Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It by Stephen King (on CD)

It
by Stephen King [Compact Disc King] 

I’ve read this twice before, always thought it was pretty good… maybe a 3 1/2 Or 4 star rating. I just finished listening to Steven Weber’s reading of it. Oh my GOSH, was it amazing! There are so many things I hadn’t noticed before, so many things I’d forgotten. This is an EPIC story, worthy of every single moment I’ve spent on it! Yes, it’s one of King’s longer stories…. I wouldn’t change a thing!!!
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here’s a quick summary: there’s a really bad, scary monster/being/presence in the town of Derry, Maine. Sometimes It appears as a wolfman, or a mummy, or a sore-covered bum; but mostly, It appears as a clown. It comes back to “feed” every 27-30 years, focusing mostly on the small children of the area. In 1955, The Loser’s Club actually manages to cause some damage to It, and they think maybe kill It. However, in case they didn’t completely wipe It out, they make a promise through blood that they’ll come back to finish the job if they need to. In 1985, that’s just what they’re called to do. But can they kill It, now that they’ve all grown up?

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Firestarter, also by Stephen King, or The Vision, by Dean Koontz]

[ official It page on the official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Touch of Farmhouse charm by Liz Fourez

A Touch of Farmhouse Charm
by Liz Fourez [747 Fou] 

The book description claims these are easy DIY Projects. To my mind this means I could complete the task in an afternoon which is true for many of the projects but not all. Some of these projects can be quite involved so just pick-and-choose what you want to do, but overall the author has some interesting ideas here for shabby chic, country, and folk designs.

The book is divided into sections based on the room being decorated: Living Room, Dining Room & Entryway, Kitchen, etc. An overall list of Supplies is provided for each project, the level of difficulty (Beginner, Advanced, Intermediate), and then the directions along with photos at the various stages.
Projects include adding stripes to kitchen towels for a farmhouse feel, building a small country bench, and painting bookends. There’s also a neat idea for displaying your old car license plates.

There are over 50 projects offered here. At the very least this is a fun browse.

[ official Liz Fourez web site ]

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm [YA Fetter-Vorm]

Well written, well-illustrated historical and scientific graphic novel of the Manhattan Project and its impact on history. Compared to other books I’ve read on the project this one takes a more scientific standpoint, in that it goes out of its way when needed, at various points in telling the story, to explain just what nuclear fission is, what an isotope is, why uranium was needed and not another element, what a super-critical reaction is, and how radiation poisoning causes damage to humans that can initially go unnoticed. The story is told rather linearly, with the science explanations interspersed, starting before the project began with the scientific breakthroughs that occurred that lead to the possibility of an atomic bomb, and finishing with the beginning of the Cold War. Within its 150 pages, I feel it did a really good job of providing an understanding of the how, when, where, and why of the project from a historical and scientific point of view. The domino effect was used at first to help visually explain nuclear fission reactions, but it also applies to what happened to history as a result of the project. I’d recommend this to both graphic novel readers and those who don’t usually read graphic novels, and those with in interest in history and science.

[If you would like another historical graphic novel I suggest you check out Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (741.5 Sat) and if you would like more on the Manhattan Project check out 109 East Palace, by Jennet Conant (623.451 Con) and/or Picturing the Bomb, by Rachel Fermi (355.825 Fer).]
 
[ official Trinity web page on the official Jonathan Fetter-Vorm web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition (on CD)

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition
by Anne Frank [Compact Disc Biography Frank] 

Despite the fact that Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl shows up on a lot of lists of required reading at various schools, I had some reached my mid-fifties without reading this historically noteworthy book. So, when I found the audiobook (Book-on-CD) format of this “Definitive Edition” on the New Items display at the downtown library, I figured it was finally time to check this one off of my must-read list.

