Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Carrie by Steven King (on CD)

Carrie
by Steven King [Compact Disc King] 

Carrie is one of the first books of Stephen King’s I ever read. I saw the movie shortly after I read the book, and then I promptly forgot about it. This fall, I decided to try listening to the audiobook, since Halloween was, at that time, approaching. When I saw it was read by Sissy Spacek, I knew I’d love it! In fact, I’m going to look into audiobooks a bit further to see if I can find any others Sissy Spacek has narrated–I could listen to her all day! Her voice, while at times sounding a tiny bit nasally, has this soft, soothing lilt to it, and she enunciates very clearly.

This story is set in Maine, as are many of Stephen King’s stories. It centers around a senior in high school, Carrie White, who has spent a lifetime being bullied by her peers as well as being tormented and punished for every little thing by her religiously fanatic mother. Carrie is a “late bloomer”, developing into womanhood far later than typical… and this brings on memories of telekinetic behavior as a child, as well as a discovery of a strengthening within herself of those powers. When push comes to shove, Carrie shoves right back, and then some!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Firestarter by King, or Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin.]

[ official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Chasing Ice (on DVD)

Chasing Ice [DVD 551.312 Cha] 

James Balog, a photographer and glaciologist set up cameras at multiple angles of multiple glaciers around the world to track their seasonal and long term changes. The result is a multi-year record of how glaciers are changing in modern times. It felt to me like a documentary of how he and his crew go out to set up and maintain the cameras, rather than a documentary on climate change, even though that is a running theme in the show. The group Balog started is called the Extreme Ice Survey and if you like the documentary you can check out their website www.extremeicesurvey.org for more information, pictures and videos. The images online and on the DVD are some that most people don’t get a chance to see in person, so I think it is well worth viewing.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Chasing Shackleton [DVD 910.45].] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Chasing Ice web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits


From the strangely genius mind of David Wong, comes Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. Set in the not-too-distant future of self-driving cars, holograms and an omnipresent social network known as the Blink, Zoey Ashe finds herself the target of an army of super-powered, hyper-violent alpha males. Armed with a snarky attitude, her talents as a barista, a community-college degree and her very smelly cat, Zoey finds herself joining forces with a mysterious, semi-trustworthy group known as the Fancy Suits to thwart the schemes of a wannabe super-villain. “Blade Runner” meets “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in a fast-paced and very enjoyable read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders, both also by Wong.]

[ official David Wong web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hogfather (on DVD)

Hogfather [DVD Hogfather] 

Based on the Pratchett novel of the same name this movie is all about the season of Hogswatch and the Hogfather. In the Discworld universe Hogswatch is similar to Christmas and the Hogfather is basically Santa. This year however a terrible thing has happened. The Hogfather is missing. But because Hogswatch must go on someone else must take his place. Death (who is an actual character, not just an event) steps in to deliver presents to the children, while his granddaughter (yes Death has a granddaughter) goes looking for Hogfather. It’s an unusual Christmas story with a twist at the end. It may not be an enjoyable film for everyone but if you are looking for a holiday movie you haven’t seen year after year, this is for you.

[Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Pivot Point by Marie West

Pivot Point
by Marie West [YA West] 

As a Searcher, Addison Coleman is guaranteed to always make the right decision. When she is faced with a choice, she can look into her future and see both outcomes. She has been able to save herself from bad decisions, and sticky situations.

When Addie’s parents tell her they are getting a divorce, she is faced with a choice: go live with her dad, who is leaving the Compound to live with normal people, or “Norms,” or stay with her mom, and the life she has always known.

After searching six weeks into the future, Addie sees that she is happy in both outcomes, but every potential path has positives and negatives. After Addie’s dad is asked to consult on a murder that has taken place in the compound, she is drawn into the dangerous mix as well. So what decision is Addie going to make?.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Split Second, also by West.]

