in this amusing series. When this book opens, Carlotta's financial situation is more precarious than it should be. She tries to replace her broken cell phone and is shocked to learn that someone used her identity to buy an expensive phone the previous week. Carlotta thinks that she is losing her mind when she goes to the body shop to pick up her car and she is told she picked it up an hour ago. Did she really forget that she picked up her car? If so, what did she do with it? Things become even weirder when she gets home and finds her brother and the three men vying for her charms shocked to see her walk in the door. It turns out that a woman with Carlotta's identification had committed suicide earlier that evening. The District Attorney, Kevin Lucas, sees Carlotta's "death" as the perfect opportunity to lure Carlotta's parents back to Atlanta. He arranges a fake funeral. Surely, Carlotta's parents will come and he can arrest them. As Lucas tries to lure the elder Wrens back to Atlanta, Carlotta works to find out who stole her identity and why they would want it. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich, the works of Harley Jane Kozak, or the Maggie Kelly Series by Kasey Michaels.]
[Also available in downloadable, book-on-cd formats.]

[ official Body Movies series page on the official Stephanie Bond web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Nowhere to Run
by C.J. Box

Joe's dedication to finding out the truth has caused him problems in his career. So many problems that Governor Spencer Rulon has hidden Joe out of sight as a temporary game warden in Baggs, Wyoming. Joe Pickett's exile from his family in Saddlestring is almost over. Only a few loose ends to tie up before he leaves Baggs and resumes his job as the game warden of Twelve Sleep County. Joe saddles up his horse and rides into the rugged Sierra Madre Mountains to check on reports of camps looted, tents slashed and elk butchered. As Joe explores the area he encounters an oddly dressed man fishing in a cirque. The man is wearing dirty jeans and an old, oversized flannel shirt with large red checks. This struck Joe as odd because it is not the clothing that most fishermen wear today. They prefer lightweight clothing that wicks away the moisture. Joe talks to the man and finds out that he doesn't have a license. He says that it's "back at camp". Joe follows him back to his camp and that's where he meets the man's twin brother. Joe has a bad feeling about the brothers. He toys with the idea of just leaving without giving Caleb Grim a citation. But Joe's innate sense of right and wrong won't let him walk away. This decision leads Joe into a violent confrontation with Caleb and Camish Grim. These characters, the brothers Grim, do not come from Box's imagination but from a true story that Box's game warden friend, Mark Nelson, told him. Nelson and another game warden were on a six-day packhorse trip in the Wind River Mountains checking fishermen for licenses and limits. One morning, far off the beaten path, they saw an oddly dressed man fishing in a small alpine lake. He wore dirty jeans and a red-checked flannel shirt. The man claimed to have a fishing license back at the camp. The game wardens followed him to his camp and met his twin brother. They gave the first brother a citation because he didn't have a fishing license. The other brother pulled a wad of bills out his pocket and immediately paid the fine. Both brothers gave off dangerous vibes and the game wardens were glad to leave. Nelson never heard about the brothers again. This is the tenth book in this engaging series. An environmental issue is woven into each plot. In addition to the human characters, Box also makes nature a character. Nature might take the form of a bone-chilling blizzard in the Big Horn Mountains or, as in this book, a nighttime escape from the Grim brothers down the forested mountainside. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Joseph Heywood, Steve Hamilton or Nevada Barr.]

[Also available in Large Print format.]

[ official Nowhere to Run page on the official C.J. Box web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceThe White Mountains
by John Christopher

In the first of the classic Tripods trilogy, Will Parker runs away from home to escape the Tripods, who keep the populace docile with meshed caps placed on their skulls. On the night that Will runs away, his cousin Henry follows him; Will does not particularly like his cousin, but when he hurts his ankle, Henry pillages food for him and Will soon revises his opinion. Across the Channel, in France, the boys join forces with Zhan-Pole, soon dubbed Beanpole. The other two books in the series (The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire) chronicles the boys'adventures within the Tripods capital city and the battle to overcome their oppressors.

