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The Bennett Martin Public Library downtown maintains an ongoing "Staff Recommendations" display -- Staff from throughout the library system are encouraged to submit book, audio, CD and DVD/video recommendations for items to be placed onto this display. Items on the display have bookmarks inserted, giving brief descriptions about the item's appeal factors, and listing similar books, audios or videos that the reader might also enjoy.

This page on BookGuide is used to highlight some of the items that have appeared on our Recommendations displays in the past, including our staff members' descriptions of the books, plus links to any "official Web sites" for the books, authors or series, if they exist*. Items on both the display and on this webpage may be recent releases, or older titles that deserve another look. Hotlinks on titles or formats (downloadable audio, book-on-CD, Large Print) connect to the appropriate entry in our on-line catalog, so that you may check on the availability of the item.

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

January 2011 Recommendations

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceWintergirls
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls is a fictional account of Lia, an eighteen year old girl whose best friend just died, in a motel room, alone. Before she died, the two girls were not on speaking terms. The night Cassie died, she attempted to reconcile with Lia by calling her cell phone, 33 times. Now her childhood friend is dead and the guilt of not answering Cassie's calls as well as the secrets she holds are weighing heavily on her conscience. When in Junior High, the two girls had made a pact to be the skinniest, to be skinnier than one another. This pact triggered full blown anorexia nervosa, an illness that Lia has learned to hide very well, despite landing in treatment centers twice. Lia's mental health fades as she continues to deprive her body of food and secretly exercises obsessively in the middle of the night. Not only are voices in her head telling her she is worthless, stupid, fat etc., she is now followed around by a hallucination of Cassie's ghost, who praises Lia for not eating, encourages her to keep exercising, stay strong, so they can "be together" by New Years Eve. Using first person narrative and unique writing techniques, the author is amazingly talented by being able to demonstrate just how manipulative, secretive and mentally ill Lia has become while hiding her anorexia. Still, this character has so many redeeming qualities, including a special bond with her five year old sister, that you really want to see Lia conquer her illness. This is an amazing story, written by the author of both Speak and Chains. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Massive by Julia Bell, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Unbearable Lightness by Portia DeRossi.]

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

[ official Wintergirls page on the official Laurie Halse Anderson web site ]

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


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book cover  Picture This
by Lynda Barry, with guest water colorist Kevin Kawula [741.5 Bar]

Picture This is part graphic memoir, part sketch book, part artist’s self help book and part drawing how-to book. Amidst all of these are decorative watercolors and drawings carefully illustrating the aforementioned parts. If paintings and drawings could talk, Barry’s writing is representative of what they would probably say. Strange and interesting musings throughout “Picture This,” cover diverse territories of her thoughts. Barry illustrates moments from her childhood in comic strips peppered throughout. She counters past insulting drawing critiques with written rebuttals, quirky collages and sketches. Her sense of humor comes in various short form drawings from her personification of a dust bunny (they do like gentle breezes, but hate vacuum cleaners) to a summer to-do checklist (don’t forget to stub your toe on a sprinkler or drink green Kool-Aid). All of these elements form a kind of storytelling collage. If you need some creative inspiration, a motivational pick me up after a bad critique or simply a road trip chuckle, this book is for you. Trivia: Friend and college classmate Matt Groening refers to Lynda Barry as, “Funk Queen of the Galaxy." Barry responded by noting that Groening is “Funk Lord of the USA.” [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try What It Is by Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, or Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli.]

[ Wikipedia page for Lynda Barry ] | [ an unofficial Lynda Barry web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceYou
by Charles Benoit

You wouldn't have noticed this book if you had not been putting a Young Adult sticker on it. You -- an intriguing book title with a striking cover: Y-O-U, spelled out in red pieces of broken glass. You skim the flap...a young adult "debut" with three prior adult mystery novels. So, not exactly a novice author, you think. You decide to read it. Author Charles Benoit, a former high school teacher, knows the territory in this book inside out. You can't get ahead of him. You don't want to. You can't put the book down. High school-. How has it changed? How is it the same? You've known someone like Kyle Chase, the main character. Or have you? You will have to read You to find out.

