Sunday, December 31, 2017

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (in audiobook form)

And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie [Compact Dics Christie (or) Hoopla Audio] 

This is in neither the Miss Marple nor Poirot series, and is the first by Christie I’ve read that’s not but I really enjoyed it; it is in fact one of my favorites now. It’s definately darker and more suspenseful than others I’ve read by her. Ten people are invited to stay on a small island not far off the coast of England for the summer. Eight of them arrive together by a small boat run by a local; the other two arrived earlier as they were hired as house keepers. The island is called Indian Island and hanging on the wall inside each of the bedrooms is a framed children’s rhyme, 10 Little Indian Boys which tells of the demise of each, one by one until there were none. This is where the books gets it’s name because very shortly after arriving they die, one by one, just in way the rhyme describes. The group is unsure at first if they are accidents or intentional and if intentional who is doing it, one of them or someone in hiding. It’s a very stirring story so I won’t give away more. I highly recommend if if you like mysteries and or classics, but as I said this this not as cozy (as some would say), as the Miss Marples or the Poirots, so do expect more thrills and chills. I listened to the audiobook read by Hugh Fraser and thoroughly enjoyed his performance as usual.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Big Four, also by Agatha Christie.]

[ official And Then There Were None web site ] | [ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From the Heart (on DVD)


Martha Williamson brings another great story about the Postables team that does a thorough job delivering long lost letters and packages. From the Heart tells the story of a 200-year-old valentine which could change history if it gets delivered. I have my name on Hold for the next movie in the series. It is called “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Lost Without You,” and lists the “author” as Eric Mabius (an actor in these popular Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel movies.)

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder She Baked, based on a mystery series by Joanne Fluke; A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden mystery); and the other Signed, Sealed, Delivered series movies, includingSigned, Sealed, Delivered: The Complete Series, Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (2014), One in a Million (2016) or From Paris With Love (2017). Other TV series you might enjoy: The Middle, and Last Man Standing.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From the Heart web page ]

Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered: One in a Million (on DVD)


One in a Million is another Martha Williamson story continuing the Hallmark comedy-drama series. The persistent team of postal employees go to great lengths to deliver lost mail and succeed every time they try. Our family enjoys catching up on the progress of the relationships between team members. My husband had two government careers which he really enjoyed. He delivered mail in downtown Lincoln for the U.S. Postal Service in the late 1960’s. His other career was with the USDA.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish enjoy the other TV-movies in this series: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Complete Series, From Paris With Love, For Christmas or From the Heart. Other good TV series include Touched by an Angel, The Middle, and Parenthood.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Signed, Sealed, Delivered: One in a Million web site ]

Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library

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Friday, December 29, 2017

The Martian Chronicles - in audiobook form - by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury [Compact Disc Bradbury] 

It has been over 30 years since I last read Ray Bradbury’s 1950 story collection, The Martian Chronicles. So when this book-on-CD audiobook version came across the desk at the library recently, I decided it was a good time to revisit an old favorite.

The Martian Chronicles is a “fix-up” novel, which is to say that it is comprised of a series of thematically related short stories, which Bradbury has written short connecting bits to connect to each other for what is, overall, a novel-length storyline. There are some cross-over characters and plots across the content of some of the stories. The Martian Chronicles is about the human settling of the planet Mars, over the course of several decades. The native Martian population is decimated by a plague caused by one of the earliest human missions to the planet, and the subsequent waves of humans to colonize Mars take over the beautiful Martian cities or build their own. The individual stories in this collection vary in quality and have a lot of different “tones”.

While, in many ways, The Martian Chronicles feels dated, it is still an absolute classic in the field of speculative fiction. Audiobook narrator Stephen Hoye provides a low-key narrative style to his voice work, which at times leaves the stories feeling a bit emotionless. But at the same time, it is a compelling listen, and he captures some of the characters very well. In the end, I’ll have to admit that I enjoyed reading this novel more than listening to it, but this was still a worthwhile introduction to the stories, if you’ve never experience them before!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the other works of the late Ray Bradbury, in print or audio.] [ official Ray Bradbury web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn
by Aimee Carter [YA Carter] 

Kitty Doe has just been tested, and will spend her life as a III. This means she won’t starve, but she will be a sanitation worker for the rest of her life, and will likely die at a young age. When the prime minister approaches her and asks if she would be Masked – surgically transformed into Lila Hart, his niece, who was killed. It’s an easy choice, and Kitty accepts. She will have to leave her life and friends behind, but she will get to live as a VII, practically royalty. There’s just one catch, Kitty discovers that she must also stop the rebellion that Lila started, the one that she believes in and supports.

