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Staff Recommendations – June 2016

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

June 2016 Recommendations

eldeafoEl Deafo
by Cece Bell [j Bell]

Cece has adjusted to life with a large hearing aid strapped to her chest, and she enjoys her all deaf school. When her family decides to move, and she leaves all her friends and must begin going to a school where she is the only deaf person, she is nervous that the other kids won’t like her and will make fun of her. When Cece gets a stronger hearing aide, she suddenly can hear her teacher wherever she is in the building: teachers lounge, hallway, even the bathroom. This seems like a super power and is the source of inspiration for her superhero alter-ego El Deafo. Cece learns how to accept her deafness, and how to navigate the world and the people in it.

I thought this book was somewhat inspirational. Cece struggles and even gives up at times, but in the end, she learns to be happy with who she is. This book is somewhat of a memoir, as the author tells about her life growing up hearing impaired.

[This book is a current Golden Sower nominee!] [ El Deafo page on Wikipedia ] | [ official Cece Bell blog ]

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Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


startrek365Star Trek ReviewsStar Trek 365
by Paula Block and Terry Erdmann [791.457 StaYb]

In this year (2016) when the original Star Trek series will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, I’ve been enjoying revisiting some of my favorite Star Trek non-fiction behind-the-scenes books. Star Trek 365 is one of the best. Paula M. Block’s look back at the history of the production of the original series is chock full of rare photos and illustrations, many never seen in publication previously. Much like a Day-by-Day calendar, where you look at a different photo, comic or witty observation each and every day, Star Trek 365 (and the similar volume Star Trek the Next Generation 365 for the follow-up series) has 365 short chapters, filled with obscure yet fascinating trivia and production minutiae. These books have an unusual format — they are short in height but very thick in content. The depth of research that went into assembling these treasure troves of Star Trek history is impressive.

These two books are definite must reads for anyone who truly considers themselves a Trekkie or a Trekker, but they should also prove to fascinating reads for general TV science fiction fans.

[ Star Trek 365 page at Memory Alpha ] | [ Paula M. Block page at Memory Alpha ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


perilatendhousecdformatCDbook2Peril at End House
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

While Poirot is on vacation he says he is there no way that a case could distract him. He finds it difficult to resist however; whilst chatting to a young woman at the hotel she narrowly escapes being shot at during their conversation. Like others in this series, there are twists up to the very end. The narrator, Hugh Fraser, does a good job with the different voices for the characters. He actually plays the part of Captain Hastings in some of the TV adaptations, who is the character who narrates the story. Although not my favorite story in the series so far, it�s still really good.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Death in the Clouds or Murder in Mesopotamia, also by Agatha Christie] [ official Peril at End House page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


bloodlineStar Wars ReviewsBloodline
by Claudia Gray

Leia Organa has been an underdeveloped character in many Star Wars novels. “Bloodlines” remedies this in a big way. The story focuses on Leia, once again a Senator. The New Republic Senate has become ineffectual. Senators are polarized into two hyper-partisan factions that both view any sort of compromise as the worst sort of weakness. The rise of a new crime cartel gives Leia the chance to bridge the gap between the bickering political factions and actually do some good for the galaxy. Along the way she will come face to face with her past. To some new breed of criminals she is revered as “Huttslayer”. To a paramilitary militia hoping to resurrect the Empire, she is a dangerous adversary to be eliminated. And a long lost message from the past forces Leia to confront her legacy as the daughter of Darth Vader. Described as “House of Cards meets Star Wars”, “Bloodlines” deftly mixes political intrigue with action. The book is a very fun read that provides all sorts of wonderful insights into the inner workings of Leia. I hesitate to say that any Star Wars book is a “must read”. However, given the background and insight “Bloodline” provides about Leia and the story that leads to “The Force Awakens”, this is one I would say is a must-read for any Star Wars fan.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray, or Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig] [ official Bloodline page on the official Claudia Gray web site ]

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Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library


amazingfantasticincredibleAmazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir
by Stan Lee and Peter David

It seems only fitting that the official autobiography of legendary comics publisher and pop-culture icon Stan Lee would be printed in graphic novel format! Co-written by comics writer Peter David, with absolutely beautiful art by Colleen Doran, Lee roams backwards and forwards through his life and career, sharing anecdotes about the events that proved formative to his publishing/writing style, and the fellow comic book legends whom he worked with over the course of over 5 decades behind Marvel Comics.

Though Lee is frequently accused of not giving enough credit to the fellow creative types that worked with him in creating such iconic comic book characters as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron-Man, Doctor Strange, The Uncanny X-Men and so many more, in this telling he certainly pays tribute to the many fellow artistes that were involved in those seminal events — Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and so many more. Lee’s autobiography is told with a great sense of self-deprecating humor, and Lee breaks the “fourth wall”, stopping to talk to the reader from the comic panels, even as the other illustrated figures wonder who he’s talking to.

