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

January 2014 Recommendations

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceEnclave
by Ann Aguirre [YA Aguirre]

For fans of the Hunger Games and Divergent, Enclave is the first in the dystopian Razorland trilogy. Kids in the Enclave only earn a name only if they make it to their fifteenth birthday. Many of them don't. Those that do are then sorted into one of three groups — Builders, Breeders, or Hunters. Deuce is a hunter and her directive is to go outside the enclave and bring home meat, facing off against the Freaks threatening to slaughter them all. Deuce has always followed the rules and wanted to be a hunter for as long as she could remember. When she is partnered with Fade, a hunter who doesn't play by the rules, her outlook begins to change and she realizes the Freak threat is more serious than the Enclave's elders are letting on. Deuce comes to understand that playing by the rules could get her killed, which sets her on a path she never expected to be on, with a boy she never thought she could trust. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other two books in the trilogy: Outpost and Horde. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, the Legend series by Marie Lu.]

[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

[ official Enclave page on the official Ann Aguirre web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Sam N.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  The Broken Places
by Ace Atkins

Quinn Colson, a former Sgt with the Army Rangers, is now Sheriff of the county of his hometown, Jericho, Mississippi. His sister, Caddy, and her son are living with a pardoned convict, Jamey Dixon, who was jailed for murdering his girlfriend but has now proclaimed himself a minister. Together Caddy and Dixon are building a church and retreat out of an old barn. The book begins with three convicts escaping from a Mississippi prison to locate Dixon. They were all involved with an armored car robbery that was not solved nor was the money ever recovered. They just know that Dixon has taken it for himself. Toss in your standard political and business corruption, and good ol' boy behaviors of the South, and you have an atmospheric crime novel filled with rich characters. It's fascinating to watch this tale unfold, and as the crime comes to a head, a tornado destroys half the town and adds mayhem to the mix. This is book three in the Quinn Colson series and the first one I've read. The author provides enough back story here that you can follow the characters without having reading the first two books.

[ official The Broken Places page on the official Ace Atkins web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceStar Wars: Jedi Academy
by Jeffrey Brown [j Brown]

Jeffrey Brown, the marvelous cartoon artist who previous brought us Darth Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess, applies his same artistic style and sense of humor about the Star Wars universe to this short illustrated novel. Unlike the earlier two volumes, which were essentially collections of single-panel stand-alone cartoons, Star Wars Jedi Academy has a narrative structure. The story follows the adventures of a young Tatooine boy, Roan, whose dream of becoming a starfighter pilot like his older brother is sidetracked when he is selected to attend the Jedi Academy, where he'll be taught how to become a Jedi Knight by such elders as Yoda. Brown tells Roan's story through extensive cartoon-style imagery, in addition to humorous text. Roan himself is an artist, and join's the Jedi Academy's "newspaper" club, illustrating that publication with his own comic-strips. Though a "fish out of water", having joined studies at the Academy at an older age than most of the other students, Roan quickly befriends several of his classmates, and his story is filled with lots of silly typical school-related incidents and activities -- as long as your school is the one where they teach you how to use the force, building your own lightsabers, and study the cultures of alien worlds. Although I enjoyed many of Brown's single-panel cartoons in his earlier books, there were also a lot that didn't really "click" for me. In Star Wars Jedi Academy, I thought his humor and visual storytelling style really worked much better, and I highly recommend this light little volume for any Star Wars fan! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Darth Vader and Son, and Vader's Little Princess.]

[ official Jeffrey Brown's Comics web site ]

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


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book cover  Read and Buried
by Erika Chase

Ashton Corners is a small town brimming with southern hospitality. Lizzie Turner and rest of the book club think that it is a stroke of luck when Lizzie meets a famous author in Book Bin bookstore and he agrees to speak at the next meeting of the Mystery Readers and Cheese Straw Society. Derek Alton goes to Lizzie's house the next night to find out more about the members so that he can tailor his talk to them. While he is talking to Lizzie a bullet smashes through her living room window and kills him. Lizzie takes it upon herself help the police when a fellow book club is suspected of murdering Derek. The twists and turns in this book kept me guessing. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Ellery Adams, Miranda James and Carolyn Hart.]