[ official Blackcoat Rebellion series page on the official Aimee Carter web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wonder Woman '77 Meets the Bionic Woman by Andy Mangels and others

Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman
by Andy Mangels, Judit Tondora & others [YA PB (Graphic Novel) Mangels (and) Hoopla]

A few months ago, I reviewed Wonder Woman ’77 Vol.1, which was a marvelous recapturing of the style of superhero storytelling as seen in the old Wonder Woman television series starring Lynda Carter. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of reading Wonder Woman ’77 Vol 2, and this, Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman.

This cross-over title was a whole lot of fun, especially for somebody who literally grew up on both of those television series. Wonder Woman’s pilot aired in 1975, and the series ran for three seasons from 1976 to 1979. The Bionic Woman, starring Lindsay Wagner, also ran for three seasons, from 1976 to 1978. Each series also had some bumps in its network run — Wonder Woman began as a 1940s era series on ABC, before moving to CBS and updating to a contemporary (1977) setting. The Bionic Woman also began life on ABC, as a spin-off of The $6 Million Man, then moved to NBC for the final part of its run. Both featured strong action-oriented female leads, and both featured wild and outrageous science fiction and/or fantasy plots, that often strained viewers credulity.

I mention the outrageous storylines specifically, because they tie directly into this cross-over tale. This trade paperback combines the six-issues of a comic-book miniseries, written by Andy Mangels with art by Judit Tondora. Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s civilian cover identity, a government intelligence agent), and Jamie Sommers, a bionically enhanced intelligence agent (for a different agency) encounter each other while at an East Coast conference when they both have to help stop a terror attack. The two women bond over their similar lives and are soon assigned, by their respective agencies, to work together to investigate a vast international conspiracy. It turns out that villains from multiple episodes of each of the series, all of whom were responsible for creating lifelike androids that were tools of evil megalomaniacs, have teamed up to combine their knowledge and goals. And they’re all working for a WWII Nazi mastermind, who wishes to invade Diana’s homeland, Paradise Island, and wipe out the Amazon Princess’s family and friends.

The plot of this six-part storyline is really dark, and totally nuts, but still a hoot to read. We have guest appearances but many, many supporting characters from both shows’ casts, and artist Tondora does a fairly good job of having the huge cast of major characters all strongly resemble the actors who orginally played them (particularly Fritz Weaver as one of the mad scientists, and Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman and Martin E. Brooks as Dr. Rudy Wells). Tondora’s depictions of both Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner aren’t perfect, but they’re successful more often than they’re wrong, and this really does feel like it could have been a TV mini-series crossover event. Some of the plotline and dialog is a bit hackneyed, but they that could also be said about both of the TV series at the time as well.

Overall, though I truly enjoyed this time capsule event — it is set in the late 1970s, and definitely felt accurate for the setting. And, seeing two of TV’s most memorable TV heroines fighting side-by-side against an army of Nazi soldiers and Fembot female androids is marvelous fun. I went out and bought this one for my own collection, but you can enjoy it here at the library!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wonder Woman ’77 Volume 1 and Wonder Woman ’77 Volume 2, by Marc Andreyko, or The Bionic Woman graphic novels on Hoopla.]

[ official DC Wikia entry for this mini-series ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert

Even as I read this I could tell it was becoming a new favorite and one I’d like to read again; by the time I was done I was certain. I knew nothing about the book before I read it other than sand worms exist, so I don’t want to have any spoilers in this review to ruin the book for anyone. It’s a classic science fiction novel which is really three books in one. There are many characters and there is not just one protagonist. The two main characters are Jessica and Paul, mother and son. They live at the beginning of the book on a planet called Caladan but soon move to the planet Arrakis. In this time and place there is something called spice, the most valuable substance in the universe, which is only found on Arrakis, so whom ever is in control of the planet has power and pressures placed upon them. Duke Leto of House Atreides is offered the planet and accepts, so his son Paul and Lady Jessica move there with him (Leto and Jessica, are a couple but not married). Arrakis is a desert planet; it does not rain, there are no oceans, or lakes or ponds. The natives of the planet, the Fremen, are increadilby adapted to life in these conditions ulitizing what they call a stilsuit which captures any bodily fluids and purifies them for drinking. Water is sacred here. In the Atreides house water is not quite so scarce but they are not destined to stay there. Due to political and economic situations the Duke Leto and his family are in danger and they all know this when they move there. It happens early in the story that the house is overthrown and the Duke is killed, so that’s not too much of a spoiler, but it’s what happens afterwards and who Jessica and Paul become on Arrakis that is the larger story. I highly recommend this book to any classics and or sci-fi readers. I am glad there are more in the series, although not all them were written by Frank Herbert, some later ones were written by his son. I can’t recommend or comment on these as I haven’t read them. I am aware there is a film version of the book, but again I have not seen it so can’t comment or recommend it, but may be of interest.

[ official Frank Herbert/Dune web site ]


Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Scandinavian Gatherings by Melissa Bahen

Scandinavian Gatherings: From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast – 70 Simple Recipes and Crafts for Everyday Celebrations
by Melissa Bahen [641.594 ScaYb]

The subtitle of this fun book is “From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast: 70 Simple Recipes and Crafts for Everyday Celebrations.” I enjoy reading all kinds of Scandinavian cookbooks, but this one really caught my attention because the author lives in the area of Oregon that my family lives in and talks about my favorite Scandinavian Festival held in Junction City every year. The book is filled with all kinds of authentic recipes, craft ideas and stories perfect to use at holiday celebrations and much more. The photographs and illustrations complement the stories and recipes very well. I highly recommend this book — even if you aren’t Scandinavian!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tasting Hygge: Joyful Recipes for Cozy Days and Nights, by Leela Cyd, and The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, by Meik Wiking]

[ official Scandinavian Gatherings page on the official Melissa Bahen web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Journey / Quest / Return - a picture book trilogy by Aaron Becker

Journey / Quest / Return
by Aaron Becker [jP Becker]


This is a self-contained trilogy of picture books, published over the course of four years — Journey (2013), Quest (2014) and Return (2016). The first book in the story, Journey, was a Caldecott Medal Honor book.

All three of these juvenile books fall into the rare storytelling category of “wordless stories”. Not a single word of dialog appears in any of the three books — character interactions are purely through expressions, gestures and action.

In Journey, a lonely little girl, with a family too busy to be bothered to interact with her, discovered a large stick of bright red artists’ chalk. Using her imagination, she draws a fully-realized doorway into the wall of her bedroom, opens the magical door, and steps through into a gorgeous medieval fantasy world. Using the magic red chalk, she goes on an adventure, drawing rowboats and hot air balloons to provide herself with transportation. Ultimately, she runs afoul of the local totalitarian government when she attempts to rescue a beautiful purple bird from a group of soldiers.

In the second and third books, after returning to the “real world”, the girl joins forces with a boy with magical purple chalk to return to the fantasy world, where they encounter a friendly king, who gives them a map to find additional magical chalks. In their quest to find more colors of the magical chalk, they again are pursued by agents of the oppressive regime that is holding their friendly king prisoner. Finally, the third book pulls the girl’s father into the fantasy realm as he tries to find out what has happened to his daughter, who keeps disappearing for lengthy periods of time.

All three books feature absolutely gorgeous illustrations — the fine detail work on some of the fantasy world settings is breathtaking. The positive approach to having a vivid imagination is very uplifting. And the lack of dialog makes the creativity of Becker’s storytelling impressive. I can’t recommend this trilogy highly enough!

[If you enjoy this, you may also appreciate Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel/picture book The Arrival.] [ official Aaron Becker web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Christmas of the Phonograph Records: A Recollection by Mari Sandoz


Mari Sandoz relates a story of the Christmas a phonograph and records arrived at the farm. Instead of paying debts, Old Jules used an inheritance to splurge on this music. No one else in the area had such a device so everyone from miles around gathered at the Sandoz home. For days visitors ate, danced, and sang to music from their old countries and to new artists.

Published posthumously, this is a riveting peek at a joyful time in what was usually a hard life. A quick read at only 36 pages.

