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Staff Recommendations – January 2017

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

January 2017 Recommendations

fivelittlepigsFive Little Pigs
by Agatha Christie

A young woman just about the be married wants to settle the past before settling down. When she was only 4 or 5 her father died suddenly and her mother was found guilty of murdering him. Afterwards she was sent from England overseas to Canada to live with family there. She has a letter her mother wrote for her before she passed away in jail assuring her daughter she was innocent. She employs Belgium detective Poirot to get to the truth. The title, five little pigs come from the five people he tracks down who were closely involved in the case, to hear their recollection. Will any new evidence be uncovered or is it really all said and done? This novel kept me hooked the whole time, twisting up to the very end so I’m giving it a pretty high score. NOTE: Also published as “Murder in Retrospect”.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Mysterious Affair at Styles or Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, both by Agatha Christie.] [ official Five Little Pigs page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatCDbook2princessdiaristcdThe Princess Diarist
by Carrie Fisher [Biography Fisher]

Following the unexpected and saddening loss of actress, author and activist Carrie Fisher at the end of 2016, I eagerly sought out her final autobiographical book, The Princess Diarist, which came out just months before her death. I was a huge fan of her two previous autobiographies — Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic — particularly in audiobook form, read by the actress herself. She’s had a wild and crazy life, filled both with international fame and with drug addiction, mental illness and an immense number of personal neuroses. Her previous introspective works covered her entire life, with her work on Star Wars being an important element, but not necessarily the primary focus.

Star Wars ReviewsWith The Princess Diarist, Fisher tackles her experiences in “A Galaxy Far, Far Away…” more directly. Since repeating her role as Princess (now General) Leia Organa in 2015’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Fisher uncovered a set of personal journals she kept during the 1976 filming of the original 1977 Star Wars (now called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). For The Princess Diarist, Fisher spends about 70% of the book reminiscing about the casting and filming of Star Wars: A New Hope, with liberal references to the other Star Wars films in which she has appeared. The other 30% is her sharing the actual content of her original 1976 journals. The biggest revelation in The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s admitting that she (19 at the time) and Harrison Ford (34 at the time) had an ongoing physical relationship during the filming of the first movie. Her journal entries at that time are filled with self-doubt, confusion, free-floating anxiety, and occasionally witty poetry.

I’m not sure what I was expecting with The Princess Diarist. As a long-standing Star Wars fan, I was hoping for insight into her time filming the saga. But a large portion of this book turns into a bogged-down soap opera of relationships that should never have happened. This is an enjoyable book, in the end, but if you find the concept of a sexual relationship between movie co-stars with a 15-year age difference to be a little skeevy, you may want to avoid this one. Having specifically enjoyed Fisher’s own narration of her previous books, I ended up buying this one as a book-on-CD (a format the library does NOT currently only, although The Princess Diarist is available as a downloadable audiobook). Fisher narrates the “contemporary” parts of the book, while her daughter, Billie Lourd narrates the section reproducing Carrie’s 1976 journal. It was an emotional journey to listen to Carrie share her story, in her own voice, less than two weeks after her death.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wishful Drinking, or Shockaholic, both by Carrie Fisher, preferably in the audiobook format!] [ publisher’s official The Princess Diarist web site ] | [ official Carrie Fisher web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


wholetownstalkingThe Whole Town’s Talking
by Fannie Flagg

There’s nothing like a Fannie Flagg book to help a reader slow down and savor life. In this book, the reader gets to stay in touch with the characters after their lives have ended, too, as they greet each other when an old friend becomes a newcomer in the small town cemetery atop the hill. Not morbid in any way, the characters reflect on how leisurely things are for them now, and how they wish they hadn’t sweated the small stuff during their lives. The reader sees things unfold from the beginning of the 1900’s through the beginning of the 2000s, one chronological section at a time. There is humor, but mostly serenity and friendship.

