Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel

Faceless
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel [YA Sheinmel] 

Maisie Winters is a high-school track star, who is expecting to get a scholarship to the University of her choice. She’s popular and has the boyfriend of her dreams. This all changes when she is involved in a freak accident. While running one morning, a storm suddenly comes up, lightning strikes, and Maisie is caught in an electrical fire. She receives severe burns to her body, and her face is destroyed. Maisie is able to receive a face transplant, which at least gives her a nose, cheeks and a chin, but makes her look like a stranger. Her new face was supposed to give Maisie her life back, but now people treat her differently, and she can’t do the things she used to love, like running. Maisie must figure out her new identity, and what is important to her.

This was a good book about self-discovery. A story about how no one else can truly define you, you have to decide that yourself. The reader feels Maisie’s pain and frustration as people continually tell her how “lucky” she is, and will root for her to fight her way out of her dark time.

This book is a 2017-2018 Golden Sower Nominee.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Running Dream, by Wendelin VanDraanen.]

[ official Faceless page on the official Alyssa Sheinmel web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, August 21, 2017

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle

There are 12 short stories within this work and they are the last Sherlock stories written by Doyle. There were many that came after but not by the original author. Each story is stand alone, so you don’t really need to read them in succession and honestly I don’t feel like you need to read the previous works before this one. There was one story that stuck out in this work that I don’t recall from any other in that Sherlock himself was narrator. Typically Watson is narrator and sometimes there’s a non-character narrator, so it was certainly different, though I didn’t mind. I think the books are much better, and very different than the movie adaptions with Robert Downy Jr. in them, so if that’s all you’ve experienced then it’ll be surprising how few action scenes there are. I thought the Benedict Cumberbatch series that’s set in modern times, was ok although I haven’t seen all of them. If you’ve watched and enjoyed these or some of the older film adaptions, I do suggest you try out at least some of the original stories by Doyle, in this set or the others. We have a paper copy of this one and as an e-book. Also it’s not unusual for it to be collected with other Sherlock books such as The New Annotated Sherlock Homes vol. 2.

[If you enjoy this, here are the other Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle: Short Story Collections — The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes; Novels: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The House of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear.]
 
[ Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

For the Love of Spock (on DVD)

For the Love of Spock
[DVD Biography Nimoy] 

I had the pleasure of seeing this wonderful documentary in a movie theatre, on the big screen, with a large and appreciative audience, and I can say it looked marvelous under those conditions!
Adam Nimoy, the son of the actor Leonard Nimoy, who brought Star Trek’s Mr. Spock to life for nearly 50 years, has assembled an incredible collection of interviews, performance clips, and rare home videos, to explore the origins of the Spock character, and the impact of Nimoy’s performance on multiple generations of Star Trek fans.

This production was truly a labor of love, and for any devout “Trekkie” or “Trekker”, should be consider must-viewing. It mixes sentimentality with whimsy, and features many wonderful interviews with both entertainment industry professionals and fans alike. I particularly liked the interviews with Zachary Quinto, the actor who has inherited the mantel of Spock in the newer Star Trek films of the 21st century.

Simply put, I loved this documentary!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try tracking down actor Leonard Nimoy’s various noteworthy performances, including all three seasons of classic Star Trek, seasons 4 and 5 of Mission Impossible, the TV-Movie A Woman Called Golda, the updated Outer Limits episode “I, Robot”, and his various scattered appearances on Fringe.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official For the Love of Spock web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kino's Journey (on DVD)

Kino’s Journey
by Ryutaro Nakamura [DVD Kino’s]

This collection of episodes follows Kino on her journey to strange and unusual places. It is an animated series, but it’s not for kids due to some violence and adult themes. Each episode features a new place and new people and it’s rather philosophical providing a lot to consider. One episode for example is about a community that invented a way for everyone to communicate thoughts and feelings without speaking, so as to increase compassion for one another. After not too long the society discovered it didn’t work out as they hoped and decided it could not function that way anymore. Because there was no way to reverse the effect, everyone now lives alone, separated by quite a distance in county homes,. I’ll let you watch it and discover the other places Kino visits, but that should give you a feel for the series. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested in philosophy or sociology, I think you’ll enjoy it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder, a novel that covers the history of philosophy]
 