[ official Erika Chase web site ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  A Caribbean Mystery
by Agatha Christie

This Miss Marple story is set in the tropics rather than England when our sleuth takes a vacation - sort of. Her nephew thought it would be good for her, but even though she's not in St. Mary Mead, she finds herself in the midst of another murder mystery. While sitting on the beach, one of her fellow guests begins telling her stories about his life and shows her a photograph of a person he says is a murderer. He hastily puts the photograph away when other guests approach. Shortly thereafter, he is found dead. The hostess of the B&B all the guests are staying at is quite distraught about the matter - even more so as the story progresses and one of her employees is also found dead. As usual Miss Marple helps solve the mystery with her keen observations and knowledge of human behavior. While this was not one of my favourite Agatha Christie novels, it was entertaining and the change of setting mixed things up nicely. This would appeal to readers who like mysteries or those who want a good read set on a warm tropical island.

[Available in a variety of formats - check the links above!]

[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceClockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare [YA Clare]

The first in a trilogy, this story is a cross between steampunk and supernatural that follows Tessa Gray, a girl with extraordinary powers she does not fully understand. What she does know is that she has been captured during her attempt to join her missing brother in London and is asked to demonstrate these powers, over and over, until the powers are to the liking of her captors. She is rescued by two demon slaying Shadowhunters named Will and Jem, both beautiful in contrasting ways. Seeing that she has nowhere else to go, Tessa joins them in their fight to bring down the Pandemonium Club, an evil organization full of vampires, warlocks, humans, and demons intent on taking over Britain. Tessa finds herself falling for the boys as she throws herself into the fight, but which will tear her apart first — the battle between her and the Pandemonium Club's clockwork creatures or her the battle she's waging with her own heart for two boys she doesn't know if she can even trust. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the last two books in this series: Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.]

[ official Cassandra Clare web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Sam N.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Death Rides the Zephyr
by Janet Dawson

It's late December in 1952. Passengers eagerly board the luxurious California Zephyr for Christmas visits with relatives and friends. Zephyrette, Jill McLeod and the porters see to the comfort of the passengers. Most of the passengers are congenial, a few are crabby and one is murderous. Jill uses her wits to find the killer. The book deftly describes a way of life that doesn't exist anymore. It's easy to visualize the passengers moving from their compartments to the dining car or the observation car. Dawson outlines the extensive research that she did for this book in the afterward and is as interesting as the book. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Susan Elia MacNeal, Victoria Thompson and Suzanne Arruda.]

[ official Death Rides a Zephyr web site and official Janet Dawson web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the Book on CD format of this itemMurder Gets a Life
by Anne George [Compact Disc George]

Patricia Anne and Mary Alice are a hoot! These warm and loving sisters get into all kinds of predicaments. All they want to do is to get to know Mary Alice's new daughter-in-law's family. Mary Alice's son, Ray, met Sunshine Dabs while he was living in Bora Bora. They had a whirl-wind romance and married on that tropical island. Sunshine has come back to Alabama and Ray will soon follow. Mary Alice and Patricia Anne meet Sunshine's grandmother in a cafe and wrangle an invitation from her to visit the family trailer compound. They walk into Meemaw's trailer to say hi to Sunshine. Instead of seeing Sunshine, they find a dead man on the floor. He has a knife in his chest that Meemaw describes as her "best hog butchering knife". There is blood on the floor but no Sunshine. What happened to her? Mary Alice and Patricia Anne take it upon themselves to find Sunshine. This book's charm and wit shines in the daily family activities. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Ellery Adams, Erika Chase and Donna Andrews.]

[Also available in Traditional Print format.]

