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

August 2011 Recommendations

book cover  The Wandering Soul Murders
by Gail Bowen

Joanne Kilbourn is enjoying a beautiful May morning that only Saskatchewan can provide. Then the phone rings and the trouble begins. Her distraught daughter, Mieka, calls because she just found the body of her teen-aged cleaning woman in the dumpster behind her store. It appears that Bernice is the latest victim in a series of prostitute killings. Then her son's former girlfriend, Christy Sinclair, reappears in Peter's life. Reluctantly, Joanne takes the obsessive Christy to Echo Lake for Mieka and Greg's engagement party. During the party, Christy dies of a drug overdose. Joanne is shocked to learn that Christy named her as Christy's next of kin. She also feels guilty because she did not like Christy. Joanne learns that both Bernice and Christy had teddy bear tattoos on their buttocks. Joanne and her friend Jill, a TV news director, probe their deaths. The unsavory trail that Joanne discovers leads her to Blue Heron Point in the woods of northern Saskatchewan. This is the third book in a series that is peopled with engaging characters. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Vicki Delaney, Steve Hamilton and Louise Penny.]


[ official Gail Bowen web site ]

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


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book cover  Agent X
by Noah Boyd

Wisecracking Steve Vail teams up with Assistant FBI Director, Kate Bannon, in this adventure filled ride around our nation's capitol. Vail, a former FBI agent, is recruited by the FBI director to follow the trail that Calculus, a Russian embassy staffer, has left for them. Calculus approached the FBi with a business proposition. He had a list of double agents who were dealing with the Russians and he offered to sell this list to the U.S. government. Before the deal could be finalized, the Russians whisked Calculus back to the mother country, presumably torture him until he told all. Steve and Kate must discover who the moles are before the Russians kill them. In order to identify them, Vail has to solve a number of puzzles Calculus left that lead to the spies. This is the second novel that Paul Lindsay wrote under the pseudonym, Noah Boyd. Lindsay wrote number of novels featuring FBI agents under his own name. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Alex Berenson, Brad Thor and David Baldacci.]

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ official Noah Boyd page on his publisher's web site ]

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


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book cover  Talk Show
by Dick Cavett [791.45 Cav]

After years in the entertainment industry as the host of his own titular TV talk show, Dick Cavett was invited by the New York Times to pen a regular "column" for that august publication. Knowing that Cavett came from Lincoln, I was happy to find Talk Show on the new books display recently. Cavett has a witty, observational tone to his writings. He's also very funny, in that dry, intellectual, "New Yorker" way. Still, despite the type of sophisticated image that he projects, it is fun to hear him talk of his formative years living in Lincoln. Cavett's subject matter for his columns varies wildly, from the expected remembrances of his talk show days and the many celebrities he interacted with, to his childhood, to his public battles with severe depression. Cavett is easy to listen to -- I sampled the book-on-cd version of this title. However, whether you're reading this or listening to it, I caution that Cavett is an unapologetic liberal, and conservatives or supporters of George W. Bush are likely to be put off by some of Cavett's angrier columns. Never-the-less, it's a pleasure to re-visit one of the 1970s and 1980s TV icons I grew up on...especially with the "local" connection! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Cavett's earlier books. Also, the libraries have several DVD compilations featuring "best of" collections of bits from the Dick Cavett Show...these are definitely worth checking out!]

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

[ Dick Cavett entry on Wikipedia ] | [ official Dick Cavett NYT blog from which this book originated ]

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


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book cover  Star Wars Super Collectors Wish Book
by Geoffrey T. Carlton [745.1 qCar]

This massive 440+ page guide to Star Wars collecting is exceeding dense in details. Close to 500 different categories of authorized/licensed products are included, with almost every single page of this guide illustrated with color photos of the collectibles in question, often shown in their original packaging. Much of George Lucas' financial empire comes from the fact that he retained merchandizing rights on the original 1977 Star Wars (and all subsequent films), and used those rights vigorously. The popular Star Wars saga characters, from young Luke Skywalker and mercenary Han Solo to Qui-Gon Jin, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the diminutive Yoda, have appeared on everything from action figures, cookie jars and lunch boxes, to bubble bath, lip balm and wallpaper. Browse this detailed encyclopedia of Star Wars products and reconnect with your childhood -- can you find that Admiral Ackbar action figure you grew up with, or were you one of the lucky members of the Star Wars Fan Club who bought a "Revenge of Jedi" one-sheet theatrical poster, before they renamed the film "Return of the Jedi"? This isn't a book to read cover-to-cover, and it's now a few years old, but if you've got some old Star Wars toys in a closet, this volume may give you a rought idea of their value. And "May the Force (of collecting) Be With You!" [There have been 4th and 5th editions of this published since this 3rd edition came out. Although the Lincoln City Libraries do not own these, you can get them through InterLibrary Loan. There are also numerous other Star Wars collectible guides, but this is definitely an impressive one!]


