Link to our Facebook Page
Link to our Twitter Page
Link to our Pinterest Page
Link to our Flickr Page
Link to our Youtube Page

Staff Recommendations

BG Staff Rec Banner

The Bennett Martin Public Library downtown maintains an ongoing “Staff Recommendations” display – Staff from throughout the library system are encouraged to submit book, audio, CD and DVD/video recommendations for items to be placed onto this display. Items on the display have bookmarks inserted, giving brief descriptions about the item’s appeal factors, and listing similar books, audios or videos that the reader might also enjoy.

This page on BookGuide is used to highlight some of the items that have appeared on our Staff Recommendations displays in the past, including our staff members’ descriptions of the books, plus links to any “official Web sites” for the books, authors or series, if they exist*. Items on both the display and on this webpage may be recent releases, or older titles that deserve another look. Hotlinks on titles or formats (downloadable audio, book-on-CD, Large Print) connect to the appropriate entry in our on-line catalog, so that you may check on the availability of the item.

INDEXES TO PAST STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: BY TITLE | BY REVIEWER | TV SERIES/SPECIALS ON DVD/VHS | AGATHA CHRISTIE | STAR TREK | STAR WARS

Would you like to submit your own Rating Score or Review Comments on one of this month’s titles?
Click here to visit our Reader Score submission form! | Click here to submit an original Customer Review!

July 2018 Recommendations

hooplaRed Sonja Worlds Away, Volume 1
by Amy Chu [Hoopla Digital]

This graphic novel is the beginning of Dynamite’s Red Sonja volume four. In the first few issues Red Sonja, barbarian from fantasy times past, is in battle with a sorcerer named Kulan Gath. During the battle she is transported to modern day NYC, meets and befriends a cop, makes some other friends and has a face off again with Kulan Gath, who also had been transported to NYC, although quite a while earlier. At first I really liked it as a fish out of water story. They even had her speaking in Hyrcanian rather than English, so there were language barriers amidst the multiple Sonja versus authority encounters. I thought it was neat that through this language barrier she finds a police officer who can understand and talk to her in Hyrcanian. We later find out that he too was transported (as a very young child) to NYC from Sonja’s world and while he can’t remember this, he does remember his birth parents and their language. They team up and have no problem finding Gath has he’s a multimillionaire whose name everyone knows. While I liked the idea here and the early issues did get me hooked on the story, it started to drag on a little too much. I also didn’t like that there was a switch somewhere that Sonja could all of a sudden speak English perfectly. I understand gradually learning words and phrases, but the language barrier went out the window before this novel was over. It is in my opinion not worth re-reading, as I enjoy the older Red Sonja comics by Marvel too much, however if you have not read Red Sonja before and don’t like barbarians very well, but do like strong female leads in modern day settings, you this might be for you.

[ official Amy Chu web site ]

revscore6

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


hooplaRed Sonja Worlds Away, Volume 2
by Amy Chu [Hoopla Digital]

This graphic novel is volume two of Dynamite’s Red Sonja volume four (titled Worlds Away) and includes issues seven to eleven. If you are going to read this you really should read issues 1-6 first as it’ll be confusing if you don’t. In the previous book Sonja befriends a NYC police officer who gets transported somewhere during the last few pages. Sonja and her new modern day friends set off on a road trip to find him. It was a road trip that felt like a road trip because I kept asking myself if they were there yet; it should not take six issues to travel from NYC to California, even side tracking to take down a gang, which they do. I thought it was OK in the last book having Sonja in the modern day, but the story just drags and involves so many modern settings, sub plots, characters and dialog, that I don’t care for at all. It got very irritating after a while as I just wanted her to go back home, change out the yoga pants and use her sword again. You may like it if you haven’t read Red Sonja before, but like Dr. Who and time travel stories, but if you like Red Sonja as a barbarian by Dynamite or especially by Marvel Comics (from the 70s and 80s), then I just can’t recommend this at all.

[If you like this you might like Legendary, by Bill Willingham. It also stars Red Sonja, with other characters, in a world not their own – a steampunk one. I reviewed it a while ago and like this I didn’t care for it, but it reminds me of this one as they are set outside the character’s normal worlds.] [ official Amy Chu web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


I’ve Got You Under My Skin
by Mary Higgins Clark [Clark]

I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark is the first of an exciting series, with five volumes out so far.

