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

October 2013 Recommendations

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceThe Compound
by S.A. Bodeen [YA Bodeen]

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen is a nice dose of originality in the often cluttered genre of YA fiction. Eli has been in the compound for six years and in that time has learned to hate it, and himself. When they entered the compound, believing there was a nuclear war, Eli was separated from his twin brother, Eddy. After years in the compound Eli hates himself for Eddy being left outside and believes that Eddy, along with the rest of the world, were destroyed. Eli and his sisters cope with their entrapment in different ways, none all that healthy. Food is running low in the compound as well, and Eli and his mother and sisters can't bear to even consider the other option. The Supplements. Eli refuses to even acknowledge that part father's plan. Then Eli discovers that not all his father told him is true, that his brother may in fact still be alive. And he will do anything to escape. The story moves very quickly and is fast paced. I never really bored while reading, though I thought the writing was a bit simplistic. The story itself was quite clever and I felt the ending was satisfying though expected. I did have a very strong dislike for Eli however, and that made him a very hard main character to relate to. With strong concepts and an interesting setting, reluctant readers will definitely enjoy this book. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the sequel to The Compound, The Fallout.]

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

[ official S.A. Bodeen Blog on LiveJournal ] | [ official website for Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen a.k.a. S.A. Bodeen ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the Book on CD format of this itemMurder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Detective Hercule Poirot is traveling aboard the Orient Express; his car is full of a wide variety of people. One night the the train comes to a stop due to the tracks being blocked with snow. That night one of the passengers is murdered. The following day Poirot investigates to find that the murdered man is in fact guilty of kidnapping in the United States. Poirot then begins to assemble clues as to who and why. Most of the book consists of interviewing the passengers, searching the train carriage, and Poirot talking the details over with his friend – owner of the train company. I listened to the audio book version of this novel and the narrator did a nice job putting on accents and different voices for the cast of characters. After finishing it I feel I could read it over again knowing how it turns out and looking for clues I missed the first time around. I'd recommend this those who enjoy cozy mysteries or intricate plots. [Aside from her other novels, readers who enjoy her work may also like: Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making; More Stories and Secrets From her Notebooks (downloadable ebook via Overdrive) and The Grand Tour by Agatha Christie and Mathew Prichard.]

[Also available in a wide variety of other formats.]

[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the Downloadable Audio format of this itemFirst Evidence
by Ken Goddard

Colin Cellars first day as a crime scene investigator for the Oregon State Patrol can only be described as eerie. He is called out to a murder scene in cabin tucked away in the woods. When Colin arrives at the scene he meets two very scared troopers who are prepared to shoot him and ask questions later. They tell Cellars that two other officers were sent to the scene first and that they have disappeared. The nervous troopers also say that their radios have quit working. Colin sends them to get help while he collects evidence in the cabin. The officers are reluctant to let Cellars stay alone but Colin assures them that he will be fine. While he is working in the dark cabin lighted by a spotlight Colin is attacked by someone or something. After Colin gets back to the station learns that the officers that he sent for help are missing. Each time Colin goes back to the cabin look for more evidence spookier things happen. Then the evidence that he collected disappears. This book has an X-Files feel to it. This gripping audio book made me feel like I was riding along with Cellars as he fought the shadowy beings.

[Also available in traditional print format.]

[ official First Evidence page on the official Ken Goddard web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book
by Grumpy Cat [817 Gru]

I had never heard of Grumpy Cat until I saw this book show up on our New Books Display here at the library. A day after I checked out the book, I saw the unsmiling face of this famous feline grace the cover of this month's New York magazine. Surely Glamour and Vogue will be next to feature this celebrity cat! The book is filled with photos of this cat and descriptions of how to achieve grumpiness. My favorite page shows a word search puzzle that dares you to find as many instances of the word grumpy as you can find – Grumpy Cat's comments on this were especially funny. My entire family enjoyed reading this book! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Garfield books by Jim Davis. Need I say more?]