[ official Kasie West web site ]
Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Make 'Em Laugh by Debbie Reynolds (on CD)

Make ‘Em Laugh: Short-Term Memories of Longtime Friends
by Debbie Reynolds [Compact Disc Biography Reynolds] 

I was looking for a short, funny, autobiography as a book-on-cd, and this latest collection of remembrances by legendary entertainer Debbie Reynolds fit the bill perfectly. In a series of interconnected chapters, Reynolds reminisces about some of the many people whom she’s crossed paths with over the course of a lengthy entertainment career. Debbie has two autobiographies to her credit already, so in this volume she picks some stories that didn’t make it into either Debbie: My Life (1988) and Unsinkable (2013). Explore her friendship with — or, in the case of Milton Berle, bare tolerance of — the classic comedians. Read about her experiences as a young starlet making her way through the treacherous waters of “casting couches”. Learn about the various personal assistants Debbie has had over the years, and how much of an impact they’ve had on her life. Laugh at Debbie’s recollections of funny encounters with daughter Carrie (Star Wars) Fisher, and how Debbie’s granddaughter has carried on the family acting tradition, even to the point of landing a role in the new Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.

I would have loved to have had Debbie narrate this short volume herself, but she doesn’t. Instead, actress Judith Ivey provides very capable narrating skills. In fact, Judith makes an obvious attempt to sound somewhat like Debbie, so it’s easy to feel lulled into a sense that it is Debbie sharing her stories directly. There’s not a lot of depth here, but if you’re looking for some light-hearted, feel-good entertainment industry stories, I recommend this one!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Debbie: My Life and Unsinkable, also by Reynolds.]

[ Publisher’s official Make ‘Em Laugh web site ] | [ official Debbie Reynolds web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Hercule Poirot's Christmas (on CD)

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie] 

Set in an old English house, an old father invites his family to Christmas. One of his sons and his wife lives with him and they are not enthused to have the whole family round, but they can’t sway him on the matter. The family has not been together since their mother died, nearly two decades ago, and when everyone arrives it’s clear why. Loaded with family feuds and grudges, the house is near boiling point when their elderly father is murdered. In addition to the local police, an inspector and Poirot take up the case. Full of surprises, this holiday tale does have a happy ending when the remaining family members put the past (distant and recent) behind them and look forward to a cheerier Christmas next year. This is one of my favorites in the series, so far as I have read. I enjoyed the audiobook version narrated by Hugh Fraser, but however you read it, it’s a grand story.

[If you like this item, you might like these too – I also recommend The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. In a lot of ways this is completely different from ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’, but it is a holiday story with mysteries of it’s own; it’s not a murder mystery.
 
[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (on DVD)


With Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens opening a brand-new chapter in the history of the Star Wars universe tomorrow, I can’t help but look back at the original film that started it all on May 25, 1977. Simply entitled Star Wars (the subtitle IV: A New Hope didn’t get tacked on until many years later), it was described as the first entry in what was going to be a nine-film saga called The Adventures of Luke Skywalker. By the time the prequel trilogy had completed, the series looked more like the adventures of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, but who’s quibbling? Constructed with many of the same types of elements as the old serialized pulp thrillers, mashed up with the Flash Gordon whiz bang sci-fi elements, this tale of a young farm boy with a special gift, who leads the scrappy underdog rebels in a fight against the monolithic Empire, was groundbreaking movie-making at its best. Star Wars, and Jaws a few years before it, established the benchmark for summer blockbuster films — thrills, adventures, battles between good guys and bad. Little could anyone have guessed how much influence it would ultimately have on the movie-making industry or on pop-culture. But here we are, 38 years later, and several generations of film fans later — the original’s fans are taking their grandkids to the premiere of the 7th film in the franchise, now owned by the Walt Disney Company.

In my opinion, the original has held up very well, even 38 years later. Director George Lucas has tinkered with it — several times — over the years, releasing “Special Editions” with updated or expanded special effects, and/or changed content in scenes — despite what he did, I’ll always hold the opinion that “Han shot first”! But, whether you judge the film on the original theatrically released version or any of the tweaked versions which have followed in the decades since, the story still holds together well. The performances are brash, enthusiastic, or dignified and serious. The special effects were astonishing in their day and still look great, despite the intervening years. All in all, this is STILL the Star Wars movie I would show to anyone if I had to limit them to a single film in the series! May the Force be With You…Always!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try all the other films in the extensive Star Wars series.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Star Wars web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Lost Stars
by Claudia Gray [YA Gray]

A surprisingly good novel with appeal for a wide range of readers. Anyone from middle school to adult who has seen any Star Wars movie will find something to enjoy about this novel. It’s part romance, part coming-of-age story and part space opera. It features a pair of quintessential star-crossed lovers, a very engaging story and several cameos from some familiar Star Wars characters. Both casual and devoted Star Wars fans will enjoy this one.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Aftermath by Chuck Wendig.] [ official Claudia Gray web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
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!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star Wars Reviews on the libraries' BookGuide web pages


With the opening of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens this week, interest in all things Star Wars is at an all-time high. Your friendly neighborhood librarians are Star Wars fans too, and we've gathered all our Star Wars-related reviews into a single page on our BookGuide readers resources pages.