Laurie Moran knows firsthand what it feels like to live without closure of a loved one’s murder. Five years ago, her husband was murdered in front of their then three-year-old son Timmy. Timmy still has nightmares about “Blue Eyes,” the only distinguishing feature of the killer. Laurie is haunted, not only by the questions of who and why but also the killer’s last words to Timmy, “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn.”

As producer of the new show Under Suspicion, Laurie examines murder cases which have gone cold. By getting viewpoints from friends and family of the victim, Laurie hopes that her show can bring new light to unsolved cases. The first episode is to feature Betsy Powell, who was killed 20 years ago after the graduation gala of her daughter and three friends. As details begin to emerge from each of the people who was in the house that night, Laurie learns that each of them had their own reasons for wanting Betsy dead.

Laurie hopes that Under Suspicion will not only capture audiences when it airs, but more importantly, bring the killer to justice. The show has already caught the attention of a pair of blue eyes…

Laurie Moran is a down to earth character that audiences will relate to. The authors do a good job balancing the heaviness of the cases with Laurie’s family life and coworkers, which bring lightness and humor to the book. The suspects are presented, and the reader is allowed to draw their own conclusions before the killer is revealed in an exciting conclusion. As the other books in this series feature the same main characters as I’ve Got You Under My Skin, readers who enjoy this title will certainly enjoy others in the series. Aside the novels that she has written with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, this is the first book that Mary Higgins Clark has co-authored.

[Note: Although this first entry is written only by Mary Higgins Clark, all subsequent volumes in the series are co-written by Clark and Alafair Burke.] [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly, A is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton or Desert Heat, by J.A. Jance.] [ official “Under Suspicion” series page on the official Mary Higgins Clark web site ]

revscore8

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way
by Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer [Music 782.14 Fro]

For anyone who is a fan of classic Broadway history, this is an essential read. In the grand historical tradition of previous “oral histories”, the Frommers gathered the remembrances of dozens of Broadway luminaries — both on stage, and behind the scenes — and in this volume they let those memories flow. Sometimes the effect can be of letting Carol Channing go on a stream-of-consciousness ramble, or Celeste Holm recollect how she got her role in the original cast of Oklahoma, sometimes it’s the children of famous Broadway composers and lyricists, remembering what their noteworthy parents’ creative processes were like — growing up hearing Dad tinkle out future Broadway hit songs on the piano in his home office.

There’s a strong feeling of sitting around a cozy living room, listening to Broadway legends tell their personal little stories in this volume. Originally published in 1998, and re-printed in 2004, It Happened on Broadway captures the history of Broadway from the earliest days of vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley, up through the mid-1980s. This volume is definitely oriented towards readers who have at least a passing knowledge of Broadway’s movers and shakers in the mid-20th century. Fortunately, it also includes a Who’s Who index at the front of the book, giving nutshell biographies of all the folks who are quoted throughout the book. The oral history recollections are then broken into thematic sections, including: “Broadway Calling” (break-in stories), “Look, Look, Look Who’s Dancin’ Now”, “The X Factor” (what makes certain performers unique), “That’s the Craft” (behind-the-scenes lore from the folks whose hard work allows the actors to shine), and so much more.

This is a marvelous historical volume. My only complaint is that it ends with the 1980s — Broadway, in many ways, has re-created itself in the past 3 decades, and it would have been nice, especially in the 2004 reprint edition that I read, to share more recent stories. Otherwise, this is marvelous fun and I highly recommend it. Rather than a dry and studious volume on theatrical trends, this is a collection of memories from the folks who actually put on the shows…and the love they have for the business of the theatre shines through!

[ official It Happened on Broadway web site ] | [ page dedicated to The Frommers at Dartmouth ]

revscore8

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


The Outsider
by Stephen King [Downloadable Audio]

I don’t consider many of Stephen King’s books to be actual “mysteries” in the technical sense, where you’re wondering throughout the story “whodunit.” But this is, indeed, a mystery. And I loved it! It had all those elements that, I believe, a good mystery should have–all the forensic details, the eliminations of suspects, and the tracking down of elements of proof, etc. Sometimes, the way those things are put together make a fabulous story, and sometimes they’re just, what I call, “meh.” I found this story to be, undoubtedly, FABULOUS!!!

Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for any Stephen King novel. I can’t help it. It’s like he’s speaking directly to me–like he sat me down and said, “Tracy, I’m going to tell you a story.” And, just like that, I’m on the edge of my seat from beginning to end! This book was no different, despite the fact that I’m not typically a lover of mysteries. (It’s not that I don’t like them–it’s just that I don’t seek them out to read, and I’m a little picky about the authors.)

This book DOES have an added bonus, which I won’t spoil. I’ll only point out that IF you’ve read the Mr. Mercedes series, you’ll be in for a surprise. (On the other hand, if you haven’t read that series, the book stands alone quite well.)

I’d give this book three or four thumbs up if I could; but since I only have two, I’ll give it two thumbs up! 🙂

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Joyland, also by Stephen King.] [ official The Outsider page on the official Stephen King web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


The Last Battle
by C.S. Lewis [j Lewis]

Undeniably the last in the Narnia series as it’s the last published and the last chronologically. After reading it I can’t disagree; unlike some others in the series I strongly recommend you read all the others before this one. It begins in Narnia with a gorilla named Shift and a donkey named Puzzle who comes across a lion skin and Shift decides to dress Puzzle in it and pretend he’s Aslan so people will do what they say. Puzzle doesn’t like it at all but is very weak willed and goes along with it. Things get rather out of hand pretty quickly and word spreads that Aslan is back in Narnia. As he hasn’t been seen in so long others believe the clumsy disguise. The present king of Narnia, Tirian, is alerted to the situation and terrible things begin to happen. Tirian calls out for help and the two English children from the last book (The Silver Chair) arrive in Narnia to aid him in the final battle. There are more surprises and more characters from previous books that appear in the middle and end of the book that I don’t want to reveal. This book was much less subtle about religious overtones and themes than others in the series and has bittersweet ending. I feel like the whole series wraps up nicely and no one we cared for before is forgotten about, which I liked. I really recommend the book and the series if you want to read some classic fantasy stories, maybe looking for familiar tropes that originated here.

[ official The Last Battle page on the official C.S. Lewis web site ]

revscore8

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Pet Friendly
by Sue Pethick [not currently in Lincoln City Libraries’ collection — try InterLibrary Loan]

If you like the Hallmark Channel’s romance and light mystery movies, or the tone and devices of “Murder, She Wrote”, this short novel should appeal to you and would be a handy vacation/beach read. A combination of modern G/PG-rated romance, a non-homicidal mystery, and a lovable little dog, this story gives the male protagonist as much or more consideration as the female ‘heroine’. The basic setup involves a 30-ish game-app millionaire in ‘retirement’ who inherits a very intelligent dog and then literally stumbles upon a vacation inn from his youth, along with the woman owner who became his first love there. Throw in his self-absorbed fianceé, the tricky pooch, and a paranormal convention and let the complications ensue. This is a quick and entertaining read, although I had an issue with some of the characters’ names and the sparse treatment of some of the characters’ backgrounds. Also, the conclusion seemed rushed and was incomplete at tying up all of the dangling plot threads. Nicely, however, a bonus section at the back of the book describes the website gopetfriendly.com and gives a lot of suggestions for traveling with pets.

This title is not currently in Lincoln City Libraries’ collection but can be acquired through Interlibrary Loan in print or as an audiobook.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Unleashing Mr. Darcy, by Teri Wilson, the Chet and Bernie mystery series, by Spenser Quinn, the Pet Rescue mystery series, by Linda O. Johnston, the Animal Magnetism romance series, by Jill Shalvis or the Rescue Me romance series, by Debbie Burns.] [ official Pet Friendly page on the official Sue Pethick web site ]

revscore7

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


Legends, Icons & Rebels
by Robbie Robertson and others [j781.66 Rob]

This is a marvelous snapshot of Rock n’ Roll music history, and I’m surprised to find it only in the libraries’ “youth” collection! I’d read a glowing review of this book, and therefore wanted to give it a try myself. Legends, Icons & Rebels focuses on 25 different individuals, and 2 groups, that the editors consider to be the most influential in the early years of the evolving popular music culture. Each performer/group gets four pages in this oversized “coffee table” book. The first two pages are a gorgeous “splash page” with the performer/group illustrated by various pop artists, and a “pull quote” from the editors. The remain two pages for each entry are a short “nutshell” overview of why that artist or group should be considered significant, and a recommended playlist of their songs. The back of the book includes two CDs that collect a single “groundbreaking” song from each of the profiled musicans/groups.

