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

May 2014 Recommendations

book cover  Find It in Everything: Photographs
by Drew Barrymore [779.1 Bar]

This is a lightweight little photography collection from the actress Drew Barrymore -- mostly images with a few examples of explanatory text. Barrymore has been fascinated by finding images of traditional "hearts" in the world around her -- those that are intentional in advertising, packaging and decorative design, and those those hearts that are quirks of fate -- a cloud formation that turns into a heart, the way a pet cat's mottled colors form a heart when she curls up in sleep, a prismatic reflection of light on a sidewalk, and so much more. There's very little substance to this, but her collection of images will make you stop and think about all the kinds of "heart" images you see throughout the course of an average day. The photographic quality is exactly what you'd expect from an amateur photographer -- occasionally grainy, oddly framed, with strange depths of focus. If it had been anybody but Drew Barrymore, it's unlikely this photography collection would have seen the light of day. But, reading it should be enough to give you a few smiles in your day!

[ official Drew Barrymore web site ]

Review Score – 7
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the Book on CD format of this itemMurder at a Vineyard Mansion
by Philip R. Craig [Compact Disc Craig]

This book is populated with quirky characters. One of them escapes from jail every night to roam the streets. But he's always back in his cell before breakfast because the inmate who cooks the prisoners' meals is an excellent chef. Another character has been nicknamed the Silencer. He zaps booming car stereos and destroys the sound systems of party animals that aggravate their neighbors with their loud music. The residents who value their hearing are greatly relieved by the Silencer's crusade. Nobody knows how he does it and they don't care. On the other hand, the offended parties want this vandal CAUGHT! The lovers of peace and quiet are happy that the Silencer is around. The police have made catching him a low priority. J. W. Jackson, a former Boston police officer and a sometime private investigator is one of these unconventional islanders. One of his wealthy neighbors drags a reluctant J.W. away from his fishing rod into his role as a detective. She asks him to prove that her son did not murder a night watchman at a Chappaquiddick mega-mansion. To do so, J.W. must explore some of the esoteric connections among the moneyed elite on Martha's Vineyard. The eccentric characters make this book a fun read. Craig also co-wrote the Brady Coyne series with William Tapply.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Cynthia Riggs and William Tapply.]

[Also available in Print format.]

[ official Philip R. Craig web site ]

Review Score – 5
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Water Like a Stone
by Deborah Crombie

One of the pleasures of leading the libraries' Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group meetings is introducing "new" authors to the group's members -- authors that many of the members may not have tried before -- and watching the readers get "hooked" on a terrific new series. That doesn't often happen with me, myself, though. This was one exception -- the Just Desserts group read and discussed Deborah Crombie's Water Like a Stone at our April 2014 meeting, and I really, really enjoyed reading this particular book...my first Crombie title. Though it is the 11th book in Crombie's Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series, I didn't feel as if I was missing huge amounts of backstory, especially since this novel delved into the background of Inspector Duncan Kincaid's childhood, and enough details of his and Gemma's working and personal relationship came to light through the plot. Crombie provides great descriptions of the places and people in this contemporary British police procedural novel, set around Christmas in the English countryside. The world of narrow boats and the English canal system are a major plot point, and I found the topic fascinating. The characters seem fully human -- "real" if you will -- and I quickly grew to care about them and their fates. It turns out that there is a great deal of character growth throughout the Kincaid/James series, so it's probably best to start at the beginning of the series, if you plan to read them all. But, if you'd just like to sample this author's works, I highly recommend Water Like a Stone.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the titles on our Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Just Desserts series handout.]

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

[ official Deborah Crombie web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the Downloadable Audio format of this itemBloodland
by Alan Gynn [Downloadable Audio Glynn]

Who would think that a job researching the life of Susie Monaghan, a starlet known more for her antics than her acting for her biography would lead to the downfall of an American presidential candidate? Jimmy Gilroy didn't think that this job would be anything but a way to pay the bills while he searched for work as a newspaper reporter in Dublin. Jimmy is perplexed about the helicopter crash that killed Susie and her fellow passengers. Things became weird as Jimmy probed further. If the wrong-doers had been more subtle Jimmy would have continued to focus on Susie and the criminals would have gotten away. Nevertheless, this is an engaging conspiracy theory thriller that takes the reader from Europe to the Congo to the U.S.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Chris Pavone, Alice LaPlante and Olen Steinhauer.]

