Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Weight Watcher's 50th Anniversary Cookbook

Weight Watcher's 50th Anniversary Cookbook: 280 Delicious Recipes for Every Meal
by Weight Watchers International [641.563 Wei]

This book would make a great gift for people wanting to lose weight, whether or not they belong to Weight Watchers. It lists the Points Plus points for each dish, by serving, so you don't have to figure points out yourself, saving you time. I wish all of my cookbooks had the Points Plus points listed as this book does. Lots of great, tasty recipes and they don't taste like diet food. -- recommended by Kathy H. - Walt Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Weight Watchers simply delicious winning points cookbook : 245 no-fuss recipes - all 8 points or less or Weight Watchers Magazine, also found at our library!]

[ official Weight Watchers web site ]


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!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Let's Explore Diabetes With Ols (on CD)

Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls
by David Sedaris [Compact Disc 817 Sed]

I'll be honest -- I've never read (or listened to) a David Sedaris book prior to this one. I was looking for a nice, light, humorous audiobook to enjoy between a couple of more serious tomes, and friends have recommended Sedaris for several years. I've also enjoyed seeing him when he's been on television talk shows -- particularly The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. In the end, I found this particular audiobook to be too bland for my taste -- Sedaris' audio narration of his own material brings a strong sense of his own personality to the stories and essays he has in this collection, but unfortunately that personality just seems a little bland and lifeless. Admittedly, there are some humorous bits scattered in and amongst the less-interesting stuff. I particularly enjoyed his reminiscing about his father's insistence on David having a colonoscopy! Sedaris is definitely a "sharer", however whether or not you'll care about what he's sharing may be a matter of personal taste. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the many other David Sedaris titles in the libraries' collection.]

[Also available in downloadable audio, traditional print and downloadable E-book formats.]

[ publishers official David Sedaris web site ]


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!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Now You See Me (on DVD)

Now You See Me
[DVD Now]

After a group of magicians known as the Four Horsemen rob a bank during their act Agent Dylan Rhodes is tasked in tracking them down. The only problem is that the magicians always seem to be one step ahead of him. I loved this movie and was completely surprised by the ending. -- recommended by Carrie K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [There are a lot of movies about magicians; some similar to this would be The Illusionist and The Prestige.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Now You See Me movie/dvd web site ]


Have you seen 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, December 28, 2013

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
by Jennifer Chiaverini

I enjoyed listening to this historical novel. It was well written and well read also. I learned to appreciate President Lincoln and his wife and especially her dressmaker who was a very capable and caring black woman, who did so much more for the Lincolns besides simply making clothes for the first lady. -- recommended by Kathy H. - Walt Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Union Quilters: an Elm Creek quilts novel by Jennifer Chiaverini.]

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

[ official Jennifer Chiaverini / Elm Creek web site ]


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!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Snacking Dead: A Parody in a Cookbook

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

Okay, this has got to be one of the oddest tie-in books I've ever seen, and I actually collect TV and movie tie-in books! The Snacking Dead is a combination of a decent cookbook with schmaltzy fan fiction based on The Walking Dead zombie television series. There is a narrative line, in which a suburban mother of two attempts to survive the beginning of the zombie apocalypse (as seen in the Walking Dead tv series), by using food and cooking to connect with the people around her. While she whips up delicious foods, using ingredients still available after society's collapse, she remembers her run-in as a teenager with Daryl (one of the fan-favorite characters from the tv series). Narrative chapters alternate between the unnamed narrator and Daryl, himself, who is out on his own away from any of the series' other characters -- these narrative chapters also alternate with actual recipes, and photos of the dishes, posed in apocalyptic settings. The recipes themselves all sound quite good, and I'd like to try a few of them. But the tale of the narrator, who eventually joins the ranks of the undead, along with Daryl's own narration, is a bizarre counterpoint. I recommend this one for its sheer oddity, however I'm not sure that either Walking Dead fans or cookbook fans will come away fully satisfied! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you like this style of parody cookbook -- with legitimate recipes -- the same folks are responsible for Fifty Shades of Chicken.]

[ official The Snacking Dead web site ]


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!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Lincoln Lawyer (on DVD)

The Lincoln Lawyer
[DVD Lincoln]

If you missed this movie from a couple of years ago, check it out. Matthew McConaughey is terrific as a slick and tricky defense attorney who works out of his chauffeured Town Car on the streets of L.A. However, he may have met his Teflon-like match in a privileged playboy client on trial for rape and murder. The impressive cast includes Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillipe as the accused, John Leguizamo, Josh Lucas, Bryan Cranston, Frances Fisher, and William H. Macy. The film is based on the Michael Connelly book of the same title. -- recommended by Becky W.C. - Walt Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Time To Kill; And Justice for All; web article: The 25 Greatest Legal Movies.]

