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Staff Recommendations – February 2017

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

February 2017 Recommendations

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
by Mitch Albom [Compact Disc Albom]

The author uses vivid imagination to inspire and inform the reader of this great fictional guitarist. I had empathy for Frankie; several important family secrets were kept from him for much of his “life”. The mention of celebrated musicians he met and worked with gives a feeling of authenticity. I’ve read that he has become so well-known that some think he was real. His story is read by a host of talented people, as it is told from many perspectives. You may just recognize several of the readers, and that’s another reason I liked the story.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Richard Paul Evans, Nicholas Sparks, John GroganPaulo Coehlo, or Diana Athill’s biography Somewhere Towards the End, or other works by Albom, particularly The Five People You Meet in Heaven.)

( official The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto page on the official Mitch Albom web site )

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Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


Death on the Nile
by Agatha Christie

It’s not just one death on the Nile. Is it revenge or is it something else? Revenge seems plausible since the first victim stole the fiancé of her best friend who proceeded to follow the new couple everywhere – even on their honeymoon, a boat voyage along the Nile. She’s even carrying a gun and stated how she’d shot victim one because she can’t stand anyone else having her man. But she has an alibi. Thank goodness Poirot is aboard the boat to get to the bottom of things. There were a lot of smaller mysteries to solve along the way in this story which was fun. It was a good story, though the ending maybe not be quite as surprising as some others in the series. I think it’s still worth reading if a mystery set among the pyramids and the Nile sounds nice. As usual with Agatha Christie it’s not a graphic murder mystery novel, but more of a light puzzler.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia or Appointment With Death. Both star the Belgian detective away from England.)

( official Death on the Nile page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Star Wars ReviewsRogue One: A Star Wars Story
by Alexander Freed

Novelizations of movies are often something of a mixed bag. Happily, “Rogue One” is a well-done novelization. My recommendation would be to read James Luceno’s novel “Catalyst” to have a good background for watching the movie “Rogue One”. After seeing the movie, read this novel. It does a good job of detailing things that one may have missed when watching the movie. Overall, this is a solid, well-paced book that can stand on its own; but it’s better enjoyed as part of the overall Star Wars story.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel and Tarkin, both by James Luceno.)

( publisher’s fficial Rogue One novelization web page ) | ( official Alexander Freed web site )

See more books like this on our Star Wars: The Reading List booklist

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Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library


We Love You, Charlie Freeman
by Kaitlyn Greenidge

This book has a weird premise. Once you get past it…

Mr. & Mrs. Freeman surprise their daughters one day by letting them know the family’s moving to rural Massachusetts to teach a chimpanzee to speak sign language. Before the move, these girls went to school with plenty of other kids who looked like them and understood them. Now they’re in the minority like they never have been before, and they’ve got to treat this chimpanzee like a brother.

The girls are each struggling to come into their own, and struggling to feel wanted by their parents who signed up for this job. They can’t really talk about why it’s weird to act like the chimpanzee is their brother now, and they feel like Mom is coddling him more than she ever did them.

This book is strongly written in a way that helps us examine the parts of American culture that we still struggle with. The author is discussing racism from an odd viewpoint, but in a way that is maybe easier to digest. I personally felt that I would need to read this book a few times to really understand some of the lessons the author is trying to share with us.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Sellout, by Paul Beatty.)

( publisher’s official We Love You, Charlie Freeman web site ) | ( publisher’s Caitlyn Greenidge web page )

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Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley and Williams Branch Libraries


The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

I don’t often read war-time historical fiction, yet this book was so good that I had to finish it. Two sisters and their family are living in France during the second world war and they must do some uncomfortable things to help the Allied cause, especially after a German officer decides to stay in their home. Near the end of the story the author flashes ahead to a time when they are much older. This book was really interesting and I felt many emotions. I look forward to reading more of Ms Hannah’s works.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try these authors: Ann Brashares, Jodi Picoults, Sandra Steffen, or Barbara Delinsky.)