[ publisher's official Bloodland web page ]

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


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book cover  Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses
by Bess Lovejoy [306.9 Lov]

Fascinating and humorous little volume that looks at the physical afterlife of several noteworthy human beings' bodies. If you thought that people could suffer indignations while they were alive -- wait until you've read about what happens to the earthly remains of some of these historical celebrities! Ranging from ancient religious figures (like the Saint Nicholas who inspired the Santa Claus mythology), Thomas Beckett, Voltaire, Moliere and Ludwig Van Beethoven, to such recent figures as Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary, Gram Parsons and Osama Bin Laden, the fates of these folks bodies can be truly crazy. Lovejoy's book covers people in the following categories: Saints and Sinners, Science and Medicine, Sports, Literature and Entetainment, Unsolved Mysteries, Politicians, Collectible Corpses (truly bizarre!), Love and Devotion, and bizarre Last Wishes. Did you know that Einstein's brain was stolen? Did you know Johnny Depp paid to a have a special cannon built to shoot gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's ashes into the sky? Learn the truth about what really happened to baseball great Ted Williams' head. Find out which parts of Rasputin are buried in which locations. And discover the ultimate fate of the remains of both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Both engrossing and gross reading at the same time, but filled with curious historical factoids. To be read when you're in a quirky mood!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.]

[ official Rest in Pieces and Bess Lovejoy web site ]

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


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book cover  Star Wars Art: Concept
by Lucasfilm Ltd. [791.437 StaYl

Though I'd identify myself as more of a Star Trek fan than a Star Wars fan, I still immersed myself in the original trilogy of films by George Lucas, buying magazines, action figures, collectible cards, comic books and soundtracks. One of my prize "fannish" possessions is a rare set of pre-production illustrations by artist Ralph McQuarrie, produced before the very first Star Wars movie was released in 1977, and released as part of the first wave of merchandising in the 1970s. That collection of rare images makes up a big part of this brand new book put out by Lucasfilm Limited. McQuarrie's illustrations join those of numerous other motion picture production designers and fantasy artists -- revealing some of the broad strokes of how the look of the Star Wars universe has been developed in the 35+ years since Luke Skywalker first gazed at the twin suns over Tatooine. The art hear represents all of the 6 Star Wars feature films, and some of the images differ dramatically from what ultimately made it to the screen. But for any true Star Wars fan, or anyone interested in the various stages of motion picture production, these provide valuable insight.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the various "making of" books about the Star Wars films.]

[ publisher's official Star Wars Art: Concept web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the Downloadable Audio format of this itemSins of the Flesh
by Colleen McCullough [Downloadable Audio McCullough]

Police Captain Carmine Delmonico comes home early from his vacation to help his team catch a psychopathic killer in Holloman, Connecticut. The team focuses their investigation on a trio of eccentrics who knew the victims and who keep changing their stories. But the cases are still puzzling and complicated. They are complicated because one of the suspects is the high-powered head of the local mental and the friend of one of police detectives. They are puzzling because of the various methods used to kill them. As they investigate the detectives travel through a maze of lies and betrayals. This series is set in the 1960s in a small sleepy college town in the days before technological and forensic science tools assisted investigations.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Oak Knoll series by Tami Hoag and the works of Karin Slaughter and Lisa Jackson.]

[Also available in traditional print format.]

[ official Sins of the Flesh page on the publisher's official Colleen McCullough web site ]

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


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book cover  Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children's Tales
by Marta McDowell [635 McD]

This book combines two of my favorite things: gardening and the works of Beatrix Potter. The author describes the life of Beatrix Potter through the eyes of a gardener, showing the plants and flowers that inspired Beatrix in her personal life as well as in her work as an artist. I was especially impressed with the indices in the back of the book, showing how Beatrix described plants in her personal letters as well as her books for children. The photos and illustrations in this book are quite outstanding and make me wish I could visit Hilltop Farm in the Lake District of England!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any works by Beatrix Potter.]

[ official Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life page on the official Marta McDowell web site ]

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


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book cover  Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book
by Diane Muldrow [158.1 Mul]

I remember growing up with Little Golden Books around me throughout my childhood -- either the handful my parents might have purchased for my collection of kids books, or various titles seen in drugstore book racks and pediatricians' waiting rooms. Looking back on those memories from 40+ years later, I vaguely recall the art in Little Golden Books being somewhat creepy and/or simplistic, and the storylines being very simple and basic, with "uplifting" messages. This little hardback book manages to pull together dozens of images from many of those classic old childrens' books, to address the "big issues" of life...in the style of the "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" type of books. It's a quick read, and for those of us who grew up with Little Golden Books in our families, it is definitely a nostalgic experience.

[ official Little Golden Books web site ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a music CDBluegrass / (Batch #004221)
by Sandy Creek Bluegrass Band [Compact Disc 781.642 San]

Sandy Creek is a local band who has been playing bluegrass and country music in Lincoln for 40 years. This cd is full of classic bluegrass tunes by Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, such as Rose of Old Kentucky and Uncle Pen. These guys have been playing so long, they really know what they're doing. It's a lot of fun to catch them live, but this cd is definitely worth a listen!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Flatpicker's Reel by Jason Shaw. Jason is a member of Sandy Creek Pickers and has won the National Flat Pick Guitar Championship 3 times -a contest you can only enter every 5 years!]

