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

December 2012 Recommendations

book cover  Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

A tragedy. Okonkwo is a hard-working elder in an African village, who has worked to redeem his father's poor reputation. Okonkwo is asked to guard a boy prisoner, Ikemefuna, who has been captured for killing a woman of their village. As white missionaries expand to Okonkwo's village...things begin to fall apart personally, and radical changes begin to unfold in the village. As the title foreshadows, the book doesn't end well, but still a very interesting view from another culture and perspective. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Adichie; Say You're One of Them - Uwem Akpan; Lyrics Alley - Aboulela, Leila.]


[ Chinua Achebe page on Wikipedia ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a music CDTime Out
by The Dave Brubeck Quartet [Compact Disc 781.65 Bru]

I felt challenged, when I saw my colleague's review of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, which he described as arguably the greatest jazz album of all time, to write up a recommendation of my own favorite jazz CD. And this review seems appropriately timely, considering the passing of musician Dave Brubeck, at the beginning of December. Time Out was a 1959 album by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and is a marvelous, infectious combination of upbeat tones and traditional West Coast Jazz elements. The album is comprised of only 7 tracks, and features Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums. The album's title is a light-hearted warning to listeners that most of the tracks experiment with unusual rhythyms and time signatures, including 9/8 and 5/4 patterns. All 7 tracks are very memorable pieces, but the stand-outs include "Take Five," "Blue Rondo a la Turk," "Kathy's Waltz" and "Pick Up Sticks." This album is definitely a feel-good jazz album, and is always the album I recommend to anyone looking to sample the field for the first time. Although poorly reviewed when it first came out, Time Out sold extremely well, becoming the first jazz album to go Platinum (sell 1,000,000 copies) -- the single "Take Five" also went Platinum on its own. Unforgettable music, and forever timeless.


[ Background into about Time Out on Wikipedia ] | [ DaveBrubeck.com ]

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


Definitely one of the all-time best jazz albums ever!

-- pejorg2000
comment left on the BookGuide blog entry for this review

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book cover  The Prepper's Pocket Guide: 101 Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home for a Disaster
by Bernie Carr [363.34 Car]

This is a nice little starting guide for preparedness. A number of things are common sense such as having a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in your home - and knowing how to use them. Other things are more complex, such as learning how to make your own water filter. The best aspect of this book in my opinion was that from the simple to the complex, the author repeatedly states that anyone, over time, can do this. Even if you don't have much space for storing emergency items or money for purchasing them, it's important to do what you can with what you have. I think because of this attitude, this book would appeal to anyone who has an interest in preparing themselves and their homes for any sort of emergency.


Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Deep in the Valley
by Robyn Carr

Book One in the Grace Valley trilogy takes place in northern California, in the fictitious town of Grace Valley, filled with an assortment of likable characters where community and friendship are highly valued. Think An Irish Country Doctor and All Creatures Great and Small but not as sedate. June Hudson has a full professional life and many friends, but at age 37 is wishing for a relationship but in this small town there are no available prospects. She is also overworked and is taking applications seeking a second doctor for her clinic. But the ideal candidate she's giving a try seems to have a shady past. Then the DEA and other law enforcement agencies are zeroing-in on the illegal marijuana growers and an interesting man with a secret has been quietly appearing at June's house. For the most part a light, easy, enjoyable read though topics covered include sexual harassment, spouse abuse, the need for rural medicine for the poor, and the issues of illegal marijuana growers. You'll grow attached to the regular characters and enjoy the quiet romance. These characters will also cross-over into Carr's other series, The Virgin River series. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try All Creatures Great and Small and An Irish Country Doctor.]


[ official Deep in the Valley page on the official Robyn Carr web site ]

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


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book cover  Virgin River
by Robyn Carr

First book in the Virgin River modern romance series. Melinda "Mel" Monroe is a recent widow, in her early 30's, from a busy L.A. hospital, who decides to accept a position as Nurse Practitioner/Midwife in the rustic, rural fictional community of Virgin River in northern California. She needs a change from her current hectic pace and hopes this will help her finish grieving the loss of her husband, murdered in a convenience store robbery nine months earlier. Her first night in Virgin River she has a delicious supper at the only bar & grill in town, owned and run by 40-year-old Jack Sheridan, retired Marine and very single. But the 70-year-old town doctor doesn't know she was recruited by busy-body Hope McCrea, and insists he doesn't need her assistance, and her rent-free cabin is less-than-ready for her (Hope didn't get it cleaned up, and the porch collapses with Mel on it). Deciding this was a mistake, city-girl Mel has breakfast the following morning at the bar & grill on her way out of town, chatting with Jack. But a newborn has been abandoned at Doc's doorstep so Mel grudgingly agrees to stay temporarily to care for the baby. Then, a woman is due to deliver in a couple of weeks so Mel stays for that. Then another woman is due in 4 weeks. And on it continues, as Jack tries to convince her to stay permanently (with the town enjoying watching confirmed bachelor Jack obviously smitten with Mel).