[ Publisher's official You web site ] | [ official Charles Benoit web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Kay V.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Chase's Calendar of Events (2011 ed.)
[R 394.26 qCha 2011]

This annual volume -- available at all Lincoln City Libraries locations in the non-circulating Reference collection -- is a wonderful and invaluable resource. Each year's edition of this large trade paperback opens with a set of colored pages that highlights significant "anniversaries" due to be acknowledged in that calendar year -- for events that specifically occured 200, 150, 100, 75, 50 and 25 years previously (in this case 1811, 1861, 1911, 1936, 1961 and 1986). The end of the book features numerous tables of useful information -- significant calendar dates for the next three years (holidays, starts of seasons, Daylight Savings Time change dates, etc.), listings of the Chinese calendar, classic and contemporary wedding anniversary gifts, a world map of time zones, astronomical phenomena (moon phases) charts, hurricane naming conventions, trivia info about the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, a list of U.S. presidential proclamations for the previous two years, lists of the major award winners in the fields of film, television, music, arts, humanities and journalism. The majority of this book, however, is a massive chronological listing of events -- day-by-day -- and anniversaries, primarily in North America (but occasionally in other countries). For sponsored events, or events with a web presence, the descriptions will give contacts' phone numbers, address and web addresses. There is also a very helpful 100-page index at the back of the book that assists researchers in finding events or anniversarsaries both geographically and by subject. Some examples: Curious about when the 2011 Belmont Stakes will be run? Page 315 - June 11 - Belmont Park, NY. Want to know when National Pecan Month is? Page 200 - April - Sponsored by the National Pecan Shellers Association. Know whose 125th birthday is being celebrated on December 1st? Mystery author Rex Stout (author of the Nero Wolfe stories). Want a list of noted celebrities who share your birthday, if you were born on July 5th? Page 356 - Edie Falco, Katherine Helmond, Huey Lewis, Robbie Robertson and a dozen more. This is not a book to just sit and read cover to cover, but it is a wonderful reference for researchers!

[ Publisher's official Chase's Calendar of Events web site ]

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


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book cover  This was the 1000th review submitted to Staff RecommendationsUnbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
by Portia DeRossi [Biography DeRossi]

After being cast as Nelle Porter in "Ally McBeal," Portia DeRossi's life of bulimia and being in the closet became much more complicated. DeRossi writes, without a ghost writer, about how her battles with bulimia, anorexia, and sexuality were affected by her new celebrity status. DeRossi traces her time on "Ally McBeal" and her ventures into celebrity (a L'Oreal spokeswoman deal, a Blockbuster film, red carpets, meeting Ellen DeGeneres) alongside her daily weight, food allotments, and exercise. This is the most personal, honest memoir I've ever read. DeRossi simply explains what her life was like and what she was thinking along the way. DeRossi does not stop to apologize or agonize over the roughest parts. Rather, DeRossi picks them apart to explain, in the best detail I've ever seen, the truth about eating disorders. While the memoir is emotionally tough and heartbreaking at times, it is an amazing read written. "Unbearable Lightness" is by not just another Hollywood actor, but an amazing woman who has taken the time to reflect on her life and retell it for the world to understand and learn from.

[ Publisher's official Unbearable Lightness web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Portia DeRossi ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Courtney D.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The End Game
by Gerrie Ferris Finger

Moriah Dru, owner of Child Trace Inc., teams up with Atlanta Police detective, Richard Lake to finding two missing girls. The girls, Dottie and Jessie Rose, vanish when their home catches on fire and their foster parents, Ed and Wanda Barnes die in the flames. As Moriah and Richard search for the girls they learn that Dottie and Jessie are not first children to have disappeared from the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta in the past eight years. A tip from an informant leads Dru and Lake to believe that the girls may be in the hands of child traffickers planning to sell them to wealthy South Americans. They work to find the girls before they can be taken out of the country. This fast paced novel won the 2009 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. Gerrie Ferris Finger tackles the grim topic of child trafficking with sensitivity. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Linda Castillo, Anne Holt and John Hart.]

