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Staff Recommendations – July 2015

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

July 2015 Recommendations

Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments and Assoted Hijinksbriefencounterscd
by Dick Cavett [Compact Disc Biography Cavett]

This is the latest collection of New York Times essays by Dick Cavett, one of Lincoln, Nebraska’s more famous sons. As with Talk Show before, Cavett spends some of his time here reminiscing about the guests he’s had on his 1970s-1980s talk show, The Dick Cavett Show, and his own experiences as a comedy writer for such other talk show luminaries as Johnny Carson and Jack Paar. Cavett, an uncompromising Liberal, also uses several of his columns to wax philosophical on causes near and dear to his heart, including sexuality and gun control. But, it is the essays in which he talks about the people who’ve meant a great deal to him over the past 70+ years that really “made” this collection for me. His memories of interacting with Groucho Marx near the end of his life, or of visiting Stan Laurel in Laurel’s small Santa Monica apartment, or recollecting the brilliance of Jonathan Winters after that comic actor’s passing — these are all touching and inspiring, and remind us of what an incredible life this funny and brilliant kid from the Capital City has had, and the fascinating personalities he’s had the chance to meet. I enjoyed this title as an audiobook-on-cd, which Cavett himself narrates. I highly recommend it in audiobook format!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Talk Show also by Cavett.] [ official Dick Cavett index on the New York Times web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

South of Broadsouthofbroad
by Pat Conroy

I’ve always enjoyed Pat Conroy’s work. He’s Catholic, as am I, he (like I) LOVES good food, and he’s got a bit of a smart-mouth attitude (which I have to admit to having, too). Typically, his main characters rely on humor when the going gets tough, as a defense mechanism, which is something I tend to do as well.

South of Broad is a more recently published Conroy novel (2009). However, the story is split between two times in the main character’s life–the late 60’s, when he’s a senior in high school, and the mid-80’s, when he is a grown man. It’s a story of personal challenges for Leo King and for his core group of friends. They go through a lot together–more than any one person should ever have to deal with. Yet, through it all, their friendships grow and flourish.

After having read a number of other Conroy novels, I’ve realized I’ve come to find his prose a bit predictable and slightly tiresome… however, one thing that really stands out, for me–that keeps me coming back to him–is his LOVE for the South, and for Charleston in particular. I’ve never visited the South (other than a brief, 2-day trip to Miami, which I hardly think counts); but I feel as though I know a little what it’s like, simply from his loving descriptions.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Great Santini by Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, or Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg.] [ official South of Broad web site ] | [ official Pat Conroy web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

As You Wish: Inconcievable Tales From the Making of The princess Brideasyouwishcd
by Cary Elwes [Compact Disc 791.437 PriYe]

The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite movies. When I first saw, a couple of months ago, that actor Cary Elwes (Wesley in the film) had written a behind-the-scenes volume about the making of the movie, following the film’s 25th anniversary, I looked forward to reading it. Time got away from me, but when I noticed the audiobook-on-cd version on display, I couldn’t pass it up. In the end, I’m glad I listened to the audio version, because it was absolutely charming. In addition to Elwes narrating his own text, many of the other cast and crew members narrate their own contributions to the book, in the form of letters and remembrances. Hearing Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon and Christopher Guest share tidbits about the experience of working on their film was absolutely terrific. Elwes is the emotional anchor though, talking about how much of a life-changing role Wesley was, and the tremendous impact the film has had on his career, and the wonderful experiences he continues to have, interacting with fans of the film, who now cross three generations in the same family, in many cases. I can’t recommend this audiobook highly enough; my only caveat is that I wish there had been even more “making of” details included…in this end this is a fairly slim volume. I absolutely loved Elwes’ impressions of Rob Reiner and Andre the Giant as he recalls conversations with both those men. If you loved The Princess Bride, you’ll love this book/audiobook as well!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The original feature film The Princess Bride, and the novel by William Goldman that started the whole thing in the first place!] [ publisher’s As You Wish web site ] | [ official Cary Elwes Twitter feed ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Love Letters and Two Other Playsloveletters
by A.R. Gurney [812 Gur]

A.R. Gurney’s 1988 play, Love Letters, has become a modern classic of the contemporary theater. Featuring only two actors, who don’t actually interact directly at any point in the events of the play, the entire production is a series of letters sent between the two characters, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner, and read aloud by each of the actors. Beginning with simple notes when they were children, and following their tumultuous friendship through several decades, this series of correspondence covers topics both banal and exceptionally emotional. When produced on stage, this play can be done with no set pieces — the actors sitting side by side but never looking at each other. Or at opposite ends of a stage, also never glancing in the other’s direction — their entire attention focused on the letters in front of them that they are reading. This is a powerful work, plumbing some raw depths of vulnerability, touching on mental and emotional instability. If you have have a chance to see it performed, I encourage you to do so. I also invite you to read the original work here in the libraries’ collection, in script format!