[ official Grumpy Cat on Facebook ] | [ official Grumpy Cat web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a music CDPsycho: Great Hitchcock Movie Thrillers
by Bernard Herrman [Compact Disc 782.14 Psy]

How better to get in the mood for Halloween than with music from scary thrillers from Alfred Hitchcock. It includes music from Psycho, Marnie, North by Northwest, Spellbound, and many more (including the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV theme). [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Maltese falcon and other classic film scores by Adolph Deutsch.]


[ official Bernard Herrman Society web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Carolyn D.
Polley Music Library


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book cover  Libriomancer
by Jim C. Hines

Fantasy author Jim C. Hines has slowly been building a reputation for himself as the master of humorous fantasy – territory dominated by the likes of Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin and Christopher Stasheff. Despite meeting Hines myself two years ago, when he was Author Guest of Honor at the second ConStellation NE scifi convention here in Lincoln back in 2011, I had not yet read any of Hines' novels or short stories, when I recently saw Libriomancer on display at a bookstore. The concept of a magic-using librarian caught my attention, of course, considering my career path, and I quickly devoured this first book in Hines' new series. As a long-time fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, I have to say that Libriomancer feels a little like Butcher-lite, but that's actually a compliment, considering how much I love that more-established series. The writing is strong, the characters, particularly Isaac Vainio (the protagonist) are well-realized and likeable. And, most important, Hines has created a magic-using system for his world that is intriguing and fresh – quite an accomplishment considering the glut of contemporary urban fantasy novels currently on the market. In Libriomancer's universe, certain individuals have the ability to physically reach into the content of published books and pull forth the items described therein for use in our world, before returning the items to the books' pages – items such as Arthur's sword Excaliber from Le Morte d'Arthur, or a laser blaster from a pulp scifi novel, or a miracle plague cure from a medical thriller. In other words, as all lovers of literature already know...books are magical, and true lovers of books have the ability to tap into that magic. The physical sizes of the books limit the physical sizes of the retrieved objects, and certain books are "locked" to prevent objects of great or deadly power from being manipulated in the "real world" – no Sauron's Ring in the hands of somebody in Middle America, if you please! In this volume, in addition to establishing the world Vainio lives in – filled with vampires, golems and power-mad magicians, Hines sets in motion a far-reaching and deadly plot for Isaac to confront. The pleasures of this book are in the fresh take on magic, and the witty banter between the characters, though I found some of the action sequences a bit muddled. I recommend it for fans of Butcher, Rachel Caine or Patricia Briggs. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Codex Born, the second volume in the series, which just came out in September 2013.]

[ official Jim C. Hines web site ]

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


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book cover  The Hammer and the Blade
by Paul Kemp

The Hammer and the Blade is your classic fantasy adventure novel. Egil and Nix are tomb robbers and adventurers. They are a bit clichÚd and the thing that I liked about it was that they know and freely admit it. After robbing a tomb and killing a devil they decide that they are through with the adventure business and have decided to go respectable. So they went and bought a bar/brothel. Unfortunately right when they thought they were done, a group of solders show up and force them back in. I thought the writing was fine. Not exactly flowing prose but did the job for an adventure novel. The main characters Nix and Egil were fully developed and I enjoyed the relationship they have together as friends. This was a very quick read and was a nice change of pace for me. If you are looking for a classic action fantasy novel look no further, literary masterpiece, go elsewhere. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the follow up in the series, A Discourse in Steel.]


[ official Tales of Egil and Nix page on the official Paul S. Kemp web site ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  The Husband
by Dean Koontz

"We have your wife. You can get her back for $2M cash. You've got until midnight Wednesday." "This is nuts. I'm a gardener. I've got maybe $11K in the bank." "Just so you know we're serious...see that guy across the street?" Still holding the phone to his ear, Mitch turned away, saw a man walking a dog...Rifle fire shattered the stillness, and the dogwalker went down, shot in the head." So begins a good ol' suspense story, not the standard supernatural tale one has come to expect from Dean Koontz. This is more like a Hitchcock story of an everyman caught up in an unbelievable and terrifying event. Aside from Mitch trying to come up with the funds to rescue his beloved wife, he's also trying to figure out why they were targeted. Halfway through the book we learn the stunning whys, and follow Mitch as he takes control of their destinies, including evading the police and a frantic car chase that has you on the edge of your seat.