Click the logo above, or this link, to see an archive of every review, booklist or booktalk booklist that has appeared on BookGuide from 2006 to the present!

Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger

Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
by Tom Angleberger [j Angleberger]


Tom Angleberger, longtime Star Wars fan and creative force behind the “Origami Yoda” series, pens a well-crafted retelling of “Return of the Jedi”. Though it’s primarily written for kids, any adult that is still in touch with the inner child will enjoy the story as well. Even those, like myself, who are very familiar with “Return of the Jedi” will find Angleberger’s take a delight to read. The author uses a whimsical narrative and humorous footnotes to give the reader some entertaining (though potentially non-canon) insights of minor characters in “Return of the Jedi”. Any Star Wars fan with a sense of humor will find “Beware the Power of the Dark Side!” an entertaining and worthwhile read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, also by Angleberger.] [ official Tom Angleberger web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Wars - Original Motion Picture Soundtracks by John Williams

Star Wars – Original Motion Picture Soundtracks
composed by John Williams [Compact Disc 782.14 Sta]

I grew up on the original trilogy of Star Wars films — they premiered, respectively, when I was 14, 17 and 20 years old. John Williams was one of the first composers whose soundtrack work I fell in love with, and whose soundtracks I would go on to collect in the intervening years. In the days before Compact Discs, I bought all three of the LP albums (each was two discs) for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, and listened to them over and over and over. In fact, I probably wore out the grooves on my copy of The Empire Strikes Back, I played it so much. One of my favorite elements of my CD collection is my mid-1990s Star Wars: The Original Soundtrack Anthology — a longbox containing four discs and a marvelous book of liner notes for how the music was created for all three of the original films in the trilogy

In the years since those three films originally came out, those soundtracks have been re-released and repackaged several times, including a Sony Music re-release of all the Star Wars film soundtracks in 2004 that added considerable previously-unreleased music. It is these 2004 soundtracks that the library has, for each of the original trilogy of Star Wars films, and also for some of the “prequel trilogy” as well. The sound quality has been sharpened for all of these 2004 releases, and although the liner notes are not as extensive as for some of the other releases, if you simply want to relive the film experience by re-listening to the orchestral scores, you can’t go wrong with these copies. The only thing missing from the 2004 releases are the final two tracks from the original Return of the Jedi soundtrack — those two tracks were replaced with all-new music in “Special Edition” re-edited re-releases of the films, and the 2004 soundtracks opt to only include the newer tracks.

Williams’ music is just as iconic as the films have become. “The Imperial March” (a.k.a. “Darth Vader’s Theme”) is one of the most recognizable musical riffs for dramatic menace that exists — you hear it at sporting events and numerous other social environments, and how many of us use it as a cellphone ringtone for somebody? “Princess Leia’s Theme”, “The Death of Ben Kenobi”, “Yoda’s Theme”, “Cantina Band” and the unforgettable “Star Wars Main Theme” are embedded in the popular consciousness. As Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens opens this month, John Williams returns to provide yet another Star Wars score. Take this opportunity to revisit some of his most iconic music from the past!