[ official Mari Sandoz Heritage Society web site ]

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Friday, December 22, 2017

The House Without a Christmas Tree (on DVD)

based on the book by Gail Rock [j DVD Rock]

This 1972 season holiday TV-movie, starring Jason Robards, Lisa Lucas and Mildred Natwick, was an annual viewing tradition for my family as I was growing up — it aired on CBS at the Christmas television season throughout the mid-to-late 1970s. Though originally created for the screen, it was subsequently adapated, by Nebraska author Gail Rock, into a best-selling 1974 novel. In fact, The House Without a Christmas Tree was the first of four TV-movies, and was followed by The Thanksgiving Treasure (1973), The Easter Promise (1975) and Addie and the King of Hearts (1976), all of which were novelized by Gail Rock.

However, it is this movie that is the most memorable. 10-year-old Addie Mills lives with her taciturn father James, and her Grandma Mills. James, is still in mourning over the loss of his wife years ago, and had forbidden the presence of a Christmas tree in “his” home. When Addie wins a tree, and all the trimmings, in a school contest, using techniques her father taught her, she’s proud to bring home the tree, only to have James insist it has to go. This leads to a family crisis, as James and his mother (Grandma) disagree over the tree. When Addie secrets slips out in the middle of the night to deliver her winning tree to another family, who are too poor to have a tree of their own — it leads to James realizing that he’s been treating his family badly for years, because of his bitterness over losing his wife.

The performances in this show are tremendous, especially in the relationship between Addie and her father. The story is set in the 1940s, in a fictional small Nebraska town, so there’s a definite local connection for this charming holiday classic, and I’m thrilled to see that The House Without a Christmas Tree is out again on DVD, after having disappeared from TV showings decades ago. If you, also, grew up with this special, it’s definitely worth revisiting. And if you’ve never seen it before, you’ve got a treat to look forward to!

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

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Harry Potter: A Journey Through the History of Magic by J.K. Rowling


Any fan of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series will want to check out this delightful collection of materials published with the assistance of the British Library. Filled with photos of artifacts to illustrate magical terms used throughout Rowling’s books and copies of early drafts of Rowling’s preliminary book outlines, this book helps the reader to see how J.K. Rowling put together her amazing collection of stories about Harry Potter. My favorite part of the whole book was a page which showed an outline for one of her books that J.K. Rowling used to keep the story on track. It is no wonder that the books are considered to be some of the best-written books for youth when one considers the amount of research that went into the creation of each remarkable story. The book is one of the most attractive books I have seen recently. I highly recommend this book.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the Harry Potter novels, or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling.]

 publisher’s official A Journey Through the History of Magic web site ] | [ official J.K. Rowling web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Bagpipes of Christmas by The Monros (on Hoopla)

The Bagpipes of Christmas
by The Munros [Hoopla Digital Music] 

Looking for some ever so slightly different holiday music that’s still familiar? I’d suggest this album to you if you are. It’s just what the title says it is, bagpipe Christmas music, but there are also some Scottish melodies included such as Flower of Scotland, Highland Cathedral, Loch Lomond, and Wild Mountain Thyme. The Christmas songs are rather classic ones like Silent Night, Away in a Manger, The First Noel and Walking in the Air. I really enjoyed this album and think it has a somewhat wide appeal, although not everyone likes the bagpipes. This is available on Hoopla as a download or as streaming audio.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Winter’s Crossing, by James Galway (Compact Disc 781.62 IreYg), Scottish Tranquility, by Phil Coulter (Compact Disc 781.62 ScoC) or December, by George Winston (Compact Disc 781.65 Win).]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

Brave Enough
by Cheryl Strayed [808.882 Str] 

Strayed’s autobiographical book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail was one of my top five favorite reads the year it came out (2012). In Brave Enough, Strayed has some introductory remarks about how she’s collected inspirational quotes from other people’s writings over the years, and how important some of those have because to her — helping her to get past rough patches in her life. For this collection, she has pulled quotes and passages from her own past writings, after friends, colleagues and readers told her that she and her writings were inspirational to them.