[ official The End Game page on the official Gerrie Ferris Finger web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes
by Barry Grant

This volume is one of the latest books to cash in on the long-standing fascination with the legendary British sleuth, this time bringing Holmes into the modern era through a bit of a science fictional trick. The story is narrated by James Wilson, a recently retired journalist - a war coorespondent who's looking to settle into the small English town of Hay-on-Wye. Looking for lodgings, Wilson is connected (through a mutual acquaintance) with the eccentric Cedric Coombes, a man looking to share the expenses of a lodging, as he pursues a variety of odd research projects, primarily focused on pop culture and history of the the past 90 years. When Coombes is called in to consult on a local murder, Wilson accompanies him and slowly begins to realize that his roommate may very well be the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Coombes admits this and, interspersed with their contemporary murder investigation(s), shares with Wilson the tale of how he came to be "preserved" and brought back to existence in the 21st century. This is a fun, though slow-paced, read, and the characterizations are excellent. The mystery is pretty obvious, and a heavy-handed political editorializing to the conclusion may prove to be rather jarring for many readers. However, if you're a fan of classic Holmes, and don't mind a few twists, this is worth a try!

related lists See more books like this on our Elementary... booklist
Review Score - 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Photojojo: Insane Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas
by Amit Gupta [745.59 Gup]

In a time when digital photography has caused so many photos to be stuck in the pixelated worlds of hard drives and Facebook accounts, Photojojo reads like a breath of fresh air. For those who need motivation to print, this DIY photography project book is the answer. Photojojo is broken up into two parts; the first includes 'how to' creative uses for photographs and the second 'how to' use your camera in new ways. The step by step directions are concise and simple with descriptive illustrative photos. Most of the projects included are very simple to do or make with few supplies, a tight budget, and within a short time frame. This is a fun idea grab book for all ages and skill levels. Teachers and parents will find group and kid friendly projects. Photojojo is also a great read for photo enthusiasts who'd like yet another reason to print their photos and take their cameras for a spin around the block. If you want to know how to; make a monopod out of a string, turn a bottle-cap into a tripod head, make a poor mans fish eye lens, need a new lampshade, or how to create a "magnetic fridge-based Mr. You Head" this book is for you. P.S.: If you're in need of even more Photojojo, check out their snazzy website for more ideas, a fun photography blog, or connect your Flickr account to their "Time Capsule" project! at www.photojojo.com. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The A-Z of creative digital photography by Lee Frost, Creative digital scrapbooking : designing keepsakes on your computer. by Katherine Murray, Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule, and Craftcycle : 100+ eco-friendly projects and ideas for everyday living by Heidi Boyd.]

[ official Photojojo web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Walking Dead: Book One: A Continuing Story of Survival Horror
by Robert Kirkman (writer), Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard (artists) [741.5 qKir]

My first exposure to The Walking Dead was the AMC television series based on Kirkman's series of graphic novels. Having enjoyed that series tremendously, I thought I'd go back and read the original. I found this graphic novel series to be intense and engrossing. This is far, far more than merely "people trying to survive a post apocaplyptic scenario". The primary focus of this graphic novel series is on the characters, their relationships and their motivations -- you grow to care about this people and watching the chaos they find themselves in the midst of is truly scary. The graphic novel version of the story goes in a different direction than the AMC series, but there are enough similarities that fans of the show should enjoy the books as well. Just be prepared -- both the series and the books are graphically intense, and probably not for younger readers. I thought I would be disappointed that the art is B&W instead of full-color, but the stark quality is actually rather well accomplished. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, both by max Brooks.]


[ Wikipedia page for The Walking Dead ] | [ official Robert Kirkman web site ] | [ official Walking Dead TV series web site ]

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


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book cover  Slow Cookers for Dummies
by Tom Lacalamita [641.7 Lac]

My initial reaction at seeing this book was disbelief. What could be simpler than using a slow cooker? You read the little manual that accompanies your slow cooker and you're ready to go. But after several months I finally picked up this book, prepared to ridicule it, and was pleasantly surprised. The author begins with an interesting history of the slow cooker and the various brands available (FYI: "crockpot" is a registered trademark of the Rival Corp). Learn the difference between slow cookers, and appliances that cook slowly. He expands on your little instruction manual on use and care, and most importantly the "whys." Avoiding salmonella is one of your main goals here and a handy Cooking Temperature guide is included so you'll know the safe cooking temp needed for each food to achieve. Not necessary for success in using your slow cooker but a nice piece of info to have regardless. Additionally is included a table of how long you can store foods safely in the fridge (and freezer) before you've created a cool bacterial science project. How many of us have wondered if that 5-day-old chicken casserole in the back of the fridge is still safe? (No.) Learn how to convert your conventional recipes to a slow cooker. The author provides several recipes prepared in the conventional fashion and then as a slow cooker creation. A good half of this book includes recipes, as well as tips on how to handle any problems you might have. Also interesting, a list of Special Occasions for which you might use your slow cooker and sample menus (Super Bowl Chili Party, skiing trips, summer picnic). Overall, a basic, enjoyable, informative book on a topic you thought you already knew all about.