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

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]


Have you seen 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, December 25, 2013

The Spirit of Steamboat

The Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story
by Craig Johnson

An unfamiliar woman appears in Sheriff Walt Longmire's office on Christmas Eve and asks to see the previous Sheriff, Lucian Connally. Lucian is now widowed and living in an assisted living center. When they arrive, Lucian claims he doesn't recognize the woman, but then she begins to tell a tale of a Christmas Eve 25 years ago when Walt was a new Sheriff, three people died in a terrible car crash, and a young girl with burns and respiratory problems had to be flown to Denver or she wouldn't survive the night. However, the worst snowstorm of the season is bearing down on them and the only plane capable of handling the turbulence is a barely-held-together,decommissioned, WWII bomber. And wouldn't you know it, Lucian was a member of Doolittle's Raiders, who bombed Tokyo in 1942, and is the only pilot qualified to fly it. You alternate between nearly impossible mechanical troubles, deadly patient emergencies, and flat-out fancy flying. Even though you know how this will end, this is still an exciting ride and a very enjoyable novella at only 150 pages. If you follow the Walt Longmire TV series on A&E, it's especially fun to keep actor Peter Weller in mind as Lucian — his ornery behavior and snappy comments make this story. (You also learn who Steamboat is.). -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Longmire TV series on dvd.]

[ official Craig Johnson and "Longmire" web site ]


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, December 24, 2013

Brush With Death

Brush With Death
by Karen MacInerny

What should have been a peaceful holiday season for Natalie turned into a stressful time. She received a foreclosure notice on the Inn. Someone vandalized her property. Her future mother-in-law came two weeks early for her visit. And her niece's mentor is found dead. Gwen can't believe that Fernand killed himself as the police think and she begs Natalie for help. MacInerney paints a vivid picture of Cranberry Island in winter. It's easy to imagine snowshoeing in the snow-covered woods behind the Inn. This is the fifth book in the Grey Whale Inn series by Karen MacInerney. Her character, Natalie Barnes, has traded the hot summers of Texas for the changeable weather of Cranberry Island, Maine. Natalie has made a good life for herself managing the Inn. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Lea Wait and Sarah Graves.]

[ official Karen MacInerny web site ]


Have you seen 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, December 23, 2013

Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard

Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard
by Annette LeBlanc Cate [j598.072 Cat]

The colorful graphics of the cover of this youth non-fiction title jumped out at me when a customer was returning it, and I snagged it for a quick read. And that's exactly what is was -- I finished this book in only about an hour. Despite the speed with which I finished it, I really enjoyed this humorous but informative guide to "birding" for kids and teens. The author/artist provides lively illustrations on every single page, and her descriptions of how to go about becoming a bird watcher are funny but inspirational. Her hand-drawn illustrations of dozens, if not hundreds of different bird species are surprisingly well-done. My only complaint about the the art is that Cates regularly chooses to insert "cartoon" versions of the birds -- especially with word balloon captions, as if the feathered critters are speaking to her (the writer) or you (the reader). Despite this awkward element, I can see this book being a great guide for kids just starting off at becoming bird enthusiasts. With the annual Christmas Backyard Bird Count coming up here in December, this might be the perfect time to introduce youngsters in your family to how fascinating bird-watching can be as a hobby, and Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard is the perfect way to make that introduction! -- recommended by bird-watcher Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If younger readers like this light-hearted approach, once you've got them hooked then introduce them to the Audubon Guides or Peterson's Field Guides or Sibley's Guides, with their more realistic reproductions of North America's fine fowl!]

[ publishers' official Look Up! web page ]


Have you seen 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!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Known and Loved: 52 Devotions From the Psalms

Known and Loved: 52 Devotions From the Psalms
by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira [242.643 Riv]

I recommend this book for those who like reading or meditating on the Psalms, or for people who are seeking devotional reading. The book is small in size and inexpensive so I think it would make a nice gift for someone who appreciates scripture and devotional reading. -- recommended by Kathy H. - Walt Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Unveiled, historical fiction by Francine Rivers, in Lineage of grace series ; #1. This is about Tamar in the Old Testament. Another good devotional book with daily readings is Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional [electronic resource] by Sarah Young -- OverDrive, Inc. Edition: E-book. Jesus Calling devo books are available for purchase at some stores or online too and will make a nice gift. Several of my friends have it and read it eagerly every day!]