[ official The Whole Town’s Talking page on the official Fannie Flagg author web site ]

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Recommended by Jodi R.
Gere Branch Library


oddandthefrostgiantsriddellOdd and the Frost Giants
by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Chris Riddell

Surprisingly, despite being a big Neil Gaiman fan, I had not previously read this 2008 release from the fantasy master, which is generally classified as a juvenile novel. However, when this all-new edition, featuring extensive black & white pen illustrations by Chris Riddell, showed up in the library collection, I couldn’t pass it up. I’m glad I did grab this…Odd and the Frost Giants taps into Norse mythology and tales of the Vikings. It features the adventures of a young Norseman named Odd, who is partially lame from a childhood accident, and who finds himself on the outs with his family after his widowed mother remarries and his stepfather shuts him out. During a winter that seems to never end, Odd strikes out to make a life for himself, only to encounter a trio of talking animals — a fox, an eagle and a bear — who are the Norse gods Lodi, Odin and Thor transformed and trapped in animal form by a powerful Frost Giant who has taken over Asgard and banished its gods. This book is the tale of Odd on his quest to aid the fallen gods and stop the endless winter from enveloping his own world. Gaiman’s story is told in fairytale style, without excessive detail. And Riddell’s illustrations in this edition are beautiful to look at and complement Gaiman’s words very well.

If you have never read Odd and the Frost Giants before, I strongly recommend this version, and I recommend looking for any other books featuring the artwork of Chris Riddell, as well!

[ official Neil Gaiman web site ] | [ official Chris Riddell web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


isyouokayformatCDbook2Is You Okay?
by GloZell Green [Compact Disc Biography Green]

This is a short (five discs) inspirational biography in which YouTube star GloZell shares her frustrating letdowns in life. She uses comedy to laugh at the moments in hindsight and share the inspiration with the reader/listener that because of those moments that blocked her from being where she thought she should be, she ended up in a different place that led to something great for her. Much of it is related to her making a name for herself as a stand-up comedian, and how she was unique in her material being family-friendly, but she applies those moments to general life lessons. In her usual comedic style, she has her audience laughing, but delivers serious encouragement and inspiration in the process.

[ official Is You Okay? page on the official GloZell Green web site ]

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Recommended by Jodi R.
Gere Branch Library


dangergirlbackinblackhooplaDanger Girl: Back in Black
by Andy Hartnell [Hoopla digital resource]

The Danger Girls are a group that work for a James Bond type of character named Deuce who for the most part remains on board the Danger Yacht with Valerie the computer guru. Their missions take them all around the world; in this story there are some team members in Tokyo and elsewhere, but Abby and Sydney are in Sturgis, South Dakota trying to retrieve an old Sioux artifact that can bring back the dead. They befriend a motorcycle gal named Ruby and try to blend in to spy on the person they think has the artifact. They must retrieve it before it’s sold so they can return it to its rightful owners, the Sioux tribe. There is also a secondary interwoven story about Ruby and her mother which unfolds with the main story. I’ve only read a few Danger Girl titles and I enjoyed this one just as much as the others. They all have a lot of action and humor, with some violence and partial nudity, so it’s a graphic novel for teens and adults. If you like James Bond type stories and graphic novels, you’ll probably like this.

This title is only available in Lincoln City Libraries’ collection digitally at HooplaDigital.com. You can also get to Hoopla by searching for the titles in our catalog and clicking on the download button. For on the go entertainment you can checkout materials on the Hoopla App.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Danger Girl: Deluxe, by J. Scott Campbell, Danger Girl: Mayday, by Andy Hartnell, Danger Girl: Revolver, by Andy Hartnell, or Danger Girl: Trinity, by Andy Hartnell.] [ official Danger Girl web site ] | [ Andy Hartnell page on Wikipedia ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


lockeandkeyvol1Locke & Key, Vol 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
by Joe Hill (author) and Gabriel Rodriguez (artist) [741.5 Hil]

I’ve been seeing the trade paperback collections of Locke & Key, written by Joe Hill, circulating in the libraries’ collection for the past year-or-more, and finally took the time to start reading the series. Each of the six oversized trade paperback graphic novels in this series compiles six individual comic-books into a novel-length story. In “Welcome to Lovecraft“, the first compilation volume, Tyler, Kinsey and young Bode Locke move, with their mother, from California to Lovecraft, Massachusetts, to live in the family estate known as Keyhouse. This follows the brutal murder of the kids’ father by a psychopath. As the Locke children settle into their new home, making new friends, they discover that Keyhouse has mysterious — mystical — properties. Bode discovers a doorway that when he passes through it allows him to leave his physical body behind and travel as a phantasm. He also discovers a malevolent spirit trapped at the bottom of a well…a spirit that continues to manipulate the man who killed Rendell Locke, and which is drawing him on a cross-country journey to kill the rest of the Locke family.