[ Publisher's official Slow Cookers for Dummies web site ] | [ Publisher's official Tom Lacalamita web site ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Liar, Liar
by K.J. Larsen

Caterina Delucia owns the Pants on Fire Detective Agency. When Cat isn't photographing straying husbands in the arms of their paramours, she's fending off her overbearing mother who thinks that she needs to go into a safer line of work. Cat gets more than she bargains for when she takes Rita Savino's case. Rita hires Cat to find proof that her husband Chance is cheating on her. Cat follows Chance around Chicago but nothing suspicious happens until Chance confronts her and tells Cat that Rita is not his wife. He then walks into a warehouse that promptly explodes. Flying debris hits Cat and just before she passes out she sees Chance escape the fiery conflagration. When Cat awakes in the hospital with a concussion she hears that Chance Savino was killed in the blast. Cat insists that the authorities misidentified the man killed in the explosion. Cat tries to find Rita but she has disappeared. Her investigation puts Cats life in danger and her family of Chicago cops and a few friends with dubious backgrounds come to her rescue. A trio of sisters writing under the pen name of K. J. Larsen has created a laugh-filled debut novel that lovers of the Stephanie Plum novels will enjoy. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Janet Evanovich, Harley Jane Kozak and Stephanie Bond.]

[ official Books page on the official K.J. Larsen web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The Fatal Heir
by Lois Lewandowski

Gillian Jones is a part-time probation officer and a newly minted investigator for Jackson County, Nebraska. Her first case as an investigator is to find the birth parents of Caroline Schwartz. Caroline has little information for Gillian. All Caroline knows is that she was left at a monastery near Aspen, Colorado in 1967 and that the Purina salesman left her in Bend Brook at Howard and Libby Mehrman's home. Howard tells Gillian that he and Libby tried to adopt a child but were not having any success because the adoption agencies said that they were too old. One night in September 1967 their Purina salesman, Pete Livingston, calls them and asks if they would like to adopt a baby girl. They say yes and the next day Pete puts Caroline in Libby's arms. Caroline wants to know who her birth parents are and she asks Gillian for help to find them. Lois Lewandowski has written an engaging debut novel set in the fictional town of Bend Brook, Nebraska. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Joanne Fluke and Laura Childs.]

[ official Lois Lewandowski web site ]

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


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book cover  The Huckleberry Murders
by Patrick McManus

Blight County, Idaho where legal statutes are suggestions instead laws to be enforced -- this is the approach that Sheriff Bo Tully takes to his job. That attitude works until a crime wave breaks out in the area. Three young men are found shot to death, execution style, in a huckleberry patch on Scotchman Mountain. Then a longtime local rancher Orville Poulson, is reported missing by his estranged wife, Marge. She claims that Ray Crockett, Orville's ranch foreman is responsible. Bo uses his unorthodox methods to unravel the murders and Orville's disappearance. Patrick McManus is a retired humor columnist for Outdoor Life. Fortunately, he didn't retire his sense of humor when he left the magazine. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of James Doss and Craig Johnson.]

[ official Books page on the official Patrick McManus web site ]

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


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book cover  While I Was Gone
by Sue Miller

While I was gone tells the story of Jo, a woman who lives a seemingly happy life. She has a loving husband, three grown daughters, and a successful business. However, Jo seems restless and not quite comfortable with her life. An old roommate named Eli reenters Jo's life and turns her world upside down. Eli reminds Jo of her past in which she lived in a house with 6 other carefree twenty-somethings. He also brings back some painful memories and has a secret that will change what Jo believes about her past, and possibly her future. I became caught up in this book. The narration is wonderful as I thought I was really with Jo as she struggled to make decisions and come to terms with her life.

[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ Publisher's official While I Was Gone web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Sue Miller ]

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


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book cover  The Yukon
by Pat and Baiba Morrow [917.191 qMor]

The word Yukon conjures up images of gold miners from the late 1800s hiking over the Chilkoot pass, their backs bent from the weight of their packs. For people of my generation, it also brings to mind the old TV show, Sergeant Preston of Yukon. Every week I watched the Mountie with his faithful dog, Yukon King battle the elements and the criminals. This book is much more than a walk in the past of the Yukon. It is a travelogue of the Yukon today. Stunning photos grace each page, showing us the beauty of the territory from its southern border to the northern tip. There are images of breathing mountain vistas and close-ups of fuzzy, white rough-legged hawk chicks and ripe blueberries and cloudberries. Adventure photojournalists, Pat and Baiba Morrow take us on a tour of a part of Canada that they love. This book is a good reference for anyone who is planning a trip to explore the wilderness of the Yukon. Turning the pages is also a delight for armchair travelers.