[ official Anne George web site ]

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


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book cover  Guitar Aficionado: The Collections - The Most Famous, Rare and Valuable Guitars in the World
by Tom Beaujous and Christopher Scapelliti [Music 789.787 Gui]

This gorgeous over-sized volume caught my eye while browsing the "new books" display area in the Polley Music Library at the downtown library. While not a guitar player myself, I love listening to guitar music, whether it's the haunting tone of Andrés Segovia playing Malaguena, to Eric Clapton's precise solo work, to Carlos Santana's virtuoso work on his Supernatural album. This tremendous book, reprinting (and updating) a series of articles from Guitar Aficionado magazine, looks at the guitar collections of twenty legendary performers, with profiles of each of them as they share tales of what songs they used particular instruments to record. In addition to those twenty profiles, there's also a look at the guitars of the Hard Rock Cafe, and eighteen additional featurettes on specific famous or legendary guitars. The photos in this collection are exquisite -- beautiful rich colors, showing the wear-and-tear on some of the music industry's most beloved axes. Jimmy Vaughn's 1962 Fender Stratocaster "Lady Luck" looks that it has been through hard times; Jakob Dylan's 1964 Fender Esquire is horribly scratched up; Brian Setzer's collection of Gretsch guitars glows as though lit from within; James Hetfield's collections of Flying Vs look like birds in flight, and his collection of four Les Paul Standards (posed in front of a purple 1953 Buick Skylark) are things of beauty. Perhaps the most interesting axe in this book (at least for me) is Eddie Van Halen's home-built "Frankenstein". If you are a lover of guitar music, or have followed any of the artists represented here (inlcluding but not limited to Eric Johnson, David Crosby, Lindsey Buckingham, Randy Bachman, Rick Nielsen, Steve Earle, Carlos Santana, Joe Bonamassa and Lynn Wheelwright), I highly recommend this coffee-table book for adding to your enjoyment of the original music -- listen to your favorite CDs while browsing the breathtaking images and learning about how the performers acquired and used their favorite instruments! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Cowboy Guitars, The Strat in the Attic: Thrilling Stories of Guitar Archaeology, or Million Dollar Les Paul: In Search of the Most Valuable Guitar in the World.]

[ Audio interview about the book, with the authors ] | [ official Guitar Aficionado magazine web site ]

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


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book cover  Out of Circulation
by Miranda James

There are fireworks in Athena, Mississippi but they are not the pyrotechnic sort. The library board of directors is making plans for the annual fundraising gala. The Ducote sisters feel that their spacious home is perfect for the event while Vera Cassity thinks that her mansion is much better suited for the party. The Ducote sisters win the battle but sparks fly at the fundraiser when Azalea has words with Vera. Shortly after their argument Vera falls down the servant's stairs. Board member Charlie Harris tries to stay out of the fray but he involves himself in the investigation when Azalea, who is his housekeeper, is found standing over Vera's body. This book has a lot of charm. Some of it comes from the likable characters and much of it comes from Diesel, Charlie's Maine Coon cat. Diesel doesn't have any special powers he just does what cats do and brings pleasure to many people. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Ellery Adams, Erika Chase and Blaize Clement.]

[ official "Cat in the Stacks" series web site and Miranda James web site ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceRed Cell
by John Kalkowski [j Kalkowski]

After winning a baseball game through a clever tactic of throwing the rosin bag at a crucial moment in the game, Will Conlan, an eighth grader, captures the attention of Red Cell: A division of Homeland Security responsible for fighting terrorism. Through Will and his class's clever ideas, and a brutal overbearing teacher Mr. Tenepior-- by thinking outside of the box, the agency uses the students' ideas to thwart a terrorist plot. The premise of the book is that children think outside of the box, and have no qualms about what can or cannot be done, and are therefore open to new innovative ideas. A little far-fetched that an 8th grader saves the world, but a great read-- action-packed, and a lot of twists and turns for a relatively short book (about 150 pgs). [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Underdogs - Mike Lupica; Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip - Jordan Sonnenblick.]

[ official Video Commercial for Red Cell on YouTube ] | [ official John Kalkowski web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceCharm & Strange
by Stephanie Kuehn [YA Kuehn]