[Also available in book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]

[ official The Husband page on the official Dean Koontz web site ]

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


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book cover  Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer [917.98 Kra]

Chris McCandless, a young twenty-something from a well-off family in D.C., ditches his upper middle class life and hitchhikes into the Alaskan wild; four months later his body is found in an abandon bus used as a shelter in the middle of the Alaskan forest (this isn't a spoiler, it is known from the cover of the book). Krakauer does an amazing job of retracing Chris' final steps and putting together the pieces of his transient life. For as dark as the subject matter is, Krakauer adds his own personal experiences of being a young man with a knack for the outdoors, hiking, and climbing to paint a picture of McCandless as not some naive lunatic who wondered off to his own demise, but as an intelligent young man with a passion for the outdoors who died doing what he loved. Even more intriguing are the hauntingly relevant quotes from people like Thoreau, Twain, John Muir at the beginning of each chapter. Into the Wild is a warning to the over-ambitious, but at the same time a reminder to go out and do what you love – an overall metaphor for life. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Into the Wild (DVD), based on the Krakauer book; Into thin Air – also by Krakauer.]

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

[ Wikipedia page for Into the Wild ] | [ Wikipedia page for Jon Krakauer ]

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


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book cover  Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed my Body and Messed with My Head
by Jen Larsen [Biography Larsen]

Join Jen on one of the biggest decisions of her life – obtaining weight loss surgery – and watch the surprising impact it has on friends, loved ones, and even strangers. Weight loss alone does not seem to be as easy and a permanent fix as she sets up for. Become absorbed as she has to face an even bigger issue – herself.

[ official Stranger Here page on the official Jen Larsen web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Sarah J.
South Branch Library


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book cover  Speak of the Devil
by Allison Leotta

When I finished this book all I could say was wow! There are lots of twists and turns in this well-written page-turner. Federal prosecutor, Anna Curtis, takes on the vicious MS-13 gang that is terrorizing lower income residents in Washington D.C. Her desire for justice brings uncomfortable truths about the past to the surface. These facts impact Anna professionally and personally and leave her reeling. This is the third book in the series by former federal prosecutor Allison Leotta. She uses her experiences as the basis for her plots.


[ official Speak of the Devil page on the official Allison Leotta web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The Ludwig Conspiracy
by Oliver P÷tzsch

Munich antique bookseller Steven Lukas is enjoying his quiet life until people began to show up, asking questions about a diary he does not know he possess. A woman, Sara, asks if he has seen her uncle, Steven does recall the elderly man who talked over a book of poems and then vanished from the shop. Steven then accidently finds an odd box on one of his shelves he knows he did not purchase. Inside is the historic diary of Doctor Theodore Marot, which accounts the last days of the fairy tale king Ludwig's life. One evening a group of mysterious thugs try to break in and take the diary, Sara saves Steven and they are both quickly thrust into an adventure that will take them across Germany in an effort to solve the century old mystery surrounding Ludwig's death. The Ludwig Conspiracy, by German author Oliver P÷tzsch, is a very intriguing novel with the mysterious King Ludwig II playing an integral part. Before reading about this book I had never heard of the fairy tale king Ludwig and was immediately drawn to the historic aspect of the mystery. P÷tzsch comes off very well researched in his accounts of the King and in the brief glimpses into the past with Theodore as the narrator are both thrilling and lush with historical accounts. The present day setting with Steven and Sara however does leave a little to be desired. I found the plot to be much what you would expect of the genre and many of the plot twists which should have come as a surprise were both expected and a bit cliched. P÷tzsch is a very good writer however predictable I may have found the plot to be, and I will most definitely be checking out his Hangman's Daughter series.