[ Wikipedia page about The Tripods series ]

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


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book cover  Come One, Come All: Easy Entertaining With Seasonal Menus, With Over 150 Recipes from the Minneapolis Star Tribune Taste Section
by Lee Svitak Dean [641.505 Dea]

Are you looking for some fresh ideas for a party or your next family feast? This is a good book to page through for tips and inspiration. The menus are divided by the seasons. The spring menus focus on graduation parties and bridal showers. There is a menu for a bridal shower tea featuring Chicken Salad Mini-Cups. The summer menus are attuned to outdoor entertaining -- picnics and barbeques. The fall menus center on football parties and, of course, Thanksgiving. The winter menus celebrate the holidays with buffets and sit down dinners. Lee Svitak Dean is the food editor for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Tribune. These recipes are chosen from her columns. In the introduction, Dean credits her mother as her inspiration for hosting parties and dinners. Her mother's tips for a successful party are -- plan ahead, make lists, do as much as possible ahead, cleanup after yourself as you work and, most importantly, have fun. She also reminds us "it's not hard to impress your guests. They are simply glad that they are not cooking themselves."

[ official Lee Svitak Dean web site ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America
by Timothy Egan [Biography Roosevelt]

This is the story of the growth of the Forest Service told against the backdrop of the forest fire of 1910. This fire is the largest forest fire in American History. In two days in August it burned 3,000,000 acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana. At the time of the fire the Forest Service was in its infancy struggling to survive. President Teddy Roosevelt created the Forest Service in 1905 to manage the forest reserves. When Roosevelt left the White House the Forest Service lost its champion. Congress and the capitalists of the gilded age wanted the reserves moved from government control and placed in private hands for development. In order to effect the move Congress under funded the Forest Service forcing the rangers to pay for basic supplies out of their own pockets. The lack of support made it more difficult for the rangers to fight this fire, but they persevered. This book-on-CD is the story of the individual rangers and private citizens who risked life and limb to save themselves, the residents and the forest.

[Also available in downloadable and book-on-cd formats.]

[ official The Big Burn web site ] | [ official Timothy Egan blog ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The Burying Place
by Brian Freeman

A police detective fighting psychological demons; a mother facing her worst fear and a street cop who makes a risky decision; combine to make a perfect storm in this thriller. Jonathan Stride, and his lover, Serena Dial, are staying at his Minnesota cabin while he recovers from a near fatal fall off a bridge. He will soon go back to his job with the Duluth Police Department. A week before Stride is due back to work, Denise Sheridan, a deputy sheriff, asks Stride and Dial to investigate a kidnapping. Sheridan can't investigate the case because the child is her eleven-month-old niece. Callie disappeared from her crib the night before. The only adult in the house was her father, Dr Marcus Glenn who becomes the prime suspect. Maggie Bei, Stride's partner in Duluth, is keeping Stride in the loop about an ongoing investigation involving the disappearance of four women. The most recent victim was found by rookie cop, Kasey Kennedy, who made a risky decision in an attempt to save the woman. This is the fifth book in a series that keeps getting better and better; with characters that are all too human. Freeman says, "My goal is to write books with haunting characters and a lightning-fast pace." He has met his goal. Each night, I promised myself that I would read one chapter and go to sleep. I couldn't do it. I had to read the next chapter. The characters stay with me long after the books end. Stride, Dial and Bei have to make hard choices that impact their lives throughout the series. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of John Sandford, the works of Elizabeth Gunn, or the works of K.J. Erickson.]

[ Burying Place page on the official Brian Freeman web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys is Neil Gaiman's tangentially related follow-up to his Hugo and Nebula Award winning novel American Gods. This contemporary fantasy novel focuses primarily on the experiences of Fat Charlie Nancy, who, following the death of his estranged father, discovers that that deceased patriarch was also the god Anansi, the spider known throughout folklore as the spinner of stories and something of a trickster. And that's not Fat Charlie's only surprise -- he also discovers that he has a brother. A brother who seems to have inherited the magical side of the family's genes. Anansi Boys isn't really all that large a story, but Gaiman's deft and humorous literary touch lends it more weight than you might expect. The characters are all fascinating and though you might cringe at Fat Charlie's misfortunes, you can't help rooting for him to succeed in achieving his goals. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Gaiman's Hugo-winning novel, American Gods.]