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Wikipedia page for Kino’s Journey ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Adulthood is a Myth: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen

Adulthood is a Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection
by Sarah Andersen [741.5 And]

I’d seen various friends sharing single examples of the Sarah’s Scribbles webcomic in their social media — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. — and enjoyed Sarah Andersen’s wry, self-deprecating humor. So, when I saw this oversized collection of her work on the library’s “new books” display, I couldn’t pass it up. Andersen is a member of the Millenials generation, and pokes a lot of fun at all the standard Millenial tropes. There are themes that run through many of the strips or stand-alone panels included in this volume. I found myself smiling or laughing frequently, however, I also found a lot of her art to be uncomfortably or awkwardly amateurish, so I have a hard time giving it a full recommendation. The introduction of her rabbit character was fascinating — I found myself really enjoying the strips in which the rabbit appears. All in all, this is lightly amusing, with some serious looks at Millenial attitudes — If you like the online Sarah’s Scribbles comics, you’ll love this. If you prefer your artwork a little more…polished…you have have reservations about this one.

[ official Sarah’s Scribbles web site ]
 
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis [j Lewis] 

It’s debated whether this is the first in the Narnia series or not, but it does indeed explain the origin of the land of Narnia. It begins in London England and two neighbor children, Digory and Polly. Digroy lives with his aunt, uncle and mother (who is very ill). The top floor of the house is forbidden at its uncle Andrew’s office. The two children mistakenly sneak in the office via the rafters – trying to get to the empty house next to theirs. Uncle Andrew convinces them to try on some magic rings that send them out of this world to others. Their adventures I don’t want to spoil for you too much, but someone comes back to London with them, the they all (the children, uncle Andrew, the visitor and other Londoners) travel back to the other world and witness the creation of Narnia. They meet Aslan – creator of the world – and he sets Digory on a quest for a fruit from a tree over the hills and far away. The story concludes with the completion of this quest and explains that Digory was allowed to bring back a piece of fruit from Narnia to London. He plants the seed in his yard, and years later a storm damages the tree severely and Digory, grown up now, has a wardrobe made out of the wood. He keeps the wardrobe in his family home in the English countryside and thus follows more Narnia adventures. I thought it was a great lead into the other books and recommend it to readers of all ages. It could be fun to read with a child too as you may see the story in different lights.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The rest of the Narnia series:

Chronological Order:
  • 1. The Magician’s Nephew
  • 2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • 3. The Horse and His Boy
  • 4. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
  • 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • 6. The Silver Chair
  • 7. The Last Battle
Publication Order:
  • 1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
  • 2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)
  • 3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
  • 4. The Silver Chair (1953)
  • 5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)
  • 6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
  • 7. The Last Battle (1956)
[ official C.S. Lewis web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, the Beatles and the World in 1967 by Brian Southall


2017 is the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ classic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As part of the celebration of this milestone, PBS aired a marvelous special, entitled “Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution” several times in June, hosted by Howard Goodall. And this book came out, looking at the origins of this significant album, and contextualizing it within the bigger scheme of what was happening in the world in 1967.

Just like an old-style record album, which has a Side A and a Side B, this book divides its coverage into two halves. The first half of the the book is a profile of the members of The Beatles, and their history, and what led them to write and record the album Sgt. Pepper, which was ground-breaking in its experimental nature at the time of its release. The second half of the book is a month-by-month chronology of the year 1967, highlighting the major world and cultural events of the year, and how the Beatles fit into that year’s timeline. I think I actually appreciated that second half more than the first half in this book — the making of the Sgt. Pepper album has been covered in many previous tomes, but looking into world history and how Sgt. Pepper fits into the other events of the year was enlightening. This book features a huge number of photographs, many of which I don’t remember seeing previously. All in all, an entertaining read, especially if you want to pop your vinyl, CD or digital album copy of Sgt. Pepper into its appropriate playing device and listen to the music as you’re reading along.