Having had the opportunity recently to see Stan Lee live and in-person at a Kansas City Comicon (reportedly one of the last conventions the 93-year-old icon will attend), I’m proud to own a signed copy of this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Lee’s version of Marvel Comics history. Just keep in mind that other creators may have different interpretations of some of the events than Lee did!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee, How to Write Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics, by Lee Daniels or Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire, and Both Lost, by Dan Raviv.] [ publisher’s official Amazing Fantastic Incredible web site ] | [ official Stan Lee web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


threebodyproblemThe Three-Body Problem
by Cixin Liu

This novel won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction novel, as voted on by science fiction fans at the World Science Fiction Convention. It is an English-language translation of one of China’s most beloved science fiction authors. It is also the first volume of a trilogy.

Told in alternating contemporary and flash-back sequences, from the perspective of several characters, The Three-Body Problem explores the ramifications of a “First Contact” scenario, in which the human being who is making long-distance contact with a potentially hostile alien race four light-years away, is a Chinese scientist who has lost her family in China’s Cultural Revolution, and who feels that humanity would benefit from an alien society coming to — most likely — subjugate us. This was a fascinating read, with a large cast of characters to follow — I was glad to have a list of the main cast at the front of the book to look back at as all the Chinese language names became a bit overwhelming.

In the end, while I appreciated the chance to read science fiction coming from another culture, I only gave it a five rating because large portions of the plot involved scientists regurgitating information to the reader — it felt a bit too much like being in a lecture hall. But, if you’re a fan of hard SF, and want to read something written with a different political and social bias that the vast majority of science fiction published for English-language readers, I do recommend it!

[ The Three-Body Problem page on Wikipedia ] | [ Cixin Liu page on Wikipedia ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


entropyeffectStar Trek ReviewsThe Entropy Effect
by Vonda N. McIntyre

This is a really short novel that is available in print and on Hoopla’s digital streaming service as an audiobook. I listened to audio version on Hoopla and like the other Star Trek audiobooks there are some added in sound effects and music. In this story the Enterprise is called to transport a dangerous criminal to a rehab center. The prisoner is a physicist who has worked with time travel and has been accused of murder. There are crewmen guarding his cell, but somehow he rushes on to the bridge and murders Captain Kirk. Spock figures out what’s going on and decides something has to be done because the physicist has meddled with time travel to the point he created a deadly time warp, drastically shorting in the time remaining in the universe. Bones joins him in the mission and hopes to save Kirk too. If you liked the Star Trek movie where they went back in time to save the whales (IV: The Voyage Home), you’ll like this one too. I’d also appeal to readers who like time travel fiction.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the movies Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, or The Back to the Future Trilogy] [ official Entropy Effect page at Memory Alpha ] | [ official Vonda N. McIntyre web site ]

Read more like this on the Star Trek: The Reading List booklist on BookGuide

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


husbandssecretThe Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriarty

The more I listen to audiobooks, the more I find that I especially enjoy listening to a reader with an accent. I don’t know why that is–what is it that we, especially mid-westerners who lack any type of accent at all, find so attractive about the dialect of people from another part of the world? It’s fascinating to me; and if that makes me shallow, so be it!

Anyway, beyond the lovely voice and accent of the reader, I found this book to be very entertaining and captivating. It focuses on three different women who, from the start, would seem to have little or nothing in common. As the story goes on, however, you find that their lives are incredibly intertwined. Although this book isn’t cataloged as a mystery, it certainly would qualify as one in my opinion. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I definitely felt a bit of the “whodunnit” suspense going on throughout the story!.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple] [ official The Husband’s Secret page on the official Liane Moriarty web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


afteryouAfter You
by JoJo Moyes

For anyone who read (or watched) Me Before You this sequel provides much- needed answers to questions left hanging at the end of the story. What happened to Louisa? To Will’s family? How does a person move on when their happy ending isn’t what they thought it would be? In keeping with the style of ‘Me Before You’, ‘After You’ is by turns funny, unsettling, and heart-wrenching. Louisa cannot return to the quiet life she led before Will. Her journey to a ‘new normal’ is not smooth, but will feel familiar to those who have experienced loss & the grief that comes after.

If you loved the first book, but were left wanting more- then pick up After You.

