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Staff Recommendations – May 2016

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

May 2016 Recommendations

deathinthecloudscdformatCDbook2Death in the Clouds
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Once again Mr. Poirot is in the right place at the right time. Whilst on board an aircraft a murder is committed. However, the detective is prone to air sickness and spends most of the flight sleeping. The victim had been in the business of lending money; her assistant had been given instructions to burn all her papers if she were to pass away. By doing so, figuring out possible suspects and motives becomes more difficult. But nothing is impossible with Poirot’s order and method. As with the rest of the series I’ve read so far, it’s enjoyable. I’d put it somewhere in the middle; neither the best nor worst. Perhaps not the best if you’re traveling by air anytime soon. It was a bit funny with a modern perspective; attempting to smoke cigarettes on a plane — oh dear!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder in Mesopotamia and Murder on the Orient Express, also by Christie] [ official Death in the Clouds page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


foolmeonceFool Me Once
by Harlan Coben

Maya was a Blackhawk pilot in the Middle East but is now retired from the military giving piloting lessons to the public. During her deployment, her sister had been killed, and her husband was murdered just two weeks ago. Even worse, she was a witness to his death.

Still reeling from her losses, she’s ultra-protective of her toddler daughter and places a nanny cam in the house — and witnesses her dead husband cuddling the girl. Stunned, Maya now attempts to unravel what the heck is going on.

This is standard Coben. His excellent writing pulls you into the story as we learn about all of the characters. But I gotta say, I didn’t like the female protagonist nor the ending. Don’t let this distract you from the excellent read and tangled mystery. I had several theories going as to what was going on, and he still managed to surprise me.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Three Graves Full, by Jamie Mason]
[ official Fool Me Once page on the official Harlan Coben web site ]

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Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


howifellinlovewithalibrarianHow I Fell in Love with a Librarian and Lived to Tell About It
by Rhett Ellis

Robert Smith is the 37-year-old unmarried pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in fictional Clegmore, Alabama. He’s an avid library user for his sermons, especially the nonfiction section, so he’s eager to meet the new librarian, Myra Findley. Miss Findley is 24 years old and a recent library school graduate who’s eager to update the library. Robert is immediately smitten.

But there’s something a little, um, shall we say, off, about Miss Findley. As Robert and Myra sort out her issues and their relationship, someone is leaking info about Myra to City Council member Langston Long who is threatening to blackmail our new librarian so he can cut library funding.

A short read at 101 pages, this book is ideal for those who like light Christian fiction, uncomplicated mysteries, and happy endings.

[ Amazon.com’s Rhett Ellis author page ]

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Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


unboundUnbound
by Jim C. Hines

This is the third of Hines’ “Magic Ex Libris” quartet of novels — the fourth one is already out as well but I’m a little behind on my fantasy reading! As a result of the events of the second book, Michigan librarian/magic-user Isaac Vainio has had his physical connections to magic use stripped away from him, and he has been been ejected from the organization of magic users he belonged to. Simultaneously, a young protege he was supposed to protect has been taken by dark forces, and the two squabbling groups of “good guys” are finding themselves being defeated on multiple fronts by the ancient evil magician. Isaac’s quest in this novel is to try to find and rescue his missing protege, recover his stolen magical abilities, and stop the spread of evil in the world — all with limited resources and almost no allies to speak of. On top of that, but in this contemporary fantasy series, set in our modern world, the existence of real magic and the people who make use of it has now been revealed to the general public, making things even more complicated.