[ official Publisher's web site ]

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


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book cover  The House of Collectibles Price Guide to Star Trek Collectibles
by Sue Cornwell and Mike Kott [745.1 qCor - 4th edition 1996]

This is a 260+ page guide to the world of Star Trek collectibles, covering 43 different categories of merchandise and products that were released to tie in to the classic Star Trek tv series (1966-69), and its later sequels, Star Trek the Next Generation (1987-94), Star Trek Deep Space Nine (1993-99) and Star Trek Voyager (1995-2001). This particular collectibles guide came out in 1996, and thus pre-dates the series Enterprise and the recent Star Trek reboot movie. Opening with a six-page brief history of Star Trek collecting, and a five-page guide to buying and selling Star Trek merchandise, the remainder of the book is a massive catalog to all things Trek -- including numerous black and white photos and an 8-page color photo insert in the middle. Each category of collectible merchandise provides a broad overview description, then detailed product lists identifying every authorized product released in that category. Categories range from the obvious -- Books, Model Kits, Puzzles, Puzzles and Toys -- to the odd and obscure -- Autographs, Blueprints, Costume Patterns and Jewelry. Keeping in mind that the price ranges mentioned in this 1996 volume are a bit of date, this is still an invaluable catalog for collectors wanting to identify all the authorized products put out up to that date. As a Star Trek collector, may you "Live Long and Prosper!" [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Trekker's Guide to Collectibles With Values (although it is older than the reviewed title!).]


[ official House of Collectibles web site ]

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


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book cover  AnnaBelle, You Did What? An Epic Tale
by Don Darnell [793.33 Dar]

I've met Don Darnell and enjoyed his company as a library customer several times, and enjoyed his descriptions of writing this book. Enough so that I decided to read it. I'm glad I did! AnnaBelle, You Did What? is a marvelously entertaining personal memoir, with a specific focus. Don explores his experiences learning to dance with his beloved wife, AnnaBelle, starting in their fifties. For anyone who has spent time at the PlaMor Ballroom, enjoying big band music, and wishing they had the skills and gumption to be out on the floor twirling around without embarrassing themselves. Don's writing style is light, and full of wonderful self-deprecating observations. The local nature of the events in the books should connect well with Lincoln readers, especially those with a few years under their belts. And on top of everything else, this is a passionate love story. For anyone who's watched the classical dances on Dancing With the Stars and wistfully wished they could take part, this book provides a glimpse of how enjoyable the world of amateur dancing can be. I also loved the reminiscing about the Big Band era musicians, such as the Bobby Layne Orchestra. Quite an enjoyable read. Congrats, Don!


[ official PlaMor Ballroom web site ]

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


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book cover  On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio
by John Dunning [R 791.44 Dun]

Incredibly detailed guide to all the old-time radio programs -- dramas, sitcoms, informational shows -- which aired from the 1920s through the 1960s. Although this guide only gives descriptions of the shows, without separate entries for performers or networks, the descriptions they offer for each show have far more detail than any other guide. Information provided includes the show's broadcast history, directors, producers, stars, orchestras, creators, and a long description of the basic plot and/or backstory for each of the dramas and comedies. Dunning provides an extensive bibliography of other books and articles on his topic, and the index at the back of the book is huge -- if you want to know which radio programs Lucille Ball appeared on with regularity, you'll find them all cross-referenced here. I have found this reference volume exceptionally helpful in answering questions about classic radio shows; the only complaint I would offer is that there are absolutely no illustrations in the entire 800+ page book! If you'd like to browse this volume, it is available only in the reference collection at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Encyclopedia of American Radio -- shorter descriptions, but more illustrations!.]