[Also available in downloadable and book-on-cd formats.]

[ official Anansi Boys page on the official Neil Gaiman web site ]

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


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book cover  Ultimate Sailing
by Sharon Green with Douglas Hunter [797.124 qGre]

I have more than a passing interest in sailing since my husband sails a snipe and I often photograph the regattas in which he competes. Sharon Green fills the book with colorful photos of sailboat races. Green grew up sailing on Ontario's lakes. She combines her love of sailing with her love of photography to produce these stunning images. Green captured her images by riding in chase boats or shooting from a helicopter above these huge yachts. The photos take from helicopters give the viewer a bird's eye view of these massive boats as they tack and jibe around the course. The pictures taken from chase boats convey the drama of ocean racing. She catches the crafts as they plow through large waves, freezing the instant when water splashes over the bow of the sailboat drenching the crew. Glistening drops of salt spray are suspended in mid-air for all eternity. This is a coffee table book that I can look at often because there always some detail that I missed the other times that I paged through it. That happened when I looked at a photo of rigging breaking and crashing to the deck. The first time I looked at the image I saw the crew scrambling to get out of the way. The second time I looked at it I also saw a crewmember being pitched from the back of the boat.

[ official Ultimate Sailing web site from Sharon Green ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Route 66 Backroads: Your Guide to Scenic Sidetrips and Adventures From the Mother Road
by James Hinckley [917.3 qHin]

Route 66 is synonymous with the open road. It was a federal highway from 1926 until 1985 when it was decertified. Today it is a state highway in some places and a frontage road for I-40 in others. Preservation organizations worked hard to preserve this strip of pavement that wends its way from Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. This book is a tribute to Route 66 and a travel guide for people who want drive all or part of the highway. The author, Jim Hinckley offers suggestions for places to visit such as the New Salem Historic Site in Illinois. New Salem is a re-creation of the village where Abraham Lincoln lived. National Geographic photographers, Kerrick James, Rick Bowers and Nora Mays Bowers, lace this immensely readable travel guide with photos. The author, Jim Hinckley paints great word pictures about the scenery one passes while driving through the countryside. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Route 66 Cookbook by Marlin Clark, Traveling Route 66 by Nick Freeth or Route 66 Remembered by Michael Witzal.]

[ official Jim Hinckley blog ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Junkyard Dogs
by Craig Johnson

With this series you have to work to suspend your disbelief, but it is well worth the effort. Craig Johnson creates absurd situations that, in the real world, are appalling. He makes them laugh out loud, tears rolling down your cheeks funny. His characters are Walt Longmire, the aging and pragmatic sheriff of Absorka County, Wyoming and his chief deputy Vic Morretti. Vic is a feisty woman that comes from a long line of cops in Philadelphia. Her language is not something that is found in polite company. When this book opens we meet George Stewart, the junkyard mogul of Absorka County. He has just sailed through the air, breaking off a mailbox because he was tied by a long rope to the bumper of a rusty Oldsmobile Toronado driven by his grandson?s wife, Gina. When she started the car Gina didn?t know that her husband tied the old man to the car?s bumper. Walt learns that this is something that George and his grandson always do for safety when George climbs out of a second-story window of the old Victorian house onto the snow-covered roof to clean out the chimney. Walt also learns that George likes to use a kerosene soaked broom for this project. As Walt talks to the Stewart family he learns that they found a severed thumb frozen in a cooler. The thumb points the way to more serious crimes. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of James Doss, C. J. Box, or Steven Havill.]