The writing of Joe Hill — Stephen King’s son, but a respected horror-master in his own right — and the art by Gabriel Rodriguez are superb. This first volume features only the beginning of the more horrific, supernatural and monstrous plot elements that come to dominate the subsequent volumes in the series, and feels more like a thriller with some paranormal elements on the side. I appreciate the metaphor of multiple “locks” and “keys” that recurs throughout this series, but which is set in motion to good effect in this volume.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the remaining 5 compilation volumes in the series, which definitely concludes with Volume Six: Alpha & Omega.] [ IDW’s official Locke & Key web site ] | [ official Joe Hill web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


stationarybikehooplaStationary Bike
by Stephen King [Hoopla digital resource]

A year after his wife dies, Richard Sifkitz decides it’s finally time to go in for an annual physical (only three years overdue!). His doctor tells him that his cholesterol is high and he’s overweight. These are not things Richard didn’t know, but it’s always kind of a wake-up call to have someone point that out to you. While the doctor says that Richard isn’t in as bad of shape as some people, he IS overworking his body–he compares his bodily functions to a construction crew or road crew who is being increasingly overworked… eventually, they stop caring about their job, they maybe slack off a bit, they stop working altogether. The image is a vivid one for Richard, and he paints a mural of it on a wall in his basement, where he sets up his new stationary bike. Richard doesn’t just find himself losing weight, he finds himself unable to stop riding–until he discovers his life depends on it!

Something that struck me as unique about this novella is that it’s not the stereotypical King story. There’s no real blood or gore involved, no scary monsters or edge-of-your-seat intensity. Yet, this is just as clearly a work of Stephen King’s as anything else he’s written. It’s got that quick hook that most of his work has, reeling you in until you find yourself at the end of the story, thinking, “Aw, it’s over already?”

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Long Walk or The Eyes of the Dragon, also by Stephen King.] [ official Stationary Bike page on the official Stephen King web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


talesofhplovecraft“The Call of Cthulhu” in Black Seas of Infinity or Tales of H.P. Lovecraft: Major Works
by H.P. Lovecraft

“The Call of Cthulhu” is a short story which can be found in the library’s collection in ‘Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft’ and in ‘Tales of H.P. Lovecraft: Major Works’. This is a review of only this particular short story, not the entire collections.

The Call of Cthulhu is one of many short stories by H.P. Lovecraft, an author of horror or strange fiction. Despite Cthulhu’s fame he only appears in one of Lovecraft’s stories. Many other authors have written additional tales of Cthulhu, and there are still more written about him online, so to discover the real Cthulhu I decided to read the original. It’s really not very long and you can find it in various Lovecraft omnibuses, so if you are curious like I was its not difficult or time consuming to get a copy and read it. Now I had not read any Lovecraft before this and my preconceived notions were that it would be rather terrifying but it wasn’t really; it was more thought provoking than anything else. The narrator is looking back over documents of a psychotherapist and his patient, an artist, who went mad under strange circumstances. There are other documents of people around the world going mad and having strange dreams at the same time. There’s a law enforcement officer with a strange tale of swamp natives going missing, tracking them down and finding a strange cult worshiping a strange statuette of the same figure that had been carved by the artist who went mad. He takes the statute to archaeology conference, no one but one had ever seen it’s like before. In Iceland this time, the same strange cult, with the same statuette and same chants of Cthulhu are also recorded. Finally the tale of a seamen who at the same time of the world wide cases of madness, came ashore a strange island that rose out of the sea and out of a door so large it didn’t look like a door, comes the creature of the statuette. I’ve given a lot of the story away already, but I’ll leave the ending for you to read. I feel like what the story does is provoke thoughts of human insignificance and relative smallness in the grader scale of the universe. I think this is where the fear is meant to come from rather than from Cthulhu’s physical appearance and behavior. In this way it’s more of a psychological horror, so even if you don’t read horror, but like stories that give you something to think about afterwards, you may like this.

[‘Leaf by Niggle’ by J.R.R. Tolkien is another thought provoking short story you may like. It can be found in Poems & Stories, by Tolkien (828 Tol). It has mysteries of it’s own to contemplate, but no horror aspects.] [ Full text of “The Call of Cthulhu” ] | [ official H.P. Lovecraft Archive web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


dashingthroughthesnowDashing Through the Snow
by Debbie Macomber

Every year, I try to read at least one lightweight “Christmas romance” in November or December — publishers tend to flood the market with new entries, or reprints of old favorites at that time of year. For 2016, after enjoying the TV-movie versions of Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle books, I finally decided to read one of Macomber’s holiday-themed romance stories. She’s turned “Christmas Romance” into something of a cottage industry — she’s published a dozen or more holiday-themed novels in the past few years. Dashing Through the Snow came out in 2015, and was reprinted in 2016. It was also adapted into Christmas TV-movie.