[ publisher’s official Sgt. Pepper book web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Brian Southall ] | [ Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution – on PBS site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Father Brown Mysteries: Series One on DVD

The Father Brown Mysteries: Series One
based on the stories of G.K. Chesterton [DVD Father]

Father Brown is a mystery series set in early 1950’s rural England where the effects and sentiments of WWII are still fresh. Based on the books by G.K. Chesterton, Father Brown is an older cleric and head of his parish church in rural England. He’s been around enough to understand the world and the motivations of people which helps him solve the current murder.

His church secretary would prefer he keep his focus on his pastoral duties, but she frequently gets pulled into his investigations. He’s also friends with the local gentry and her connections, as well as her avid interest in the investigation, assist him as does her chauffeur – a somewhat shady character whose skills also come in handy. Father Brown’s participation in the cases is not appreciated by the local detective, nor by his bishop, both of whom try to thwart his investigations. But in the end, we know he’ll save the day.

A quiet, character-driven story with a good mystery puzzle to solve. Father Brown is played to perfection by Mark Williams, who played Arthur Weasley (the father of the Weasley clan) in the Harry Potter movies. The library owns seasons one through three on DVD, each episode is about an hour in length.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Midsomer Murders, or Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries]

[Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official The Father Brown Mysteries web site ]

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

The Innocence of Father Brown, in the collection, The Father Brown Omnibus
by G.K. Chesterton


Published in 1911, The Innocence of Father Brown is the first collection of G.K Chesterton’s short stories featuring the priest/detective. The dozen stories in this collection, all originally published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1910 and 1911, would be considered “cozies” in mystery circles today (in fact, some claim that Chesterton created the category with these stories), though some of the stories hardly qualify as mysteries at all in the usual sense of the word. The stories are rightly considered classics, but they differ from other mysteries in ways that may make them more appealing to general readers than to devoted mystery fans.

Even calling Father Brown a “detective” is stretching definitions. He never claims to be a detective in these stories, and he is more concerned with the criminals’ repentance than with seeing them brought to justice – reflecting Chesterton’s own view of the world (though these stories were published years before his own conversion to Catholicism). Father Brown relies as much on his knowledge of human nature, derived from his clerical experience, as he does on observation and deduction, though he nonetheless always emphasizes reason – again, reflecting Chesterton’s own character and perspective.
Father Brown’s character is only lightly sketched out in these stories, with hardly any information about his background; what background is given is not always consistent from one story to another. This applies as well to the character of Flambeau, the criminal in the early stories who reforms to become Father Brown’s friend and crime-solving colleague in the later stories.

Highly recommended, with the caveat that the stories may not appeal to some mystery readers.

[ Wikipedia page for Father Brown ]

Recommended by Peter J.
Virtual Services Department

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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Iron Giant (on DVD)

The Iron Giant
[DVD j Hughes] 

The Iron Giant is one of my all-time favorite animated movies. It was directed by Brad Bird, who also helped adapt the story from a novel, “The Iron Man”, by Ted Hughes. This was Bird’s first turn as a feature-length director, and after Iron Giant, he moved to Pixar, where he became one of their most creative forces on films such as The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Released in 1999, The Iron Giant is set during the cold war period of the late 1950s. The Soviet Union has just launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik. So, when something approaches Earth from deep space and crash lands in the forest, a panic ensues. Except that what crashed is a semi-sentient giant robot, and the first person who finds it is a trusting young boy, Hogarth Hughes, who befriends the confused and lost giant.
This is an emotional and personal story, packed into a tense military adventure story. It features wonderful voice-actor work from Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston, John Mahoney, James Gammon and Cloris Leachman. The voice of the giant robot is provided by Vin Diesel, 16 years before he voiced “Groot” in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. The field of animation has gotten progressively more sophisticated and impressive over the years, but for a film almost 20 years old, this has perfectly fine animated. I also love the score by Michael Kamen. This is a film that should appeal to both kids and adults, and has a message to share about trust and tolerance, which is just as valid now as it was in the time period of the film’s events.

This movie has been released in several different DVD or BluRay editions, with various different “special features”. The copy I’m reviewing had some real nice “extras”, including director’s commentary by Brad Bird, with several other department heads; and 13 branching minidocumentary segments that highlight key sequences from the viewpoints of Score, Character Design, Storyboards and Animation.