I can't say much about the plot of Charm & Strange because really anything I'd say would spoil it for the reader, but I am able to talk about the main character. The chapters alternate between Drew/Win, Drew is the angry young boy who was forced to spend a summer with his family where something horrible occurred, while Win is a lonely teenager who has spent the last few years at a remote boarding school, hiding dark secrets about is childhood and even the person he is. I will admit that I didn't enjoy reading Charm & Strange. As the reader you are kept in the dark and are really discovering Win's past and what is wrong with him as the story progresses, which at times was very frustrating to me. The writing is impeccable, Kuehn's prose does an amazing job at putting the reader in the mind of Win and Drew and draws us a picture of a very injured and wronged boy. I didn't like Win as a main character, but by the end I realized I didn't have to. Win isn't a character to like, he is someone who you are meant to understand, to learn. Charm & Strange is by far the most allusive and poignant young adult book I have read recently, if not ever. The ending brought the mystery of what happened to young Drew and why Win is mentally scared the way he is, to a close and while not a happy ending, it was by far the best and most satisfying way to end the story. This book will not please every reader, and is not a book to go into looking for a happy ending, but it is a book that will leave the reader with a strong and lasting mark.

[ official Stephanie Kuehn web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  I Could Chew on This: And Other Poems by Dogs and I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats
by Francesco Marciuliano [817 Mar]

book coverThis pair of humor volumes, released in 2012 (Cats) and 2013 (Dogs), are perfect little bon mots of hilarity for anyone who considers themselves to be either a dog-lover or cat-lover at heart. Marciuliano pairs gorgeous photos of individuals dogs or cats, with poems, ostensibly written by a dog or cat, and therefore presented in the pet's mindset. If you've ever wondered what's on the mind of your household fur-covered companion, you'll find these little gems to be right on the money. The photos are perfect pairings with many of the poems -- the expressions on the animals' faces perfectly match the subject matter and attitude expressed in the poetry. Although both of these books were quick reads -- 30 minutes each at most, I laughed longer and more continuously at each of them than at many so-called "humor" books by stand-up comics. The only drawback -- if you're not a "pet person", you may not get as much out of these!

[ official Marciuliano web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceForgive Me, Leonard Peacock
by Matthew Quick [YA Quick]

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock starts off with Leonard's admission of his plan of killing his ex-best friend and then himself. But first he wants to give a gift to the four people who have meant the most to him in his daily life. As the reader you are completely immersed in Leonard's thoughts and spend a little over a day in his troubled mind. I originally thought it would be hard to connect to a character who is so emotionally cut off from others and is very dark, but as a character Leonard gradually becomes more and more relatable and even likeable. I read this book in one sitting and was wowed at the emotional punch that Quick is able to develop. The story is told entirely from Leonard's perspective in first person which allowed me an insight into his thoughts and feelings in a very real and emotional way. I was left with a feeling that was very similar to the way I felt after finishing John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, with its haunting beauty and immensely quotable passages. This is not a happy book or necessarily even an enjoyable one. For me it was a very rare reading experience, where the character really became something more. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, or Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.]

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

[ official Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock page on the official Matthew Quick web site ]

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


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book cover  Unsinkable: A Memoir
by Debbie Reynolds [791.451 Rey]

book coverDebbie Reynolds is a triple threat — in movies, music ("Aba Daba Honeymoon", anyone?) and books — two autobiographies, that is. In 1988, she published her first memoir, Debbie: My Life and now catches us up in 2013 with Unsinkable: A Memoir. She completely lives up to the latter adjective, borrowed from the nickname of one of her most beloved portrayals — "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", one of the real-life Titanic survivors. From her practically dirt-poor beginnings, through three husbands who all cheated her emotionally, financially and sexually, and in spite of a lingering dream to collect and preserve iconic Hollywood treasures which ultimately died, Reynolds has endured to leave a legacy whose impact may not be fully realized while she is still living. Her perseverance, determination, and talent are definitely her hallmarks. From the heroine of "Singin' in the Rain" and "Tammy" to her pop-culture identification as Princess Leia's mother, Mary Frances Reynolds of Burbank, CA via Texas is an entertainment legend and a lesson in survival. Both books are filled with anecdotes of her Hollywood and movie-making experiences and friendships, and go into sometimes alarming detail about the three scoundrels who were her husbands, the second of whom at least showed affection to her children (Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher) and treated them well. The newer bio is almost like two books in one, in that the last third of it is a chronological catalogue of her movies along with specific recollections about them. There were some things I was surprised to learn about Reynolds, such as her relationship with Robert Wagner when they were both young adults, or her ownership of a dance studio. Other disclosures are well-known, like the fact that when Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor and La Liz in turn left Fisher for Richard Burton, she and Taylor were able to become friends again after some time had passed. These memoirs are eye-openers to the fact that "having it all" can be a gigantic illusion even for someone as wholesome and capable as Debbie Reynolds but that at the same time having a strong will, a strong faith, and a strong family group can get you through pretty much anything. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher; Getting Along Famously: A Celebration of Friendship; Best of Debbie Reynolds (CD); and some highlights from Debbie's movie career (underlined DVDs are in LCL collections): Two Weeks with Love; Singin' In the Rain; I Love Melvin; The Tender Trap; Tammy and the Bachelor; The Rat Race; How the West was Won; The Unsinkable Molly Brown; The Singing Nun; What's the Matter with Helen?; Charlotte's Web (as the voice of Charlotte); Mother; In & Out; One for the Money; Behind the Candelabra.]