The plot is simple enough — travel complications force youthful Ashley Davison and world-weary Dash Sutherland to share the final rental car on the lot for a drive from Northern California to Seattle in the last few days before Christmas. She is on a spur-of-the-moment trip to spend the holiday with her mother back home in Seattle; he is on his way to an important job interview. The drive allows their conflicting personalities to rub off a little on each other. But as they’re drawing closer, wacky complications ensue — an FBI task force is following Ashley, due to a case of mistaken identity, the couple unexpectedly adopts a puppy on their drive north, and winter storms seem intent on preventing them from reaching their destination. There’s nothing remotely challenging about this title…in fact it is almost “paint by the numbers”. But, if you like that type of romance story, or you’re looking for a light, fluffy, “feel-good” romance with a Christmas flavor, this might fit the bill.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try pretty much anything else by Debbie Macomber, particularly her Christmas-themed novels, or her Cedar Cove novels.] [ official Dashing Through the Snow page on the official Debbie Macomber web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


onetofiveOne to Five: One Shortcut Recipe Transforms Into Five Easy Dishes
by Ryan Scott [641.55 Sco]

I really liked the idea behind this book (which I obtained an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of), and the general format of it. Basically, the author, Ryan Scott, would pick a key ingredient (say, rotisserie chicken) and create a base recipe with that ingredient. Then, he would create five different dishes around that one key ingredient. It’s a fabulous concept! And the fact that there’s an intro from Rachel Ray filled me with the idea that this must be a qualified chef. (I’d never heard of him before.) The bummer is that I’m a rather picky eater, as are my kids… so I wouldn’t end up making the majority of the items in the cookbook. The blame for this, in my opinion, does not fall to the writer of the cookbook; rather it falls to me and my kiddos for being afraid to step outside our comfort zone. Overall, I think many people would appreciate this cookbook!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Delicious Dump Cakes : 50 Super Simple Desserts to Make in 15 Minutes or Less, by Roxanne Wyss.] [ official One to Five book trailer on YouTube ] | [ official Ryan Scott web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


donotsaywehavenothingDo Not Say We Have Nothing
by Madeleine Thien

This book was on the longlist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. It has so many different layers to fall in love with, while giving the reader a feel for China during both the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao and the occupation of Tiananmen Square. A passion for classical music can be felt through the pages, as it propelled Swallow during a time when loving anything more than Chairman Mao & the Revolution was considered a betrayal. Families and individuals were relocated, and teachers and other former leaders were harassed, attacked, tortured, shamed, and sometimes killed: punished for being told they needed to be scorned for having thought too much of themselves. Swallow’s daughter was caught up in the Tiananmen Square occupation, which began when three scholars presented themselves on their knees in the square, holding up a paper for the government to read. Beyond a passion for music and the information about what those times were like in China, this is an insightful glimpse into what drives each of us, whether it’s a love for math, literature, music, or others.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie.] [ official Do Not Say We Have Nothing Tumblr page ] | [ official Madeleine Thien web site ]

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Recommended by Jodi R.
Gere Branch Library


heartlesstrollThe Heartless Troll
by Oyvind Torseter [j Torseter]

This came highly recommended to me by a couple of other readers, both a co-worker and one of our library customer “regulars”, so when a copy came across the desk, recently, I decided to take a chance on it. In the end, I don’t think I’m necessarily the “target audience” for this one. Norwegian artist, illustrator, author and comic-book creator Oyvind Torseter takes a classic Norwegian folk tale, about “the troll without a heart”, and turns it into a fancifully-illustrated childrens’ adventure tale.

When all but one of the sons of a ruler leave home in search of brides, but disappear, the seventh and youngest prince tells his father that he must seek out his missing brethren and find out their fates. Provided with a reluctant and sarcastic horse, and minimal supplies, the young prince sets out on an epic quest, overcoming a number of obstacles before reaching the terrifying lair of a Troll, who has turned all the other princes and their wives into stone statues.

