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

April 2014 Recommendations

book cover  My Life
by Bill Clinton [B C612]

It starts with him growing up in Arkansas, and explains a lot of family history – there were a couple of dramatic step-fathers involved. He then goes on to talk about his campaign trails, both elections – first against Bush and then Dole. It's a good read – long – but if you enjoy political biographies this is a good one to add to your to-read-list. I, like most people, immediately flipped to the section about Monica Lewinsky cause I love a good scandal and let's face it that one went down in presidential history. He does actually talk a lot about meeting with Monica, the guilt he felt immediately after, how Hillary didn't believe the rumors and stood up for him, and then his eventual admittance of the affair, to the legal aspects with Linda Tripp and Kenneth Starr. Apparently he spent a quite a few months on the couch.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other presidential autobiographies.]

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

[ official Bill Clinton page on WhiteHouse.gov ] | [ official Clinton Foundation web site ]

related lists See more books like this on our Ornery Old Men booklist
Review Score – 7
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a music CDWatermark
by Enya [Compact Disc 781.66 Eny]

The music on this CD is pleasant, calm and relaxing. If you don't like silence but also don't want to be distracted by the music it's perfect to have on in the background while reading. It's also nice background music for studying or doing homework in the sort of way that classical music is even though this isn't classical.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Come to Dance : a Celtic Tradition by John Whelan.]

[Also available in vocal selections sheet music collection format.]

[ Watermark page on Wikipedia ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a music CDAll That Echoes
by Josh Groban [Compact Disc 781.63 Gro]

Another of Josh's CDs which I always love. His voice is relaxing and interesting to hear.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Josh Groban in concert or Duets II with Tony Bennett; Andrea Bocelli; Michael Buble; Mariah Carey; Natalie Cole; Sheryl Crow; Aretha Franklin; Josh Groban and more.]

[ official Josh Groban web site ]

Review Score – 10
Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  20th Century Ghosts
by Joe Hill

Joe Hill presents himself with this collection as both a wonderful writer and as a story teller that possess that special touch. His works are sly and subtle, while some also manage to be so incredibly creepy and even touching. The stories vary in tone and subject manner, sometimes making it difficult to ascertain exactly what Hill is trying to accomplish in each of the tales presented. However, I give the author a great amount of credit for allowing a mode of thinking on the reader's part, making the stories all the more reader driven while allowing a sense of camaraderie with the author and his characters. It would be impossible not to compare Joe Hill's work with that of his father, Stephen King. When I say that they both write with a similar style and imagination, I mean to take nothing away from Hill. His stories and prose are all his own and while being similar to those of his father, Hill's books have a flavor of their own. Now in every collection there are stories that stand out to certain readers and those that just don't work. I believe that every reader will find "their story" in this collection and many may differ from those I liked the most. The opening story "Best New Horror" is an absolutely wonderful play on the cliched horror stories that are so often presented and the almost satirical nature made this one of my favorites. The title story, "20th Century Ghost" has a much more subdued approach and has the smoother and almost poetical writing that showcases Hill's skill at maintaining both creepy and beautiful. "Pop Art" was another favorite of mine. Highlighting not scares or darkness but the friendship between two boys. Initially in the story I thought it was unbelievable but the honesty and touching nature made a believer out of me. "Voluntarily Committed" was fantastic and I hold it as not only my favorite story in the collection, but as what I think a good short story should be. It is exper tly told and is both heartfelt and by far the biggest scare I had while reading this collection. By the end of the book Hill had proven himself as an exceptional writer and one that I am sure to follow. He is right up there on my list of favorites, right between Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. There are many other stories in this book that I did not reference above and I encourage everyone to read this excellent collection and find their favorites.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Fragile things: Short fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman, Night Shift by Stephen King, or Stories : all-new tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio.]