[ Love Letters on Wikipedia ] | [ official A.R. Gurney web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

NOS4A2NOS4A2
by Joe Hill

This is a chilling story of a madman, Charlie Manx, who may or may not be imagined, but the disappearance of children at his hands is definitely real. In all his years of abducting children, only one has managed to get away…Victoria McQueen, or Vic; and she may end up risking her life as an adult, trying to save her son from the very man she escaped from all those years ago.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.] [ publisher’s NOS4A2 web page] | [ official Joe Hill web site ]

See more books like this on the Bram Stoker Awards booklist on BookGuide

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Lords of the Sithlordsofthesith
by Paul Kemp

One of the best of the “new continuity” Star Wars novels finds the Emperor and Darth Vader on their own against a rebel insurgency. Kemp writes a fast-paced novel that borrows from both the Star Wars movies and the Clone Wars TV series. A rather rushed ending is the only major flaw in what is otherwise one of the better Star Wars novels out there.

StarWarsReviews[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Tarkin by James Luceno, A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne, Darth Plagueis by James Luceno, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno.] [ official Star Wars books on Wookiepedia web site ] | [ official Paul Kemp web site ]

Check out our Star Wars: The Reading List booklist on BookGuide

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Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

Star Trek ReviewsThe Art of Juan Ortiz: Star Trekartofjuanortiz
by Juan Ortiz [SOS 791.457 StaYo]

This is a book of movie posters that were created by Juan Ortiz for each episode of Star Trek the original series. I have watched all three seasons, so it was really fun to look through them all. Even though the art is new, Ortiz created each poster in a retro style, to keep with the time period the show was filmed. This book would obviously appeal to Star Trek fans, but it’s also good art work that can be appreciated in its own right. Maybe after checking it out, it’d spark your curiosity to watch the original series; it got me in the mood to re-watch them.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek the Original Series, seasons one to three.] [ official The Art of Juan Ortiz: Star Trek web site ] | [ official Juan Ortiz web site ]

Check out our Star Trek: The Reading List booklist on BookGuide

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

How Rude! The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Outhowrude
by Alex J. Packer, PhD [YA PB Packer]

As the mother of a teen-ager and a pre-teen, I thought that I would check this book out to see if I could learn some insights to help my daughters learn better etiquette. The introduction mentioned that this book “will show you how to become a master of the game — and art — of proper social behavior.” The author presents the material in a humorous, contemporary manner that is sure to appeal to today’s tech-savvy teens. This guide does more than explain why it is good to have good manners; it shows you how to cope with everyday events in the real world. I loved the author’s sense of humor as he shows teens possible reactions to various situations. Much of the book is presented in advice column format: “Dear Alex, What should I do if someone is bullying me?” I also enjoyed the pop quizzes covering material already presented. I think that this is a great book for anyone wanting to learn how to behave in any social situation.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin.] [ official Alex J. Packer web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legendimustsay
by Martin Short [Biography Short, Downloadable Audio, Compact Disc Biography Short]

Martin Short has always been one of my favorite comic actors. He throws himself into bizarre characters that really add life and texture to even the most bland productions. Many of his popular “bits” have really taken on a life of their own, particularly the Pat Sajak-obsessed Ed Grimley (from whom the title of Martin’s book originates), and the fawning and repulsive Jiminy Glick. In this very enjoyable autobiography, Short recounts his experiences growing up in Canada, pretending to be an entertainer and talk-show/variety-show host at a very young age. Short provides numerous amusing and insightful observations about the entertainment industry in both Canada and the U.S., and the many fascinating actors and comedians he’s worked with. I particularly enjoyed his tales of working on both Saturday Night Live and SCTV. For such a gifted comic actor and writer, making me laugh at the humor in his life was child’s play. However, the chapters in which he recounts his wife’s battles with ovarian cancer, to which she succumbed in 2010, are ultimately the most moving part of this showbiz memoir. I checked this out from the libraries as a downloadable audiobook, and in retrospect I must say that this is really the only way to enjoy this biography. While well written, and probably enjoyable as a printed book, the audiobook format allows for Short, who narrates, to launch into dozens of character voices, sing songs and emote. This was a truly moving and laugh-filled reading/listening experience. I can’t recommend this highly enough — one of my favorite reads in the past few years!

[ publisher’s I Must Say web page ] | [ Martin Short page on Wikipedia ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Lost in NYC: A Subway AdventureLove Letters
by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio Garcia Sanchez [j741.5 Spi]

This amusing and informative youth book passed over the desk in front of me recently and caught my eye, with its visually compelling cover. New York City is one of those metropolises I’ve never visited, but which I would love to see at some point in my life. And one of those New York City experiences I want to have is riding the subway from one part of town to another. In this graphic novel, author Spiegelman and artist Sanchez combine their efforts to tell the story of a grade school class on a field trip from their school, via subway, to visit the Empire State Building. Told from the perspective of new class member Pablo, who’s frustrated at his family having moved for the umpteenth time, and Alicia, the young local girl who tries to befriend Pablo as the field trip begins, this is a short story about cooperation and trust, but it is also a travelogue and history lesson about how and when the New York City subway system was designed and built, and how to navigate its idiosyncracies today. For adults, this is a quick and easy read and a simple introduction to a topic you might be curious about. For kids, this is a painless way to learn something about a fascinating topic, told without being bland or boring. Well done book by the folks at Toon Books. I recommend this one highly!