The quotes/passages she shares in this small collection range from one-sentence pithy statements, to multi-paragraph explorations of various concepts. Strayed’s writings can be, shall we say, rather salty….so if you’ve got issues with moderately doses of what most people would consider profanity, this collection probably isn’t for you. But if you don’t mind four-letter-words scattered liberally through her self-quotes, Strayed has a lot of very thoughtful things to say. By the time I was done reading this, I had copied several of her statements out that had an impact on me, including “To love and be loved. That is the meaning of life.”, “Put yourself in the way of beauty”, “Trust your gut. Forgive yourself. Be grafteful”, and “Don’t own other people’s crap!”.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Strayed’s other books, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, and Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar.]

[ official Brave Enough page on the official Cheryl Strayed web site ]

Read Tracy T.’s reviews of Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild, from May 2016
Read Scott C.’s review of the movie adaptation of Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, from June 2016

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, December 18, 2017

#famous by Jilly Gagnon

#famous
by Jilly Gagnon [YA Gagnon] 

This is essentially a novelization of the “Alex from Target” story.

Rachel and her friend Mo have a running joke of sending funny pictures to each other via Flit (much like Twitter). Rachel sneaks a picture of Kyle while he’s working at the Burger Barn with the hashtag “I’dlikefrieswithTHAT.” She doesn’t think twice about it, because she has three followers, and Mo doesn’t have very many either. There’s no way anyone else from school will see it, right? To Rachel’s horror, the picture goes viral, everyone sees it (and now knows about her secret crush), Kyle becomes insta-famous, and Rachel becomes the subject of online bullying.

Told in alternating points of view between Rachel and Kyle, this was a cute story. It also brings attention to online bullying, which today, is important for people to be aware of.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Awkward, by Marni Bates.]

[ publisher’s official #famous web page] | [ official Jilly Gagnon web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Magdalena: Reformation by Tini Howard (on Hoopla)

Magdalena: Reformation
by Tini Howard [Hoopla Digital Resources] 

Before I read this I had never heard of this character before so it was pretty fun to read with no preconceptions. Patience, aka Magdalena, is a hero who wields a spear, the Spear of Destiny, which she uses to fight evil and demons. This spear and the role that comes with it have been passed down the blood line of Christ, sort of like the Witchblade but different. During a battle at the beginning of the story Magdalena is hurt by a demon and it’s implied she’s no longer the real spear bearer. She knows that eventually she’ll need to find a successor and pass on her skills and knowledge but she thought she had more time. Conveniently another with the Holy blood living in town comes to her attention and the training begins. The trainee is a community college student trying to live a good life but getting tangled up with perhaps the wrong people. I liked this book and am really curious about the rest of the series. Right now there is no more on Hoopla but they do add new books regularly, so who knows if more will appear. If you are looking for a really good graphic novel with religious mythology and or if you like Witchblade (they are set in the same universe and have crossed over before), you’ll probably enjoy this.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Fathom, a graphic novel series by Michael Turner, also on Hoopla, Witchblade, a graphic novel series on Hoopla or Aphrodite IX: Rebirth Vol. 1 & 2, more graphic novels on Hoopla.R]

[ official Magdelena web site ] | [ official Tini Howard web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ghost on the Case by Carolyn Hart (audiobook on CD)

Ghost on the Case
by Carolyn Hart [Compact Disc Hart] 

In the eighth entry in Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth Raeburn mystery series, the dearly departed ghost, Bailey Ruth — correction, “heavenly emissary” — returns to her long-ago hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma, to assist a young woman about to be involved in dire events. As usual, Bailey Ruth’s charge ends up the chief suspect in a murder, and Bailey Ruth has to use the skills she’s built from having been a life-long (and death-long) mystery reader, to try to assist the police in uncovering who the true culprit is.

While I did enjoy this one — Ann Marie Lee’s audiobook narration again brings the characters to vivid life — the series is becoming just a tad formulaic, and this particular volume seemed to involve a lot of repetition of the same plot points, over and over. Still…seeing Bailey Ruth interact with Chief Sam Cobb, who’s become remarkably calm about getting assistance from an otherwordly spirit, makes this one more than worthwhile. The plot here isn’t as important as the interactions of the characters, and Carolyn Hart remains a master of developing interesting casts of characters!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the earlier volumes in the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series, by Carolyn Hart.]