Definitely worth a full “10” rating…don’t miss it!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Iron Giant web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public LIbrary

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Sloshies: 102 Buzzy Cocktails Straight From the Freezer by Jerry Nevins

Sloshies: 102 Buzzy Cocktails Straight From the Freezer
by Jerry Nevins (of Snow & Co.) [641.874 Nev] 

I saw this title appear in our “What’s Cooking” e-mail newsletter, as a new addition to the libraries’ culinary books section, and was intrigued. I’m not much of a drinker — don’t like either beer or most wines — but I do like the occasional cocktail or mixed drink, and the concept of an entire recipe book filled with “frozen drinks” was appealing.

Nevins, co-founder of Kansas City frozen cocktail bar “Snow & Co.”, brings a sense of humor and a desire for simplicity to his extensive list of recipes. He shows how ANYone can create frozen cocktails with ease — using expensive freezing/churning equipment, or simply mixing the ingredients in a ziploc baggie and freezing them for four hours! He definitely shows how the frozen drink world is NOT just limited to such traditional but unimaginative fare as Daiquiris, Pina Coladas and frozen Margaritas. He also emphasizes the use of fresh ingredients over prepared ingredients, especially with fruit juices and herbs.

I’m intrigued by almost ALL of the recipes included in the book, though the wide variety of alcholic ingredients would require a major expansion of my liquor cabinent! I may have to pick up my own copy of this, or make numerous photocopies to get all these recipes for myself in the long run. My only complaint is that I’m a visual learner, and I’d like to know what each of these drinks actually looks like — and, unfortunately, there are photographs of only a small sampling of the drinks, so the rest is up to our imaginations. The opening chapter of the book covers basic tools for assembling the drinks, including how to make both “basic syrup” and “infused syrups” (nearly every drink includes one of these two ingredients), as well as the benefits of different types of glasses for drink presentation. There’s also information on how to decorate your drinks — in fact, each and every drink recipe tells you what the ABV (alcohol by volume), recommended glass shape, and best garnish (some very simple and some fairly complex). Though the book is broken into chapters — Tart, Sweet, Spiced and Floral — I appreciate the index at the back that lists drinks by the alcoholic ingredient.

A fun read, with intriguing recipes. I recommend this one!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked With Spirits, Wine or Beer, by Krystina Castella.]

[ official Sloshies web site ] | [ official Snow & Co. web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka


Guardians of the Whills is a fun story that gives us a little more insight into Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe before they meet up with Jyn Erso in “Rogue One”. While opposites in just about every way, including their taste in tea, Baze and Chirrut are close friends who value and care about each other. Though the Empire has taken over the Kyber Temple, both are committed to helping the downtrodden citizens of Jedha, especially the orphans created by the Empire’s brutality. As they become unsure of how they can continue to help those in need, they meet up with someone who appears to be the answer to their problems. Saw Gerrera and his partisans have come to Jedha to organize the various resistance groups and strike back against the Empire. Saw promises to share his resources to help the orphans in return for Baze and Chirrut joining his partisans. Though initially a great help, Saw and his partisans soon escalate the battle into an never ending cycle of resistance and reprisal. Baze and Chirrut are left to decide if working with Saw is worth the cost and what they will do if it isn’t. “Guardians of the Whills” is a fun, straightforward story that moves at a brisk pace. It packs lots of action with some basic insights into the characters.

One of the more fun things about the book is including various quotes about the Force at the beginning of each chapter. It’s not an essential read, but most Star Wars fans of all ages will enjoy it and find it worthwhile.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno, Rebel Rising, by Beth Revis, or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, by Alexander Freed.]