Though a lot happens in the course of this book, it still felt a little like a “bridge” volume in the series — an entry that carries the reader from the major events of volume two and connects with the connecting final volume. If you’re following Isaac’s journey, you won’t want to miss this, but Unbound is definitely not a place to jump into this series. None-the-less, I look forward to the final volume, Revisionary, which is high on my to-be-read pile right now!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Libriomancer, Codex Born, and the concluding volume Revisionary, all by Jim C. Hines]
[ official “Magic ex Libris” page on the official Jim C. Hines web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


damnedbustersDamned Busters
by Matthew Hughes

When Cheney Arnstruther refuses to sell his soul to the Devil, the cosmic order collapses. To set things right again, he teams up with both Heaven and Hell to fight crime as The Actionary! But he’s not the only one in town with incredible powers. A great read for theologists and super-hero fans alike.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Hell to Pay and Costume Not Included, also by Matthew Hughes]
[ official Matthew Hughes web site ]

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Recommended by Russell T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


weboftheromulansStar Trek ReviewshooplaWeb of the Romulans
by M.S. Murdock [Heritage Murdock, or Hoopla]

The Enterprise has a few problems before it in this story. The ship’s computer has fallen in love with Kirk and is not allowing other people to access information. There is also a Romulan vessel to deal with, which has its own problem, a virus. This is actually pretty short; it felt like a TV episode rather than a movie, so saying more about the story would spoil it. This was one of the first Star Trek novels I’ve read and while I did enjoy the story, I would say I liked the story lines in the Newspaper Comics better. However, this audio production was a bit beyond other audio books I’ve listened to because it has added in sound effects and has multiple readers. It reminded me of the audio version of The Hobbit, which was recorded as a BBC radio show. Most of the text is read by George Takei (Sulu) but Spock’s logs are read by Leonard Nimoy and I really enjoyed hearing the original crew’s voices with story. Another point of interest is that the author is Nebraskan (born in Omaha), so there is a paper copy in the Heritage Room. You may want to try this out if you’d like listening to a radio show type of production of a space drama. You can check it out on Hoopla, which is a digital streaming service our library subscribes to. There is not much in the way of set up you simply go to www.hoopladigital.com (or follow a link from our online catalog) to create an account, and then stream the audiobook through your browser; they don’t download to your device/computer.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek The Newspaper Comics, Volumes 1 and 2, by Thomas Warkentin.]
[ Web of the Romulans page on the Memory Alpha Star Trek site ] | [ M.S. Murdock page on Memory Alpha Star Trek site ]

See more books like this on our Star Trek: The Reading List booklist on BookGuide!

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

This is one of the earliest of Pocket Books’ extensive series of Star Trek novels, published in 1983, before Gene Roddenberry and company were paying too much attention to any sense of “continuity” among the Star Trek novels — this was still 4 years before Star Trek the Next Generation premiered, and nobody really cared if the events of one book matched up with the greater world of Star Trek. Therefore, the treatment of the Romulans in this novels is far different from any of the television episodes or later published novels, when continuity became more of an issue. I still enjoyed reading this very much, and had the opportunity to meet M.S. Murdock and get my copy signed, when she came down to Lincoln for a science fiction “open house” event at the Bennett Martin Public Library, sponsored by Lincoln’s science fiction club at the time.

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Reviewed by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


musicofstartrekhooplaThe Music of Star Trek
performed by The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra [on the Hoopla online service]

Star Trek ReviewsThis album consists of the end titles to most of the Star Trek films and the television show themes performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. I thought it was a very well done performance. The original series is my favorite so I am most familiar with those tunes, but it was really nice to hear the Next Generation theme again because my dad and sister used to watch that series when we were younger. So it was overall enjoyable and I recommend it to Star Trek fans of any series or film (although the two newer movies are not included). It could also be enjoyed if you like orchestra music and want something non-classical. If you want to try this one you can check it out on Hoopla, which is a digital streaming service our library subscribes to. There is not much in the way of set up you simply go to www.hoopladigital.com (or follow a link from our online catalog) to create an account, and then stream the music through your browser. It’s nice that you don’t have to wait for these either. On OverDrive you do have to wait sometimes if an item is out to someone else, but not on Hoopla.