[ Debbie Reynolds page on Wikipedia ] | [ official Internet Movie Database pagefor Debbie Reynolds ] | [ official Debbie Reynolds web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceSteelheart
by Brandon Sanderson [YA Sanderson]

When Calamity came, a burst in the sky, ordinary men and women developed superpowers of extraordinary strength. They were called Epics. But the Epics didn't fight for good, they sought chaos and control. It has been ten years since David's father was killed. Ten years since he faced Steelheart, one of the strongest and most fearsome of the Epics. Steelheart rules Chicago, now dubbed Newcago, with a host of other Epics by his side. David wants to avenge his father's death, and to do so he must join the Reckoners, the only people standing up to the evil Epics, finding their weaknesses, and killing them. The Reckoners don't take new members, but David has something they need. A memory. He's seen Steelheart bleed and he will do anything to see it happen again. Steelheart is an excellent twist on the superhero genre, telling a tale of super villains rather, and those who must exploit their weakness for the good of humanity. Brandon Sanderson is a master world builder and portrays the transformed city of Newcago in an excellent manner. His writing is flawless and the story moves incredibly fast with twists and turns throughout. David's emotions can be heart wrenching and the prologue highlights some of the saddest emotions felt in the novel. Whether you are a fan of young adult novels or not, Steelheart is an excellent novel that I would recommend to anyone who loves a well written tale of adventure.

[ official Steelheart page on the official Brandon Sanderson web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library

I agree wholeheartedly with the Staff Recommendation. Of course I haven't read a Brandon Sanderson book I haven't loved. He is a master storyteller and I can't wait to read the upcoming stories in this series!

Review Score - 10
Rated by -- Cynthia N.
Customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library and Gere Branch Library

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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceSomebody Up There Hates You
by Hollis Seamon [YA Seamon]

This short novel follows 17 year old Richie as he fights for his life in hospice. Richie has been left ravaged by his cancer treatment and he knows his time is limited. They don't just move people to hospice for nothing. Richie claims he and every other patient in hospice suffer from SUTHY (Somebody Up There Hates You). While in hospice, Richie has the pleasure of meeting 15 year old Sylvie, a fierce girl determined to make the most of the time that is given to her. Richie experiences the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as his experiences with girls send his life into a tailspin. Richie manages to find trouble at every turn with the help of his uncle and Sylvie, stressing out the hospital staff, his grandmother, and his mother (much to his dismay). Throughout the book, Richie is sarcastic and stoic about the way he handles himself, but at times he shows that he really is just a young boy battling a terrible disease. Watching Richie develop relationships with his caregivers and new friends, while trying to accept that he may not be around long to cultivate them, is a battle that is well portrayed throughout the book. The reader will find sympathy as they read about Richie, but will also find humor in his view on life. People who enjoy the twisted humor of John Green will find this book appealing. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Fault in Our Stars or any other book by John Green.]