[ Wikipedia page for The Music of Star Wars ] | [ Wikipedia page for John Williams ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath
by Chuck Wendig

The first Star Wars “new continuity” title set after “Return of the Jedi” is something of a mixed bag. There is a fun story featuring some new characters that gives us a feel for the universe after the Battle of Endor. Fan favorite and classic Star Wars characters only show up as cameos or background characters. The main story is interrupted by a variety of interludes that seem like they are setting up for future stories. If one accepts Aftermath for what it is, a set-up for future Star Wars novels, it is a fun read. Others may likely feel unsatisfied with Aftermath on its own.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Lords of the Sith by Paul Kemp, Tarkin by James Luceno or A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller.] [ Aftermath entry in Wookiepedia ] | [ official Chuck Wendig web site ]

Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

We Don't Need Roads by Caseen Gaines

We Don’t Need Roads
by Caseen Gaines [not yet in library] 
 
2015 marks several significant anniversaries for the Back to the Future film trilogy. The first film in the trilogy came out in July 1985, and we just passed the date — October 21 2015 — that Marty McFly travels to in “the future” in the second film in the series. As part of the anniversary celebrations, this new “making of” volume came out in early 2015, written by Caseen Gaines. This is one of the better “behind the scenes” filmmaking volumes I’ve read in recent years, mainly because Gaines did a tremendous amount of research, and managed to interview a large number of folks responsible for the trilogy’s success. This book covers all three films, with a strong emphasis on the first film in the trilogy, and all the details that had to come together to make it happen. Did you remember that Michael J. Fox wasn’t the first actor hired to be Marty McFly — no, that honor went to Eric Stolz (Mask), who was “let go” early in the filming, when it became clear he wasn’t giving the filmmakers what they wanted in the role! Learn about how difficult it was to work with a DeLorean car as Doc Brown’s time machine. Find out more details about why Crispin Glover did not reprise his role as Marty’s dad, George McFly in the sequels. Cringe at the description of stunt work gone awry! Hear from the actors about the impact that BTTF has had on their lives and careers! Truly a fun read, especially for anyone with a soft spot for this terrific film series.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to watch the films, particularly the very first one!] [ official Back to the Future web site ] | [ official Caseen Gaines web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mistaken Identity by Don Van Ryn and others


This book tells about how Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak were mistaken for each other at the scene of an accident and tells the family’s story as they went through their respective recovery and grieving processes.

Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak attended the same college, and were on a trip with some other members of their college. In a vehicle crash which 5 people died, Laura was taken to the hospital and Whitney was pronounced dead at the scene. However, Laura and Whitney were similar in their features, which caused their identities to be mixed up.

When Laura (who was really Whitney) came out of her coma. It was discovered that their identities had been switched.

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty Baby
by Mary Kubica

Life on the street is wearing thin young Willow and baby Ruby as they trek around Chicago in search of food and baby essentials. Day after day, businesswoman and mother Heidi sees the pair at the train station and begins watching them, worrying through the day in her comfortable surroundings with her young teenage daughter, Zoe – and husband Chris.

Slowly, Heidi builds a relationship with Willow and in an especially heavy downpour, brings them into her home.

The story of what happens next is told from Willow, Heidi, and Chris’s point of view as we gain not only insight into the characters, but learn their backstories and grow attached to everyone involved in the situation. The story bring forth the question – What is the ‘right’ thing to do?

Think again if you think you have this psychological thriller figured out because soon you will not want to put this book down and instead navigate the twists and turns of masterful suspense late into the night.

[ official Pretty Baby page on the official Mary Kubica web site ]
 
Recommended by Sarah J.
South Branch Library

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Arrow: The Complete First Season (on DVD)


Billionaire Oliver Queen has been marooned on an island for 5 years. Experiencing trama on this island, Oliver is no longer the spoiled playboy he used to be. He has returned home to Starling City, were he plans to seek revenge for his father, and to help clean up the crime in the city. In doing so, he adopts the persona of “The Arrow.”

[Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Arrow web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Finders Keepers
by Stephen King

Finders Keepers is the second book in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy. I was pleased because it does touch a bit on the first book in the series, Mr. Mercedes, yet it’s not absolutely necessary that the reader have that book under their belt before approaching this one. Finders Keepers could easily stand alone.
Something that really stood out, for me, in this story is the concept of Faithful Readers being so attached to their favorite authors and the characters they create… sometimes, those Faithful Readers have a bit of difficulty (or, perhaps, a LOT of difficulty) recognizing the difference between fact and fiction, where those favorite characters are concerned. I think most people who are avid readers do this to some extent; but this story really explores the idea of a person, or people, becoming so obsessed with a character in a story that they’ll stop at nothing to find out what happens next! In a way, the idea is similar to King’s earlier novel, Misery. Yet, it is so vastly different in the way the story unfolds. In keeping with typical King form, this novel definitely contains graphic violence.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Misery by Stephen King, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or Room by Emma Donaghue.] [ official Finders Keepers page on the official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn (audiobook-on-cd)