I’m glad I did — this is a compelling and thought-provoking book, and one which I recommend to everyone interested in history and the personal impact that large-scale events can have on each of us. This definitive edition reprints the classic work, but includes portions that have been edited out of previous releases. Anne’s diary effectively reveals the claustrophobic fear of a group of people thrown together under extremely stressful conditions and having to remain hidden, or risk losing their lives. It also highlights the dangerous heroism of the helpers they had in the outside world, who provided them with food and supplies and helped to keep them hidden. On top of that, it is a coming-of-age story of a young girl, dealing with the typical issues that a 13-15 year old might face, including personal relationships, rapidly fluctuating emotions, and difficult connections with parents.

While listening to this audiobook, I did some online research to find out the fates of the main individuals in Anne’s story. Even though it was fully expected, it was appalling to learn how many of them did not survive the war, mostly dying or being executed in the concentration camps. The fact that Anne’s diary survived, and can be shared, is a testimony to the courage and resourcefulness of those who found and hid it, and then returned it to Anne’s father after the war.

This audiobook version is extremely well done, however I do have one complaint. Selma Blair is fine as an audiobook narrator, but she would have been in her late 30s at the time this was recorded prior to its 2010 release. This book should have been audio narrated by a teenager, to provide more of a sense of authenticity. Hearing an obviously mature woman speak some of Anne’s personal and private thoughts just rings a bit false. Otherwise, however, I found this to be compelling reading/listening, and highly recommend it.

[ Wikipedia page for Diary of a Young Girl ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Find Me by J.S. Monroe

Find Me
by J.S. Monroe

A friend of mine, who works at another library in town, recommended this to me–I’m so glad she did!!! This one had me on the edge of my seat the whole time! I learned a lot about things happening right here, right now, that I didn’t even know about before. (Secret and sly things likeThe Dark Web, onion routers, etc., as well as things like using Stava to track cycling or running, the methods behind writing and posting “click-bait” on various websites, etc.)

I especially enjoyed reading about the main character, who is Irish. I have a thing for the Irish, being a bit Irish, myself.

This is a fast-paced thriller that I would highly recommend!!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.]

[ official Find Me web site ] | [ official J.S. Monroe web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Desert Heat by J.A. Jance

Desert Heat
by J.A. Jance

Joanna Brady, her husband Andy, and daughter live in small-town Bisbee, Arizonia, where Andy is a local lawman currently running for sheriff. Everything changes for Joanna when Andy is shot and the authorities are convinced it is a suicide. Joanna doesn’t care what they say, she knows that Andy was not involved in drug smuggling. Motivated to find who in the law department IS corrupt, Joanna decides to run for sheriff in Andy’s stead.

This is a light-easy to read mystery. Joanna is a spunky character, and the rest of the books in the series are just as enjoyable.

[ official Joanna Brady page on the official J.A. Jance web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi

As this title is one of our finalists for this year’s One Book – One Lincoln winner, I got a head start reading it, so I’d be able to facilitate discussions as needed. I’m very happy that this was chosen as one of the finalists. It’s a wonderfully written story about an African woman (The Woman of Fire) who narrowly escapes being enslaved by starting a forest fire. The woman leaves behind a daughter, and later has another daughter. The rest of the story follows the lives of these daughters, their children, their children’s children, etc. It goes all the way from the 18th Century to present day, with each chapter devoted to one descendant of either daughter. The chapters lightly touch on previous characters and parts of their story, but in essence, each chapter is like a stand-alone short story. I found it truly amazing, the way these people were all tied to each other, yet they each stood out in their own right. Something else I really appreciated was that each chapter had its own historical event that was taking place at that time, which really helped the reader get a handle on how time is progressing.