[ official Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira web site ]


Have you seen 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, December 21, 2013

Epic (on DVD)

Epic
[j DVD Epic]

Epic, from the same production group that did the Ice Age movies, is a marvelous, family-friendly adventure movie, with a nice message about family. When young Mary Katherine (M.K.) visits her estranged and eccentric scientist father's home/laborator deep in a mysterious forest, she merely wants to reconnect with the man who's mainly been absent from her life for many years. Following the recent death of her mother -- his ex-wife -- M.K. wants to make a family connection. But, despite being happy to see her, Professor Bomba is still obsessed with monitoring his equipment, scattered throughout the forest, for evidence of a race of tiny people, which he believes lives in the woods. The tiny people are real, and make up forces of "good" (the Leaf-Men) and "bad" (the Boggans), who fight a constant battle to maintain their equilibrium of power. The time for the Leaf-Men's queen to pick a successor has come, and the Boggans wish to use this opportunity to tilt the balance of power and use their powers of decay to despoil the forest. Despite initially disbelieving in her father's fantasies of "little people", M.K. gets magically shrunk to the size of the forest race, and is pulled into their war by being chose as guardian for the powers of the dying queen. The rest of the film is a terrific action film as the animated war plays out, and M.K. worries about how to return to normal size and reunite with her father. The voice work by the actors is marvelous, and the animation veers from photo-realistic in any of the scenes without characters in them, to painfully cartoonish with some of the animated characters. I really enjoyed this film, and recommend it quite highly. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [Inspired by the book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Epic: The Movie web site ]


Have you seen 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, December 20, 2013

Customer Review - Story of a Girl

Story of a Girl
by Sara Zarr [j Zarr or jPB Zarr]

Winner of the 2007 National Book Award, Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr is the sympathetic story of a teenage girl caught having sex in the back of a car by her father. Deanna longs to escape a life defined by that one mistake. Her former friends refuse to associate with her. Most boys now view her as a sex object; waiting in line for Chinese take-out, an older boy puts his hands between her legs from behind. What is perhaps most heart-breaking is that Deanna's dad hasn't talked to her or looked at her since that night. As I reread Story of a Girl, I tried to figure out why Sara Zarr is one of my favorite authors. An obvious answer is that Zarr creates interesting stories populated with realistic characters. I appreciated how Zarr dangled a hope in front of readers that Deanna could escape her life by renting an apartment with Darren and Stacey. It's a realistic goal, and potentially life-changing. I also appreciated how well Zarr understands relationships. One of my favorite scenes is between Deanna and her brother. Darren is trying to figure out why Stacey left. Deanna suggests perhaps it's because he didn't have the right reaction to Stacey's dyed hair. When he pushes for an explanation, Deanna says that with Stacey's new hair style, she could have become anyone. A less obvious answer to the question of why Zarr is one of my favorite authors is that she writes about faith in her books. Zarr never preaches, and none of her stories are salvation ones, but her positive view of God shines through. Compared to many other young adult books, Story of a Girl is shorter in length and quieter in tone. In some ways, therefore, it's less suspenseful. And yet perhaps it's that very essence, its everyday realism, that makes it resonate so strongly. -- review submitted by Allison H.-F. - a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library

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

New Customer Reviews appear regularly in the pages of the BookGuide web site, particularly during the Summer Reading Program. You can visit the Customer Reviews page to see them all and/or submit your own, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually as we receive them.

Revisit Some of Susan's BookTalk Booklists!

Here's another batch of Booktalk Booklists that we haven't previously shared on the BookGuide blog. Susan S., teen specialist at the Loren Corey Eiseley Branch Library, is a regular BooksTalk presenter, often focusing on titles which would appeal to both adult and young adult audiences.

Here's a list of some of Susan's booktalk booklists from the past few years, which haven't previously been posted to the BookGuide Blog! 

[Click here to check out the current schedule of Book Talks.]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Customer Review - Freeze Frame

Freeze Frame
by Heidi Araybe [YA Ayarbe]

Impressive. This is the adjective that keeps popping into my mind when thinking about how to describe Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe.Freeze Frame is about a teenage boy who kills his best friend with a gun. It's disturbing that Freeze Frame is about a tragedy caused by the main character. Furthermore, for the bulk of the book we don't even know if the death was intentional. Yet we still have to care for Kyle because we're constantly in his head. That Ayarbe is able to pull off such a novel is impressive. That isn't all. For example, how did Ayarbe write over one hundred pages about just one week in Kyle's life? Even if those chapters centered around the aftermath of the shooting — which includes Kyle's arrest, trial, and initial meetings with his probation officer — it still blew me away how masterfully Ayarbe stretched such a short timeframe into so many pages. Just as amazingly, once Kyle returns to school and tries to settle back into routine, how does Ayarbe keep up the momentum? Consider that Kyle frequently escapes to his friend's grave, thinks about ways to die, and relives that fateful day at the shed. Freeze Frame could have easily become a depressing and wallowing mess. Instead, Ayarbe introduces school bullies, an adult mentor in the form of a librarian, and Kyle's new goal of becoming a protector of his best friend's younger brother. Ah-ha, but here again Freeze Frame could have become another movie-of-the-week, wrought with heavy-handedness over its topic of teen violence. But it never did. In fact, even though Kyle's mind regularly revisits the shooting, Freeze Frame felt to be just as much about family, fitting in, books, movies, moving forward, choices, and a thousand other things. Eventually Kyle also starts talking to a school outcast who likes to take photos of everyday sights, believing each one has a story. Finally, how did Ayarbe write about such a disturbing topic and yet manage to so intensely pull the reader into Kyle's world? Whenever anything interrupted me during my reading of Freeze Frame, I felt a jolt — as if Kyle's reality had become mine own. Even when the truth of that tragic day is finally revealed, I had no compulsion to shut the book. Because Freeze Frame is about more than that single life-changing moment. It's also about the life that follows. Freeze Frame is a stellar novel about the mental anguish one can face during tragedy. Ayarbe never hurries her story, but at the same time she keeps the pace quick, making for an addicting read. As such, she is a novelist to be watched. -- review submitted by Allison H.-F. - a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library