Scents and Sensibility
by Spencer Quinn [Compact Disc Quinn] 

This is the ninth volume in the mystery series featuring Bernie Little and his dog Chet (“the jet”). Narrated from the point-of-view of Chet, this particular volume features some major developments in Chet and Bernie’s world. First, after the previous two volumes in the series took Chet and Bernie out of their standard Arizona setting (first to Louisiana Bayou country in The Sound and the Furry, then to Washington D.C. in Paw and Order), in Scents and Sensibility, the due is back home in “the valley”. The case they get involved with is extremely personal, with Bernie’s elderly neighbor Mr. Parsons being victimized by his just-out-on-parole son, and Bernie stepping in to help him out. Additionally, as he digs around, Bernie ends up butting heads with a corrupt cop — and we learn about the circumstances that caused Bernie to end his police career several years earlier. And finally, a little puppy (introduced briefly in an earlier book in the series) named “Shooter”, who bears a distinct genetic resemblance to Chet, becomes a major new character in the novels.

I continue to enjoy this series as audiobooks (in this case books-on-cd), with narrator Jim Frangione doing an absolutely perfect job of capturing Chet’s personality with his voice. If you can, and you’re interested in mysteries told from unique character points-of-view, I can’t recommend this audiobook series highly enough. This particular volume is a return to high form for Spencer Quinn (actually Peter Abrahams writing under a pseudonym), after a couple of occasionally lackluster volumes in the past couple of years. I’m also looking forward to reading Woof! — the first in a new series for youth readers, featuring Bowser and Birdie, a dog-and-a-pre-teen-girl pair of sleuths.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try al the earlier volumes in the Chet & Bernie series by Quinn.] [ official ChettheDog.com web site ] | [ official Spencer Quinn (Peter Abrahams) web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Leahy (on CD)

Leahy
by Leahy [Compact Disc 781.62 IreL]

This is some pretty fantastic fiddle music. The band members are siblings from Ontario but play in an Irish folk style. All the songs on this album are purely instrumental and very upbeat. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to hearing their other albums. It’s part of the Narada collection and I’ve yet to listen to one of their albums I don’t enjoy. It’s definitely music that gets you going, or at least toe tapping.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try music of The Chieftains.] [ official Leahy web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted
by Naomi Novik

I have been reading Fantasy literature nearly all of my life, so I know a good Fantasy book when I come across one. This book surprised me with its creative elements, something that doesn’t happen very often in current Fantasy literature. As a fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, I was pleased to see that she had published something completely different. This book fulfilled my expectations and more. Novik’s writing is well-crafted as she pulls the reader into the story and makes you want to keep reading without a break. I especially enjoyed how she fleshed out the characters of Agnieszka and Kasia, lifelong friends and warriors in the battle against the evil that lurks in the Wood. The character of the Dragon, the wizard who is the overlord of the town that Agnieszka and Kasia live in, is one of the most unlikable heroes I have ever found. If I could criticize anything about the story, it would be to wish that Novik had improved his character in the story or not made him the object of a romantic relationship. On the other hand, one of the things I enjoyed most was how the author would suddenly throw in a plot twist that took me completely by surprise. Even the ending was much different than I was expecting. I would guess that the author plans to write a sequel to this in the near future. I will look forward to it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, starting with His Majesty’s Dragon, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip, The Riddlemaster of Hed also by Patricia McKillip, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey.] [ official Uprooted page on the official Naomi Novik web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Chasing Shackleton (on DVD)

Chasing Shackleton [DVD 910.45 Cha] 

In 1914 an exploration team in Antarctica was shipwrecked. In a rescue mission to save his crew Shackleton and few other men set out from Antarctica to New S. Wales for help. The mission was a success. In this documentary, a modern day crew assembles to find out what it was like to tackle the same sea journey followed by a trek over mountains using only period gear. No modern navigation tools, no modern cooking equipment or clothes, even a replica boat just like Shackleton’s. For safety the boat was fitted with a GSP that an observer ship monitored and a there was a radio for emergencies. The adventure is spread out over 3 episodes. It was fascinating to watch them travel with such rudimentary equipment and still know where they were going. I won’t spoil any surprises because it feels like a real adventure is unfolding as you watch. I thoroughly enjoyed it and very highly recommend it. It’s a fabulous documentary but could be enjoyed as an action adventure survival movie.