[ official Bailey Ruth Raeburn page on the official Carolyn Hart web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Friday, December 15, 2017

A Charlie Brown Christmas (on DVD)

A Charlie Brown Christmas
[DVD j741.5 Sch 2002 (and) Hoopla] 

Don’t let the cataloging designation dissuade you from re-watching (or watching for the first time) this now classic “Peanuts” story. Originally quite innovative for its jazzy score, animation style, and content when it premiered in 1966, this exploration of what the Christmas observance “is all about” holds up to the test of time very well. The trials and triumphs of Charlie Brown and his child peers are translatable to all ages and many experiences and they offer some enduring lessons about community, acceptance, and faith.

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

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

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Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Leia, Princess of Alderaan
by Claudia Gray [j Gray]

If Leia Organa were a real person, she would want Claudia Gray as her biographer. Claudia Gray has already proven to be a captivating writer with her earlier works (including Lost Stars and Bloodline). She continues her excellence with Leia, Princess of Alderaan. The novel is part coming-of-age story and part political thriller with elements of teen romance and drama thrown in. Though written for a younger audience, I can’t imagine an older reader not enjoying this book just as much. The plot revolves around a 16-year old Leia going through the rites to prove herself as a worthy heir to the throne of Alderaan. She has encountered some tension with her parents as of late. During the events of the novel, she discovers this tension stems from her parents involvement in activities to oppose the Empire. The novel tells the story of how she comes to be involved in what come to be known as the Rebellion. It cannot be overstated at just how gifted Claudia Gray is at bringing her characters to life. I was especially impressed at the portrayal of Breha Organa, Leia’s mother. I don’t know that any author has featured Breha at length before. Claudia Gray provides her a most welcome introduction. If Disney ever decides to make a movie about Leia, it would be criminal for them to not use this novel as the basis of the plot. I give this novel my highest recommendation and consider it a near must-read for any Star Wars fan.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tarkin, by James Luceno, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, by Alexander Freed or Bloodline, by Claudia Gray.]
 
[ official Claudia Gray web site ] | [ official Books & Comics section of StarWars.com web site ]
 
See our massive Star Wars Reading List booklist on BookGuide!

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, November 28, 2017

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus [YA McManus] 

Five high-school students walk into a detention and only four of them emerge alive.
What happens when a student dies, four people had a motive for wanting him silenced, and no one knows exactly what happened? Simon is an outcast, who has created a gossip app featuring other students from Bayview High School. No one can verify that what he posts is true, but no one has ever proven it’s not. Using this app, Simon has made life miserable for more than one student in Bayview. On Monday, Simon dies during detention. The police find out that, on Tuesday, Simon had planned to post secrets about each of his four classmates who were also in detention with him. One of them clearly did not want their secret shared, but which one? Bronwyn, the brain, is counting on a scholarship to Harvard, and never breaks rules. Addy, the beauty, is popular and liked by everyone. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing drugs. Cooper, the athlete, is Bayview’s star pitcher.

This is told through alternating viewpoints of each of the four students. The reader constantly questions each person’s story, and wonders whose perspective can be trusted. The reader is gripped to the end.

[ publisher’s official One of Us is Lying web site ] | [ official Karen McManus web site ]

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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Monday, November 27, 2017

The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie

The Labors of Hercules
by Agatha Christie

I’m not usually a fan, for some reason, of the Poirot novels that consist of short stories, even though I really enjoy the Sherlock Homes stories which are mostly all short. I did like this novel however and I think it was because there was a common thread running through; each story was a play on of the 12 labors of Hercules. At the start of the novel Hercule Poirot is chatting to someone who remarks on his first name, and how it reminded him of Hercules. Poirot admits to not having read the stories of Hercules before, so he sits down to and decides to set himself 12 tasks to mirror those of Hercules, thusly framing the book. As I’ve said before, this is a series you can read in any order, so no worries if you’ve never read Poriot before. I don’t think I’d use the word cozy to describe them, but they are light and non-graphic mysteries. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Hugh Fraser, who does such a good job that when I listen to a Poirot book that’s not performed by him it just doesn’t sound right.

[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: The Nebraska Book Awards (2017) and One Book One Nebraska Finalists (2018)


On October 20th, 2017, at the Bethany BooksTalk Group, Erin W., curator of the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors, presented a booktalk focused on authors from our Cornhusker state.

Her talk featured two different elements -- the five finalists for the One Book - One Nebraska for 2018, and the 2017 winners in multiple categories of the Nebraska Book Awards (for books published in 2016).