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

New Customer Reviews appear regularly in the pages of the BookGuide web site, particularly during the Summer Reading Program. You can visit the Customer Reviews page to see them all and/or submit your own, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually as we receive them.

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

Set in mid-1980s Omaha, this YA novel about first love as experienced by two misfits won me over completely. The references to 80s music mix tapes, comic books, Omaha landmarks, and the intense emotions that accompany adolescent relationships - between family members, cruel classmates, and deep crushes - all rang true. Eleanor is a buxom redhead, dressed in thrift store outfits, bullied at home and at school. Park is half-Asian (a rarity in his Midwest community), with a loving family, but his status is just outside the circle of the popular crowd. The alternating chapters reveal Eleanor & Park's relationship in such a truthful way, that you'll find yourself falling in love with them. -- recommended by Kathryn K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try North of Beautiful by Headley, Justina Chen, Fangirl by Rowell, Rainbow, Attachments by Rowell, Rainbow.]

[ official Rainbow Rowell web site ]


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, December 18, 2013

Booktalk Booklists - Gere Book Shares for 2013

Here's another batch of Booktalk Booklists that we haven't previously shared on the BookGuide blog. When the Gere Branch BooksTalk sessions are taking their hiatuses from "prepared" presentations, the group members still occasionally get together for simple "Book Share" meetings -- during which everyone talks about what they've recently been reading.

Fortunately, longtime Gere BooksTalk volunteer host Pam B. regularly keeps records of what books were discussed, and shares them with us to be posted as Booktalk Booklists on the BookGuide web pages. Here are the Gere Book Share lists from 2013! 

[Click here to check out the current schedule of Book Talks.]
 

Customer Review - After

After
by Amy Efaw [j Efaw or YA PB Efaw]

After by Amy Efaw is a disturbing story which deals with the phenomenon of "dumpster babies". It has the feel of an uneven musical composition. Sometimes the style turned me off. Other times, the character portrayal felt wrong. And, once in a while, the plot felt overloaded. Yet within the bulk of its pages is a story that I enjoyed. I'll get back to the parts I enjoyed later, but first let me address the style. The first several chapters with their rapid-fire sentences felt like the incessant tap-tap-tap of a staccato beat. Interspersed within those chapters were occasional scenes of frenzy, as if the composer were stumbling over notes in a panicked attempt to find the right rhythm. However, just when I felt ready to walk away, the melody evened out. From that moment forward, despite the occasional wrong note, the composition was pleasant. Efaw picked a challenging character in Devon Davenport. On the one hand, Devon is a teenage girl who vowed to never become her mom. She intended to first attend college and to establish a career. Then and only then would she allow herself to date, get married, have sex, and become a mom. But then Devon has a vulnerable moment. Allows herself to fall in love. And have sex. On the other hand, Devon is a young woman who denies even to herself that she has gotten pregnant and has given birth to a baby, and so she dumps her child. No matter how one frames it, Devon will be a tough character to understand. When Devon finally started showing herself as vulnerable, After became extremely moving and Efaw gave me many reasons to feel sympathy. She works hard to become a model prisoner. She builds new relationships. And she begins to search her soul for the truth of who she really is and wants to be. For these reasons, I ended up liking After. -- review submitted by Allison H.-F. - a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library

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

New Customer Reviews appear regularly in the pages of the BookGuide web site, particularly during the Summer Reading Program. You can visit the Customer Reviews page to see them all and/or submit your own, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually as we receive them.