[There is also a companion book to the DVD. The title is the same, Chasing Shackleton.] [Also available in Chasing Shackleton DVD on PBS web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer

Sleuth
by Anthony Shaffer [822 Sha] 


One of the best mystery/thriller plays ever written, Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth came out in 1970, and won the Tony Award for Best Play, as well as numerous other theatrical awards and nominations. Although there is a cast of five, Sleuth is primarily a two-man show, with a few supporting characters thrown in near the very end. Set at the Wiltshire manor house of bestselling British mystery author Andrew Wyke, the play features Wyke having invited a young upstart, Milo Trindle, to his home. Wyke is obsessed with games, game-playing and quirky inventions. Wyke’s also upset with Trindle, who he’s discovered is having an affair with Wyke’s wife (never seen in the play). In a series of sharp, snappy give-and-take conversations, Andrew and Milo dance around their differences and similarities, and Andrew ultimately suggests an elaborate scheme, in while Milo will “break into” Andrew’s home to steal his wife’s jewelry, giving Andrew an opportunity to make a profit in insurance claims while also getting rid of his unfaithful wife.

But not everything is as it seems, and Andrew’s efforts to entice Milo to larceny may not be quite as simple as they seem.

Sleuth has been performed hundreds of times in the U.K. and U.S. and is a powerful example of the “two-man” play, with both Andrew and Milo being full, vibrant characters for actors to bite into. The play has also been adapted into two successful films. The first, in 1972, featured Laurence Olivier as Andrew and Michael Caine as Milo. The second, in 2007, also featured Michael Caine, this time as the senior character Andrew, and Jude Law as Milo. Both are very much worth your time if you can find them. But, I still recommend reading this in playscript format and/or seeing a staged version if at all possible. I’d love to see it produced locally!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Deathtrap, by Ira Levin.] [ Wikipedia page for Sleuth ] | [ Wikipedia page for Anthony Shaffer ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi [YA Mafi] 


Juliette has been in a maximum security prison for 264 days. Her whole life she has been called a monster, because when she touches another person’s skin, they experience incredible pain. If the contact is held for long enough, that person dies, which is why Juliette is in prison.

In a world that is falling apart, it is easier for The Reestablishment to lock Juliette up than try to figure out why her touch is fatal. But now, they’ve decided that maybe her touch is not a bad thing. One of the commanders of the army even sees it as a useful weapon. Juliette must decide if this is the only option available for her.

[ official Tahereh Mafi web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Thinner by Stephen King (on CD)

Thinner
by Stephen King [Compact Disc King]

Thinner is a book that was written by Stephen King back in 1984, but under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. King had gained enough popularity with his earlier novels that he realized people were buying his books just because they had his name on them. So he wrote a novel and a few short stories under the pseudonym to see if those books would stand on their own. However, it was leaked fairly shortly after the release of this novel. When Bachman was an unknown, it sold over 28,000 copies. Once it was leaked that Bachman was King’s pseudonym, the novel sold over 280,000 copies!

I read this book back in 1986 or so, shortly after it was written, but after the truth came out about it being a King novel. I remember loving it so much, I lent it to my best friend–she, then, lost it. She became frightened while reading it, hid it from herself, and was never able to find it again!