This book is absolutely gorgeous, and the artists being profiled as an incredible cross-section of American musical history. To highlight just a sampling of them would be unfair, so here’s a list of the individuals and groups you’ll find in this tome: Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley, Buddy Holly, Joni Mitchell, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Curtis Mayfield, Billie Holiday, Little Richard, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Carole King, Sam Cooke, Louis Jordan, The Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding, Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan.

[ publisher’s official Legends, Icons & Rebels web page ]

revscore9

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Screening Room

formatdvdColossal
[DVD Colossal]

This is an artsy, introspective sci-fi film that wants to be much more than it can pull off. Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, an aimless writer for an online magazine, and alcohol abuser. When her excesses cause her long-time boyfriend to break up with her and eject her from his townhouse, Gloria returns to the small New England town where she grew up, to try to collect herself and figure out what to do next with her life. Shortly after returning, she encounters Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), an old grade-school classmate of hers, currently running a struggling local tavern. As Gloria finds a place in her new life, connecting with Oscar and his friends Joel (Austin Stowell) and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson), she continues to drink too much and not remember anything the next day.

This part is critical, because on the other side of the world, bizarre events begin — a “colossal” 60′ tall monster has begun appearing in Seoul, South Korea and wreaking havoc, injuring people and destroying buildings, before mysteriously vanishing. Initially horrified, Gloria becomes obsessed with the fact that the monster’s appearances seem to coincide with her own drunken visits to a nearby small playground. She runs tests that confirm to her that the monster’s appearances in Seoul at 8:05 a.m. Eastern time precisely match her own actions. When she tells (and shows) her new small circle of friends about this, things take an unfortunate turn for the worse.

The performances in Colossal are all terrific, particularly Hathaway and Sudeikis. Unfortunately, the characters all become highly unlikable and go down paths that are increasingly depressing. There are moments of comic levity, and moments of introspection, as Gloria tries to sober up and take responsibility for the chaos she’s unleashed on the other side of the world. But in the end, no matter how well made the film is…it’s still vaguely depressing. Still I’m glad I watched it as a DVD from the library, and do recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different.

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

revscore6

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdCrooked House
based on the novel by Agatha Christie [DVD Crooked]

This is a stylish and well-done adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s most twisted and complex mysteries. Charles Hayward (Max Irons) is a former diplomat/spy, who’s retired and taken up private investigation. He is called in try to determine who could have poisoned the ruthless head of a wealthy and powerful family. Hayward has to negotiate hazardous waters in his investigation, as numerous family members and associates all have deadly motives for wanting the victim dead, and Hayward actually has connections to some of them

This is a marvelous cast, including such noteworthy actors as Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, Terrance Stamp, Julian Sands and Gillian Anderson. The production design (sets, costume, hair, makeup, etc.) is superb, and director Giles Paquet-Brenner keeps the pacing sharp and the tension high. Casual fans of the mysteries of Agatha Christie may think only of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, when they hear Christie’s name. But Dame Agatha also had a large number of stand-alone mystery/thriller volume, and Crooked House is among the better of those. If you haven’t sampled one of Christie’s non-series volume, I highly recommend this film.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the recent Christie adaptations Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None or Witness For the Prosecution] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

revscore9

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdWhat About Bob?
[DVD What]

Bill Murray has built a career on playing wacky, oddball comic characters, starting in sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, and with such hits as Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and so many more. In more recent years, though he’s remained “quirky”, he’s branched out into some acclaimed, serious, dramatic roles, in such films as Rushmore, Lost in Translation, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and Hyde Park on Hudson.

I’ll have to admit, my favorite Murray performances are those where he’s a little looser in his comedy. My favorite two Bill Murray movies are Groundhog Day (1993) and this one, What About Bob? (1991), which he did back-to-back. Murray’s offbeat chemistry (as out-of-control neurotic Bob Wiley) with Richard Dreyfuss (as uptight therapist Dr. Leo Marvin) is marvelous.

Ultimately, this is almost slapstick farce in nature, and the humor is very broad at times. But, this is still one of those movies that I laugh at every single time I see it!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Groundhog Day, or any of the dozens of other Bill Murray comedies.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

revscore9

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated July 2018
* Please Note: The presence of a link on this site does not constitute an endorsement by Lincoln City Libraries.

bgbottombanner1000