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

[ Wikipedia page for 20th Century Ghosts ] | [ official Joe Hill web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceUninvited
by Sophie Jordan [YA Jordan]

The government has created a test to locate the "kill gene" lurking within some humans. Anyone who tests positive for this gene, call homicidal tendency syndrome (HTS) can kiss a normal life goodbye. When Davy Hamilton was tested, she never dreamed she would be positive. Suddenly, all of her friends and her boyfriend have abandoned her, afraid she'll snap at any moment and hurt them. Davy's admission to Julliard is revoked and given to a more "qualified" candidate. As if all of that isn't enough, Davy has been uninvited from attending her private school and sent to the cage at the public school — the only school where HTS carriers her age in the area are allowed to attend. There, she meets a dangerous boy who may not be as scary as he first seems. A deadly action by HTS carriers in another city send the country into a panic and all HTS carriers are sent away to camps. When it's time to take Davy away, she's told she can go to the camp or she can be one of a select few, the best and the brightest of HTS carriers, to become highly trained to follow government orders. Davy jumps at this chance, but soon realizes that it may not be the kind of training she can live through, and that it's not neccessarily those with HTS that are the monsters.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Minority Report by Philip K. Dick.]

[ official Uninvited page on the official Sophie Jordan web site ]

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


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book cover  Some Kind of Fairy Tale
by Graham Joyce

Twenty years earlier Tara disappeared in the ancient forest near her rural home in England. Then Christmas Day she suddenly appears on her parents' doorstep, not having aged a day. This was very interesting and didn't know where it was going to go. Chapters alternated between current time as everyone tries to make sense of her disappearance and her explanation, and 20 years ago as we learned what happened to family and friends right after she disappeared. Poignant for some characters, a better ending for others.

[ official Some Kind of Fairy Tale page on the official Graham Joyce web site ]

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


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book cover  Series: 43 Old Cemetery Road
by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise [j Klise]

Although this is a young people's series, I found it rather appealing as a middle-aged reader. If you can get past the premise that ghosts are among us, and that a 60-something living man falls IN LOVE with the ghost of a woman who was 90 years old 90 years ago, then these books are full of charm and humor, and a touch of gothic sensibility. They celebrate "old-fashioned" things such as libraries and post offices, honesty and integrity, patience and perseverance, while at the same time acknowledging the fast-paced world in which we live. One fun feature is that the names of EVERY character are plays on words: Olive C. Spence (I love suspense), Myra Manes (my remains), Anita Sale (I need a sale), etc. There are currently 6 books in the series, of which LCL has the first five, and they are quick and clever reads, with one or more "morals of the story."

[ official Kate and Sarah Klise web site ]

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


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book cover  Ungifted
by Gordon Korman [j Korman]

This is a Young Adult book but still interesting, humorous, and heartwarming to the adult reader. Donovan Curtis is a marginal eighth-grade student and always getting into trouble (he's been told he has "poor impulse control"). The superintendent catches Donovan after his latest fiasco and writes his name on a paper on his desk, planning to lower the boom the next day. Unfortunately, the paper the superintendent used to make note of Donovan's name is actually the list of Gifted Students to be transferred to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction, the list which the secretary takes with her, and the next day he's unable to remember Donovan's name. His parents are proud, Donovan figures the academy is good place to hide from the superintendent for the moment, and the superintendent is quietly going crazy while seeking him. It soon becomes apparent that Donovan doesn't belong in the academy, however as a "regular" kid, he influences the nerds, geeks, and other social misfits in his homeroom - and they have an impact on him as well. This story doesn't talk down to the reader and holds your attention throughout as Donovan and the other students work on their robot project for the competition the following month, as the gifted kids are forced to attend a school dance, and school officials realize the gifted kids cannot graduate because they haven't had their sex ed class – and the solution to that problem is hysterical. This is a 2014 Golden Sower nominee (winners announced May 1 2014).