After thirty years of rereading various other King novels, I remembered Thinner and decided to give it another go–see if I loved it as much as I did the first time. This time, however, I opted to listen to the audiobook, which was read by Joe Mantegna (who, it turns out, plays one of the characters in the movie version). It was even scarier than I’d remembered, and listening to it made it even more so! I knew what was coming, at times, but I couldn’t remember specifics… so when I heard the story unravel once again, I was pleased and often surprised.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try King’s novel ‘Salem’s Lot.] [ official Thinner page on the official Stephen King web site ]

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows (on DVD)

What We Do in the Shadows [DVD What]

This comic vampire movie had come highly recommended by some friends, so when a copy became available just before Halloween, I grabbed it. From some of the folks who produced the wry comic television limited series Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows is a film about four vampires who share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand. Shot in mockumentary style (think TV’s “The Office” or “Modern Family”), each of the vampires sits for interview segments, and we also see them interacting with each other, and the Wellington night life. The film pokes fun at standard vampire tropes, with each of the central vampires being of a different traditional type. Viago is an 18th century dandy, Vladislav is over 800 years old and older and set in his ways, Deacon is the youngest, at only 183, and has a human familiar who helps find prey (other humans) for her vampire master. And Peytr is the oldest, at over 8000, but doesn’t appear human — he’s more like Count Orlok from Nosferatu. Although there are a few bloody, gory scenes involving vampires feeding, for the most part this film is wryly humorous, having fun with standard vampire traditions, as an unseen documentary crew follows the central characters around Wellington for several months, capturing their lifestyle — and in the case of vampires who are hundreds of years old, their outdated lifestyle is having trouble meshing with modern life. Watching the vamps trying to figure out texting and the internet is hilarious

In many ways, the introduction of Stu, a human who is best friends with a newly turned vampire, Nick, is the best part of the film — everyone likes Stu just as he is…a fairly bland but friend guy, who helps all the undead with their societal issues – nobody wants him to be turned into a vampire. So, when a pack of werewolves attack Stu, the vampires all get angsty about Stu’s fate. The performances in the film are all terrific. The set design is great, with the vampires’ Wellington apartment building a marvelous combination of modern and ancient. The costume designers had a field day, and the outfits the vampires wear to go out in public every night are crazy. And the make-up is also marvelous, especially Petyr, who is incredibly creepy.

If you like your vampires with a bit of comedy, or you were fans of Flight of the Conchords, I highly recommend this quirky, offbeat horror film!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official What We Do in the Shadows web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, November 9, 2015

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (on CD)

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Book one in the Hercule Poirot series. The narrator of the story is Captain Hastings, staying temporarily at Styles, who finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. His old friend Poirot, a retired Belgian police inspector, happens to be staying nearby and takes up the case. Despite the similar arrangement of characters, as Sherlock and Watson, both series are enjoyable and sometimes rather funny for being so. I’d recommend it to people who liked the Sherlock television show. As I said, it has sort of the same character dynamics, but it is different enough that it does not feel like a copy.
 
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Caribbean Mystery, also by Agatha Christie, but stars Miss Marple rather than Poirot.] [ official Mysterious Affair at Styles page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstör
by Grady Hendrix

This is a quirky horror novel that came out in 2014. in a Orsk store (a marvelous parody of Ikea stores) in central Ohio, employees arrive each morning to find destroyed merchandise throughout the store. Security cameras don’t capture anything happening, so a trio of store employees agrees to work an overnight overtime shift to stay in the store and figure out what’s happening.

What starts as a humorous diatribe about the reality of working in a retail store environment, and the sometimes strained relationships between co-workers, employees-and-supervisors, and retail employees and customers, takes a sharp turn half-way through and becomes a slightly non-traditional haunted house book. The format of the book adds to the enjoyment of the read — it is designed to look like an “Ikea” catalog, with product descriptions and illustrations, which become darker and more distressing the farther into the plot you go. Characters that you initially may dislike will grow on you. Overall, a very entertaining read, with some serious chills in the latter half of the story. My only complaint is that the first half of the book incorporated a lot of humor, in both dialog and character relationships, and that seemed to get sacrificed to the horror elements of the plot too quickly. It would have been more enjoyable if the group of disparate characters had maintained a “Buffy the Vampire Killer”-like sense of humor about their situation. Still, creative and different. If you like horror, I’d recommend giving this a try.