[ Guardians of the Whills (Novel) page on Wookiepedia ] | [ official Greg Rucka web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kong: Skull Island (on DVD)

Kong: Skull Island [DVD Kong] 

Fantastic. I loved this movie with the beautiful island scenery, strange beasts, native people, a stranded WWII soldier, a 1970’s exploration crew and junior King Kong. John Goodman’s character is member of a group who studys cryptids so he and his pal convince a congressman to grant them a military escort to an uncharted, unexplored island in the Pacific in the shape of a skull that they believe is home to the unknown. Approval is reluctantly granted just as the Vietnam War comes to an end. Samuel L. Jackson’s character, a military leader, is recruited to lead the expedition. Pleased to have another mission, he accepts. The crews with a huge military ship and multiple helicopters go in. Kong is there pretty much right away and he’s not a happy about having guests. The helicopters don’t last long, we’ll just say that. The expedition members and military personal are all scattered into small groups, one of which stumbles upon some ruins, then a group of natives, then John C. Reilly’s character, a WWII American pilot who’s plane crashed on the island during the war. He’s been there ever since so he’s gone a bit crazy and knows nothing of what’s occurred in the 25-30 years he’s been there. He explains, as they found out, Kong is not the only unusual creature on the island and decides to help them and himself escape. I don’t want to spoil anything because it’s just so fun to watch and there are so many dangers that people die in horrible ways all throughout the film and you never know who it’s going to be. Being a major character does not safeguard you against the perils of the island. Again I think it’s a really fun and fantastic movie, full of action, surprise, and humor; you should really watch it if you like that kind of movie. It’s not for everyone, but few things are.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try King Kong, the original 1932 film.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Kong: Skull Island web site ]
 
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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King Kong (1933 on DVD)

King Kong [DVD King] 

After watching the new Kong: Skull Island movie, I was curious about the original. It goes without saying that during the 85 years between 1932 and 2017 when the two movies were made, a lot has changed. However, I really enjoyed both. The story in this one is that a movie maker sets out to a tropical island with a large crew who know nothing of where they are going or why there are bombs on board. The director, the night before setting sail goes to the street of NYC to find a woman to star in his movie and brings her aboard the ship. Eventually the truth is revealed that they are going to an unknown island home to creatures no westerner has laid eyes on. Like in Skull Island there are natives on the island but in this movie they are not so hospitable to the newcomers. The woman to star in the movie in the movie, actress Fay Wray, is kidnapped and sacrificed to Kong who carried her around the island which proves to be home to dinosaurs too. Eventually they make it back to NYC Kong in tow and he proceeds from there to wreak havoc. I felt sorry for him being kidnapped and brought into civilization, so the ending was sad to me, but it was still a wonderful movie and I do recommend it to anyone. There’s a bit of everything here, mystery, adventure, action, romance, and a historical aspect that comes with being made so long ago. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to watch this or the new one to appreciate either, they both can stand alone, even though it’s fun to compare them.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Kong: Skull Island]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Wikipedia page for King Kong (1933) ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Friday, July 28, 2017

The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

The Prisoner of Night and Fog
by Anne Blankman [YA Blankman] 

1930’s Munich is a dangerous place for most, but Gretchen Müller has grown up in the National Socialist Party, and is protected from those worries by her “uncle” Dolf. Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler, who became Gretchen’s sort-of-guardian when Gretchen’s father traded his own life for Adolf’s, and she is now his favorite, his pet. When Gretchen meets a Jewish reporter named Daniel, who has crazy ideas about the Party and uncle Dolf, Gretchen does not want to listen, but in curious when some of Daniel’s stories seem to make more sense than what she has always been told. Gretchen must examine her heart, and decide who to believe.

I really appreciated this book, because most of the books which are based off the Holocaust are from the viewpoint of Jews, or those who were sympathetic to them. This book is different in that Gretchen is German, and part of the National Socialist Party. It gives an insight into what life may have been like for Germans who were not in agreement with everything that was done during that time.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, also by Anne Blankman, The Tyrant’s Daughter, by J.C. Carleson or Code Name: Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.]

[ official Prisoner of Night and Fog page on the official Anne Blankman web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (downloadable audio)

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
by Kate Wilhelm [Downloadable Audio from both OverDrive and Hoopla] 

Classic science fiction novel set in a post-apocalyptic near future.


The survival of the human species seems in doubt, as both ecological and genetic disasters have lead to massive die-offs of the majority of the population, most of which has gone sterile. In an isolated scientific enclave, a group of desperate survivors believe the only solution is to clone the next several generations of human beings, in the hopes that the sterility gene can be bred out, and humans can return to normal biological reproduction.

The problem is…the clones don’t think the same way that we do…and what survives may not truly be human after all.