[ publisher's official Ludwig Conspiracy web page ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Eater-of-Bone
by Robert Reed

This is a terrific collection of four novellas from Lincoln's own Hugo-award-winning science fiction author. Three of the four stories are reprints, including "A Billion Eves", the story for which Reed won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novella. The fourth story is an original one which provides the title for this hardback volume – "Eater-of-Bone". This story is tied in to Reed's long-running "Great Ship" universe of interconnected tales, involving far-future humans who have become nearly immortal, and their experiences as they travel the universe. The story "Eater-of-Bone" is one of the best, and strangest, in that sequence of stories, and I highly recommend it. In addition, all four stories in this collection are among Reed's best work in the past 5 or 6 years. For an author who primarily writes and publishes short fiction (not novels), this is a marvelous introduction to Reed's body of work – you can also sample more of his short stories in the two collections The Dragons of Springplace and The Cuckoo's Boys. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Marrow or The Well of Stars, Reed's two novels set in his Greatship universe.]

[ Nebraska Author Robert Reed booklist here on BookGuide ] | [ official Eater-of-Bone page on the official Robert Reed web site – where you'll find links to many of his stories free online! ]

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


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book cover  The Beach Boys in Concert: The Ultimate History of America's Band on Tour and Onstage
by Jan Rusten and Jon Stebbins [Music 781.66 Bea]

As a longtime fan of the Beach Boys, I was excited to see that someone had finally compiled a comprehensive list of all the Beach Boys' concerts and other shows, spanning a period of fifty years. Besides giving information about the Beach Boys' concerts, the book was also filled with great photos of the group up to the 50th year reunion tour. This book is not just for die-hard fans; anyone interested in the history of the group and the individuals in the band will find this a fascinating read. I was especially interested in reading about the Beach Boys' concerts here in Nebraska. One interesting fact: Carl Wilson had two of his guitars stolen from a rental car at one of their earliest concerts in Omaha!. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys by Mark Dillon, Heroes and Villains: the True story of the Beach Boys by Steven Gaines.]


[ official Beach Boys web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Emperor's Soul
by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul tells the story of Shai, a master Forger, who can copy and recreate any item by rewriting its history using a skilled magic. After attempting to steal the Emperor's scepter, Shai is sentenced to death. Her captors come to her though and offer her a chance at freedom. She must create a new soul for the comatose emperor, though forging something to that degree is highly illegal. She is given only three months to complete this impossible task and in doing so Shai must delve deep into the emperor's life and personal history. While she attempts to create the masterpiece Shai knows that she must find a way to escape, before the Arbiters imprisoning her decide to guarantee her silence. This novella is a wonderful piece of writing and I am amazed at what Sanderson manages to create in such a short time. I thought the Forger magic system was ingenious and is used with Shai's character in such great ways. I quickly became absorbed into this world and was very impressed at the amount of world building that is created in such few pages. The characters involved are also very developed and I have never seen a main character as fleshed out as Shai, in as quick a time. I am very happy to say the I loved this story and will soon be starting on another Sanderson epic. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Elantris, also by Sanderson which is set in the same world as The Emperor's Soul.] [Note: The Emperor's Soul was the winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella.]


[ Nebraska Author Brandon Sanderson booklist here on BookGuide ] | [ official The Emperor's Soul page on the official Brandon Sanderson web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality
by Jacob Tomsky [Biography Tomsky]

Having realized that a degree in philosophy doesn't, in today's job market, put much sustenance on the table, twenty-something Jacob Tomsky enters the service sector. This is the author's account of his ten years in the hotel industry in New Orleans and New York in the valet service, as a front desk agent, and as a mid-level Housekeeping manager. Warning: lots of profanity. His chapter on working in Housekeeping (getting free pay-per-view movies, what really happens with the in-room fridge, and getting goodies off the housekeeper's cart) was laugh-out-loud hilarious. The bosses, the over-privileged, and many celebrities are jerks of course. No names are mentioned but he provides some interesting anecdotes. "Service is not about being up-front and honest. Service is about minimizing negatives and creating the illusion of perfection. Here's how it's done: Lie. Smile. Finesse. Barter. Convince. Lie again. Smile again." [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica.]

