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

November 2011 Recommendations

book cover  The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Chief Detective Carl Mørck has just returned to duty after a tragic shooting that killed one of his partners and paralyzed the other. Mørck is suffering from survivor's guilt because he could do nothing to save his colleagues. He is depressed and crabby and his co-workers keep their distance. His new assignment is to head Department Q, which is tasked to solve Denmark's coldest cases. Mørck's office is a windowless room in the basement. His superiors hope he will stay out of sight and out of mind. Mørck looks at the hovel that passes for his office. He does a little research and finds that the government has allotted several million kroner to his department. Mørck uses this information to demand an assistant, a car and that his office be painted. He gets Assad, an émigré from the Middle East. The cheerful Assad prods the morose Mørck to take an interest in one of the cases. It is the disappearance of Merete Lynggaard, a beautiful, talented and up-and-coming politician. She disappeared while on a ferry sailing from Denmark to Germany five years ago. Did she commit suicide by jumping overboard? Did she fall accidentally fall overboard? Did she plan her disappearance? Was she abducted? Mørck is appalled by the errors made by the original investigators and digs into old case. This novel is, by turns, humorous, poignant, twisty and engrossing. The book is not to be missed. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Stieg Larson, Anne Holt and Louise Penny.]

[Also available in downloadable audio and downloadable E-book formats.]

[ official Jussi Adler-Olsen web site ]

related lists See more books like this on our Nordic Noir booklist
Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home
by Jeni Britton Bauer [641.862 Bau]

The colorful graphics -- spoons of multi-colored ice cream flavors -- on the cover of this book grabbed my attention immediately. The author is the owner/operator of a chain of gourmet ice cream shops in the Columbus, Ohio area, and here shares her philosophy of ice cream construction and use of fresh, seasonal, regional and thematic ingredients. Nearly all of the recipes in the book are built around a simple ice cream base of frozen yogurt base, and Jeni gives the scientific and culinary reasons for how add-on ingredients affect both the chemical balance and the taste experience for her rather unorthodox flavor combinations. Bauer's recipes are designed around the use of a table-top electric ice cream machine, with its clear cover so that you can see the ice cream as it churns. So...if you've got an ice cream machine that's not so sophisticated you may be handicapped. However, if you've got the right equipment, and you're up for some intriguing experimentation, this book is for you. Bauer organizes the book into "seasons", and each season has some flavors I'd love to try making, including: Savannah Buttermint Ice Cream, Sweet Basil and Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream, Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Torched Marshmallows, and Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream. Some recipes require some advance preparation for some of the ingredients, but many require very little time. The illustrations are gorgeous, and Bauer includes instructions on preparing various sauces and other toppings, as well as how to make waffle cones. She also includes an index to sources for uncommon ingredients. All in all, this is a delicious cookbook. If you love ice cream, give this one a try!

[ official jenisicecreams.com web site ]

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


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book cover  Ghost Story
by Jim Butcher

Spoiler Alert! Harry Dresden, Chicago's wizard/private-eye is dead. He was gunned down in the final few pages of the previous volume of The Dresden Files (Changes), leaving fans apoplectic with anger and frustration at author Jim Butcher. However, being dead is only a minor inconvenience to Harry, who finds that eternal rest is not exactly next on his agenda. Sent back to the land of the living, Harry is charged with discovering who killed him -- before others that were close to him come to dark ends. Life as a ghost proves complicated for Harry -- his wizardly powers are close to non-existent, and only a very small fraction of people can even sense his presence. But when Harry sees what the results are of his world-altering actions in Changes, and how precarious the lives of his friends have become, he eagerly tackles the afterlife head on. This is one of the most unusual volumes this series has seen, and the characters are all vibrant and alive (if you'll pardon the jest). I particularly liked the major roles that former minor characters enjoyed in this particular story. I recommend this one strongly, but the Dresden Files books have a strong level of continuity, and you really need to start with one of the first 3 or 4 books -- you'll easily be lost if you try to pick up Ghost Story without any prior knowledge of the series.