My science fiction club read this for a group discussion and there were strongly divergent opinions about the book. But most of us agreed that it was a fairly good example of early-to-mid-1970s “New Wave” science fiction, by one of the most prominent authors from that time period. I did enjoy this, and recommend it for most fans of “social science fiction” as opposed to “hard SF”.

[ Wikipedia page for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang ] | [ official Kate Wilhelm web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Liberty Meadows: Volume 1: Eden

Liberty Meadows: Volume 1: Eden
by Frank Cho [741.5 Cho] 

Liberty Meadows is an animal sanctuary; Frank is the vet and Brandy is the animal psychiatrist. With what the animals get into, they need both a vet and a psychiatrist. Reading Liberty Meadows reminded me in a lot of ways of the Garfield comics I used to read. There are crazy animals that get into mischief while the humans go about their lives. Jon in Garfield tries repeatedly to get a date with Liz, and Frank in Liberty Meadows tries repeatedly to get a date with Brandy. The series was originally in newspapers and then collected into book volumes. This is book one of four and personally I look forward to reading the others. It’s a good laugh if you like Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes.

[If you enjoy this, there are four volumes of the Liberty Meadows series available to check out from the libraries.]

[ official Liberty Meadows web site ] | [ official Frank Cho web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (on DVD)

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise
[DVD Biography Brooks] 

This 90-minute episode of PBS’ American Masters series is a marvelous biographical snapshot of American humorist Mel Brooks, writer for such classic TV series as Your Show of Shows and Get Smart!, and legendary director of films such as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, Life Stinks, The Producers and The History of the World, Part I.

Brooks, and many of his friends and co-stars, sat for freewheeling interviews with the documentary’s director, who intersperses their comments with clips from throughout Brooks’ career. This is a fast-paced show, but does have its quiet moments, especially as Brooks reminisces about second wife Anne Bancroft, and his work as a producer at Brooksfilms, where most of the movies he backs are serious dramas. But, it is when he is talking about his comic successes that the show really shines. I really appreciated the interview clips with so many of Brooks’ actors that had to be culled from other/earlier sources, since many of them have passed away — actors like Marty Feldman and Madeleine Kahn.

If you’re a fan of any of Brooks’ works, from his lengthy career, you’ll enjoy this. If you’re unfamiliar with Brooks and his films, I still recommend this biographical documentary…you’ll learn about a lot of films and TV series that are well worth your time to track down!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of Mel Brooks’ films, especially The Producers, Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles, or the TV shows he was involved with, including Your Show of Shows, Get Smart, and When Things Were Rotten.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this documentary ] | [ official Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (American Masters) web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Backbeat (on DVD)

Backbeat
[DVD Backbeat] 

This is a movie that was released in 1993–I believe I saw it when it first came out on VHS. I love the Beatles, and while I’m not a rabid fan (i.e. I’m not big into collecting things, I don’t know every little fact about the Beatles, etc.), I do consider them to be one of my top five favorite bands. I recently thought of this movie again, requested that we purchase it, and when it came in, I borrowed it. Stephen Dorff plays Stuart Sutcliffe, the Fifth Beatle. I had never known much about him at all–in fact, I’d always assumed Pete Best was the Fifth Beatle… I don’t know why. In fact, Pete Best was the drummer who was with the band for the first few years, right up until the time they made it big. (Unfortunately for him.) Stuart Sutcliffe, however, was really an art school chum of John Lennon’s. He plays bass in the band, mostly just “for a laugh”. It seemed like something fun to do, though painting was his real passion. He wanted to spend time with Lennon, and Lennon wanted him around as well, despite the fact that the band was carrying him. Once Sutcliffe meets Astrid Kirchherr, things begin to change for the whole band.