[ official Craig Johnson web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Shoot to Thrill
by P.J. Tracy

Ah, the Monkeewrench Gang. They are some of my favorite fictional characters. Grace McBride and her geek friends made themselves wealthy creating and selling software for children under the name of Monkeewrench. Now they use their tech skills to help law enforcement agencies track down criminals. The four friends could not be more different in appearance and personality. Grace is mysterious and aloof. Annie Belinski is a voluptuous siren. Pony-tailed Harley Davidson rides his namesake. Roadrunner is a beanpole of a man that bikes everywhere. In each book they team up with likeable Minneapolis police detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth. The basis of Shoot to Thrill is the dark side of what people can do with the Internet. A traveling serial killer is filming people as he murders them and posts the videos on the Internet. These gruesome postings have attracted the attention of the FBI's Cybercrimes division. The FBI isn't able to track down the source of the videos because the person posting them is using sophisticated masking techniques. The FBI, in the form of Special Agent John Smith, is assigned to monitor the Monkeewrench Gang as they track down the killer. Harley Davidson, whose Minneapolis mansion houses the Monkeewrench offices, is not at all pleased about having the FBI looking over their shoulders because they break numerous laws when they solve crimes. This is the fifth book in this witty series by the mother-daughter writing team of Patricia J. and Traci Lambert. The technological descriptions are not too technical nor are they oversimplified. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Brian Freeman, Julie Kramer or Linwood Barclay.]
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official P.J. Tracy web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Firefly: Still Flying -- A Celebration of Joss Whedon's Acclaimed Television Series
by various authors [791.457 FirYw]

Firefly is one of those tv series that falls into the "cult favorites" category. Though it only survived for 12 hours on the small screen, it has since generated a fairly successful theatrical feature film and has built up legions of fans in the 8 years since it first aired. This gorgeously-designed behind-the-scenes "making of" book gathers articles from the series' main writers, remembrances from the cast members, plus a large collection of highly-detailed photographs, storyboards and conceptual sketches. All of which would be enough to recommend this on their own. But...of special note...four of the series writers contribute brand new short stories set in the Firefly universe. Those stories alone earn the 10 rating I'll give this one. Firefly fans won't want to miss this, and those who are curious about the show but may not have seen any episodes will still appreciate the in-depth look behind a tv series production. [If you enjoy behind-the-scenes books about tv productions, check out the 791.457 section of the non-fiction collection.]

[ Firefly episode guide on epguides.com ] | [ Whedonesque.com Firefly creator Joss Whedon's official blog ]

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


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book cover  Organizing Your Home: Decluttering Solutions and Storage Ideas
by Emily Wilska [648.8 Wil]

I enjoy books about organizing. I love looking through all the photos and seeing new gadgets in which to store goodies, or read about the latest computer program or online site to compile recipes into one easy-to-use location, or browse through the latest shabby chic scheme for binders, paper holders, and pens. My desk is piled high (ironically it's disorganized) with organizing books. This book took me longer than normal to get through for it had so much to offer. Yes, all good organizing books tell you to go through each room with three boxes - one for toss, one for keep, one for think-about-later; they all tell you to store "like items" together; and that heavy items are stored on the bottom shelf with the lightweight items on overhead shelves. And yes, this book also discusses the basics of organizing. But it also provides a guide for organizing every room of the house without getting bogged down. It covers Food Storage, Photos and Mementos, Home Technology, and Maintaining a Family Calendar. There're several color photos on every page to illustrate ideas along with tons of decluttering and storage solutions. Have luggage or toiletries bags you don't use any longer? Donate them to your local Foster Care Agency as many of those kids only have grocery sacks for storing their few belongings. The Resources list at the back of the book includes many websites for additional information for getting yourself organized. Websites include FEMA for a handy list of what to pack for an emergency; online sites (such as The Container Store) for ordering organizing tools and supplies; strategies to cut down on junk mail; several recycling sites offering info and locations for recycling electronics; how to store photos; where to order replacement china pieces; how long to keep financial records and why; how to safely dispose of medicines; and much more. The author also has a Facebook page and her own website where you can enroll for the Tip of the Week. Have fun browsing through this organizing book, or take your time and do a deep-read for the many useful tips and ideas. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The One-Minute Organizer Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin.]