[ official Pat and Baiba Morrow web site ]

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


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book cover  The Night Bookmobile
by Audrey Niffenegger [741.5 Nif]

I had read some positive comments about this "adult picture book", from the author of The Time Traveler's Wife, and was happy to have a chance to read it. I had no idea Niffenegger was also an artist, although the art in this graphic novel is notably simplistic (for the most part). The tale she tells, however, is whimsical, nostalgic, thoughtful, depressing and uplifting all at once. Told in retrospect, this is the story of Alexandra, a young woman who stumbles across the Night Bookmobile, in a large Winnebago staffed by librarian Robert Openshaw. This mysterious mobile library is only open from Dusk until Dawn, and she discovers that it is ONLY stocked with the hundreds of books that she has already ready in her young life. Inspired to reconnect with the books she's always loved, Alexandra seeks out the bookmobile again, only to not find it whenever she's actually looking for it. It is only when she stop looking that it reappears to her at various times in her life. I found myself very moved by this work, despite its at-times childish art style. If you're a lover of books, you will connect with The Night Bookmobile's message -- that, as Neil Gaiman says, "what we read makes us who we are." Delightful and thought-provoking! [I have a hard time recommending that readers try her full-length novels, The Time Travelers Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, but Niffenegger does have two experimental photographic novels that might appeal to fans of this graphic novel.]

[ Night Bookmobile page on the UK's "The Guardian" site ] | [ official Audrey Niffenegger web site ]

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


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book cover  Like No Other Place: The Sandhills of Nebraska, Photographs and Stories
by David A Owen [978.232 Owe]

One of the items on David Owen's bucket list was to live a place totally different from his home in urban Connecticut for a few years. Owen explained "Whenever Anne and I traveled, I wondered what it would be like to live in this place or that for a long enough period of time to get a solid and thoughtful sense of the history, the memories and the stories; of the beliefs and values; of how weather and geography formed the living there; of the diet and the spirituality; of how all of this orders and shapes the routine of daily life." A chance remark by a classmate at photographic workshop in Maine led David Owen to consider the Sandhills. The classmate talked about the beauty of the Sandhills where he had grown up. The comment stayed in David Owen's mind. He and his wife, Anne, decided to vacation in western Nebraska and see these rolling hills. They camped at Lake McConaughy and drove the two-lane highways that cut through the sparse landscape. Owen said that he knew this was the place that he wanted to be when he saw the way the light played over the land; "the strong summer light raised a subtle richness of shadows that brought out every latent curve, depression and angle. This was the place. The Sandhills was where I wanted to be." David Owen packed a small U-haul truck and moved to the Sandhills, specifically Ellsworth, Nebraska (population 32). His landlady, Kathie Bixby, introduced Owen to small town life and ranching in the Sandhills. He documented his time in Nebraska with his camera and with his pen. The result is this fine book filled with black and white photos of life in this vast prairie branded by fences. No detail escaped his lens -- not the pegboards of wrenches or the racks of ear tags hanging in the Ashby Ranch store. His essays describe events such as praise parties in rich detail, down to the food served at the potluck dinners and songs and hymns sung. And there are stories about the people such as Heidi Ostrander, who, after earning a degree in Accounting at Chadron State College in 2003, chose to return to the family ranch. This is a book about people and the land that provides them with economic and emotional sustenance. It is a fine work.