Ghost Gone Wild

Ghost Gone Wild
by Carolyn Hart [Compact Disc Hart]

The fourth in Carolyn Hart's latest series, about dearly departed Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her adventures on behalf of Heaven's "Department of Good Intentions". This one finds Bailey sent, under odd circumstances, down to her beloved hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma, to help protect a young man who has recently returned to town as a successful and rich videogame producer, who is stirring up trouble with old friends and enemies alike. Bailey's "assignment" is made difficult by the fact that she was shanghaied by a fellow Agent from the Department, and her "boss" has no idea she's back on Earth. When Bailey gets trapped in a mortal body, losing the ability to move around at the speed of thought, her mission becomes more precarious. Making things even more complicated is the fact that the reluctant young man she's supposed to protect may have upset the plans of another Adelaide resident to cash in on a missing treasure -- something they are lethally upset about. I enjoyed this title as a book-on-cd, as I have all the other volumes in this series. The audiobook narrator, Ann Marie Lee, has a marvelous reading voice, and does a reasonable job of giving different voices to each of the primary characters. Her southern twang is perfect for this Oklahoma-set mystery series! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the previous three Bailey Ruth Raeburn novels by Hart.]

[Also available in traditional print format.]

[ official Carolyn Hart web site ]


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, December 17, 2013

River's Song

River's Song
by Melody Carlson

This is book one in the Inn At Shining Water series. The series takes us through the life journey of three women. The first book focuses on Anna, the mother, who has lived most of her married life in support of her ailing husband. The story opens with Anna returning to her childhood home after her mother's death to make peace with the pain of the past and find comfort and strength from her memories. Finding a new series that holds your interest is a treasure. These are gentle reads that wisk you away to happy endings. -- recommended by Dorene O. - Bennett Martin Public Library Administrative Offices [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Book two: River's Call, focuses on Anna's daughter, Lauren; Book three: River's End, focuses on Lauren's daughter, Sarah.]

[ official Melody Carlson web site ]

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!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reality Boy

Reality Boy
by S.A. King [YA King]

Gerald remembers when he first started resenting his family, the TV cameras were there to help. Growing up known as "the messed up little boy from that nanny reality show" is not easy, but even at seventeen his past continues to be brought up. His family is dysfunctional and how they interact is beyond flawed. Gerald remains to be the lonely little boy who was so horribly mistreated and throughout the novel we are presented with his journey of self discovery and humanism. His new friend Hannah will come to influence Gerald and becomes a large part of his life. By the end of the novel Gerald must come to terms with the real reality, coming to terms with life. I wasn't sure what to expect of Reality Boy when I started reading and at first I wasn't sure I liked Gerald as a main character. As the novel progresses King develops and reveals Gerald as the flawed person he is. What the author accomplishes is excellent, an intellectual look at just what makes us who we are and what is really important in life. I do not wish to go to in depth with the story as that is another area in which King excels, presenting pieces of Gerald's past, bit by bit, allowing the reader to discover the real person beneath the first impression. With impeccable writing and an immensely strong voice, Reality Boy is an excellent book of self discovery. -- recommended by Wyatt P. - Gere Branch Library

[ publisher's official Reality Boy web page ]


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!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Christmas Mystery

The Christmas Mystery
by Jostein Gaarder

This book is best enjoyed in the month of December. The story takes place in Norway day by day in December as a boy, Joachim, opens the doors of his advent calendar. Rather than chocolates or small toys hidden behind each door is part of a Christmas tale. This story within the story is about a girl named Elisabet, who disappeared from her home fifty years ago and went on an adventure through time and space with a few companions. Their destination is Bethlehem, on the night that Jesus was born. They do not use a time machine, as this is not a science fiction novel, rather as they walk across Europe, time passes backwards. Joachim becomes increasingly interested about Elisabet's story as the month goes on, and shares it with his parents. As with other novels by this author, it provides you with a lot of philosophical questions to think about, including figuring out how the two stories are tied together. This would appeal to those looking for a thought provoking w inter holiday story. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.]

[ publisher's official The Christmas Mystery web page ]


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, December 14, 2013

World War Z (on DVD)

World War Z
based on the novel by Max Brooks [DVD World]

Based off the book by Max Brooks, this movie is about a United Nations employee - played by Brad Pitt - traveling the world in search of a cure for the zombie infestation that is overtaking the world. It's an interesting movie because unlike most zombie movies it focuses on the disease aspect of the infestation rather than them being undead and here to kill the living. -- recommended by Carrie K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the book by Max Brooks, also ZombieLand DVD, Warm Bodies DVD, and The Walking Dead TV series.]

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

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official World War Z web site ]


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Friday, December 13, 2013

L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food

L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food
by Roy Choi, Tien Nguyen and Nathasha Phan

Choi is credited with reinventing the food truck movement and creating the Korean taco. This book is both cookbook and a memoir of growing up in L.A. and absorbing all of the culinary and cultural diversity offered by the city. Some of his food, language, and experiences are not for the faint of heart, but make for a satisfying meal . . . um, read. -- recommended by Kathryn K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Smoke & Pickles : recipes and stories from a new southern kitchen by Lee, Edward; Fresh off the Boat : A Memoir by Huang, Eddie.]