You can see a cumulative list of all the winners of the Nebraska Book Awards on our Award Winners page on the BookGuide web site.

You can see the list from Erin's booktalk at the following link:

The Nebraska Book Awards (2017) and One Book One Nebraska Finalists (2018)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: Fall Into a Good Book - 2017

On September 1st, 2017 at the Bethany BooksTalk group, and September 25th, 2017 at the Gere BooksTalk group, South Branch's Marcy G. presented a booktalk featuring some of her favorite recent reads.

You can see her booklist, featuring 18 books -- mainly mysteries -- at the following link:

Fall Into a Good Book - 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love (on DVD)


From Paris with Love, from 2015, continues the Hallmark stories of the fictional postal lost letter department team, as seen in Signed, Sealed, Delivered the movie, the series, and more made for TV movies. This “series” is one of our family all-time favorites. I never tire of watching these family-friendly stories with some comedy, drama, and a little light romance. It brings back good memories partly because my husband worked for the U.S. Postal Service for half of his career. Each character has his or her own lovable quirks, and they get some pretty interesting mail delivered every time, although some of it has been lost for five to ten years or more!.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Complete Series, Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (2014), One in a Million (2016) or From the Heart (2017). Other TV series you might enjoy: The Middle, and Last Man Standing.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love web page ]

Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe

A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression
by Jane Ziegelman & Andrew Coe [973.917 Zie]

Did you know: Bread lines existed in New York City long before the Depression; Spanish Rice doesn’t really have anything to do with Spain; Home Extension Agents in Iowa were all women prior to 1930; Spring Fever is an actual physical malady; “mystery” loaves made from assorted leftovers were a common food and budget stretcher long before the 1950s; Milkwheato, Milkoato and Milkorno were actual cereal products, first introduced in 1933?

Writing partners and spouses Coe and Ziegelman have served up an informative plateful of US food history with this look at the specific period of the 1930s and early 1940s and assorted points before and after. Sifting through what must have been a mountain of materials, they have come up with a readable dissection of the changing of American eating habits over time and what factors influenced it. Plus, there are a lot of culinary trivia tidbits thrown in.

Relief/Subsistence programs, whether local, state or national, were predicated on the assumption that they would meet _temporary_ needs. Due to the combination of bad weather, a stricken economy, and poor administration and/or structure of some programs in the between-the-wars era, these needs went on for years. People receiving food assistance had to deal with the stigma of dependency — embarrassment, restrictions that seemed arbitrary or severe, and the “depressing routine of organized charity”. At the same time, Home Economics, most of whose practitioners were women, came to the fore and was a boon to many of the challenges that so many people, especially housewives, were facing.

The authors, unavoidably, also touch on the politics of the times, from President Hoover’s penchant for having gourmet meals in the White House while hewing to a charity-begins-at-home conservatism in public, to Gen. MacArthur’s [yes, THAT Gen. MacArthur] forcible removal of the “Bonus Army” encampment of World War I veterans who had journeyed to Washington DC to request better aid. Interspersed throughout the narrative are song lyrics apropos to the times and situations detailed.
Over all, this is an educational and eye-opening examination of a pivotal period in our nation’s food and nutrition history as well as our general socio-economic-political past. “Eleven-cent cotton and forty-cent meat, How in the world can a poor man eat?”

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The National Cookbook by Sheila Hibben (1932) — link connects to a digitized version of this classic cookbook online, and America Eats! : On the Road with the WPA : The Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts That Define Real American Food (not currently in LCL — try our InterLibrary Loan service!)]

[ official A Square Meal web site ] | [ publisher’s official Jane Ziegelman web site ]

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt 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!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The New Camp Cookbook by Linda Ly

The New Camp Cookbook: Gourmet Grub for Campers, Road Trippers and Adventurers
by Linda Ly (photography by Will Taylor) [641.578 Ly] 


Every wonder what would happen if you turned a gourmet chef loose at a weekend campground? The New Camp Cookbook is one possible result.