[ official Organized Life web site ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemAlice in Wonderland
based on the characters created by Lewis Carroll

Directed by well-known director Tim Burton, this adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" answers the question what if Alice returned to Wonderland as an adult and found that everything was more fantastical than ever? Although I am not a fan of Tim Burton, I did enjoy the performances of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice. [If you enjoy this you may also wish to try Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, both by Lewis Carroll
[Also available in a variety of other formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Alice in Wonderland (2010) web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the VHS format of this itemEarly Aviation in Lincoln: When and Where Lindbergh Learned to Fly
by Vincent Goeres [Video 629.13 Goe]

In the process of researching an old aircraft manufacturing company in Lincoln's history, I had the opportunity to watch this 50-minute entry in the Nebraska State Historical Society's Preservation Association of Lincoln's "Brown Bag" presentation. NSHS volunteer Vincent Goeres discusses Lincoln's connections to aviation history, with particular emphasis to the early 1920s era during which Charles A. Lindbergh attended flight school here in the capitol city. Viewers will learn a lot about the airfields, aircraft manufacturers and flying schools that existed in the Lincoln area during the 1920s and 1930s. Goeres converted 40 to 50 of the photos in the NSHS archives into slides which are reproduced in his talk, but some of the camera work can be frustrating. However, this presentation tells more about Lincoln's aviation history than most other reference tools commonly available locally. [If you are interested in Lincoln history, check out more of the Preservation Association of Lincoln's brown bag lecture series -- all still on VHS format (now withdrawn from library collection).]

[ official Preservation Association of Lincoln 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 item(500) Days of Summer
DVD 500

Quirky little film about relationships and personalities. I watched this one mainly because I've enjoyed star Joseph Gordon-Levitt since his days as a child actor on the 1990s take on Dark Shadows, and later 3rd Rock From the Sun. I find myself torn in offering a recommendation for this film -- although I ended up enjoying it quite a lot, I can see why some viewers would find it very disappointing. Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a greeting card writer going through a vaguely unfulfilled life, expecting "fate" to lead him to encounter "the one" -- the girl he's destined to be with. Zooey Deschanel plays Summer, a free-spirited, independent young woman, who's not looking to be in any kind of heavy relationship, but who never-the-less finds herself connecting with Tom. The film explores the 500 days of their relationship -- the positives and the negatives -- in a non-sequential order, jumping backwards and forwards in their timeline. The performances are great. The storytelling technique is intriguing. It's just the ultimate conclusion of the film that could leave viewers with a sour taste. Personally, I found it a rewarding film to experience.
[Also available: soundtrack.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official 500 Days of Summer web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemGun
by Robert Altman and others [DVD Gun]

This was a quirkly little six-episode TV experiment that aired at the end of the 1996-97 season. Created by acclaimed Hollywood director Robert Altman (The Player, Gosford Park), this anthology series featured a different cast in every week's episode, but a common thread that tied all the stories together. Each story featured the same gun, a silver-plated pistol, whose presence had a major impact on the lives of the people who encountered it. Although the stories themselves ranged from powerful to average, each of the six episodes featured big-name stars in the cast, from Martin Sheen, James Gandolfini and Randy Quaid to Edward James Olmos, Sally Kellerman and Carrie Fisher. One oddity -- the order of the 6 episodes has been changed from how their aired on TV to how they appear on the DVDs. Check out the series' entry on epguides.com to see the original aired order.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this short series ]

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 itemZombieland
DVD Zombieland

This is a funny, bizarre, goofy, absurd take on the standard "zombies taking over" type of film. It compares favorably with Shaun of the Dead (2004), in many ways. In a world in which the majority of the population has fallen victim to some sort of virus that has turned them into brain-eating zombies, you'd think that the few unaffected human survivors would gladly team up to effectively find a way to fight off the plague of zombies. Not so much. Jesse Eisenberg plays nervous introvert "Columbus" who just tries to survive day-to-day. Woody Harrelson is the psychotic "Tallahassee", whose streak of violet mayhem permits him to survive. When this odd couple encounters a pair of savvy and survival-oriented sisters, they clash but ultimately team up to head to an amusement park that, unsurprisingly, doesn't live up to its zombie-free reputation. Will this combative group survive each other long enough to survive the zombies? Darkly humorous, in a sort-of sick way, with a great cameo from a surprising comedic actor once the gang reaches Hollywood. This one's not for everyone, but it might be for you!

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

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


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last updated August 2010
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