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

[ official Jim Butcher web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CDThe Prostitute's Ball
by Stephen J. Cannell [Compact Disc Cannell]

Detective Shane Scully and his temporary partner, Sumner (Hitch) Hitchens, are assigned to investigate a shooting on the grounds of an abandoned mansion in the hills above Hollywood. The victims are a renowned producer and two prostitutes. When Scully and Hitchens close the case they are left with a piece of evidence that does not fit. This bit of evidence causes Scully and Hitchens to look at the history of the dilapidated mansion that still has a Christmas tree and gifts in the living room. They learn that a double murder and suicide was committed there twenty-five years before. Scully and Hitch poke around in the old case and find that many things were "swept under the rug" in order to close it. The Prostitute's Ball was published shortly after Stephen Cannell died. The Shane Scully books and The Rockford Files TV series were two of the gifts that Cannell gave the world. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Michael Connelly, Robert Crais and Jonathan Kellerman.]

[Also available in print format.]

[ official Prostitutes' Ball page on the official Stephen J. Cannell web site ]

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


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book cover  One Man's Paradise
by Douglas Corleone

Kevin Corvelli was a rising star in New York City's legal world until his arrogance cost a client his life. Corvelli, appalled at his own behavior, packed his bags and moved to Honolulu vowing to handle only misdemeanors. He is through with high-profile murders and the accompanying media spotlight. But his first case is a headline grabbing murder. Joseph Gianforte, Jr. is accused of tracking his ex-girlfriend to Hawaii and bludgeoning her to death. Corvelli is convinced that Gianforte is innocent and he is determined not let another innocent man go to jail. This page-turner sparkles with great characters and wit. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Robert Dugoni or John Verdon.]

[ official Douglas Corleone web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CDJeannie Out of the Bottle
by Barbara Eden [Compact Disc Biography Eden]

As a kid, I grew up on the weekday afternoon repeats of I Dream of Jeannie, and easily grew to love the cute, spunky, perky, energetic Jeannie, as played by actress Barbara Eden. Years later, reading reports of how uncomfortable the set of the show was, with star Larry Hagman a drugged up egocentric mess, I felt somewhat disillusioned. Barbara Eden's new autobiography, Jeannie Out of the Bottle, brings it all back to vivid life, both the good and the bad. I chose to enjoy this title as a Book-on-CD, with Eden reading her own work. She's a fun narrator to listen to (frequently chuckling or laughing at her own text), and seems to enjoy her opportunity to share memories of her career, both pre-Jeannie and post-Jeannie. This particular book is fairly lightweight, but it was a joy to listen to, as she reminisces about past relationships, including ex-husband Michael Ansara, acting achievements, and the sad passing of her son as a result of drug addiction. But, for me, as for many other Jeannie fans, it is her chapters dealing with the origins of I Dream of Jeannie, and her experiences working on that 4-season series, that brought the biggest smile to my face. Her tales of Larry Hagman at his ego-maniacal worst are easily tempered by the love and friendship she still obviously feels for him after all these years. If you grew up on 1960s and early 1970s television sitcoms, you'll enjoy this one too!

[Also available in print and downloadable E-book formats.]

[ official Barbara Eden web site ]

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


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book cover  Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far
by Bristol Palin [Biography Palin]

This was interesting to me. I am not really into politics, this book is about an Alaskan young lady. Bristol told her story including the struggles she faced as an unwed mother, with the support of her loving family, while in the political spotlight. She spoke of many struggles young people face today. She said her faith led her to aspire to find ways to help other young people. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try: The Memory Keeper's Daughter-fiction by Kim Edwards; The Help, historical fiction by Kathryn Stockett; Lavender Morning, contemporary romance fiction (1st in Edilean series), by Jude Deveraux; Married to Laughter, a love story featuring Anne Meara, non-fiction by Jerry Stiller.]