[ Roy Choi web site ]


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Customer Review - Kit's Wilderness

Kit's Wilderness
by David Almond [j Almond]

It's been a long time since I have read a book as unique in plot and style as Kit's Wilderness by David Almond. The story is set in an old mining town, where many stories abound about those who were trapped during cave-ins and other disasters. The theme revolves around memories, those which Kit is told by his grandfather, and those which help Kit's grandfather hold onto the present in his old age. Kit's Wilderness is a beautifully-woven tale which deservedly won the Michael Printz award for literary excellence. Kit's Wilderness is hard to classify, beyond calling it realistic fiction. Kit and his family have recently moved to the neighborhood to care for Kit's grandfather. Kit is troubled only in the sense that many of us are, in that he's haunted by the changes happening to someone he loves. Kit and his grandfather share a bond through stories. His grandfather tells him ones of the old mining town and Kit then writes them down and shares them at school. Through these stories, Kit earns admiration from both his teachers and his peers. One of those is Askew, who invites him to play his game of Death because the two can see into the spiritual world. When taking his turn in the abandoned den, Kit begins to see faces of those from the olden days. Another of these is Allie, who calls herself a bad kid but it's really more of a role than reality, as she reveals in her explanation about why she likes the theater: "Who's Allie Keenan? This almost-nice one or this truly bad one? It's like magic. I don't have to be me." Almond connects the mystical element to the theme of memories, because eventually Kit's grandfather must learn to sort through his past and his present (and figure out which is which) to stay grounded in reality. As part of this process, Kit's grandfather also has his own glimpses of the dead. In an interview with Teaching Books, Almond admits that when writing Kit's Wilderness he felt perhaps it was a bit too dark to write and maybe a bit too difficult for young readers. Indeed, death is an intense subject, but Almond masterfully handles it with many overlapping subplots involving Kit, Askew, and Kit's grandfather. Almond's reflective style hails back to the old classics, which means the writing may require a greater time commitment from readers. I am certain a reread of Kit's Wilderness is in my future, as I suspect it will feel richer each time it's read. -- review submitted by Allison H.-F. - a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library

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Bread & Wine: Finding Community and Life Around the Table

Bread & Wine: Finding Community and Life Around the Table
by Shauna Niequist [Biography Niequist]

In this interesting story are great ideas for sharing your life and your table with family and friends during the holidays and throughout the year. It is a small book and would make a nice gift. -- recommended by Kathy H. - Walt Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Seriously simple holidays: recipes and ideas to celebrate the season, by Diane Worthington, 2007. Another book is Slow family living: 75 simple ways to slow down, connect, and create more joy, by Bernadette Noll, 2013. Another one is The good life for less: giving your family great meals, good times, and a happy home on a budget, by Amy Allen Clark; Jana Murphy, 2013.]

[ official Shauna Niequist web site ]


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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Customer Review - Harmless

Harmless
by Dana Reinhardt [YA Reinhardt]

Harmless by Dana Reinhardt is about three adolescent girls who try to avoid being caught in a lie by telling a bigger one. The difference in the two lies is that being caught in the first would have only resulted in their own suffering, while the success of the second brought suffering mostly to an innocent vagrant, but also to the girls' families, school, and even their community. As a result of the second lie, the girls are forced to face questions not only about who they want to be but also about the fuzzy lines that exist between right and wrong. Harmless is a somewhat slow-moving story that raises disturbing issues. The latter is what I most appreciate about Harmless. While certainly being caught at a guy's party would have resulted in unpleasant consequences, the act itself is not uncommon for teens and could have been easily forgiven. Saying instead that they were attacked at the riverfront, the girls' lie has a much greater impact. For starters, the police are called. While the three girls expected this to happen, none of them are prepared for being cast in the role of heroes. In becoming heroes, the girls are bombarded with questions — questions that might have been tolerable if they had really been attacked. Or if the police had allowed the case to grow cold. Or if no one had been charged with the crime. On top of all of these mounting repercussions there's the issue of why Emma isn't happy with the attention, which is because something bad really did happen to her when the girls were sneaking off to parties. Yes, there's a lot going on in a book of only two-hundred pages, but Reinhardt masterfully weaves the subplots together to make a suspenseful and cohesive story. Before getting caught up in their web of lies, Anna and Emma were just your average smart, quiet, and obedient girls. Their parents never had reason to question them, nor did their teachers. And their classmates never took much notice of them. What I found interesting is how this changes after the lie. Just as intriguing is the reaction of the three girls when faced with the choice of telling the truth or allowing an innocent vagrant to be jailed for a crime that never happened. Although I guessed Emma's secret early in the story, Reinhardt did surprise me somewhat with how her confession plays out. And through it, she explores those fuzzy lines between right and wrong. The story only gains momentum when the lying begins, the story is perhaps too focused on that pivotal point. What this means is that I suspect I would not have any problem in reading it again in a few years. But the book is certainly worth reading once. It borders on being creepy, which is a compliment. Harmless will also stimulate much thought, because of the questions it raises about the lines between good and bad. -- review submitted by Allison H.-F. - a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library

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New Customer Reviews appear regularly in the pages of the BookGuide web site, particularly during the Summer Reading Program. You can visit the Customer Reviews page to see them all and/or submit your own, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually as we receive them.