Being the first book in this series, you'll meet many of the neighbors to set the stage for further books (20 so far) -- farmers, ranchers, orchard owners, retired military buddies, a local boy who's Jack's surrogate son -- including the medical staff at nearby Grace Valley and Valley Hospital (from Carr's "Grace Valley" series), though in this case "nearby" means an hour's drive along winding country roads through the redwoods. The area is populated with folk who know the importance of community since they are located in such a remote environment and must rely on each other. You'll meet Jack's Marine buddies for their annual "Semper Fi" reunion (which is a favorite event in town), deal with the illegal marijuana growers, there's a break-in at Doc's that threatens Mel's life, and follow Mel on her medical rounds. Sometimes Mel is a tad na´ve about country life (which can get irritating) and Jack is too perfect but, what the heck, it's a fiction book, and fun to watch the romance unfold from both Mel's and Jack's point of view. Not a sedate romance novel, the love scenes are graphic but not raunchy. This romance focuses on Jack and Mel, but the rest of the characters are well-drawn and in each successive book a different couple is the focus, yet those we've already met do not disappear into the background as their lives continue to unfold. An enjoyable read about people you'll come to care for. Read the series in order.


[ official Virgin River page on the official Robyn Carr web site ]

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


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book cover  The Cole Cross-Reference Directory - Lincoln and Vicinity
by Cole Publications [R 917.82 Col]

The downtown library just received the brand-new Cole Directory for Lincoln. Cole provides the "alternative" directory to the more-familiar Polk City Directory. One of the things that makes this directory extremely useful is that it includes addresses/names/phone numbers for residents of over 60 communities in southeast Nebraska as far west as Garland and as far south as Beatrice. For those of you not familiar with this source, it is used by marketers so it has a marketing section at the front with alphabetical lists of streets for each zip code and a street index. The most recent copy is kept at the 2nd floor Computer Lab Desk with the current City Directories; back issues are kept in our historical archives -- just ask staff for any, if you'd like to take a look.. [If you enjoy using this reference tool, you may also wish to try the traditional Polk's Lincoln City Directory.]

[The libraries have an archive of Cole Directories going back to 1986. They started to include the data for all the other southeast Nebraska communities in 2005.]

[ official Cole Information web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a music CDKind of Blue
by Miles Davis [Compact Disc 781.65 Dav]

Arguably, the greatest jazz album of all time. In 2008, it reached quadruple platinum status. It is said that Miles Davis came up with the jazz settings only a few hours before the recording session - so the players would truly be improvising. Contains the pieces: "So What," "Freddie Freeloader," "Blue in Green," "All Blues," and "Flamenco Sketches." Featuring: Miles Davis on trumpet, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley on alto saxophone, Paul Chambers on double bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums, John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Bill Evans on piano, and Wynton Kelly on piano [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Classical Brubeck - Compact Disc 781.68 Bru, Miles Davis (book) - Music 781.65 DavYm, Miles Davis: Ken Burns jazz - Compact disc 781.65 Dav.]


[ "Kind of Blue" page on Wikipedia ] | [ official Miles Davis web site ]

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


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book cover  A Zombie Ate My Cupcake
by Lily Vanilli [641.865 Van]

This one visually caught my eye on the library's "new book" display shortly after Halloween. The cover illustration, of two candy skull-style cupcakes, is very reminiscent of the traditional confections that are part of the Mexican "Dia de los Muertos" celebration. Opening up the book, though, I was confronted by a wide variety of creepy, gross and somewhat repellent cupcake decorations -- perfect for a spooky party or as an antidote to the standard pink and glittery cupcakes that you'll see in grocery-store baked goods sections. The primary focus of this cute little book is on the decorating -- in fact, there are only seven basic cupcake and frosting recipes in an appendix at the back of the book. Instead, there are 25 nicely-illustrated guides to how to create morbid-looking cupcakes with frostings, sauces and the less-common mediums of fondant and marzipan. In fact, marzipan, the shapeable, clay-like candy, features prominently in many of the recipes -- as worms crawling out of cupcake eyeballs, as zombie fingers crawling out of a chocolate cupcake grave, as human ears on mutant ear cupcakes, as fake insects, and as orbiting planets above Raspberry Spacecakes. My two favorites in the book, at least in terms of how realistic they look in the accompanying photographs, have to be "Shattered Glass", in which shards of candy glass are stabbing into white cupcakes that they bleed cherry sauce, and "Bleeding Hearts", in which red velvet cupcakes and white fondant, molded into the shape of aortas and they coated in thick cherry sauce, look like a frighteningly realistic heart.


[ LilyVanilli.com ]

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


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book cover  Among Others
by Jo Walton

Jo Walton's novel, Among Others, won both the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award this year for being the best science fiction or fantasy novel published in 2011. (It was also nominated for the World Fantasy Award, but didn't win that one). It joins a small and fairly select group of 21 other novels to have won both of these awards, including such distinguished works as Dune (by Frank Herbert), The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed (by Ursula K. Leguin), Ringworld (by Larry Niven), The Gods Themselves (by Isaac Asimov), Rendezvous With Rama (by Arthur C. Clarke), and The Forever War (by Joe Haldeman). This is significant, because, at its heart, Among Others is an aching love letter to the world of science fiction fandom. Among Others is told in the form of daily journal entries by a young teenaged Welsh girl who has been sent off to boarding school in England.