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

[ official Heads in Beds and Jacob Tomsky web site ]

Review Score – 7
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Dan Gets a Minivan: A Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad
by Dan Zevin [Biography Zevin]

Humorous anecdotes on parenting and marital relationships, as Dan tries to make the transition from couplehood to familyhood. Grabbed me by the second paragraph. Some stories were so hilarious I was laughing out loud – everyone at the fast food restaurant where I was reading was staring at me. Covers topics all parents can identify with: buying that first minivan, finding a reliable babysitter, as well as Dan trying to recover from knee surgery, and shopping with his dad at Costco.


[ official Dan Gets a Minivan page on the official Dan Zevin web site ]

Review Score – 7
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemAbraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
[DVD Abraham]

After his mother is killed by a vampire Abraham Lincoln makes it his mission in life to find that vampire and kill him. Along the way he meets Henry Sturgess who teaches him how to fight vampires and directs him to those in the area. He works in a store during the day and kills them at night. While working at the store he meets Mary Todd. Soon he learns that the vampires are fighting with the confederate army. Benjamin Walker plays ax-wielding Lincoln. It's an interesting twist to history. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham-Smith, the book the movie is based on, or any other Lincoln movie.]

[Also available in downloadable audio, downloadable e-book, traditional print, book-on-cd and Traditional Print formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Facebook page ]

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 itemBack to the Future – The Complete Trilogy
[DVD Back]

Marty McFly is a high school student who is friends with a crazy scientist named Doc Brown, in this 1980's film trilogy. Doc invents a time machine and during testing, Marty accidentally travels back to 1955 when his parents are in high school. He locates the 1955 version of Doc to help him power the time machine to get him back to the future. However while the repairs are underway, he meet his mother who thinks he's dreamy. He then has to get his parents to fall in love so as to not alter history. He does eventually get back to 1985, but in the second film must return to 1955 because of a mishap on a visit to 2015. At the end of the second film, Doc is hit by lighting in the time machine (which delivers the correct amount of power to the flux capacitor) and is send back to 1885. So in the third film, Marty, with the help of 1955 Doc, goes back in time to the wild west to bring his friend back to 1985. I think it's a fun series because it takes place in the same town in four very different times. This movie trilogy has so much variety that it would appeal to viewers who enjoy adventure, time-travel, love stories, or 80's movies.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for the first film in the series ] | [ official Back to the Future Facebook page ]

Review Score – 7
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

A truly iconic film series, with some unforgettable performances by Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. I would give the first film a "10", the second film a "7" and the final film a "9", averaging out to close to a "9" for the series as a whole.

Review Score – 9
Rated by – Scott C..
Staff at the Bennett Martin Public Library

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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemLife on Mars (US edition)
[DVD Life]

This 2008-2009 US television series was based on a 2006-2007 two-season British show of the same name. In both shows, Sam Tyler is a modern-day (early 2000s) cop (played by Jason O'Meara in the US version), who is critically injured and wakes up to find himself back in 1973. Still a cop, and newly assigned to a New York City police district, Sam finds himself working with a colorful group of fellow detectives, include a brutal, ball-breaking Lt. Gene Hunt (Harvey Keitel in this American version), a sleazy womanizing detective Ray Carling (Michael Imperioli) and impressionable young detective Chris Skelton (Jonathan Murphy). Also in the department is Officer Annie Norris (Gretchen Mo), a young female officer who wants to join the squad of detectives. Confused and uncertain about what has happened to him, Sam Tyler tries to do his job as a cop, using technologies and procedures that are 30 years of out date -- the cops occasionally brutalize their suspects, and instant communication by cellphone is a pipe dream. When not working, and trying to be a "decent" cop in a squad that doesn't follow the rules, Sam also tries to figure how what has happened to him and if there's a way for him to get back to 2008 and the life he left behind. This US version featured a terrific cast, and primo production values. I grew up watching 1970s cop shows, and this harkens back to that era very well. The science-fictional elements of how Sam got stuck backwards in time are creative, and there are little hints that build up to the eventual conclusion throughout the course of the entire season, if you pay close attention. Personally, I think the British version was better done, and a little bit more edgy -- the two series also had completely different finales. But, if you're looking for a creative cop show with an interesting twist, I'd recommend the US version of Life on Mars. This DVD also has several "special features", including bloopers, deleted scenes. a production design on how they recreated the world of 1973, a "day in the life of Jason O'Meara on set', and a visit to the Life on Mars set by Lee Majors, who would have been starring on The $6 Million Man at the same time this series was set -- he offers insights as to how accurate this series' producers were on recreating that era.