Aided by a number of talking animals, a very cooperative captive princess, and his own common sense, the prince must figure out a way to capture the massive troll’s heart, in order to set his family free. This is a fairly simple story overall, and Torseter’s artwork is both detailed and yet whimsical. There is a sense of humor to the whole story — particularly in the dialog provided by the hero’s unheroic horse. Kids will probably appreciate this more than adults. I was hoping to find it unforgettable, but I basically just got some chuckles out of it in the end.

[ official Oyvind Torseter blog ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Screening Room

formatdvdblindspotdvd-1The Blindspot – Season One

[DVD Blindspot]

The show starts as a duffle bag is found in Times Square. Police clear the area and treat it like it’s a bomb. As the bomb disposal technician gets closer to the bag it starts to move and unzip. Out steps a woman, naked, but completely covered in tattoos. She is taken back to FBI headquarters and interrogated. She doesn’t know her name, how she got to Times Square, or anything about the tattoos covering her body including the giant one on her back that reads “Kurt Weller FBI”. It turns out Kurt Weller is an actual FBI agent, and a good one at that. He is called in to consult on the case but doesn’t recognize the mysterious woman. They start calling her Jane Doe and when they do a body scan of her tattoos they realize that they’re all brand new. Weller and his team study them to see if any of them can lead them to the real identity of Jane Doe or how she got into the duffle bag.

One tattoo contains today’s date and an address. They go to investigate and come across a terrorist plot. While there Jane fights a man showing she has martial arts training. When they stop the threat against America the FBI decides there may be something to these tattoos and the show continues with each episode focusing on a different tattoo and their quest to find out who Jane really is.

The pilot was excellent, as was the rest of the first season. You really want to think that Jane is good but as the season goes on there are hints that maybe she isn’t. Jaime Alexander does an excellent job portraying her – flashbacks to her days as Lady Sif from Thor, you get to see her in lots of fights in this as well. The team has great chemistry and I really enjoy the actors, especially Sullivan Stapleton (Weller) and Ashley Johnson (Patterson, the forensics technician).

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Blacklist, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation or Quantico (available through InterLibrary Loan).] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ NBC’s official The Blindspot web site ]

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Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdbuildingstartrekdvdBuilding Star Trek

[DVD 791.457 StarYb]

Star Trek ReviewsThis was a pretty fun documentary on the Star Trek show and some of the props. With the 50th anniversary in 2016 the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C undertook a restoration project on the Starship Enterprise model used during filming. You may already know that to get the shots of the ship in space they used a large model complete with lights and everything, and it’s this model that’s being repaired in the documentary. Another museum is in the midst of assembling set pieces, props, and wardrobe items for their celebration display. The documentary bounces between projects and interspersed is some real life Star Trek science on tractor beams, phasers, and tricorders. Also mixed it is some commentary on the themes of the show and how revolutionary it was. Nichelle Nichols appears in the interviews along with Simon Pegg. There were quite a few different bits and pieces included and I really liked it. Not all the information will be new to everyone, clearly, but it was fun to watch as a Star Trek fan. I’ll also say that the focus is on the Original Series, since that’s the one turning 50; the other series such as Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager are not covered.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek: the art of Juan Ortiz, by Juan Ortiz, SOS 791.457 StaYo, a collection of movie poster art created for each episode of Star Trek the Original Series.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ Smithsonian Channel’s official Building Star Trek web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdloveandmercydvdLove & Mercy

[DVD Love]

My husband and I stumbled upon this movie online (streaming, via Amazon Prime), but I know the library has it on DVD. He is, by far, a bigger Beach Boys fan than I am. But when I saw that John Cusack was in it, I agreed to watch it. Was I ever surprised! I knew Brian Wilson, whom the story is focused upon, had had some issues in his life and he’d had some sort of breakdown at some point, but I never really knew any of the details. The film is wonderfully portrayed, in part by John Cusack (he’s cast as Brian Wilson – Future) and by Paul Dano (he’s cast as Brian Wilson – Past), along with Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti. The music is fabulous, not simply because it’s Beach Boys music, but because you really get some insight into the composing of Pet Sounds, which is widely considered to be one of the most influential albums ever made. This movie has inspired me to seek out biographies/memoirs of Brian Wilson, Mike Love and perhaps other members of the band, as well as to borrow Pet Sounds and other Beach Boys music. I’m considering myself a converted fan!!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Almost Famous, Amadeus or Whiplash] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Love & Mercy web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated January 2017
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