I borrowed this from the library, but this is one of the rare books that I think I’ll end up buying to re-read down the road!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Stand, by Stephen King (if you like stories with a LARGE cast of characters). For more on the topics of slavery and/or finding your history or roots: Roots, by Alex Haley, The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup or The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom]

[ publisher’s official Homegoing web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Yaa Gyasi ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

A Gentleman in Moscow (audiobook-on-cd) by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles [Compact Disc Towles] 

I managed to get my hands on audiobook (Book-on-CD) copies of all three of this year’s One Book – One Lincoln finalists, and A Gentleman in Moscow is the first one I decided to tackle, as it was the longest of three, at 14 discs. I’m quite pleased to have started with this one, as it was an absolutely charming book to listen to. The narrator, Nicholas Guy Smith, embues author Amor Towles’ novel with humor, pathos and a sense of great scope.

A Gentleman in Moscow tells part of the life story of Russian Count Alexander Rostov, from the moment during the Russian Revolution when he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life under “house arrest” in the grand Metropol Hotel in Moscow, across the street from the Kremlin. The novel covers the next 40 to 50 years, through the 1950s, as the aristocratic Count recalls his daily routines and the hotels employees and guests who become integral parts of his life. Of greatest importance is a serious young girl named Nina, who befriends the Count as a small child, and several years later returns to beg the Count to look after her own little girl, while she follows her husband into politically-charged exile. Initially merely a caretaker, the Count eventually becomes a second father to young Sofia, and also settles into a job as the head waiter in The Metropol’s grandest restaurant.

This novel is a celebration of Russian (and world) history, as Count Rostov is an observer of the forces changing Russia into a world power. But it is also an intimate story about family, friends and personal integrity. Towles is a master of leaving tiny little clues and off-hand references early in the novel, which turn out, by the end of the book, to have been extremely important. The only drawback I found in listening to the audiobook version is that there are so many complex Russian names that it would have been helpful to have “seen” them on a printed page to more clearly remember them all. Otherwise, I highly recommend the audiobook version of this marvelous novel.

[ official A Gentleman in Moscow page on the official Amor Towles web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Batman (1989) on DVD

Batman (1989)
[DVD Batman] 

Even though this was made in 1989, it does not feel dated at all. Also kind of strange to me was that I was expecting a superhero movie, because it’s Batman, but I got a detective story. I was not disappointed however, nor was it confusing, not having watched or read much Batman before. It starts when Bruce Wayne is just beginning his Batman life and the city does not know his name or his purpose. He jumps in to stop some criminals and tells them to tell everyone that the Batman intervened. The city of Gotham has a gang of criminals running the town and the soon to be Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, is involved in it. We get to actually see who Joker used to be and how he became who he’s known as now. Another aspect to the plot is a reporter who becomes romantically involved with Bruce Wayne and becomes more agitated and intrigued at his prolonged absences, as he’s off being Batman. There’s mystery, romance and secrets of the past in this movie which I feel really rounded it out and made it all the better to watch.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Batman: The Golden Age Vols 1 & 2 by Bill Finger, and Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Vols 1 & 2 by Whitney Ellsworth.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Batman TV Series

Batman TV Series
[DVD Batman] 

The death, on June 9th, 2017, of actor Adam West has caused an outpouring of people remembering how much his portray of Batman (and his secret identity Bruce Wayne) meant to them over the past 50 years. Adam West and Burt Ward (as Robin the Boy Wonder) appeared for just three seasons in this comedic take on the popular DC Comics characters, from 1966 to 1969. The series, eponymously titled simply Batman, was a bright, garishly colorful affair. The characters, whether our traditional heroes, or their rogue’s gallery of bizarre villains, were played for obvious comic effect. Batman lectured Robin (and the villains) on morals, proper behavior and the intricacies of culture…but it wasn’t heavy-handed lecturing, and, when you stop to think about it, you may have been laughing at the portentiousness of it at the time, but wasn’t he right in the end.