[Also available, although not in the Lincoln City Libraries collection – the original British version of the series (2006-2007) – you can request this through our InterLibrary Loan service!]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ Life on Mars (US) at epguides.com ]

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 itemMetropolis: The Restored Authorized Edition
[DVD Metropolis]

This 1927 film is one of the best-known and most influential of all the silent films from that era. Directed by famed German auteur Fritz Lang, and influenced in part by the 1920 science fiction play R.U.R. by Czech playright Karel Capek, Metropolis is a marvelous look at social class differences, the liberating and restrictive influence of technology on society, and the dreams of what the future could look like. The movie is beautifully filmed, with emotional performances from the main actors, and some of the most elaborate set pieces you'll ever see in a silent film. Over the years, several differently edited versions have appeared, and the movie is occasionally show in some theaters with live piano accompaniement. For a long time, the copies being shown were of very poor quality, however a restoration edition was released in 2002, which included the original 1927 orchestral score. That is this Kino Video edition, available from the libraries. This particular set also includes several nice "extra features", including a 43-minute documentary on the making of the original film, and a featurette on the 2002 digital restoration. I highly recommend this film for fans of the silent film era, as well as for science fiction fans who want to see one of the earliest and most influential films of that genre. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try F.W. Murnau's silent film Noseratu, no longer in the libraries' collection, but available through InterLibrary Loan.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official 2002 Metropolis Restoration 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 itemMystery Science Theater 3000 – 20th Anniversary Edition
[DVD Mystery]

For 11 years, starting on a Minneapolis-based UHF station, then moving to The Comedy Channel (before it became Comedy Central), and then finishing its run on the Sci Fi Channel, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a brilliant, sarcastic, laugh-until-you-cry poke in the eye towards bad moviemaking. The set up of this low-budget show was that a couple of mad geniuses send a goofball maintenance worker to an orbiting satellite (The Satellite of Love), where they conduct psychological experiments on him by forcing him to watch really, really bad movies. He responds by cannibalizing some of the satellite's equipment to create several robot sidekicks (each with a different personality), who watch the movies with him. Joel Hodgson was the first host, alongside robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, and Joel was later replaced with Mike Nelson. Each weekly episode featured comic bits with Joel/Mike and the 'Bots, followed by an airing of a cheesy old movie -- originally a mix of scifi, horror, or any other kind of bad 1950s and 1960s movies, but with the move to the Sci Fi Channel, the fare became exclusively science fiction or fantasy. Occasionally, if the feature film was too short, they'd also sit through and make fun of "shorts" (industrial training clips, short documentaries, safety films, etc.). As the movie aired, Joel/Mike and the 'Bots appeared as silhouettes sitting in movie theater seats at the bottom of the screen, and throughout the movie, they made mocking jokes about the dialog, lighting, plot, etc. The writers on this show were absolutely brilliant -- the jokes made about the movies ranged from the blatantly obvious to obscure Shakespearean references or quips about economics theory. But it never seemed high-brow   it was always accessible to the average audience. Joel and Mike, as "hosts", had quite different personalities -- Joel's humor was dry, soft-spoken and kind of spacy. Mike was more of a lovable, slightly dim-witted goofball. Over the years, the MST3K gang have released a large variety of their nearly-200 episodes, usually in packs of 2 to 3 "movies" per DVD set. This particular set, released to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary in 2008, contains four really strong entries, particularly Laserblast and Werewolf. You'll have to go hunting for the absolute best of MST3K though. My personal favorite is Manos the Hands of Fate -- one of the worst films ever made, and gloriously skewered by the MST3K crew. As this 20th anniversary set is the only set in the libraries' collection at present, I recommend it as a great introduction to the format. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the book Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese.]