[ official Lost in NYC web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Nimonanimona
by Noelle Stevenson [YA Stevenson]

Nimona is the collected web comic by Noelle Stevenson which features the title character Nimona who works as the sidekick for the evil Lord Ballister Blackheart. Nimona can shapeshift into any creature or person and she constantly wants to make a mess of things for the kingdom. It is Nimona who is egging on Blackheart to get his revenge against his nemesis Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, while Blackheart wants to follow the “rules” of villainy. I was very much expecting this to be a simple comic making fun of fantasy tropes, however it is so much more as after a few chapters a real story develops and the characters come to life. It is in this book that the question is posed as to what exactly makes a villain or hero, and if someone is capable of being both. Nimona’s hilariously childlike behavior coupled with her desire to wreak havoc makes her such a funny character and she forms the punchline for many of the jokes. In addition to the excellent narrative and comedic writing, Stevenson’s artwork is amazing with her stylized drawings and bright color palate. It is also in Stevenson’s artwork that she shows the diversity of her world and it was such a great thing to see featured. I very much recommend this book to young adults who enjoy fantasy or adults who would love a comedic graphic novel.

[ official Noelle Stevenson and Nimona web site ]

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Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library

Lacy Eyelacyeye
by Jessica Treadway

When I picked up Lacy Eye, I had no idea the suspense that the psychological thriller had packed between its pages. The book opens to the life of the Hannah, a survivor of a brutal home invasion and attack that not only disfigured her and placed and coma but caused the death of her husband Joe and injuries to the family dog. Hannah came out of the coma without significant memories of that night. Now, three years later, the convicted murderer – her daughter Dawn’s former boyfriend, has been awarded a retrial. With only her two daughters (Dawn and elder daughter Iris) to support her, Hanna struggles to remember anything “useful” from that night, not knowing she could land herself in the same danger once again. Who should she keep close and confide in, and who should she keep at a distance to keep herself alive?

[ official Jessica Treadway web site ]

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Recommended by Sarah J.
South Branch Library

Sanibel Flatssanibelflats
by Randy Wayne White

Though several people had been recommending the “Doc Ford” series by Randy Wayne White to me over the past couple of years, I hadn’t sampled any volumes until the libraries’ Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group chose this series as one of our monthly discussion topics. Sanibel Flats is the first book in the series, introducing the main character of Marion “Doc” Ford, a rough-and-tumble man who has retired from a mysterious job in the intelligence community to follow his passion for marine biology. Settling into a home on the waters of Sanibel Flats, Florida, Doc is simple trying to leave his old life — and the memories of an old love — behind him, but circumstances don’t allow him to forget. When an old friend from high school stops by, begging for his help, Doc gets pulled into an adventure involving bad cops, a corrupt land development corporation, and ultimately the battle for control between two South American guerilla groups. Doc is a fascinating and likeable character, and the supporting cast established in this first series novel, particularly the brilliant but loopy Tomlinson, should provide for many years of reading pleasure. At this time, there are already 22 volumes in White’s “Doc Ford” series, with more on the horizon.

[ official Doc Ford series page on the official Randy Wayne White web site ]

Check out the The Doc Ford series prepared for the Just Desserts mystery discussion group

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Screening Room

formatdvdStar Trek V: The Final Frontierstvtffdvd
[DVD Star]

This is the fifth Star Trek movie. It stars the original cast of Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley, as the other movies in the series do. In this one Spock’s half-brother Sybok takes over Enterprise to travel to the center of the universe to find the Supreme Being. Kirk and crew didn’t even know that Spock had a brother, but despite the shock, they need to regain control of the ship. I didn’t like this movie as well as the others. It was kind of like season three of the original series, in that it was still Star Trek and it was still good, but it didn’t feel quite the same as the earlier movies / seasons. I’d recommend it to people looking for a science fiction movie; I just feel there are better Star Trek movies.

Star Trek Reviews[If you like this, you may also enjoy the other “classic series” cast movies, Star Trek I, II, III, IV, VI.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official www.startrek.com web site ]

Check out our Star Trek: The Reading List on BookGuide

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

formatdvdStar Trek Into Darknessstartrekintodarknessdvd
[DVD Star]

One of the new series of Star Trek movies, Into Darkness, is about a manhunt for Khan, who has declared war on the Federation. Actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto play characters from the original series, Captain Kirk and Science Officer Spock respectively. The character Khan is also from the original series; part of the story is in an episode of the TV show and the later part is the plot for the second movie, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. I like the old and new movie series and even though Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness are about Khan’s story, I think each is worth watching, because they are both good space adventure movies.

Star Trek Reviews[If you like this, you may also wish to try 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, or 2009’s Star Trek, the first of the reboot movies.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Star Trek Into Darkness web site ]

Check out our Star Trek: The Reading List on BookGuide

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

 

last updated February 2016
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