Among the tributes to the late actor, I found it fascinating to realize that the later versions of Batman, from Michael Keaton’s first big-screen take, to the recent Christian Bale and Ben Affleck versions, all were much darker versions — the second of Bale’s trilogy even being titled The Dark Knight (also the title of one of comic publishing’s most legendary graphic novels). These were a long-term reaction against the comic nature of Adam West’s series…an attempt by the comics and movie producers to “reclaim” their character and rebrand him for a more troubled time period. But you wouldn’t have any Dark Knight, without Adam West’s “Bright Knight” to pave the way. The 1960s series is a pure and loving tribute to the comic books of a simpler time, and it is truly a pleasure to re-watch them and enjoy all the famous actors chewing up the scenery and having fun.
Frankly, I’d prefer my TV and movie superheroes to have a little more fun. Fortunately, I can relive that feeling with the original Batman!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try obscure TV shows such as Once a Hero, The Tick (the original live-action version with Patrick Warburton) and The Greatest American Hero, all of which had fun with the concepts of costumed heroes, even poking fun at the genre, while still paying tribute to it as well.] [DC Comics in recent years has published a Batman ’66 comic book. and tries to recapture the style, tone and feel of this classic TV series. Also, if you’re interested in the classic Batman series, I recommended both Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (a straight-to-DVD/BluRay movie, reuniting West and Ward with Julie Newmar as Catwoman), and Back to the Batcave, Adam West’s Batman memoir.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ Warner Brothers’ official Batman TV Serie web page ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Shin Godzilla (Original Soundtrack Album)


Very enjoyable soundtrack. I went to see this movie in the brief period it was shown in North America and I thought it was pretty good in comparison to other Godzilla movies I’ve seen. There are new songs and classic Godzilla tunes on this album, including some from King Kong vs. Godzilla, Terror of Mechagodzilla, and Ghidorah. It will be more enjoyable if the music is familiar to you but is still really good, non-vocal music that anyone can enjoy. If you are not familiar with Godzilla, it’s worth mentioning that his name in Japanese is Gojira, so sometimes it’s called Shin Gojira, but it’s the same as Shin Godzilla. I thought it was a great soundtrack and if you’d like to check it out, you can on Hoopla as a streaming audio file (PC) or download (mobile app).

[Also on Hoopla, you may be interested to know, are a handful of Godzilla and other Kajiu movies for streaming or download. This includes Gojira (the original Godzilla movie), Rodan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Ghidorah, Godzilla Raids Again, and a number of Gamera movies. If you like comics too, there are a few Godzilla graphic novels too.]

[ official IMdB page for Shin Godzilla ] | [ official Shiro Sagisu web site (mixture of Japanese and English) ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy’s Button Box
by Stephen King [Compact Disc King]

I enjoyed listening to this book–it’s brand new, and I had no idea what I was in for. I love that it was set in the mid- to late-70’s. I love the main character, Gwendy, and the way she comes into her own as the story progresses. I love wondering how much of Gwendy’s life is of her own doing and how much is as a result of being the keeper of the button box. (I really love the idea of the Button Box and kind of want one for myself–and I kind of don’t, too.).

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, also by Stephen King.]

[ publisher’s official Gwendy’s Button Box web page ] | [ official Stephen King web site ]
 
Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
by Chris Grabenstein [j Grabenstein]

This was a fun, light read. Kyle Keeley loves games, especially any created by the famous gamemaker, Luigi Lemoncello. When Kyle learns that Mr. Lemoncello is the man who has funded and helped design the new Alexandriaville Public Library, he is desperate to see it. Kyle and his friends win tickets to spend the night in the library, before anyone else gets to walk through the doors. They are in awe of the new library and all it’s amazing automations, and have a blast playing games and eating delicious food. When they wake in the morning, they discover that all the adults are gone, and that Mr. Lemoncello has saved the best game for last; escape the library!