[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Mystery Science Theater 3000 web site ] | [ Satellite News: The Official MST3K Fan Site ] | [ MST3K episode guide at epguides.com ]

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 itemParental Guidance
[DVD Parental]

This is a really great family film – I enjoyed it from beginning to end! Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are grandparents who get stuck babysitting their grandchildren of Type-A, high-strung, over-protective parents (Marisa Tomei). Hilarity ensues when a technological house and the grand-kids take over. It is up to the grandparents to keep the children safe and sound until the parents get back from their trip. One of my favorite scenes was the duet of "The Book of Love" between Midler and Crystal. All around a great comical family movie, and a positive overall message at the end about bringing families together. (Watch after the credits for funny outtakes, too – it looks like they had a blast making the movie!).

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Parental Guidance web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemTerminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
[DVD Terminator]

One of my absolute favorite science fiction TV series of the past 10 years. This 2008-2009 two-season series was set in contemporary times and fit into the continuity of the Terminator feature films. It features Lena Headey taking over the role of Sarah Connor from Linda Hamilton. She and her teenaged son John Connor (played by Thomas Dekker), the future leader of the rebellion when the machines take over (as established in multiple films) are on the run, worried that they are still being pursued by killer robots from the future, as well as conventional law enforcement forces for crimes they've been accused of). This series had a terrific supporting cast, with Summer Glau (from Firefly) as a female-shaped cyborg sent to protect John, Brian Austin Greene as a future freedom fighter sent back in time to assist them, Richard T. Jones as FBI Agent James Ellison, whose encounters with Sarah and John change his world views, and a chilling Garret Dillahunt as Cromartie, the latest generation of terminator sent back to pursue the Connors, which appears to lose its memory. The production values and special effects (particularly gunfire and explosions) were of feature-film quality on a weekly schedule. The performances, particularly Heady, Jones and Dillahunt, were unforgettable. There were flash-forwards to the terminator-controlled future which seemed inevitable, no matter what actions the Connors took in their own "present" to try to avoid it. The series ended after only two seasons, with several storylines still unresolved -- It and Fringe were both airing on the FOX television network, which decided it was only going to renew one of the two shows, and Fringe got the pick-up. I highly recommend this series to any scifi fans, particularly if you love the Terminator movies! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any or all of the Terminator feature films.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles DVD 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 itemWarm Bodies
[DVD Warm]

In post-apocalyptic earth where zombies roam, a small hold-out of living have to fight them. *Yawn, we've heard this story a thousand times. But Warm Bodies isn't just your typical zombie war movie... "R" the zombie is different – he can "feel." In an ambush situation, he saves the living "Julie," by having her pretending she is one of the dead. They bond together in an abandoned airplane. Through consuming her ex-boyfriend in the ambush, he retains some of the boyfriend's memories and his heart begins to "warm" – Can Julie reunite with the living and prove to her father that the zombies are changing for the better? Suspenseful at times, but I wouldn't consider it horror; the previews also made it appear to be a light-hearted cutesy comedy but it is certainly not. The "bonies" – zombies who have become so decrepit they cannot be warmed, are quite scary for younger kids. Overall, I enjoyed it – a pretty clever twist to your traditional zombie movie. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the novel Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.]

[Also available in traditional print and book-on-cd formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Warm bodies web site ]

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


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last updated October 2013
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