[If you like this item, you might like these too – You may also like the soundtracks to the two newer Trek films, also available on Hoopla. If you want an actual CD you could try Frontiers: Classic Science Fiction Themes. It has music from seven different sci-fi movies and TV shows including Star Trek, Logan’s Run, Total Recall and Alien, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


redeemerThe Redeemer
by Jo Nesbø

The libraries’ Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group finally got around to reading and discussing a Jo Nesbø novel for our April 2016 meeting. We ended up using this, the sixth volume in Nesbø’s Harry Hole series, featuring a brilliant Oslo murder investigator who’s also a struggling alcoholic, and who regularly faces career challenges and difficulties with his personal life. This particular volume in the series features an assassin who has come to Oslo to kill someone, but the wrong man is killed, and when a quirk of the weather traps the killer in Norway instead of allowing them to escape, they realized their mistake and stick around to fix the problem.

The characters are all well-drawn, particularly Harry himself, and the ruthless, determined killer. I didn’t really get a specific feel for Oslo and the other settings, other than as cold, drab, emotionally-draining locales. The plot kept pulling me along, as well as the curiosity to find out how Harry would deal with the larger issues associated with the case — he turns out to be the kind of honorable detective who doesn’t necessarily follow all of the rules — occasionally doing the “wrong thing” for the “right reason”. I ended up really liking Harry, even if the plot of the novel didn’t truly hold my interest.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the rest of the Harry Hole series, by Jo Nesbø]
[ official The Redeemer page on the official English-language Jo Nesbø web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


butenoughaboutmecdformatCDbook2But Enough About Me
by Burt Reynolds [Compact Disc Biography Reynolds]

While I’ve never been what you would call a “huge” Burt Reynolds fan, I’ve definitely seen my share of his movies–being a child of the 70’s. I can remember watching “Smokey & the Bandit”, along with just about every other living human I knew…there was something free, uninhibited about Burt’s laugh during that movie–I always remembered it and felt like he must really know how to have fun! Years later, when he was in “Boogie Nights”, I was impressed that he had such a serious side (despite the often funny, hokey parts of the film). He proved himself to me as a solid actor.

So when I saw that Burt had written a memoir, I knew I had to read it at some point. I saw the opportunity to check out the audiobook (read by Burt himself) and I seized it! It must first be pointed out that Burt Reynolds is now 80 years old, and you can hear it in his voice. But I loved this book all the more because it was read by him!

I am constantly amazed and impressed by the vast amount of people Burt has worked with and made friends with over the years. Of course, I knew about Dinah Shore, Angee Dickinson, Sally Field, Loni Anderson, and Jon Voigt, etc. But there are so many other famous people that he knows or knew, well. Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Ossie Davis, Dom DeLouise and many more. After describing his childhood and his relationship with his parents, Reynolds spends the rest of the book going over his many friendships, as they evolved and as he evolved as an actor. He mentions movies he’s grateful he was a part of, as well as films he passed on or was passed over for. He dishes on a few celebrities that he does not respect or just never got along with (think Joan Crawford, Raquel Welch, Marlon Brando). I suppose the whole book reads like a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood, but because many of the people mentioned are from a time when I was growing up, it appeals greatly to me.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try If You Ask Me (and Of Course You Won’t), by Betty White, and Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher]
[ publisher’s official But Enough About Me web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Burt Reynolds ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


wildWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed [Biography Strayed]

When this book first came out, I sort of wanted to read it, but I wasn’t terribly motivated. Then I saw the movie (Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed). I loved it, but I love Ms. Witherspoon! Well, after watching the movie, which I’d heard Strayed had been very involved with (thus, it must follow the book pretty closely), I decided to read the book itself and see what might have been left out.

This is a well-written book, first of all! It reads like a novel, in my opinion, but you know that it’s a true story. I really felt like I was out hiking with Cheryl, and I felt like I could see back into her childhood when she described certain incidents. This story is rich with beautiful descriptions of the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as lovely interactions (for the most part) with strangers met along the way.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try On the Road, by Jack Kerouac]
[ official Wild page on the official Cheryl Strayed web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


startrekconcordance76Star Trek ReviewsThe Star Trek Concordance
by Bjo Trimble [791.457 StaYt]