[ Old-Time Radio page on Wikipedia ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CDState Fair
by Earlene Fowler [Compact Disc Fowler]

It's county fair time. Bennie Harper Ortiz splits her time between working at the Sinclair Folk Art Museum and Artists Co-op booth and escorting her great-aunt Garnet around the exhibits. When a replica of a Harriett Powers story quilt is stolen and a fairgoer is found murdered at the Piebald Farm exhibit Bennie investigates and Garnet is her eager assistant. They sort through a list of suspects with a variety of motives. Fowler paints a great picture of the hustle and bustle of a fair. Carnies calling out to passersby to come try their luck at games of chance. The aroma of fair food wafts through the air. 4-Hers proudly show their cattle and hogs in hopes of winning the grand champion trophy. This delightful book, filled with homespun charm, is a blue ribbon winner. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Monica Ferris and Amanda Lee.]

[Also available in regular print and Large Print formats.]

[ official State Fair page on the official Earlene Fowler web site ]

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


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book cover  The Photographer
by Emmanuel Guibert [958.1 qGui]

Sometimes distance, language and culture are barriers to understanding a country. Afghanistan has been a country in an area of the world of great mystery for most Americans. Afghanistan was pushed to the forefront of American news after 9/11. I picked up The Photographer after reading about it on the American Library Association's recommended nonfiction reading list for 2010. The Photographer combines the diaries and images of French photographer Didier Lefèvre's and fill in the blank illustrations of Emmanuel Guibert to tell the fantastic and dangerous account of a French Doctors Without Borders team in 1986. In 1986 Afghanistan was at war with the Soviet Union. The Photographer takes the reader through the treacherous Hindu Kush Mountains with a caravan that must avoid targeted roads while the country is at war. The caravan's purpose is to deliver people and supplies to remote regions of Afghanistan. The Photographer includes two unconventional elements which make it a very exciting read. One is in its visual presentation. Using a mixture of b&w photographs and drawings I felt as though I was reading a unique documentary movie. Guilbert's The Photographer is a travel diary, photo book, and graphic novel all in one. This is a unique must read for those curious about Afghan culture and history. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The 9/11 Report or Waltz with Bashir.]


[ official Emmanuel Guibert web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  How to Have Style
by Isaac Mizrahi [746.92 Miz]

Pubished in the fall of 2008, How to Have Style is somewhat of an oldie in terms of the fashion world. However, designer Isaac Mizrahi cleverly wrote this book to be timeless, for a while at least. It's hard to pick up a book about how to dress and not feel some pretentious millionaire house wives vibe, but Mizrahi's voice is tender on the subject. How to have style is simply about personal wardrobe problem solving geared towards getting out of common fashion ruts. Even in sections that do not seem specifically applicable, (i.e. ideas for petites - but you're not a petite etc.), there are useful tips for all. It's a quick read and worth reading cover to cover, not just skimming (of course that's up to you). Instead of focusing on what the problems are, this book focuses on how to fix them. How to develop, create, find, tune and hone in on your own stylish wardrobe. Get out of your jeans, shop on a budget, and find your style icon. A fun and quick read on your way to the mall for wannabe fashionistas. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The September Issue : Anna Wintour & The Making of Vogue. DVD 746.92 Sep, Jackie : The Clothes of Camelot. 746.92 Mul, What Not to Wear 646.34 Woo, or The Bombshell Manual of Style 646.34 Sto.]


[ official Isaac Mizrahi video blog ]

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


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book cover  Tongues of Serpents
by Naomi Novik

This, the sixth in the popular Temeraire series, by Novik, was probably my least favorite so far. However, I'd still rather read an "average" Temeraire novel than one from almost any other series. The Temeraire books, equal parts historical adventure and fantasy, are styled after the Horatio Hornblower novels of C.S. Forester, but with intelligent (and often quite cultured) dragons as the "sailing vessels". Former British naval officer Will Laurence, convicted of treason in the previous volume of the series for his actions in battle against Napoleon's forces, is sentenced, with his free-thinking dragon Temeraire, to an 8-month journey by sea to the British penal colony of Australia. Once there, in order to try to remain outside the political fray of a rebellion in the colony, Laurance, Temeraire and their fellow dragons and aviators take on the task of tracking smugglers in the interior of the Australian continent. Though this volume in the series has almost no outright "action" and "adventure" it is filled with character development and changes in the political landscape that forms the backdrop of this Napoleonic-era plot. I've seen it mentioned in other reviews, and I'd have to agree -- in the complicated gameboard of Temeraire's world, Tongues of Serpents felt like Novik moving the playing pieces into place for their next big encounter, but never quite getting to that encounter. A tasty treat, but a bit too much of a tease for the next volume.