[ official Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library page on the official Chris Grabenstein web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Brewing Storm (and others) by Richard Castle

A Brewing Storm
by Richard Castle

Fans of the “Castle” TV series will remember that in the first episode author Richard Castle killed off his immensely popular book character, superspy Derrick Storm. Here are the three short stories that bring Storm out of hiding, allegedly written by Richard Castle. (Remember, Castle himself is a fictional character for the TV show, with Nathan Fillion the actor as the front man for this charade. We still don’t know who the actual author is of these stories.)
All three stories are available on Hoopla (streaming ebooks) or Overdrive (downloadable ebooks). Also available in book form in the omnibus “Ultimate Storm” through Inter-Library Loan.

In “A Brewing Storm” a Senator’s son is kidnapped. A well-written mystery with twists and turns, in addition to Storm’s signature witty asides. And this ends in a cliff-hanger.

The next book, “A Raging Storm” teams Storm with FBI agent April Showers as they hunt down an assassin and six billion dollars worth of gold bullion hidden by the KGB before the collapse of the USSR. Further layers are revealed in this mystery. Storm is witty, capable, and shows why he’s a superspy.

The third book in this trilogy, “A Bloody  Storm” has Storm and Showers teamed with Ghost CIA Operatives – those who’ve faked their own deaths and come out of hiding to participate in extremely dangerous and usually illegal CIA operations. They head into Asia where they encounter The Viper, the most dangerous of extremists, and they may possibly have a traitor in their midst.
All three short stories are well-written with interesting plots, good character development, and Storm’s wit makes you laugh out lou.
Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

They Live (on DVD)

They Live
[DVD They] 

Director John Carpenter is the master of horror and suspense films. They Live is one of his most memorable entries. Starring pro-wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster and a cast full of lesser-known character actors, this is a story of an alien invasion in slow motion. Piper plays an anonymous drifter, looking for odd jobs on the fringes of a somewhat dystopian big city. He befriends Frank (played by David), another short-term laborer, and they both encounter members of a mysterious underground organization fronted by a crazy street preacher. This organization gives Piper’s character a set of black sunglasses that reveals the alien invasion all around him. While wearing the glasses, Piper can see the real, monstrous appearance of aliens posing as real humans, and the subliminal messages the aliens have slipped into billboards, magazines, television, and even our money — messages stating “OBEY”, “REPRODUCE” “CONFORM”, etc.

From that point on it’s a race as Piper’s character tries to convince Frank of this new reality, and the alien-controlled authorities crack down on “the resistance”. Piper takes a tv journalist (Foster) hostage, in hopes of using her to reveal the truth to the population — which goes badly.

This is a tense, suspenseful film — and a fight sequence between Piper and David part-way in is one of the most brutal I’ve seen in a movie. Highly recommended!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the other films of John Carpenter, particularly Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness or Ghosts of Mars]

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

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Snowblind
by Ragnar Jonasson [Jonasson] 

This is a new book in the Nordic noir section and takes place on the northernmost tip of Iceland. It was fun to watch through the window as snow fell while I read this, because I could hear the wind blowing and feel the cold, ice, and snow. I had goosebumps when reading about people swimming in a pool during a blizzard. A just-graduated police officer has moved to the northern, snowy, isolated and usually calm town. While the community is planning a new play to open around Christmas, the new police officer suspects foul play when a famous author is found dead at the bottom of the playhouse stairs. When a woman is found in the snow, the town is enveloped in fear. I’m curious to see in time if this might be the beginning of a new mystery series.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson]

[ official Dark Iceland series web page on the official Ragnar Jonasson web site ]

Recommended by Jodi R.
Gere Branch Library

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New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 One Book - One Lincoln nominees announced!



This morning, at a special event for readers on The Dock at The Mill, in downtown Lincoln, sponsored by The Foundation for Lincoln City Libraries, the three finalists for the 2017 One Book - One Lincoln community reading project were revealed. Lincoln-area readers now have until July 31st to vote on which of the three you'd like to see as this year's winning title.

Here are the descriptions of this year's finalists:

Moonglow
By Michael Chabon [Chabon]

Following on the heels of his New York Times bestselling novel Telegraph Avenue, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon delivers another literary masterpiece: a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure--and the forces that work to destroy us.