For any true die-hard Star Trek fan (i.e. “trekkie” or “trekker”), Bjo Trimble’s Star Trek Concordance is an essential part of your fannish library. First published as a fan edition, available only through fannish networks, Trimble was able to find a professional publisher, Ballantine, who put this book out in 1976 as an oversized trade paperback, complete with a unique design element – a spinning disc on the front cover with cut-out windows, which allowed you to spin to an episode title, or a stardate, or a writer or director, and see the corresponding entries within the book. The book itself gave detailed plot descriptions for every “original series” Star Trek episode (as well as the animated Star Trek series), complete with primary credits (writer, director, main guest cast). There were detailed alphabetical indexes to all things Trek — you could look up the entries for Andorians, or Tellarites, or the planets and characters featured in the 79 original episodes, and see how they connected with the rest of the original series canon.

startrekconcordance95This was all in the pre-internet days, before the existence of such wonderful sites as Memory Alpha, which serves the same purposes now. In 1995, Trimble put out an all-new edition of the book, still focused exclusively on the “original series”, but now updated to include the first 7 Star Trek feature films featuring the original cast, as well as some (but not all) episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space 9 that featured original series characters appearing in “new generation” stories. Both the 1976 and 1995 Concordances include quite a lot of fan art — something you don’t see in many of the other professionally published Trek non-fiction books. Having grown up using these two books as my ultimate resource for Classic Trek questions, I still love sitting down and browsing both volumes — I do use Memory Alpha, so I don’t ignore the online resources available to modern Trek fans, but I still use “do you have a copy of Bjo Trimble’s Star Trek Concordance” as my acid test on how devoted a Trek fan truly is!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try On the Good Ship Enterprise, Bjo Trimble’s personal memoir about her history with Star Trek, including her legendary write-in campaigns that saved the series from cancellation — twice!]
[ History of the Star Trek Concordance at Fanlore.org ] | [ Memory Alpha page for Bjo Trimble (with links to more info) ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


longroadhomeThe Long Road Home: One Step at a Time
by G.B. Trudeau [741.5 Tru]

I have been a fan of G.B. Trudeau’s work on Doonesbury since the early 1970s. Peopled with a vast and varied cast of characters, Trudeau took a comedic poke at all of society’s conventions, usually with a liberal slant. Fron the zoned-out Zonker, to the Hunter S. Thompson parody Duke, to the titular Mike Doonesbury, the characters all have multiple layers to explore. This particular collection gathers the entire storyline of ex-football player B.D. — he who always wore his football helmet in the strip, even after college — as he goes to serve in the military in Iraq. When his humvee is blown up by an RPG while on patrol, B.D. ends up losing his leg, beginning a long journey of recovery, both physical and emotional. B.D. eventually gets a titanium prosthetic leg — this series of comic strips, spread out over a year’s time, tells of every step of his recovery process…sometimes in humorous tones, but often with very serious entries. For a comic strip that usually is satirical, Trudeau is able to treat a very sensitive topic with humor and honesty. Great work! It turns out that The Long Road Home is merely the first of four books in a set that Trudeau put out that tied into soldiers’ experiences in war and their reintegration into society. The War Within continues to follow B.D., as he deals with PTSD and the emotional stresses of being a survivor. Signature Wound: Rocking TBI features B.D. serving as a mentor to one of his former soldiers, who suffered a traumatic brain injury (and lost an eye), and who faces unique challenges fitting back into society. The fourth volume is Mel’s Story, which tells the story of a female military chopper mechanic, who is the victim of rape by a fellow soldier but who works through the healing process enough to re-enlist for another tour of duty in the mideast. These latter three volumes are not owned by the libraries but would be available through our InterLibrary Loan service.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe, by Tom Batiuk — a sensitive and heartbreaking treatment of a family’s experiences with terminal cancer in the Funky Winkerbean comic strip; and Remembering Farley, by Lynn Johnson, the story from puppyhood to passing of the beloved dog in the For Better or Worse comic strip.]
[ official Doonsbury web site from author Garry “G.B.” Trudeau ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


keepmovingcdformatCDbook2Keep Moving and Other Tips and Truths About Aging
by Dick Van Dyke [Compact Disc Biography Van Dyke]