( official Kristin Hannah and The Nightingale web site )

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Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


I’ll Take You There
by Wally Lamb

Felix Funicello, a character from Wishin’ and Hopin’, is visited in the cinema by the ghost of Lois Weber. Ms. Weber was a director of Hollywood fame during the silent film era, and she has an assignment for Felix. Through watching films of his life, and sometimes being place into the films, he’s able to see his own family and culture with the gift of hindsight and different perspectives. He comes to have more appreciation for how the ideals for women have impacted his own sisters, daughter, and ex-wife. An appreciation for the feminist movement in different eras is heightened through his reflections.

( official I’ll Take You There book trailer ) | ( official Wally Lamb web site )

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Recommended by Jodi R.
Gere Branch Library


The Wyrd Sisters
by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series is fairly lengthy with over forty titles. The series can be broken down into smaller groups based on who the main character(s) is (are) and where in the Disc World it’s set. This book is part one of the witches sub-series. There are two older witches and a younger trainee witch and in this novel, they place a baby prince with a couple who agree to raise him as their own. For their own safety, and the prince’s, they don’t tell the new parents the baby’s true identity nor that his father had been murdered. Over time the dead king, who is now a ghost, and the witches bring the truth to light about the murder and the real identity of the prince. There is also a love story involving the king’s fool and the trainee witch. I’d say there are a lot of goings on throughout the story, which is not separated by chapters or even much of a break in the page. It’s very continuous in that way so at times I got a bit confused when the scene had changed abruptly without much visual break on the page, but I would not say it’s a negative, it’s just different. I did enjoy this book as it’s full of humorous dialog and funny situations. The plot itself is really funny, especially at the very end with the big identity twists. I’d read one other Pratchett before (Small Gods) and was not too eager to try him again, but I got talked into it and I don’t regret it. If you are looking for something funny and kind of off the wall with witches, ghosts, Death personified, and a training school for assassins, maybe this is your book.

Other books in the Witches’ series are Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum. I have not yet read these but have been told that they are best read in order, starting with Wyrd Sisters. They do appear in Equal Rights, Wee Freemen, and Hat Full of Sky, but the Terry Pratchett fan I know (whose read the whole Disc World series) suggested I skip out on these (the later two are written for teens).

( official Terry Pratchett Books web site )

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


My Life on the Road
by Gloria Steinem [Compact Disc Biography Steinem (also Downloadable Audio)]

Gloria Steinem reads the introduction to this autobiography, then actress Demi Moore takes over to read the remainder. I found listening to the eight CDs to be empowering, informative, and hopeful. The autobiography featured signs of hope that overcame hardships, inequality and tragedies throughout the decades of Steinem’s life. I was impressed by how easy it was to relate to the author’s life lessons, and was grateful she gave credit to the diverse people through which they were given. Demi Moore’s voice was a wonderful selection for reading these CDs and the downloadable audio available through Lincoln City Libraries. I completed this with a vast amount of new knowledge, as well as launching points for more people and historical eras I want to research further.

( publisher’s official My Life on the Road web site ) | ( official Gloria Steinem web site )

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Recommended by Jodi R.
Gere Branch Library


The Gilded Years
by Karin Tanabe

Venture into a world of great opportunity and great risk in The Gilded Years. Based on real people and events, it’s the story of the first known woman with any Negro heredity to graduate from Vassar College. In that turbulent but promising era just before the turn of the 20th Century, we become privy to young Anita Hemmings’ dreams and what she does to fulfill them as best she can in the times and culture to which she was born. Along the way this beautiful, smart and talented young heroine experiences academic success, fear of discovery, and first love — all culminating in a combination of renown and rejection. In spite of everything, Anita manages to move forward and forge a life that, if not what she originally envisioned, is remarkable nonetheless.

( official Karin Tanabe web site )

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Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


Another Brooklyn
by Jacqueline Woodson

This is a short read that is chock full of emotion. After hearing positive buzz about the book, I read the synopsis and thought, well, I don’t know anything about Brooklyn, I don’t know enough about the 1970s, and I never had a strong pack of girls I roamed the streets with during adolescence, so maybe I’m not the target audience for this book. However, I kept reading positive reviews about the book and so I finally dove in. Once you get started, it really pulls you in.

The main character, August, delves deeply into her work as an anthropologist in order to both take her mind off of her damaged family unit, as well as to better understand it. She’s got an intriguing relationship with her brother in that they both have a lot to teach each other, and they have each coped with their parent issues in different ways. The girls she grew up with each taught her so much. They all made each other stronger and wiser, yet it is sad to know they can never go back to what they were.