In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother's home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon's grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as "my grandfather." It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century, and, above all, of the destructive impact--and the creative power--of keeping secrets and telling lies. It is a portrait of the difficult but passionate love between the narrator's grandfather and his grandmother, an enigmatic woman broken by her experience growing up in war-torn France. It is also a tour de force of speculative autobiography in which Chabon devises and reveals a secret history of his own imagination.
From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York's Wallkill prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of the "American Century," the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most moving and inventive.

Amazon Book Review, Spotlight Pick
Best Book of the Year, Wall Street Journal
Starred Review, Booklist
Starred Review, Library Journal



[ Moonglow is available from the libraries in a wide variety of formats. ]

Homegoing
By Yaa Gyasi [Gyasi]

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

Winner of the PEN/ Hemingway Award
Winner of the NBCC’s John Leonard Award
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, Time, Oprah.com, Harper’s Bazaar, San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Esquire, Elle, Paste, Entertainment Weekly, the Skimm, Minneapolis Star Tribune, BuzzFeed

 

[ Homegoing is available from the libraries in a wide variety of formats. ]

A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles [Towles]

He can't leave his hotel. You won't want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility --a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

"Towles's greatest narrative effect is not the moments of wonder and synchronicity but the generous transformation of these peripheral workers, over the course of decades, into confidants, equals and, finally, friends. With them around, a life sentence in these gilded halls might make Rostov the luckiest man in Russia." - The New York Times Book Review

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

“And the intrigue! … [A Gentleman in Moscow] is laced with sparkling threads (they will tie up) and tokens (they will matter): special keys, secret compartments, gold coins, vials of coveted liquid, old-fashioned pistols, duels and scars, hidden assignations (discreet and smoky), stolen passports, a ruby necklace, mysterious letters on elegant hotel stationery… a luscious stage set, backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama.” –The San Francisco Chronicle
[ A Gentleman in Moscow is available from the libraries in a wide variety of formats. ]



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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Epic Bike Rides of the World by Lonely Planet

Epic Bike Rides of the World
by the editors at Lonely Planet [910.202 Lon] 

Filled with gorgeous photography and helpful maps, this travelogue from the folks at the travel book company Lonely Planet is a catalog of some of the most beautiful and challenging biking routes to be found around the globe. The book is organized geographically, with chapters covering Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Within each chapter, there are anywhere from two (Africa) to nineteen (Europe) highlighted rides. Examples include: “Riding the Rif” (Morocco); “Colorado Beer Bike Tour”; “Mountain Biking in Moab”; “Manhattan Circumnavigation”; “Bhutanese Dragon Ride”; “Down the Danube”; “A Corsican Challenge”; “Into the Outer Hebrides”; “Beaches and Bicycles in Adelaide”; “Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail” (New Zealand).

When asking biking enthusiasts for their favorite “epic” rides, everyone had a different definition of “epic”. Thus, this book includes everything from smooth, even, well-paved and super-safe commuter paths — perfect for family outings or a relaxing afternoon, to the most remote, challenging, arduous off-road adventures only serious, dedicated cyclists will be capable of tackling. All the trails listed, however, have detailed descriptions of what you’ll see along the way, and what cultural elements you can look forward to enjoying — including wonderful “Toolkit” sidebars telling you where you can rent bicycles, where to start your ride, where to eat/stay on your trip, where to shop along the way, and weblinks with additional information. For me, however, the best part of the book — in addition to the beautiful scenic photographs of both the trails and the views from the trails — is the “More Like This” listed after each highlighted ride. Numerous other noteworthy trails or rides are listed that are similar to the highlighted selection, but which get only a brief description. Included among the More Like This for All-American rides is our neighboring RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Ride Across Iowa)! Also listed are the locations of some of the most famous bike races across the globe, for those wanting to pay homage to the challenges faced by professional cyclists, without the stresses of taking on hundreds of racers.