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

[ official Ungifted page on the official Gordon Korman web site ]

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


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book cover  Born Standing Up
by Steve Martin [Biography Martin]

The book ranges from his youth working at Disneyland — handing out guidebooks, working in a joke shop, putting on magic shows, — then on to acting in shows at Knott's Berry Farm. During these years he also branched out, performing at a variety of clubs integrating comedy and magic. Once he got the hang of it he was hired and wrote jokes for the Smothers Brother Show and also the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. After performing many times for Johnny Carson he was hired to host Saturday Night Live where he was famous for being a Wild and Crazy Guy — among other things. Once that started he realized that he was getting too famous and began feeling isolated — he couldn?t go anywhere without being recognized and when he couldn't take it anymore, he quit standup completely. He got closer with his parents who health was quickly declining and began working on movies because they were less stressful. It's an excellent read, less than 200 pages, so it goes by quickly. It also has a lot of cool photos of Steve through the years. You learn a lot about his personal life which I don't want to spoil for you but I would highly recommend it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Ten, Make that Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make that Ten, also by Steve Martin, which is a collection of his Tweets and some of those written by his followers.]

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

[ official Steve Martin web site ]

related lists See more books like this on our Ornery Old Men booklist
Review Score – 9
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Bertie Plays the Blues
by Alexanders McCall-Smith

This is the seventh book in the 44 Scotland Street series. It takes place in Edinburgh Scotland and follows the lives of some of the city's residents who are all interrelated in someway. There are about five main stories going on at once and the book bounces between them every couple of chapters, which are only a few pages long. I find it to be a very quick read and difficult to put down. In this book newlyweds Matthew and Elspeth become parents of triplets boys, who in a sleep deprived daze snip off the babies' ID bracelets and then can't tell which baby is which. Angus and Domenica, who have recently become engaged, try to decide whose flat they'll be living in after the wedding. Domenica's neighbor Antonia decides to sell her place so as to become a nun in Italy. Domenica's downstairs neighbor Bertie, age 7, decides to put himself up for adoption to escape his over bearing mother. Pat, a college student, returns to work for Matthew in the art gallery so he c an be at home with the triplets more often. Some readers may find switching characters and stories so frequently to be a bit choppy. However if you think about the city itself as being the main character and notice how the places the characters visit overlap, the transitions don't feel jarring. Recommended for those who enjoy international fiction or interesting characters.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the rest of the 44 Scotland Street series. The Corduroy Mansions series by this author is very similar and is set in London.]

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

[ official 44 Scotland Street series page on the official Alexander McCall-Smith web site ]

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


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book cover  Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar - Your Brain's Silent Killers
by David Perlmutter [613.26 Per]

This book also available on CD. I've heard a lot lately about the adverse health effects of grains and sugar in the diet. Grain Brain gives so much information about this and includes reasons to limit your carbs too; not just for gluten sensitive people. It lists supplements beneficial for brain and body health also. I'd likely ask my doctor before following too much of the author's advice though. I know that decreasing my bread eating and increasing leafy green veggies couldn't hurt me though.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Gluten-Free Bread : More Than 100 Artisan Loaves for a Healthier Life by Ellen Brown, The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, Healthy at Home by Tieraona Low Dog.]

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

[ official Grain Brain page on the official David Perlmutter web site ]

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


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book cover  How I Got This Way
by Regis Philbin [Biography Philbin]

The structure of the book is unique because each chapter is dedicated to a person that affected his life. So it's sort of made up of a group of short stories about these thirty people and the interactions he had with them and then at the end of each chapter he talks about what lessons he learned from them. Some of them are emotional others are comedic. These people range from his wife Joy to Jack Nicholson, to David Letterman — who wrote the forward — and of course his longtime cohosts Kathie Lee and Kelly Ripa, though he calls her Pippa. I enjoy the chapter on Jerry Seinfeld. Apparently Regis didn't pay attention to the show Seinfeld, until after it entered syndication and then became obsessed with it to the point where every morning he would discuss the episode he watched the night before. The crew and Kathie Lee eventually would just roll their eyes. But he liked that it was a show about nothing because really so was their talk show. It's a quick read and it's got a lot of humor, while still remaining serious at times.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other talk show host biographies - Johnny Carson, Larry King, Dick Cavett, etc.]