Linda Ly offers up 90 delicious sounding recipes that are supposedly capable of being cooked while out in the wilderness (with caveats), while photographer Will Taylor accompanies over half of Ly’s recipes with absolutely gorgeous images of the finished dishes. Ly first provides an extensive introduction identifying the cooking equipment necessary for her recipes — 12″ skillet, 2 quart saucepan, 4 quart stockpot, 6 quart Dutch Oven, metal skewers and a roll of aluminum foil. She also identifies the pantry items (beyond the specific main ingredients) needed to fully realize her dishes — spices, sweeteners, aromatics, condiments, canned goods, quick-cooking sides, and beverages. Her recommendations for items that can be used as “flavor bombs” include citrus zest, compound butters, strong cheeses and nuts. She then goes into how to start and maintain a fire for an open grill, how to best cook packages wrapped in foil, how to cook in a Dutch Oven, and how to cook with a camp stove (like a Coleman stove).

Finally, on page 40, the recipes start, and she breaks them into types of meals — Rise and Shine (breakfasts), Midday Meals, Small Bites (afternoon snacks), Camp Feasts (dinner), and Sips & Sweets (beverages and desserts). Recipes range from incredibly simple — for instance “Grilled Guacamole”, where the avocado and onions are char-grilled before being diced and combined with seasonings for a traditional smoky guac — to moderately complex — “Grilled French Toast and Bacon Bites” (on skewers) — to quite complex — “Korean Flank Steak with Sriracha-Picked Cucumbers”. While the concept of this book is “cooking in wild wide-open spaces”, I can’t see many of these recipes working in a truly rustic environment, say someplace you have to hike to get to, or “pack in” your gear. However, at the beach, or a campsite, where you can have your car parked nearby, in which you hauled all the cooking supplies, these would be great! Or cooking out with your grill in your own backyard — some of these recipes would be marvelous!

I’d love to have a camp-out cook-out day filled with the following scrumptious recipes from this book: “Peanut Butter-Stuffed French Toast with Honeyed Blackberries” and a side of “Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pancetta Hash” for breakfast; “Foil-Pack Salmon with Pineapple Salsa” for lunch; an afternoon snack of “Grilled Guacamole” or possibly “Peak-of-Summer Peach Caprese Salad”; an evening meal of either “Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil, Tomatoes and Orzo” or “Dutch Over Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs”, with a “Summer Ale Sangria with Ginger and Peach”. And to finish off a day at the lake, or a casual evening after hiking, either gourmet S’Mores, or “Applelicious Dutch Baby“. Even if you don’t anticipate tying on a chef’s apron on your next visit to a camping site at one of our marvelous State Parks or Recreation Areas, you may still find some recipes here that strike your fancy!

[ Lynda Ly’s official Garden Betty web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman (downloadable audiobook)

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman
by Lindy West [Downloadable Audio] 

This book looks like it could be the opposite of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts… but it’s not! Since I loved Cain’s audiobook, I thought my best place to start Shrill would be with the chapter titled How to Stop Being Shy in Eighteen Easy Steps. That worked out well for me, as I ended up listening to all of Shrill and finding out, thankfully, that the ideas presented in these two titles are not mutually exclusive. Lindy West does a nice job of bringing to light some feminist issues that haven’t been talked about frequently enough, such as body image, class and color privilege, and the humans behind those nasty troll comments on the internet. Her writing is humorous throughout, and I am glad I got to learn from her perspective as a fat activist.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson, Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby or Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, by Jess Baker.]

[ official Lindy West web site ]

Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley and Williams Branch Libraries

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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, November 20, 2017

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (on DVD)

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas
[DVD Signed]

We enjoyed the Signed, Sealed, Delivered made-for-TV movie and TV series so much, and have seen all of the related movies since. My husband delivered mail in Lincoln during college at UNL, and later returned as a mail handler for the USPS. These stories are full of good fun and humor, with a little bit of mystery and light romance included. I’m pretty sure I would not get bored watching one of these movies every day, if I had the time!.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish enjoy the other TV-movies in this series: From Paris With Love, One in a Million or From the Heart. The pilot and 10-episode series preceded this volume.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Signed, Sealed, Delivered: For Christmas web site ]

Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library

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

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New BooksTalk Booklist: The Man Booker Prize Nominees 2017

On October 23rd, 2017, at the Gere BooksTalks, and on October 27th at the Bethany BooksTalk group, Jodi R. presented a talk featuring the finalists on the "short list" for the 2017 Man Booker Prize (and the Man Booker International Prize).

You can see here list of Man Booker Prize nominees at the following booklist link:

The Man Booker Prize Nominees -- a Booktalk