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

[ Wikipedia page for Bristol Palin ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  A Fatal Grace
by Louise Penny

Louise Penny's second volume in the increasingly popular Inspector Gamache series is once again set in the small Canadian town of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border. When a brittle, unpleasant domineering woman is killed by electrocution while attending a curling match on a bitterly cold day, shortly after Christmas, Gamache and his team of Surete investigators is called in from Quebec to investigate. Nobody liked her, nearly everybody had a reason to hate her or even wish her dead; but there's more to the killing than meets the eye. Equal parts cozy and police procedural, the Inspector Gamache mysteries feature colorful casts of well-rounded characters. Gamache, himself, is an immensely likeable man, as are many of the routine denizens of Three Pines (introduced in Still Life). The brutally cold winter described in this volume (it was originally entitled Dead Cold) is well-realized, and the mystery is crafty. Penny has a penchant for revealing all the clues as you're going along, but still often catching you by surprise in the final few pages. A sidebar mystery is dealt with, in part, in this volume, as we begin to peel away the layers of a work-releated crisis that Gamache lived through several years earlier. Excellent, flavorful mystery...I highly recommend it! [If you enjoy this, you may also like the traditional classic mysteries of Agatha Christie.]

[ official Louise Penny web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CDDead in the Water
by Dana Stabenow

Kate Shugak is working undercover on the Avilda, a crabbing boat, hoping to learn why two crewmembers disappeared on its last trip. The skipper, Harry Gault, claims that when water supplies ran low the men went ashore on Anua Island to find fresh water. They never returned to the ship. Stabenow's description of life on a crabber is riveting. The work is grueling and dangerous as the crew battles high seas and ice storms. Kate and her shipmate, Andy Pence, are such well drawn characters that they just pop off the pages. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Sue Henry, Louise Penny and Nevada Barr.]

[ official Dead in the Water page on the official Dana Stabenow web site ]

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


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book cover  Freak Nation
by Kate Stevens [306.1 Ste]

Equal parts fascinating and frustrating, this volume is a guide to over 100 odd or extreme American subcultures. The fascinating parts are some of the factoids that Stevens provides about odd groups, both big and small. Curious to see the basics about such well-known subcultures as Trekkies, Model Railroaders, Survivalists, Deadheads, Conspiracy Theorists, Tea Partiers and Hackers? Look no further -- each entry features information on each group about: "also known as", origins of the culture, "how to recognize", where the culture exists, who the "heroes" or figureheads of the culture are, most distinctive traits, "biggest controversy", "biggest misconception about", buzzwords of the culture, and what the signs are to identify minor fans, major fans and super fans of that culture. The "frustrating" part of this book, for me, is its organization -- it is NOT in alphabetical order, with entries instead being grouped by categories (Collectibles, Fashion, Art, etc.). The book does not feature an index at the back to cross-reference by "group name" or interests. While much of the content is presented non-judgmentally, the author does inject some rather snarky comments hear and there about some of the specific groups. There were also some fairly obviously subcultural groups which were not included, for no obvious reason. Despite my complaints, however, I enjoyed reading this book, picking profiled groups at random, and for readers looking for a relatively light and amusing way to learn about odd subcultures, this is a fun and quick read.

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 itemDue South
[DVD Due]

Due South is one of my all-time favorite "buddy cop" shows. Airing new episodes from 1994-96 on CBS and then straight-to-syndication in 1997-98, this was a classic fish-out-of-water story, of Canadian Mountie Benton Fraser (played to perfection by Paul Gross), who ends up coming to Chicago from the Canadian wilderness. There, he gets teamed up with Ray Vecchio (David Marciano), a street-wise Chicago cop from a wacky Italian family. Though the series played the distinct differences between the characters for occasional laughs, their odd friendship grew quite strong, and the stories were frequently very serious police action tales. The supporting cast, including Fraser's pet wolf/dog Diefenbaker, and the ghost of Fraser's father, was terrific, and the series featured noteworthy guest stars in key roles - including Leslie Nielsen. After the two CBS seasons, there was a one-year production hiatus, then a new actor replaced David Marciano as a different "Ray" and the character chemistry shifted accordingly. You definitely want to watch this series from the pilot forwards, due to the growing relationships. Great stuff!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Due South episode guide at epguides.com ]

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


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last updated November 2011
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