[ official Horrorstör Video Trailer ] | [ publisher’s official Horrorstör web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Strangers on a Train (on DVD)

Strangers on a Train [DVD Strangers]

Based on a suspense novel by Patricia Highsmith, this suspense/thriller is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most unforgettable masterpieces of movie-making! When professional tennis player Guy Haines (Stewart Granger) encounters the psychotic socialite Bruno Antony on a train ride, and they get into a conversation, Bruno sees an opportunity to solve a problem he has. Bruno wants to eliminate his father, and he thinks Guy would like to see his shrew of a wife, Miriam, dead. Bruno proposes trading murders — he’ll kill Miriam and Guy will kill Bruno’s father — no ties to each other, thus the perfect murders. Guy doesn’t take Bruno seriously, so when Bruno actually does kill Miriam and Guy refuses to kill Bruno’s father, a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse begins in which Bruno tries to set up Guy for Miriam’s murder, and Guy has to try to prove his innocence and also alert the authorities to the real killer. In true Hitchcock fashion, the tension is racheted up to unbearable levels, the camerawork is innovative, and there’s a heart-stopping confrontation on a merry-go-round gone out-of-control. The performances in this film are among the best in all of Hitchcock’s suspense films, particularly Robert Walker as the psychotic Bruno Antony.

This particular DVD release of this film is a double-sided disc, with Side A being the recognizable American release of the film (1951), and Side B being an earlier British pre-release version of the film, which has a much closer look at the mentality of Bruno Antony. Both are well-worth your time!

[If you like this item,  you might like these too – Pretty much anything else in the Hitchcock stable of films, but particularly Frenzy (1972) and Rear Window (1954).] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Frankenweenie (on DVD)

Frankenweenie [j DVD Frankenweenie]

This Tim Burton movie is about a young scientist, Victor, who brings his dog Sparky back to life with lighting. He intended to keep this a secret but Sparky wanders outside one day and one of Victor’s classmates sees him. The secret is then out and with the science fair coming up everyone is eager to reproduce the experiment for their project. Chaos ensues due to the resulting creatures produced from the other student’s experiments. Fun movie for all ages during October / Halloween.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Nightmare Before Christmas.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for 2012 version of this film ] | [ official Frankenweenie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Walking Dead: Season Three (on DVD)

The Walking Dead: Season Three [DVD Walking]

I’ve been a fan of The Walking Dead since it first premiered in 2010, and I continue to watch it today, as each season airs on AMC. The series has had its share of ups and downs, with regards to its storytelling and settings. I think the third season, available in this boxed set, was one of the series’ strongest. After the second season ended in chaos, the primary group of human survivors finds themselves split up and going in separate directions. Group leader Rick Grimes leads his rag-tag bunch of desperate humans into an abandoned prison, clearing the facility of undead zombies wing by wing. Setting up the prison as their new home — it is defensible and offers a hope of stability — the survivors explore the surrounding area for supplies. Meanwhile, original group member Andrea ends up encountering fan favorite character Michonne in the woods, and they both end up at Woodbury, a walled community ruled over by the despotic man known as The Governor.

The zombie action of this series about a zombie apocalypse world remains gory and violent, but it is the human stories, particularly those involved the new characters of Michonne and The Governor, and are what this series is really all about. This 16-episode season has a distinct start and conclusion, and viewers unfamiliar with the show will get caught up quickly. Don’t get too attached to ANY of the supporting characters, because no-one should be considered safe to survive until the fourth season!

[There are distinct differences between The Walking Dead as a TV series and as a series of graphic novels, however, much of the plot covered by this season has also been touched on in the graphic novel series.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official The Walking Dead web site from AMC ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

Three Graves Full
by Jamie Mason


Eighteen months earlier milquetoast Jason Getty killed a man and buried him in his backyard. For seventeen months Jason worried, stewed, and lost sleep over his actions. His yard went unattended because he couldn’t stand to touch his spade again. Worried that his neighbors are wondering about his yard and begin to notice something weird at the back, he hires a lawn care company to rake, toss grass seed, and plant seedlings in the front.

And they discover a body buried in his front yard that he didn’t know about.

The police arrive, and find a second body in the front yard. The detective informs Jason they are making arrangements for a corpse-sniffing dog to arrive in a few days to check the remainder of his property. Jason is now in full panic mode about the body he buried in the back.

The other two people associated with the newly discovered bodies, Jason, and the two detectives are now circling each other. We learn everyone’s backstory and the events leading up to all three murders. And everything comes to a head in one wild night. A well-written, quick read even at 307 pages with a satisfying ending.

[ official Three Graves Full page on the official Jamie Mason web site ]
revscore8
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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