[ official fan-created Wiki for the world of Temeraire ] | [ official Naomi Novik web site ]

Review Score - 6
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 itemBabies
by Thomas Balmès and Alain Chabat [DVD 305.232 Bab]

Babies is a refreshing documentary that chronicles the first year of life for four infants from around the globe. Babies was shot in Tokyo, San Francisco, rural Mongolia and a village in Namibia. Much of the non-narrative story is set up by these exotic locations, which express the dichotomy of birth, childhood and family on different continents. Cultural and economic differences are silently considered through the similarities and differences between the babies care and development. Cinematographically, Thomas Balmes does not disappoint the viewer visually in any way. Breathtaking silent shots in each locale are narrated by baby baubles and the ambient sounds of each family's environment. Humorous and tender moments are peppered throughout as each baby struggles with siblings, farm animals and personal mobility. This movie is engaging for adult and child audiences. Did I forget to mention the babies are cute, do cute things, and react in cute ways? Squeamish viewers should be aware of a handful of tasteful breast feeding scenes. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Microcosmos : Le Peuple de L'herbe (DVD 595.7 Mic) or In the Womb (DVD 618.24 Nat)]

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

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemHachi - A Dog's Tale [DVD j Hachi]

If you have a sentimental bone in your body, have a box of tissues handy when you watch this film! After hearing wonderful things about the movie Hachi, I finally took the time to watch it on DVD recently and found myself opening crying at various times throughout the film. Based on a real-life incident that took place in China, Hachi is about an adorable - and rare - Akita pup that gets lost in delivery to its proper owner, and temporarily adopted by a college professor who stumbles across it in an east-coast train station. Against his wife's better wishes, Professor Parker ends up adopting Hachi permanently when no-one else shows up to claim him. The Akita breed forms unbreakable bonds with their human "masters", and Hachi is no exception. He breaks through fences and doors in order to accompany Wilson to and from his daily train stop to work. When tragedy strikes the Wilson family, Hachi's love and loyalty are put to harsh test. The human performances in this film are great -- with Richard Gere as Parker Wilson, Joan Allen as his wife, and a large cast of recognizable faces as other family members, friends, co-workers and students. However, it is the team of dogs that the film-makers worked with as Hachi that steal the show. These dogs are astonishingly expressive, and my heart simply broke at the strength of relationship between Hachi and Wilson...a love that transcends time. Don't forget to watch the extras on this disc, particularly those that tell the story of the real-life "Hachi" that inspired this fictionalized story.
[Also available in Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Hachi 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 itemThe Magnificent Seven [DVD Magnificent]

This excellent TV series was a short-lived (two seasons) remake and expansion of the classic 1960 movie of the same name. The movie was a "Who's Who?" of big names in Hollywood, and to a certain extent, the same could be said of the cast of the 1998-2000 TV series. Michael Biehn (an actor who originally came from Lincoln, Nebraska), stars as the leader Chris Larrabee. Other cast members include Eric Close (Without a Trace), Dale Midkiff (Time Trax), Ron Perlman (Vincent in Beauty and the Beast), Rick Worthy (Battlestar Galactica) and Laurie Holden (The Shield, The Walking Dead). Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), one of the original Magnificent Seven feature film actors, puts in a recurring supporting role in several episodes. This is a slickly done Western, with great attention paid to the details. Each of the characters gets his moment in the sun. As the box description says... "The seven men include their embittered leader, a former gun-for-hire seeking redemption; a sharpshooter and bounty hunter; a former slave who becomes a healer; a young and cocky Eastern-bred idealist; a smooth-talking con artist; a womanizing gunslinger; and a former priest turned eccentric prophet." The writing and production values on this show were excellent, and the performances were terrific. I particularly enjoyed both Eric Close as Vin Tanner and Anthony Starke as Ezra Standish. If you've got a hankering for an old-fashioned western about occasional bad guys with hearts of gold, trying to do the right thing...don't pass this one up. This series, with 22 total episodes, was produced over two seasons. In some cases it was packaged as "the complete series", and in others it was packaged with each season separate from the other -- check your packaging! [If you like this, you may also wish to watch the original Magnificent Seven (1960) with Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach -- interesting comparison!]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Magnificent Seven episode guide at epguides.com ]

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


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last updated August 2011
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