This entire cast is fabulous, in my opinion–I loved Stephen Dorff as Sutcliffe, and Ian Hart was amazing as Lennon. You might recognize Sheryl Lee, who played Astrid, as Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Doors, with Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan and Kyla MacLachlan, Dreamgirls, with Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Beyonce, Almost Famous, with Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand and Billy Crudup, or Rockstar, with Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston and Timothy Spall]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wonder Woman '77 - Volume 1 (written by Marc Andreyko)

Wonder Woman ’77 – Volume 1
written by Marc Andreyko with art by various artists [YA PB (Graphic Novel) Andreyko] 

Following the recent success at DC Comics of a comic-book series recreating the style and town of the late 1960s Batman TV series, Batman ’66, this short-run comic book called Wonder Woman ’77 came out a couple of years ago. It features stories about Wonder Woman set during the 1977-1979 time period when Wonder Woman was being portrayed on television by Lynda Carter. The art faithfully recreates Diana Prince/Wonder Woman exactly as Carter looked, not to mention Lyle Waggoner’s version of Steve Trevor. The writer, Marc Andreyko deftly mixes comic-book villains from Wonder Woman’s “rogues gallery”, with the kind of “cops and robbers/international spy stories” that made up the bulk of the TV show’s storylines.

I grew up on Lynda Carter, and her trademark “sonic boom spin” to appear in her satin costume. The theme song is forever imprinted on my memory as a part of my youth. I loved the new Wonder Woman feature film, starring Gal Gadot, but MY Wonder Woman will always be rooted in the types of adventures shown on the small screen 40 years ago. This comic book is a marvelous time capsule, bringing that feeling back, but with superb art. Two trade paperback collections of Wonder Woman ’77 are already out, with a crossover “Wonder Woman ’77 Meets Batman ’66” coming shortly, and a “Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman” collection coming in the Fall of 2017.

This first volume also features a nice afterword “Waiting in Wonder” by editor Andy Mangels, and preliminary sketchbook art by a variety of the artists included in this collection. I particularly enjoy Nicola Scott’s beautiful cover designs!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Batman ’66 compilations, by a variety of writers/artist, plus the other Wonder Woman ’77 titles.] [ DC Comics’ official Wonder Woman ’77 Volume 1 web page ] | [ Wikipedia page for Wonder Woman ’77 ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tough As They Come by Travis Mills

Tough As They Come
by Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton [Biography Mills] 

The next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself or life is beating you down, think about someone who has overcome the odds of survival after a catastrophic injury, let alone the odds of being highly functional again. Think about someone who has regained a positive, caring, helpful attitude after going through extreme trauma. Think about Staff-Sergeant (Army, Retired) Travis Mills. Travis, not yet 25, was on his 3rd deployment in Afghanistan in 2012 when he became the victim of a buried IED and was gravely wounded. Born in small-town Michigan, he was an ‘average’ kid, big and happy and a bit mischievous. After a great high school experience, his football dreams didn’t pan out and neither did his higher education efforts, so he decided to enlist, and joined the renowned 82nd Airborne Division. Doing so eventually led him to meet his wife, the sister of one of his squad members, who demonstrated unshakeable support when the unthinkable happened. Their daughter was one of his main motivations to suck it up and get on with his life. Relive Travis’ experience as a soldier, and then officer, who was always looking out for his fellows, and always thinking of ways to make the circumstances bearable and even fun. When the bomb exploded and shredded his limbs, medics weren’t sure he would even make it to the nearest hospital via helicopter — on which ride he asked after the welfare of 2 of his men who were less severely injured than he! But he did make it to Kandahar and then Germany and then back to the US at Walter Reed hospital, becoming one of only 5 servicemen in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict to survive a quadruple amputation. During his recovery/rehab time, Travis experienced a severe case of phantom pain and agreed to go into a Ketamine coma, with resultant bizarre side effects. That experience alone is just one of the gripping events he talks about freely. Travis’ motto, “Never Give Up, Never Quit” is simple but powerful. He has been able to see his handicaps as opportunities, and his limitations as challenges, with the support of doctors, nurses, therapists, family, friends, and faith. He drives, he goes downhill-biking, he cooks, he runs, he doesn’t let zippers get the best of him! – he lives his life without thought of whether it is “normal” or not. And he started a foundation to help other wounded/disabled veterans and their families, including providing sporting challenges and raising money to create an all-accessible, ‘smart home’ retreat. Tough, indeed, in the very best way!