[ official After You page on the official Jojo Moyes web site ]

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Recommended by Shelly R.
Bennett Martin Public Library


darkofthemoonDark of the Moon
by John Sandford

I read one of John Sandford’s “Prey” books recently, and I loved it! A friend told me his Virgil Flowers series is also good. So I found the first in that series, which is this book. I think this series is GREAT!!! I loved the mystery, and I honestly did not see “whodunnit” until just when Flowers discovered it. Speaking of “that f***ing Flowers,” I would love to meet this guy in real life! Long hair, writer AND detective, wearer of jeans and concert/band t-shirts–sounds fabulous!!! The other characters were well enough developed to suit the story, as well. I truly enjoy Sandford’s writing style!

I’m just getting into mysteries, and both this series and the “Prey” series of Sandford’s can be considered on my ‘to read’ list!!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Field of Prey, by John Sandford] [ official Dark of the Moon page on the official John Sandford web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


tonitennilleamemoirToni Tennille: A Memoir
by Toni Tennille and Caroline Tennille St. Clair

Toni Tennille has been one of my favorite female vocalists since she burst onto the music scene with her Grammy-winning recording of “Love Will Keep Us Together” with husband Daryl Dragon back in 1975. Daryl Dragon was better known as “Captain of the Keyboards” in his position as keyboardist for the Beach Boys on tour and the name “Captain” stuck. Daryl soon brought along his girlfriend Toni to join the band as an additional keyboardist, giving her the distinction of being the only female to be a part of the Beach Boys touring band back in the 1970s. Since that time, Toni has distinguished herself with having a prime-time music show on ABC, her own talk show, and a successful run with an off-Broadway production of Victor/Victoria. She recorded her own series of music CDs of Big Band songs and has performed with orchestras all over the country. With what appeared to be a perfect marriage and successful music career, the world was astounded when Toni suddenly filed for divorce as she and Daryl neared their 40th wedding anniversary. This book explains in great detail what led to that decision and how Toni survived so many years in a loveless marriage. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to any fan of the Captain and Tennille.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the Beach Boys book reviews, also by this reviewer.] [ official Toni Tennille web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Screening Room

formatdvdthecaptainsdvdThe Captains
by William Shatner [DVD 791.457 StaYc]

Star Trek ReviewsIn 2011, Star Trek actor William “Captain Kirk” Shatner released this special documentary, in which he sat down for extended conversations with the five actors who have succeeded him in the “Captain’s chair” in subsequent Trek series — Patrick Stewart (Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation), Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Voyager), Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer on Enterprise) and Chris Pine (James T. Kirk in the reboot movies starting in 2009).

In typical Shatner schmoose-fest style, the conversations these actors have frequently come back to Shatner and his own acting experiences, but it is still fascinating to watch these iconic combinations of performers as they interact. This production is perfect for true Trekkies and even for casual viewers of the various iterations Trek has had over its 50-year history, but would also be good viewing for anyone who considers themselves a student of television production, or who is curious about the impact of cultural phenomena on working actors — in other words, how did all these actors cope with the “fan” cults around Star Trek.

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

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdpoletopoledvdPole to Pole
by Michael Palin [DVD 910.4 Pol]

Traveling from the North to South Pole, avoiding air travel when possible, Palin goes through 16 countries in 141 days: North Pole to Greenland, Norway, Finland, the USSR, Turkey, Egypt, Cape Town, then a flight to South America, traveling down to Punta Arenas and then to Antarctica where he reaches the South Pole. This is not the first or last trip of this caliber that Palin has been on, but that does not diminish its originality or excitement. Like his other adventures including Full Circle, Himalaya, Sahara and New Europe, I whole heartedly recommend it to a traveler or adventurer.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Around the World in 80 Days or Full Circle, also starring Michael Palin.] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this mini-series ] | [ Pole to Pole on the official Palin’s Travels web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdwilddvdWild
[DVD Wild]

Cheryl Strayed’s blistering autobiography Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was one of my absolute favorite reads three years ago, and when I heard that it was being turned into a biographical film to star Reese Witherspoon as Strayed, I was filled with both hope and trepidation. The book was such a personal story, and opened up so much of Strayed’s troubled life, in its exploration of how a 1000+ mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail allowed her to purge some demons and come to terms with loss, that I wasn’t sure a film would be able to honestly capture that emotion.

Admittedly, I am a fan of Reese Witherspoon, and she does turn in a marvelous, nuanced performance in Wild. However, the book is far more powerful, in part because the filmmakers had to telescope the book’s events and cut out several key moments from Strayed’s experiences. The cinematography is terrific, the supporting cast was fine. And the storytelling gimmick of jumping backwards and forwards in time is (for the most part) effective. However, the film just felt somehow…disconnected…from the emotional events that seemed so powerful in the book. If you haven’t read the book, I do recommend this film. However, I recommend reading the book (or listening to the audiobook, as I did) even more!

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

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated June 2016
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