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemDollhouse
created by Joss Whedon [DVD Dollhouse]

Dollhouse is one of the quirkiest television offerings from producer/writer Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and the cult hit Firefly. Eliza Dushku (who played the recurring character Faith on Buffy) stars in this ensemble series as Echo, an "Active" who is a tool of a mysterious organization called Dollhouse. Actives are programmable human beings -- capable of having complete personalities and memory sets downloaded into them, so that they can temporarily perform certain jobs or tasks (for the Dollhouse's elite clients) -- burglar, lover, spy, etc. -- then they can be blanked out and reprogrammed for their next task. Actives are not supposed to remember anything from their previous roles, but Echo is starting to remember her "past lives". And she's not the only one. Dollhouse ran for two seasons, and the second season was a tour-de-force of science fiction brilliance. Though this first season wasn't quite as strong, it definitely set the stage with some creepy and provocative storylines, as well as some truly impressive performances by Dushku and the rest of the recurring cast. I recommend both seasons, but watch this one with an eye towards appreciating the second season even more! I'd rate season one a 6 and season two a 9, with an 8 average.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Dollhouse 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 itemFarscape
created by Rockne S. O'Bannon [DVD Farscape]

Farscape, which ran on the Sci Fi Channel from 1999 to 2003, was one of the most inventive, imaginative, creative, emotional and mind-blowing science fiction series to have aired on television in the past 50 years. Produced by Rockne S. O'Bannon and the staff of Jim Henson Productions, Farscape combined human actors (many in heavy prosthetic make-up designs) and highly detailed muppets (think Yoda as he appeared in the original Star Wars film trilogy), to create an exotic cast of characters. The main character was human astronaut John Crichton, who is testing an experimental spacecraft design in near-Earth orbit when he is thrown through an unexpected wormhole to the far edge of another galaxy. There, he quickly finds himself on a living ship, fleeing a tyrannical military police force with a group of intergalactic escaped convicts. His fellow rebels include a gigantic warrior, a peace-loving and highly spiritual blue-skinned woman evolved from a plant, the dethroned leader of an alien race, and one of the military pursuers, whose interactions with the rebels have contaminated her beyond the ability to rejoin her military brethren. As the series progressed, characters both left and joined the series, making the cast fluctuate. But at the heart, it was Crichton's hot-and-cold relationship with ex-Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun that formed the core of the show. Over four seasons, there were some truly horrible villains, some bad guys who became good guys, and more bizarre alien species than you can possibly imagine. There was also some of the best writing, acting, set design and special effects you'll ever see in a genre-based television series. Farscape is a series not-to-be-missed by science fiction fans, and I would recommend it to non-SF fans as a good example of how mind-bending genre TV can be! I'm rating it 9 instead of 10 only because in four seasons there were a few scattered misfires, but on the whole this was a terrific series!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Farscape web site from Jim Henson Productions ] | [ official Farscape web site from the SciFi Channel ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemFoyle's War
by Anthony Horowitz

As World War II rages over Europe, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle fights his own battles against murder, conspiracy and intrigue on the homefront of the south coast of England. Although the stories are fictitious, they are all inspired by historical events that happened during the war. The main character of Foyle was created by writer Anthony Foyle with actor Michael Kitchen in mind. Kitchen also helped to create the character of Foyle through his meticulous portrayal of the Chief Superintendent. The interactions of the three main characters (Foyle, Sam and Milner) are what makes this dramatization stand out above others. At this time, the series has had six installments, all worthy of viewing. I highly recommend this DVD set. [If you enjoy this, you might wish to try the DVD sets of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Danger UXB!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Foyle's War web site from PBS ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemJohn Adams
based on the biography by David McCullough [DVD John]

This HBO mini-series aired in 2008. Based on the book by David McCullough, the series chronicles the life of Founding Father John Adams as he moves from his role as Boston lawyer and farmer to patriot and ambassador, and from his roles as Vice President and President of the United States to retired farmer. Paul Giamatti's performance as John Adams is incredible. He plays John with both subtleness and passion. The portrayal of the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is extremely well-done. I highly recommend this DVD. [If you enjoy this, you may wish to try the book John Adams by David McCullough, "The Adams Chronicles" PBS mini-series (1976) available on DVD; can be checked out through ILL, and the book My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams by John Adams.]
[Also available in print and book-on-cd formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official John Adams mini-series web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemRobin Hood (2010)
[DVD Robin]

I've always been a fan of the Robin Hood series. The animated movie was my favorite growing up and I've read all the books, but they all tell the same story. He's an outlaw. He steals from the rich and gives to the poor. He's able to make the king look like an idiot. But, the great thing about the movie is that it shows how he became an outlaw. It tells the story of him fighting in the war, how he met Marian, and why the king hates him in the first place. It's action-packed and there are moments of comedy that really make you laugh. [If you like this, you may also enjoy the other well-known Robin Hood movies, including Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Robin Hood movie web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library and South Branch Library


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last updated January 2011
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