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

April 2012 Recommendations

book cover  The Silent Spirit
by Margaret Coel

The Silent Spirit is the 14th volume in Coel's long-running Wind River Mystery series, featuring Catholic priest Father John O'Malley and Native American attorney Vicky Holden. This particular volume interested me because it involves a lot of historical information about earlier Hollywood and film production. The book is told with plenty of flashbacks, as the death of a reformed young trouble-making Indian on the reservation today is tied into events back in the early 1920s, when a number of Indians from the Wind River reservation went to Hollywood to appear as extras in a now-legendary western film. One of those Indians disappeared, never returning to the reservation -- inspiring his young descendant to start an investigation over 70 years later...an investigation that may, or may not, have contributed to his own death. This is a well-designed mystery, with an intriguing plot. I didn't really feel like I got to know either of the series main leads all that well in this volume...but this rich historical background more than made up for that. I definitely recommend this book! [I also recommend the rest of the Wind River Mystery series, if you like these characters, though this is the only one with the "Hollywood" connection!]

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

[ official Silent Spirit page on the official Margaret Coel web site ]

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


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book cover  The Last Coyote
by Michael Connelly

This title was the book read and discussed by the Just Desserts mystery discussion group in March 2012, and I think I may have added another author to my "must read" list. The Last Coyote was an early volume in Connelly's "Harry Bosch" series, featuring a committed but sometimes obsessive LAPD homicide detective. This particular volume goes a long way towards explaining many of Harry's many personality quirks and what drives him -- he's on leave after having assaulted a superior officer, undergoing psych treatments. Unable to completely cut himself off from police work -- despite orders to do so -- Harry decides to finally open the "cold case" file on his mother's murder from over two decades earlier. What results is an intense dip into Harry's formative years, and the dredging up of old memories, both good and bad. The investigation also sends up red flags for a variety of prominent people, who'd just as soon see the case remain unsolved, even after this much time has passed. Harry is an engaging, laconic character, even when he's breaking the rules for the greater good...and this book merely makes me want to see more of him. This volume works well as a stand-alone title, but you may wish to read the series in order -- check out our Harry Bosch booklist. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the rest of the Harry Bosch series by Connelly, as well as Connelly's other series.]

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

[ official The Last Coyote on the official AUTHOR web site ]

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


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book cover  The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion
by Kate Egan [YA PB Egan]

A collection of pictures and behind-the-scenes stories from the cast and crew of The Hunger Games. Read about the casting process, the stunt work, and the special effects that went into making the film. A must-read for all die hard Hunger Games fans. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try "The Hunger Games" trilogy that inspired the movie by Suzanne Collins, or any of the other behind-the-scenes books about the series: The World of The Hunger Games by Kate Egan, The Hunger Games Tribute Guide by Emily Seife or The Hunger Games Companion by Lois Gresh.]


[ official Hunger Games movie web site ] | [ official Suzanne Collins web site ]

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


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book cover  Murder Season
by Robert Ellis

Summer is the murder season. This year it comes early with a high profile bang. Two men are found shot to death in Club 3 AM, a hot spot that caters to Hollywood's A-list. One victim is the owner, Johnny Bosco and the other one is Jacob Gant. Gant was tried and acquitted in a court of law for the brutal murder of his next-door neighbor, Lily Hight. He was also tried in the court of public opinion, which found him guilty. Gant enlisted Bosco's help to find out who really killed Lily. LAPD detective, Lena Gamble is assigned to investigate this volatile crime. She learns that the detectives who investigated Lily Hight's death immediately zeroed in on Gant as the killer and did not look at any other suspects. Lena is puzzled by some of the evidence and quietly re-opens Lily Hight's case. As she follows the evidence trail Lena encounters a wall of resistance from the original detectives and from the District Attorney's office. This fast paced novel kept me engrossed to the end. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Michael Connelly, Stephen J. Cannell and Dianne Emley.]

[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

[ official Robert Ellis web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Magazine or JournalMusical e-Motivation: Using computer technology to motivate students
-- an article in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Clavier Companion
article by Jeremiah Johnson [Periodical Clavier]

This was the winning article from the 2010 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest. The article is condensed from my longer Master of Music: Piano Pedagogy thesis project at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The article summarizes five different ways to use technology to motivate students in music: optimizing a challenge, absorbing the learner's attention, communicating clearly obtainable goals, promoting the autonomy of learners, and providing positive feedback. While the article pertains to music education, the ideals set forth certainly apply across a variety of disciplines. Ultimately, the article addresses technology's place in music education and disputes the claim that technology is a "distraction" to learning.


[ official Clavier Companion web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD format of this titleBorn Standing Up
by Steve Martin [Compact Disc 791.432 Mar]

Based on friends' recommendations, I listened to the book-on-cd version of Steve Martin's recent autobiography, narrated by Martin himself. This book is a look back by Martin at his life during the period in which he was performing stand-up comedy, which he hasn't done now for over 20 years. It was fascinating to see the intense work that went into creating his routines, and the evolution of those routines over the years. My earliest memories of Martin are from just before he became the "wild and crazy guy" with the bunny ears or arrow through his head. He seemed like such a natural humorist that it is interesting to hear him describe how much practice and development went into creating that kind of performance persona. In reference to the audiobook -- Martin is a fine narrator, although in the early portions of the book he seems rather emotionless and speaks in almost a monotone. The further into the book he goes, though, the more animated and energetic his narration becomes. Also, a benefit you get from the audio version rather than the print version is that between chapters you get short bits of Martin playing his own original banjo music -- one of his passions. I found it particularly interesting that Martin felt as if he was writing a "biography" rather than an "autobiography" -- he says he felt as if he were writing about another person, since he hasn't been that "stand up guy" for over two decades. [Martin's sense of humor also comes across well in his novels and other printed books, including Cruel Shoes. The libraries have a couple of his comedy albums from the time period he discusses, as well as a Saturday Night Live compilation, The Best of Steve Martin.]