[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

[ publisher's official How I Got This Way web page ] | [ Regis Philbin on Wikipedia ]

related lists See more books like this on our Ornery Old Men booklist
Review Score – 8
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town
by Mary Pipher [325.21 Pip]

Written in 2003, Mary Pipher's book better helps us understand the lives of refugees, especially the lives of refugees in our town, Lincoln, Nebraska. For her efforts on this book and others, Mary has won a number of awards over the years; she recently received the 2014 Literary Heritage Award, given by the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association, a support group for LCL's Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors.

[Mary has written quite a few books; take a look at The Green Boat, Seeking Peace, The Shelter of Each Other, and Writing to Change the World to name several.]

[ official Mary Pipher web site ]

Review Score – 10
Recommended by Meredith M.
The Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors


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book cover  The Martian
by Andy Weir

Mark Watney is a crew member on Ares 3, the third NASA mission to Mars. On the sixth day, a sudden wind storm hits and the crew must evacuate the surface, thus ending the mission. Mark is struck by flying debris and he is thought dead, forcing his crewmates to leave without him. Now Mark is stranded and alone, with no way to communicate with NASA, and not enough supplies to last him until the next mission arrives. Now what does he do? One does not need to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this book. This is more of a fascinating story of one's determination to survive. By day 40 satellite photos of Mars shows NASA he's alive. Told from both Watney's point of view and that of NASA staff members, this is an exciting story of a rescue with international assistance. At times the disasters and odds seem insurmountable, but Watney's sense of humor gets him through (and you'll be quoting him for days). There are parts of this novel that you can't read fast enough due to the action, especially the final two chapters. If you enjoyed the Gregory Peck movie, "Marooned," you won't be able to put down this story.

[ official The Martian and official Andy Weir web site ]

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


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book cover  Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes
by Douglas Wellman [Biography Hughes]

If you like conspiracy theories based on historical people then this book is for you. In this biography Douglas Wellman interviews a woman named Eva McLelland who claims she was married to Howard Hughes for 31 years. This is all fine and dandy except she claims that Howard lived much longer than what his tombstone says. The story starts off when Eva met a man named Nik. He was charming and handsome so of course she fell for him. At first he didn't tell her who he was but she began to suspect when she listened to Howard Hughes talking on the radio and their voices were the same. Around that time Nik also seemed to be ranting about the same subjects and when she confronted him about it he just smiled. In order to conduct his business yet do what he wanted Howard had a double. Knowing that now makes much more sense because he seemed to be in two places at once or even in different conditions at once (labeled by some as long finger-nailed and mentally disabled while the diplomats who met him describe him as well-groomed). For every question Eva seemed to have an answer and sometimes pictures to back her up which makes this theory seem very possible, even though it conflicts with almost every other biography written about Hughes.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other biographies about Howard Hughes.]

[ Howard Hughes page on Wikipedia ]

related lists See more books like this on our Ornery Old Men booklist
Review Score – 9
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemFrozen
[DVD j Frozen]

Anna, a princess, ventures up a snowy mountain to find her sister Elsa--a queen with magical icy powers. Elsa has left Arendelle kingdom in eternal winter, and it is up to Anna and Kristoff to help find her sister and save the kingdom. Along the way they meet a laughable Snowman, Olaf, and other characters. The movie is clever, very funny at times, contains a great storyline and plot with a great ending. But what really makes the movie is the music. Clearly inspired from Broadway style tunes, several hits and awards have came from the music, including the hit song "Let it Go" performed by Idina Menzel, which won an Oscar for Best Original Song. Other hits include: "Fixer-Upper," "Love is an Open Door," and "For the First Time in Forever" Overall, the film is great especially for kids!.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tangled, Brave.]

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

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


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last updated April 2014
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