Morwenna Markova (Mor) is crippled, injured in a mysterious incident that caused the death of her twin sister as they opposed their crazed mother, who they believed to be a witch intending their destruction. Mor is an avid reader of science fiction (and fantasy) literature, and when she finds herself thrust into a new social setting and feels ostrasized by her "newness" and her physical condition, she becomes even more absorbed into her world of books. Among Others is a coming-of-age story, as Mor simultaneously delves even deeper into her world of literature and also begins to form new emotional and social bonds with the people around her, particularly as she reconnects with the father she never really knew (who also loves SF), and as she becomes a member of the local library's science fiction discussion club. The novel itself, in addition to being a "love letter to science fiction fandom" and a celebration of the effect that good literature can have upon all of us, is a genre work on its own, as Mor's use of magic provides her with ethical and personal challenges. I highly recommend this work, for its unusual writing structure, and for the wonderful tone Walton manages to capture in Mor's voice. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try many of the books on our Nebula Winners and Hugo Winners booklists.]

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ Jo Walton entry on Wikipedia ] | [ official LiveJournal Blog for Jo Walton ]

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


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book cover  The Double Helix : A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
by James D. Watson [575.1 Wat]

This somewhat controversial book describes the discovery of the double helix as the structure of DNA. However, this isn't simply a bunch of scientific jargon. It contains letters and personal accounts with fellow scientists Rosalind Franklin and Francis Crick. While Watson is believed to accumulate all the data and present it, the problem lies in who made the discovery first -- versus who published it first. Being published after Rosalind Franklin's death, the book is somewhat sexist towards her; keeping in mind that women weren't as accepted in a male dominated field. Great and fascinating read, and the scientific jargon is kept to a minimum. An interesting predecessor to current DNA findings and the Human Genome Project. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try DNA: The Secret of Life - James Watson and Medical firsts: from Hippocrates to the human genome - Robert Adler.]


[ James D. Watson page on Wikipedia ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Adventures of Tin-Tin
[DVD Adventures]

The Adventures of Tin-Tin is a marvelous animated movie produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson with a star-studded vocal cast including Daniel Craig as the evil Mr. Sakharine, Andy Serksis as Captain Haddock, and Jamie Bell as TinTin. The computer-generated animation in this film are far better than any I have seen, particularly in the fast-action chase scenes. As a fan of swashbuckling movies with great swordfighting, this was the best example of animated sword fights ever. My whole family enjoyed watching this. My youngest daughter would say that the real hero of this film is TinTin's wonder-dog, Snowy. I highly recommend this film.
[Also available in the libraries' collection -- numerous books in the TinTin graphic novel series that inspired this movie.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Adventures of Tin-Tin web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemHaywire
[DVD Haywire]

While on a mission overseas Mallory Kane -- played by Gina Carino -- finds out she-s been double crossed by her own people. Now, on a revenge mission, Mallory must find a way to get back to the US while avoiding being arrested so she can clear her name. A lot of big names in this movie - Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas -- all-in-all an interesting movie to watch. The action scenes were pretty intense but the storyline was a little confusing at times. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Bourne Identity film series.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Haywire 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 itemKaty Perry the Movie: Part of Me
[DVD YA 781.66 Per]

An interesting documentary on the life of Katy Perry and her 2011 year-long California Dreams World Tour, chronicling her life on and off stage. Interviews range from her parents -- she grew up in a very religious household -- to her producers, and cover the ups and downs from her first record to her divorce with Russell Brand. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of Katy Perry's music CDs, Teenage Dream, One of the Boys, or her newest re-release Teenage Dream the Complete Confection.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Katy Perry Part of Me web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Princess Bride
[DVD Princess]

This is the perfect all around movie. I begins with an ill boy who is off school. His grandpa comes round to read him book called "The Princess Bride". The boy is skeptical that a book could be entertaining, but soon starts to enjoy it. This fairy tale movie really has something for everybody; a love story with a princess and a pirate mixed with the sword fighting adventures of a Spaniard seeking the man who killed his father. This movie was made in the 80's so it's special effects can be a bit comical - especially the rodents of unusual size. I'd recommend it to anyone who is after a good movie. It stars Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant. This movie is based on Williams Goldman's book The Princess Bride. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the book the movie is based on: The princess bride: S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure, by: William Goldman.]
[Also available in print format.]

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

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemZathura
by Chris VanAllsburg

A book/DVD by the same author of Jumanji; Zathura takes a similar plot and shifts it into outer space. I especially liked the movie version, there is a great realization by the main character with an excellent ending. Might be kind of scary for younger kids, some of the scenes about space aliens are quite suspenseful.. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Jumanji, Probuditi!, Two Bad Ants, Polar Express.]

[Also available in print formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Facebook page for Zathura ]

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


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last updated December 2012
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