[ official Tough As They Come page on the official Travis Mills web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

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Friday, July 21, 2017

The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100
by Kass Morgan [YA PB Morgan] 

In this post-apocalyptic world, the human race now resides on spaceships. Enough time has passed that the leaders believe the earth may be inhabitable once again. They decide to send 100 juvenile delinquents to earth, to see if they can survive… if they can’t, no one’s going to miss the delinquents anyway, right? We follow Clarke- the girl who was arrested for treason, Wells- the chancellor’s son, who refuses to leave his girlfriend’s side, Bellamy- who fought his way onto the ship to protect his little sister, and a handful of others as they arrive on earth and attempt to establish some kind of order and life, while struggling to survive against the elements of this planet that they have never experienced.

The book was an enjoyable, quick read. Switching between perspectives of the characters gives insights and clues about what is happening elsewhere. The reader can become conflicted about characters, as they view them from other perspectives, and also hear the internal thoughts of the character, and the reasons behind certain actions. The book ends with a cliff-hanger that makes the reader eager for the next book of the series. This book also has a television show based off of it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Carve the Mark, by Veronica Roth, The Testing, by Joelle Charobnneau or Legend, by Marie Lu.]

[ Wikipedia page for The 100 book series ] | [ Wikikpedia page for Kass Morgan ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bridge of Spies (on DVD)

Bridge of Spies
[DVD Bridge] 

If I had one regret in my life, it would probably be that I didn’t pay sufficient attention to my history lessons in school. Seeing movies like Bridge of Spies helps spark that interest in history that I never really had before.

Tom Hanks plays Jim Donovan, an insurance lawyer assigned to defend a man, Rudolf Abel, who is accused of being a Russian spy during the height of the Cold War. While Donovan is mainly chosen because he’s skilled and will do what he’s told, it never occurred to his boss and the Attorney General that he would actually go above and beyond the call of duty to not only Defend Abel in the original trial, but also to appeal and then to fight for a prison sentence, rather than execution. Despite the fact that it puts himself and his family in an unsavory position, Donovan gives it all he’s got–and then some!

Tom Hanks is brilliant in this movie, of course, and it was wonderfully directed by Steven Spielberg…. but my favorite person in the whole movie is Mark Rylance, who plays Rudolf Abel! I saw this in the theater and couldn’t wait for it to come out on DVD to have my husband watch it, as well. Being the son of a history teacher, I knew he’d appreciate it–and he did!!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Big Short, starring Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale, Argo, with Ben Affleck, John Goodman and Alan Arkin, or The Wolf of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Facebook page for this film ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

Rebel Rising
by Beth Revis [YA Revis] 

Rebel Rising is the story of Jyn Erso and what happened to her after her parents were taken from her. The story is told from Jyn’s point of view and details her growth from traumatized child to fanatical teen soldier and finally bitter, disillusioned adult. The story also gives us some more insight into Saw Gerrera and how he becomes the paranoid, ruthless warrior we meet in “Rogue One”. “Rebel Rising” is a good book overall. It does drag in some places and the ending is hindered that Jyn Erso’s character arc is incomplete by the end of the book. I would recommend the book as worthwhile, though not essential, read for older Star Wars fans.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Catalyst: A Rogue One novel, by James Luceno, Guardians of the Whills, by Greg Rucka or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, by Alexander Freed.]

[ Rebel Rising page on Wookiepedia ] | [ official Beth Revis web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis [j Lewis] 


Although unarguably a classic work of fantasy fiction, there is debate as to if it’s really the first in the Narnia series. Some say it is, while others claim ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ is the beginning. This was my second reading of it as I wanted to, at long last, read the whole series and refresh my memory of it of this one. The story is of Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy who find their way into Narnia by accident. They discover that the land is under rule of the Ice Queen and with Aslan’s help, they free the land, end the endless winter, and becomes kings and queens. In Narnia some animals talk and others don’t, Aslan the lion is basically God and as we find out in ‘The Magican’s Nephew’, he gave some creates this ability at the creation of Narnia. While there are more religious tones to this than say Tolkien’s Middle Earth series, I didn’t find it overly strong and it’s woven into the world and story nicely. I would recommend it to any age of reader, and even if you’ve read it before.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other Narnia books, by C.S. Lewis, A Land Apart From Time, by James Gurney, Roverandom or The Hobbit, both by J.R.R. Tolkien] [ official Narnia page on the official C.S. Lewis 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!