Whether your take your bikes with you on vacation, or simply want to rent some two-wheeled transportation when you get to your destination, Epic Bike Rides of the World will inspire you to visit some beautiful spots and contemplate the world around you in a new way!

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Witches Aboard (audiobook) by Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad
by Terry Pratchett [Compact Disc Pratchett] 

This sequel to ‘The Weird Sisters’ features the same characters as before: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and their apprentice witch, Magrat Garlick. This time they go on a trip abroad as the title implies. There’s another witch at the start of the story who’s a fairy godmother and just before she passes away, she leaves her job and wand to Magrat, instructing her to go off to the city Genua. Granny and Nanny insist on going with her so they all set out and along the way there is a lot of weird fairy tale things going on that they don’t like very much. They believe that someone is messing with the land and creating all kinds of stories and forcing the locals to play parts in them against their will. They say this must be stopped so that’s what they go do once they get to Genua and find out who’s doing it. It is very funny all the way through with numerous fairy tales references. Magrat’s new fairy godmother wand is only useful for turning things into pumpkins, there’s a princess named Ella, Little Red Riding Hood shows up as does a road made out of yellow bricks, and they visit an entire castle of sleeping people covered with vines. But that’s not all, there’s also a cat that turns into a person, banana daiquiris, a voodoo witch and two sisters that totally despise one another. Out of the three in the Discworld series I’ve read, I’d say this was the best; that may not be saying much as there are about 40. As with ‘The Weird Sisters’, the plot moves a bit slow as there is more focus on character conversations, making fun at situations and at times the narrator decides to go on for a while about something other than the story. Also as with the other books, there are no chapters to segment the story and it will change without notice from one scene to the next. I listened to this one and it was all the more entertaining hearing the lines than just reading them. This is really not something I could recommend to everyone, as it’s kind of weird and has a sense of humor that is not everyone’s cup of tea, however if you are in the mood for a rather off the wall comedy/fantasy then this could be for you (audio version is particularly recommended).

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Witches, by Terry Pratchett, which comes before Witches Abroad in the Disc World series. You may also like the Fables series by Bill Willingham, also about fairy tales, but different.]

[ official Witches Abroad page on the official Terry Pratchett web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Denial (on DVD)

Denial
[DVD Denial] 

Denial is an excellent film based on true-life events as recorded in the book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier” by Historian Deborah Lipstadt, portrayed by actress Rachel Weisz. The story itself is a fascinating look at the British Judicial system as seen through the eyes of a Jewish-American Professor who must prove in court that the Holocaust really did happen after being slammed with a lawsuit by British Historian David Irving. Timothy Spall, a veteran English actor, plays the part of David Irving who represents himself in this riveting trial about the Holocaust in World War II. Spall does an incredible job of showing Irving’s point of view throughout the trial, even when pitted againt Lawyer Richard Rampton as portrayed by the excellent British actor Tom Wilkinson. My favorite role in this film was played by Andrew Scott, the actor who played Moriarty in the TV series “Sherlock.” It was interesting to see him in a different role as the lawyer Anthony Julius who represented Princess Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles. All in all, this is one of the best movies I have seen so far this year. I highly recommend it!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the DVDS of Schindler’s List, The Book Thief.] [Also available in traditional print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Denial web site from the BBC ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Customer Review: The Book of Joe by Vincent Price

The Book of Joe
by Vincent Price [electronic formats only]
 
For dog lovers, The Book of Joe is quirky little book with lots of personality. It’s written by Vincent Price of Hollywood fame who starred as a villain in dozens of macabre horror films. Far from being scary, however, The Book of Joe is a light-hearted and humorous account of Price’s life with pets. Not all is perfect about this unusual and touching book with a dog death, frequent digressions, and mature content. Yet it makes a quick and entertaining read for older pet lovers.

reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 20, 2017

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New Customer Reviews appear whenever we receive submissions on the Customer Reviews page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually shortly after they appear on our site.