Fortunately the Milk

Fortunately the Milk
by Neil Gaiman [j Gaiman]

This light-hearted illustrated juvenile novel is a fun, quick read for anyone, whether you're a prior Neil Gaiman fan or not. Filled with humorous illustrations by Skottie Young, this tells the tale of a small family in England, where the mother has to go away for a few days and leaves the absent-minded father in charge. Right off the bat, the two young daughters in the family discover that there is no milk for their morning cereal, and the father nips off to the corner store for a pint of the white stuff. When he returns, somewhat delayed, and somewhat disheveled, he shares his tale of the mind-boggling adventure he was on after leaving the store -- involving kidnapping by UFO, time traveling with a talking dinosaur in a hot air balloon, pirates and much more. A nearly perfect "tall tale" from Dad to the kids, with comical art that highlights the silliness of it all. Still, exceptionally well told! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official Neil Gaiman web site ]


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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Loyalty

Loyalty
by Ingrid Thoft

The Ludlows are a family of successful personal injury lawyers, except for Fina. Fina rebelled by flunking out of law school, her father retaliated by putting her to work in his firm doing odd jobs. Here Fina found her true calling working for the firm's private investigator, Frank Gillis. Under Frank's tutelage she got her license and she took his place when Frank changed jobs.When the book opens, her brother's wife, Melanie, is missing. Rand quickly becomes the main suspect because he and Melanie had a difficult marriage. Fina's job is to find out what happened to Melanie. Fina's interactions with her family, lovers and friends bring the book to life. This is a well-written debut. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Linda Barnes, Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller.]

[ official Loytalty web site ] | [ official Ingrid Thoft web site ]


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Instructions

Instructions
by Neil Gaiman [jP Gaiman]

Instructions is one of my favorite Neil Gaiman poems and is something that is as wonderful from a reader's perspective as it is from a writer's or those that are interested in archetypes. Instructions tells of the journey. Not a specific one, but one that in it's deepest sense is in fact instructions. As I was reading I found myself thinking of many of the adventure fantasy novels and myths I have read and Instructions is that journey. The one you find every hero going on, and every character facing. With this book Neil Gaiman cements himself in my mind as both a wonderful writer as well as a great knowledge of myth and stories. And not to leave it out, Charles Vess's illustrations add a wonderful element to Gaiman's writing and his limited color palette makes the pictures both simple and deep that take nothing away from the writing itself. -- recommended by Wyatt P. - Gere Branch Library

[ official Neil Gaiman web site ]


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Friday, November 29, 2013

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter
by Blaize Clement

Dixie Hemmingway is a former sheriff's deputy who leaves the force after the tragic death of her husband and daughter. Feeling that she can no longer deal with people, Dixie decides to care for animals and becomes a pet sitter. One morning, at the home of a wealthy client, Dixie is shocked to find the body of a man who was killed in an unusual fashion. He is face down in a cat's bowl of water, his head securely taped to the sides of the dish. Dixie tries to find her client to tell Marilee about the body but Marilee can't be found. Dixie becomes involved in an intricate plot of deception while trying to find Marilee. This is an enjoyable debut novel. -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Ellery Adams and Kathryn O'Sullivan.]

[ official Dixie Hemmingway series web site ]


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A Hard Day's Write

A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song: New and Updated Edition
by Steve Turner [YA PB]

While I consider myself a lifelong Beatles fan, I won't try to lay claim to being a Beatles expert, and I certainly haven't tried to read each and every book about the Beatles that has ever been published. So, when I say I enjoyed this behind-the-scenes exploration of the history behind the writing of every Beatles song, you've got to take that with a few grains of salt -- there may have been other books, perhaps many others, which covered this ground before. In fact, the version of this book by Steve Turner reviewed here is, itself, an update of an earlier edition. But, speaking as a casual reader of Beatles-related books, I do recommend this particular book. For each song included, the author explains what the inspiration for the song was, where the songwriter(s) were at the time of the writing, and other little historical tidbits. Where there are discrepancies about the origin of a song, Turner includes all the variant tales, rather than trying to narrow it down to the correct one. The amount of background provided for each song various considerably -- from one or two paragraphes of text, to several pages, about the most well-known of the Beatles hits. The text is accompanied by a plethora of rare and obscure photographs, making this a pleasurable read for Beatles fans, even if all you're doing is browsing. Maybe there are better, more in-depth historical volumes about the Beatles' song out there, but I found this one to be a fun and informative read! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official The Beatles web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Steve Turner ]