[ official Sandy Creek Bluegrass Band web site ]

Review Score – 10
Recommended by Stephanie E.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries


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book cover  After the Golden Age
by Carrie Vaughn

I had the pleasure of meeting author Carrie Vaughn at a science fiction convention in downtown Lincoln the last weekend of April 2014, and in preparation for that, my science fiction club read After the Golden Age for a group discussion prior to the convention. Vaughn is perhaps better known as the author of the popular Kitty Norville urban fantasy series (featuring werewolves), but After the Golden Age is the first book in a new series for this author. It is set in a world in which a small, select group of individuals have developed super powers, and use them for purposes both good and evil. The novel's heroine is the non-super-powered daughter of the city's two super-powered heroes, who consistently gets kidnapped and used as a bargaining chip to try to force her parents to capitulate to their enemies's demands. This novel is an odd mix of humor and seriousness, with Celia West having to come to terms with some bad decisions she made as a rebellious teen. After the latest series of villainous attacks, Celia uses her forensic accounting and research skills, and is able to uncover things about her parents' past that may prove to be more dangerous to them than any megalomaniac. Now, if she can only get her own love life organized, and stop seeking parental approval for her career choices, maybe she can help save the city this time?

[ official Carrie Vaughn web site ]

Review Score – 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939
by Mark A. Vieira [791.43 Vie]

Most classic movie aficionados would agree that 1939 was a standout year in silver screen history. Not only were The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind released that year (GWTW at the very end of the year) but other classics like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Babes in Arms, Ninotchka, Stagecoach and Dark Victory debuted. This browseable book highlights all the big and otherwise noteworthy motion pictures from one of the most magical years of cinema entertainment, in order of their release dates. Plot and production details are included, along with critical reviews of the time. Historical context is also touched on, such as the pre-World War II turmoil in Europe. The abundance of photos might have been enhanced if some were in color as would have matched the finished films. The book also would have benefitted from the inclusion of cast lists for each movie. All in all, it's an interesting and enjoyable look back at Hollywood's most golden era.

[ official Mark Vieira page at the Andrew Weiss gallery site ]

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


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book cover  The Snacking Dead: A Parody in a Cookbook
by D.B. Walker [641.55 Wal]

If you like the Walking Dead and have a sense of humor this is the book for you. With just four chapters "Appetizers for an Apocalypse, Eating on the run, Messy bites for the Newly Dead and Last Call." The book offer recipes for parties or everyday meals, there's something for everyone. Some of my favorites are: Gutted Mushrooms with Bacon and Spinach --I love all of the ingredients. Last Stand Skillet Cornbread, a little sweet, but still a tasty treat. Cat head biscuits with Sawmill Gravy--if you don't have sausage, you can use bacon instead, Yum!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Fifty Shades of Chicken by F. L. Fowler.]

[ official The Snacking Dead web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Marcy G.
South Branch Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemCan't Buy Me Love
[DVD Can't]

Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson star in this 1987 classic romantic comedy about a nerd who pays the head cheerleader to be his girlfriend so that he'll become popular.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Say Anything, Better off Dead, Pretty in Pink and other 80's classics along with Love Don't Cost a Thing which is a remake of this one, available through Interlibrary Loan.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Crash Reel
by Pedro Kos [DVD 796.939 Cra]

This documentary includes 15 years worth of footage of snowboarders Kevin Pearce and Shaun White and their growing rivalry. They always finished in first and second but everything changed after Kevin crashed and suffered a traumatic brain injury. While it does talk a little bit about their rivalry it mostly focuses on Kevin's accident, recovery, and then undying urge to get back on his board even though one more fall could kill or paralyze him.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other snowboarding documentaries such as Warren Miller's Higher Ground or books about the sport.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Crash Reel web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemStar Trek: The Original Series: Season One
[DVD Star]

This is the original series of Star Trek with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley. I think it's a really enjoyable science fiction show that most people have heard of before even if they haven't watched it. In addition to the space adventures and personalities of the crew, I liked the numerous episodes addressing different extraterrestrial cultures. Watching the crew sneak around and figuring out how to fit into each culture while on the planet's surface, while getting themselves out of a predicament, was entertaining. I'd suggest this to those who have thought about watching the show but haven't, because I don't think you'd be disappointed. I'd also recommend it to those who liked the new Star Trek movies with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. They are obviously different but I'd suggest watching at least a few episodes because it's part of Star Trek's history. It's also interesting to compare the 1960s view of the future with the 2000s view of the future.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try seasons two and three of the original series.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Star Trek web site ]

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


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last updated May 2014
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