[Also available in traditional print format.]

[ official Steve Martin web site ]

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


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book cover  The Money Book for the Young Fabulous and Broke
by Suze Orman [332.024 Orm]

I received this as a graduation gift from college and find myself continually referring back to it. This is a great resource for the age 20-30+ crowd who has graduated high school or college and really lacks financial know-how. While it can be read from cover to cover, it works also as a go-to-guide for various financial situations, like buying a house, buying a car, saving, retiring, investing, dealing with debt and credit. Be advised this book was written before the economic crisis of 2008, so some of the information-- particularly the chapter on investing should be taken cautiously-- she has since changed her stance on some of this advice. However, the entire book provides a lot of steadfast financial advise that provides timely information, presented in a way that speaks to the young and young at heart. Suze Orman's The Money Book for the Young attempts to prove that you don't have to be filthy rich to live fabulously.

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

[ official The Money Book web site ] | [ official Suze Orman web site ]

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


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book cover  The Colossal Collection of Action Poses
by Buddy Scalera [741.51 Sca]

The Colossal Collection of Action Poses is just the latest in a series of reference volumes that are great resources for anyone trying to create their own action-based comic book. In this volumes and each of both Comic Artists Photo Reference: People and Poses and Comic Artists Photo Reference: Women and Girls, Scalera has taken over 1000 photographs of both male and female models standing in a variety of action poses -- holding various weapons, making kicks, swinging a cape, dressing, crouching, walking, applying make-up, etc. Additionally, there are sections for both sexes, with the models holding a variety of facial expressions -- anger, fright, sadness, happyness, pain, confusion, etc. For artists wanting a base to build an action sequence on, these images could prove invaluable. The photographer uses a number of different models with a variety of body types, thus providing a wide variety of source material for the artist. The only drawback I found in the The Colossal Collection of Action Poses was that the models were all young and fit -- no older folks or overweight body types. Otherwise, an excellent resource for artistic types. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other volumes in Scalera's series.]


[ official Buddy Scalera web site -- warning...some images may trigger filtering software blocks ]

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


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book cover  When You Are Engulfed in Flames
by David Sedaris [817 Sed]

Another collection of stories by David Sedaris about shenanigans in his life, this one includes living in France, crazy old lady neighbors, awkward airline experiences, family memories, and trying to quit smoking in Japan. The collection is easy to follow because of his writing style, and the book is hard to put down as Sedaris' humor will make you laugh out loud. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other books written by David Sedaris such as Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim or something by his sister Amy Sedaris like I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.]

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

[ Wikipedia page for David Sedaris ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemConan O'Brien Can't Stop
[DVD 817 Obr]

This DVD provides a behind-the-scenes look at the creation and making of Conan O'Brien's summer tour after leaving "The Tonight Show" and during his contractual ban from television. While this documentary contains snippets of the tour show, be advised it is NOT an entire filming of the show itself. The DVD provides an interesting perspective of a Conan O'Brien we don't see on his late night show. It is hysterical how funny Conan can be, even when not in front of an audience. While his crass attitude can be offensive, even to his own support team of colleagues, you really see the commitment and loyalty of his staff that have stuck beside him through thick and thin. The DVD shows Conan really as his raw self- a man who eats, sleeps, and breathes humor every day in almost every situation. This DVD ultimately shows the true master of improvisation at his lowest moments trying to turn lemons into lemonade...while apologizing for really bad hair

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Conan O'Brien Can't Stop web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemReal Steel
[DVD Real]

Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lily star in this action-packed movie. Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, a former boxer who owes a lot of people money. The world of entertainment now revolves around robot fighting as it offers more action than humans. Charlie has his own robot and competes in those competitions. After his girlfriend dies, Charlie is forced to take his kid Max along on the rode with him. He's not a very good father, but the kid likes robots so they bond over that. Not as good as I was hoping it would be, but it redeems itself with moments of comedy and a lot of great action sequences. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Transformers movies, they're all about robots fighting.]
[Also available: the original story by Richard Matheson that this movie was based upon.]

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

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Three Musketeers (2011)
[DVD Three]

Logan Lerman and Matthew MacFadyen star in this action/comedy. D'Artagnan, a young and reckless swordsman, teams up with the Three Musketeers to stop the Duke of Buckingham and Milady de Winter from seizing the throne and bringing war to Europe. A great storyline with a lot of comedic and action moments, plus you got to see Darcy with a sword and Orlando as a bad guy, where can you go wrong? [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, the original Three Musketeers novel by Alexandre Dumas, or any of the previous Three Musketeers movies.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Three Musketeers (2011) web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemTower Heist
[DVD Tower]

A group of hard-working hotel employees become thieves when one of their tenants - the one in charge of their pensions - gets indicted for fraud. They decide the money is hidden in his apartment and decide to steal it, but first they need training from a real live criminal. When you put a cast together including Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick and Casey Affleck you know it'll be funny. This one didn't disappoint. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tropic Thunder another comedy starring Ben Stiller, or RED a comedy about a group of misfits teaming together to accomplish a mission.]

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

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


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last updated April 2012
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