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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!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hitchcock (on DVD)

Hitchcock
[DVD Hitchcock]

Anthony Hopkins is excellent as famed film director Alfred Hitchcock. Soon you forget that's Hopkins and see him only as Hitchcock the character. The film revolves around the making of his film "Psycho" with all the financing difficulties, script problems, and casting issues. Also delves into his personal life with his wife, Alma, who was his professional partner in every sense. Only for the Hitchcock fan who has some awareness of his films and the actors involved. Helen Mirren stars as his wife. Daniel Day-Lewis took the Oscar that year for Best Actor but Hopkins was definitely worthy of the award as well. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Hitchcock: The Movie web site ]


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How to Cook Everything

How to Cook Everything: The Basics - All You Need to Make Great Food
by Mark Bittman [641.55 Bit]

The simple, clean design of this general purpose cookbook caught my eye on our "new materials" display recently, so I decided to give it a browse. This is a tremendously useful book! Bittman is the author of numerous cookbooks, and a food writer for the New York Times, but in glancing at some of his other publications, I'd havet to say I like this guide the best. The first 40 pages are filled with the essentials of setting up your kitchen, picking your cookware - tools, containers, etc., how to affect certain types of common "cuts", how to properly "measure" ingredients, and what you need to know about different cooking methods - from braising to deep frying, broiling to sauteing. After that, the remaining 400+ pages are broken down into broad categories -- Breakfast, Appetizers and Snacks, Soups and Stews, Vegetables and Beans, Meat, Seafood, Desserts and more. In each section, dozens of standard dishes are featured, with each dish given two facing pages in the book. Each dish has simple (though sometimes very detailed) step-by-step instructions for how to create the dish, with perfectly-chosen photos to illustrate various steps in the process. This book could serve as the central "basic" cookbook for anyone just getting started, particularly college students or people moving into a home with a decent kitchen for the first time. As someone who would like to spend more time cooking if I could, I really admired the combination of clear text and helpful photographs. I highly recommend this book! -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ official Mark Bittman web site ]


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Crossfire Trail (on DVD)

Crossfire Trail
based on the novel by Louis L'Amour [DVD Crossfire]

Tom Selleck as a cowboy - need I say more? This is a TNT production based on a Louis L'Amour story. Selleck stars as Rafe Covington who promised his dying friend to look after the friend's wife, played by Virginia Madsen. Rafe and his buddies arrive to work her abandoned ranch while she's in town trying to make ends meet as a teacher. She's also being wooed by the town gambler, played by Mark Harmon, who has been lying to her about her husband's death - and possibly about other things as well. A standard but entertaining Western with gorgeous vistas and a quiet but stalwart cowboy who is all about doing the right thing. And let's not forget the shoot-out at the end. Also stars Wilford Brimley. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Sacketts on dvd, another Louis L'Amour Western starring Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott.]

[Also available in traditional print and Large Print formats.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]


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Superman: The Dailies, Volume 1 -1939-1940

Superman: The Dailies, Volume 1 - 1939-1940
by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster [741.5 qSie]

This is a collection of the first Superman stories from the 1930's. They were originally printed in the newspaper, but reading them feels like a graphic novel short story collection. There are several story arcs in the book; Superman comes to the aid of a variety of folks including a suicidal boxer, a runaway orphan, and royalty. What I liked about this, and I think would appeal to others too, is that it's very easy to get into. What I mean by that is if superheros or comics sound interesting, but you're put off by all the back stories it feels you need to know before beginning, then you should try this. The first few strips recount Superman's birth on an alien planet and how he came to Earth. His story then starts as he decides to use his super power to help those in need as Superman, and as Clark Kent, gets a job as a reporter for a newspaper. Adventure after adventure ensues, but in these strips his powers have limits. I think that makes things more exciting than knowing he can do anything and survive any circumstance. In addition to the heroic adventures, what's equally entertaining is watching him switch between his Superman and Clark Kent personas. It's especially comical when he finally goes on a date with his co-worker Lois Lane as Clark, when he hears something on the radio which causes him to duck out and disappear as Superman; when he returns hours later, Lois is rather grouchy. I think this would appeal to graphic novels readers or superhero fans who haven't read the original comics. -- recommended by Kristen A. - Gere Branch Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Old American comics: Superman: the dailies, volume 2, Dick Tracy: The Thirties, Micky Mouse the Race to Death Valley.]

[ official Superman: The Dailies page on the offical DC web site ]


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