[ official Somebody Up There Hates You and Hollis Seamon web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Sam N.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is a genius professor in genetics at an Australian university. He's unaware he has Asperger's, a high-functioning form of Autism, which contributes to his social awkwardness and the precise manner in which he lives his life. Don decides it's time to find a wife. If you watch TV's The Big Bang Theory think Sheldon Cooper seeks a wife. However, Don is not obnoxious as Sheldon can often be, he's actually considerate and sweet while oblivious. He creates a 16-page, front and back, questionnaire that he submits to an online dating site. He feels this will weed-out those who are incompatible and thus save him time. Don continues to tweak his questionnaire as he makes personal discoveries throughout the book. In the meantime, Don meets Rosie, a TA for his friend and fellow professor. Thinking Rosie has applied he asks her out for a disastrous evening at a restaurant. But they become friends and he decides to assist her in locating her biological father - after all, he is a genetics prof. But not everything follows Don's plan. The adventures, and misadventures, of Don and Rosie are hysterical, intelligent, sweet, and poignant without being excessively sentimental. There are laugh-out loud moments, and times you feel so badly for Don. At no time does the author cross the line into ridiculing Don as he tries to sort out the dating paradigm in particular and social activities in general. This is a wonderful story that has become one of my favorites.

[ official The Rosie Project web site ] | [ official Graeme Simsion web site ]

Review Score – 10
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 itemHamlet
by William Shakespeare [DVD Hamlet]

As a fan of all things Shakespeare, I have amassed a collection of Hamlet films over the years with various actors in the lead role. This version by the Royal Shakespeare Company is by far one of the best. David Tennant plays the moody prince alongside acting greats Patrick Stewart and Oliver Ford Davies. Tennant's portrayal of the "mad" prince is brilliant. Stewart is superb in his dual roles as both the slain King and his brother, Hamlet's Uncle Claudius. I highly recommend this DVD for all Shakespeare fans. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other filmed versions of Hamlet, starring Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh.]

[Various editions/printings of Shakespeare's original play are available in the libraries' collection.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Royal Shakespeare Company web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemRed 2
[DVD Red 2]

Red's all-star cast returns in this sequel, along with some new characters played by more all-stars, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Byung-hun Lee. In this one Frank, Marvin and Sarah track down the nuclear weapon known as Nightshade with help from scientist Edward Bailey (played by Hopkins) all while being hunted by Victoria (Helen Mirren) and the new assassin played by Byung-hun Lee. It was good, but not as good as the first one. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Red, or the Die Hard series.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Red and Red 2 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 item25 Hill
[DVD 25]

This is a charming and inspirational family drama, written and directed by Corbin Bernsen (Psych, L.A. Law, etc.). 12-year-old Trey Caldwell's father gives him a soapbox derby car kit for Christmas, saying they'll build the car together, and Trey will race it. Soon after, his dad is called up for reservist duty in Afghanistan and is tragically killed. Trey decides that an appropriate tribute to his dad would be to finish building the car and try to race it. Trey is put in touch with a former winner of the National Soap Box Derby (also Bernsen), who lives in his same California town, and who has suffered a personal loss of his own. Reluctantly, the two team up and start a journey that takes them to Akron, Ohio and the national Soap Box Derby finals. Along the way, there are emotional losses to be coped with, relationship issues to be dealt with, technical problems with the derby car, rivalries with fellow racers to get past, and ultimately the possible end of the Derby tradition when it falls on financial hard times. This little independent film has a terrific cast, particularly Nathan Gamble as young Trey Campbell, and grizzled Bernsen as Roy Gibbs. Watch for a Lincoln connection as Trey tours the Soap Box Derby museum and the winning 1967 "Grasshopper" car from Lincoln, NE gets a moment in the spotlight. For anyone not familiar with this long-running all-American sport, this film is truly a love letter to the Soap Box Derby. My only complaint is that the movie gets a bit "preachy" at times, but Bernsen explains his motivation for that in a "making of" featurette on this DVD.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official 25 Hill 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 itemWe're the Millers
[DVD We're]

After a small-time pot dealer gets robbed his boss forces him to make up for it by picking up a new shipment from Mexico. He recruits a stripper and two teenagers to play his cover family, increasing his chances of making it across the border. Funny movie, excellent casting.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official We're the Millers 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 itemWhite House Down
[DVD White]

Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum star in this action-adventure drama. While touring the White House with his daughter, Agent Cale (Tatum), finds himself forced to save the President when terrorists take over the White House. Good storyline, humor was there but not enough to make it the focus... [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Olympus Has Fallen; it came out the same year with almost the same plot.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official White House Down web site ]

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


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last updated January 2014
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