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn
by Timothy Zahn [Zahn]

It’s a rare opportunity to get a second chance to make a first impression. Timothy Zahn gets just this chance with the re-introduction of a fan favorite character into the “New Continuity” with “Thrawn”. Already a talented writer, Zahn has really upped his game with his latest novel. A nagging element (to me at least), in his “Old Continuity” novels was his habit of having so many of his characters comment about what an awesome guy Thrawn is and how things would have been better with him in charge. In “Thrawn”, Zahn simply lets his titular character be impressive without feeling the need to have other characters comment about how impressive he is. In fact, this new version of Thrawn is a much more interesting character. While he is as supremely gifted and talented as always, he does have a few flaws (most noticeable is a blind spot when it comes to the nuances of Imperial politics) and is more nuanced in his motivations.

In addition to the titular character “Thrawn” also tells the story of Eli Vanto, an Imperial cadet from a remote world training to be a supply officer. His knowledge of an obscure trade language results in his career becoming linked to Thrawn’s. Another featured character is Arihnda Pryde, whom fans of “Star Wars: Rebels” will know as Governor Pryce of Lothal. The book features her rise to power and provides some insight into how and why she becomes a ruthless Imperial official. “Thrawn” is not quite a must-read novel. However, fans of Star Wars, especially those of “Star Wars: Rebels” will get a lot of enjoyment of this well-paced page turner.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tarkin, by James Luceno, A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller or Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno]
 
[ Wikipedia page for this novel — with links to Zahn’s previous books about Thrawn ] | [ Wikipedia page for Timothy Zahn ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Customer Review: Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Extraordinary
by Miriam Spitzer Franklin [ebook format only]
 
A delightful debut novel about friendship! The main character of Pansy, who is quiet and fearful but also exuberant and determined, won my affection. I also admire the author for creating a sweet but realistic story about disabilities. Just as what lies at the end of Pansy’s year isn’t exactly what she had expected, so I too was surprised at plot twists in Extra Ordinary, and both are good things. Despite minor flaws, the book reminds me of why I’m such a fan of children’s literature!.

reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 20, 2017

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New Customer Reviews appear whenever we receive submissions on the Customer Reviews page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually shortly after they appear on our site.

Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie

Appointment With Death
by Agatha Christie [Christie] 

Once again our detective is in the right place at the right time. In this story he’s taken a trip to Petra as have an American family who are under the tight reins of their mother/mother-in-law/step-mother. This woman is very controlling and does not allow her grown children to mingle outside the family. This inevitably happens during travel and some feel it rather liberating while others are fearful of her wrath. The family situation becomes known to the other tourists at the hotel they are staying at and on their visit to Petra. This woman is quite old and in poor health so when she’s found dead it’s debatable, briefly, whether her health failed her or if her life was taken. With Poirot on the case and murder looking like a certainty, it’s up to him to figure out who, of the many who had motive, is the guilty one/s. I thought this was one of the better in the series I’ve read so far, though not a favorite. Because of the setting I was reminded of ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’ and ‘Death on the Nile’, from the same series. So if you are looking a mystery in an unusual place this would be perfect.

[ official Appointment With Death page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Customer Review: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

 
While the content proved heavy reading for an unscientific person like myself, Waal did give me renewed respect for animals. It also inspired several conversations between my husband and me: What might happen if society were to view animals as smart as humans, but just in different ways. Would we casually destroy the homes of wild animals? Would we inhumanely treat farm animals? Would we easily view domesticated animals as disposable? The implications are endless, making this an important read.

reviewed by Allison H.-F.
customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library
May 20, 2017

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New Customer Reviews appear whenever we receive submissions on the Customer Reviews page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually shortly after they appear on our site.