It did indeed remind me of my old friends, and though we can easily get back in touch, we have each grown up in different ways so will never completely understand each other again like we did back then.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay – for mature readers.)

( official Another Brooklyn web site ) | ( official Jacqueline Woodson web site )

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Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley and Williams Branch Libraries


Screening Room

Screening Room

formatdvdGhostbusters: Answer the Call

[DVD Ghostbusters]

I have seen the two older Ghostbusters movies and liked them, but I’m judging this movie solely on its own merits and failures. The movie starts with a tour of a haunted house complete with a ghost that even surprises the tour guide. Some of the Ghostbusters turn up to investigate. The group forms, they get a HQ and a secretary, they capture ghosts (and release one). Then they discover that one man is releasing lots of ghosts from the other world and they dedicate themselves to stopping him. The plot is very weak and disjointed, they often just fool around being Ghostbusters and make joke after joke that are not even funny. It seemed to me like they were trying too hard and failed miserably, making me cringe more than smile or laugh. What I also didn’t like was that the protagonists were not respectable or clever heroes, even in their own quirky ways. All things considered, this is a terrible movie and try as I may to find redeeming qualities, I can’t. If you are looking for something aside from the two original movies to enjoy, I can recommend ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ animated series. Unfortunately the library does not have copies of them, at least at the moment, but it’s a fun show you could check out through our InterLibrary Loan service. InterLibrary Loan means to borrow materials from libraries outside of Lincoln. Overall I would not recommend ‘Answer the Call’, but as LeVar Burton says “you don’t have to take my word for it.”

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Real Ghostbusters animated series.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Ghostbusters (2016) web site )

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdHardcore Henry

[DVD Hardcore]

I had heard the buzz about this movie when it came out in the theaters, back in 2015, but missed seeing it at the time. So I was glad to see it come out on DVD! I’m glad to have seen it now, but I’ll be the first to admit that Hardcore Henry is not going to be for everyone…in fact, it is probably only for a niche group of viewers.

Hardcore Henry is an extremely violent action/thriller film with some strong science fiction elements thrown in. It is told/shown from the visual point-of-view of the main character — Henry — with Henry’s eyes providing our camera angle. In other words, we (almost) never actually see what Henry himself looks like. The film opens with Henry on an operating table, having artificial limbs (with superhuman strength) attached to one arm and one leg. Henry doesn’t know who he is or where he is, and his throat has been damaged so he cannot speak. Henry is almost immediately thrown into a state of chaos and disorder, when the medical lab he is in is attacked by military types, and he and the doctor escape in an escape pod, from what turns out to be a top secret facility high in the atmosphere.

Reaching the ground, Henry finds himself constantly on the run, pursued by violent military groups, and starts to piece together his own story — he appears to be a highly trained killer. He keeps running into different versions of the same man (played by Sharlto Copley), and receives mysterious instructions to get to a particular place to receive more answers to who he is and what is purpose is. To tell anything more about the plot would be to spoil several surprises.

What I can say is that this movie is visually compelling. Hardcore Henry is literally told like many modern day combat video games — in First Person Shooter style. The action is bloody, EXTREMELY violent, and non-stop. If you like FPS games, you’ll probably love this film. For fans of experimental movie-telling, this will hold appeal. If, however, you’re in the slightly bit sensitive to violence, avoid this one like the plague.

Intriguing, and recommended with considerable reservations!

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Hardcore Henry web site )

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdThe Last Man on the Moon: One Man’s Part in Mankind’s Greatest Adventure

[DVD Biography Cernan]

I had a bit of a Twilight Zone moment while watching this documentary DVD at home on January 16th, 2017. The DVD froze in my older DVD player, and I decided to stick it in my computer to watch the rest of the program, but before I did, I decided to check on the Internet to see what Gene Cernan was up to since this documentary was released in 2015. To my dismay, I discovered that Eugene Cernan had passed away that very morning, at the age of 82. It made watching the remainder of this superb film somewhat melancholy.

The Last Man on the Moon, taken from Cernan’s own autobiography title, is a somber and reflective look at astronaut Gene Cernan’s history with NASA, and his years since being the final human being to have stood on the surface of the Moon. Six Apollo missions landed on the Moon, starting with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s visit on July 20, 1969, and ending with Gene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt’s departure on December 14, 1972. Twelve humans have trod the surface of our celestial neighbor, and with Cernan’s passing, six remain alive. The documentary film-makers spent four years interviewing Cernan’s friends and colleagues, and following Cernan in his everyday life, and the footage they compiled and assembled for this show really humanizes Cernan and makes him a very likeable guy…someone easy to relate to. I was fascinated by the footage of the early years of the space program, but even more fascinated by Cernan’s recollections of his old Houston neighborhood, when he visits in the modern era. Recreation scenes and/or special effects nicely supplement the content when original footage is not available.

Watching this documentary made me sad for the state of our current space program, but made me appreciate all the more what seemingly insurmountable obstacles the scientists and astronauts faced when President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet of challenge to put a man on the moon. The scientific and social benefits that humanity has reaped as a result of the space program of the 1960s and early 1970s is remarkable. In the end, The Last Man on the Moon is a celebration of not just one man, but the entire program that got him to his place in history.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Cernan’s book The Last Man on the Moon (not in LCL), In the Shadow of the Moon (DVD), John Glenn: A Memoir by John Glenn, Moon Dust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith, Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay Barbee, or Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon by Buzz Aldrin.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Last Man on the Moon web site )

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Puiblic Library


formatdvdSingin’ in the Rain

[DVD Singin]

In 2017, the classic movie musical Singin’ in the Rain is enjoying the 65th anniversary of its 1952 release. This two-disc DVD set was released to commemorate the film’s 60th anniversary in 2012 — and was also available as part of a much more elaborate boxed set (with Blu Ray and various other goodies). Considering its legendary status — Singin’ in the Rain shows up in the Top 10 or Top 14 on most fans’ and critics’ All-Time Best Movies lists — I would be surprised if anyone is NOT familiar with the plot. But for those who haven’t seen it, the film is set during the period when the movie industry was switching from Silents to Talkies. Gene Kelly is Don Lockwood, a heart-throb of the silent movies, partnered with squeaky-voiced Lena Lamont (played by Jean Hagen), who will obviously not make it in Talkies as easily as she did in the Silents. To salvage their failed attempt to make a Talkie, Don and his musical partner, Cosmo Brown, along with young up-and-coming actress Kathy Selden, hatch a scheme to turn that film into a song-and-dance musical, with Kathy’s voice substituted for the high-pitched Lena. Fillled with unforgettable music, from “Make ‘Em Laugh”, “Good Morning”, “Moses Supposes”, “You Were Meant For Me” and “Singin’ in the Rain” (among others), all by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown had all appeared in other musical films, but are packaged perfectly here, tied together by a plot by screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green. But it is the perfect cast — Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor as Cosmo, and Debbie Reynolds as Kathy — that elevate this to his place of cinema perfection. This two-disc anniversary set includes an entire disc of “special features”. These include: “Musicals Great Musicals” (a documentary about Arthur Freed, “What a Glorious Feeling” (a documentary about the making of Singin’ in the Rain, film clips of the prior uses of Singin’s songs in earlier films, audio song excerpts (including unused tracks), and more. This movie cannot be recommended more highly!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try pretty much any other Arthur Freed musical, or Gene Kelly song-and-dance musical, including “An American in Paris”.)

(Also available is Singin’ in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece by Earl Hess.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdSuicide Squad

[DVD Suicide]

I was really excited to see this in the theater after watching the trailers, and it was not disappointing. For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s set in the DC comic book universe, with the Joker, Harley Quinn and other villains who had been caught and put in jails around the country. They are sort of released to work as a team for the U.S. Government to bring down the antagonist. What I liked about it was that each character got their own moments and we saw their own backstories so you could choose your own favorite rather than the movie picking a protagonist to focus on. They also have their own strengths and weaknesses which make them more interesting. It was a good action movie and it didn’t feel like you needed any prior knowledge of the characters to enjoy the movie. Everyone will have their own opinion of course, but I would recommend it if you are looking for an action comedy fantasy, set in a modern day city.

(The Suicide Squad as characters also appear in a variety of comic book or graphic novel formats: traditional print format.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


last updated February 2017
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