Having enjoyed Dick Van Dyke’s very entertaining autobiography — My Lucky Life In and Out of Showbiz — a couple of years ago, I was excited to see that he had a new book out in 2015, and that he had recorded the audiobook adaptation of it himself. I was surprised, once I started to listen to this one that it wasn’t purely an entertainment biography, but was, instead, Van Dyke’s guide to how to live life as a senior. Van Dyke had just turned 89 at the time he was writing this volume, and looking back on almost 90 years of life, he has developed a number of personal philosophies and behavior choices that keep him happy and healthy and he’s happy to share with his fans. Don’t get me wrong — he does share quite a lot of stories about his life in showbiz, but frequently with an eye towards illustrating his points about lifestyle choices that lead to happiness and personal contentment.

Personally, I find his one most essential rule of behavior to be the most interesting — as the title of the book indicates, that’s “Keep Moving”. Van Dyke quotes a lot of statistics throughout the book, but one telling stat was that one of the most essential activities for maintaining a healthy and active mind in your senior years is to dance…and Dick dances every single day! A fun and enlightening volume, particularly entertaining as read by Van Dyke in audiobook format!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try My Lucky Life In and Out of Showbiz, by Dick Van Dyke (also on audio by Van Dyke).]
[ official Keep Moving web page from Weinstein Publishing ] | [ Wikipedia page for Dick Van Dyke ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

I’ve always loved watching Dick Van Dyke on TV and in movies. He’s quite a comedian. I listened to this book on my way to work and back home and laughed along with him. He tells of friends, family, coworkers, and television history, along with some tips on exercise and aging. If you like comedy, TV history, or health tips you might like this book.

[ If you like this you may wish to try Home (a biography of Julie Andrews), the movie Mary Poppins, or The Dick Van Dyke Show. ]

Recommended in April 2017 by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


Screening Room

formatdvddarkcrystalThe Dark Crystal

by Jim Henson and Frank Oz [DVD j Dark]

In 1982, Jim Henson and Frank Oz, fresh off the success of the comedic The Muppet Show (1976-1981) wanted to push the boundaries of storytelling with their puppetry, and the result was The Dark Crystal. Oz had also recently performed as Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, and the various fantastic creatures of The Dark Crystal bear far more resemblance to Yoda’s almost lifelike qualities than the obvious felt-and-strings appearance of Kermit and Miss Piggy. The Dark Crystal features a classic “epic quest” saga, in an exotic fantasy setting. Jen and Kira, a pair of young gelflings, find themselves in the middle of an epic battle between the forces of good (the aged Mystics) and evil (the hideous Skeksis), as the Dark Crystal, a source of Balance and Truth in their land, has shattered and they must seek to heal it or their world will suffer ruin. The look and feel of this film is tremendous, as are the designs of all the fabulous creatures that populate it. This film should appeal to both kids and adults (who may remember seeing the film when they, themselves, were kids). The music by Trevor Jones is one of my favorite film soundtracks. This DVD also features a marvelous “Making Of” documentary, which is well worth watching. If you’ve never experienced The Dark Crystal before, don’t pass it up now!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Labyrinth, starring David Bowie and featuring the same type of puppetry and fantasy setting. Or, the classic The Muppet Show, to admire the work of Henson and Oz and company in a more recognizable format.]
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdGLOWGLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

by Brett Whitcomb [DVD 796.812 Glo]

This is a documentary that tracks down the former Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. During the 1980s GLOW was a television show that featured lady wrestlers. This documentary tells the story of how the show started and where the stars are now. Interviews of the wrestlers today reveal how after applying to be on a TV show, they discovered at the casting that it was a wrestling entertainment show they had applied to. It also arranges a reunion meet up for the group. It was interesting that none of them actually were wrestlers, nor intended to be, but became so anyway. It’s a fun documentary and it’s not just for wrestling fans, if you are interested in television history, you should try this.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official website for this documentary ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdgodzilla2014dvdGodzilla (2014)

[DVD Godzilla]

There’s a general rule of thumb among Godzilla fans that movie-makers should just let the Japanese movie studios make all the Godzilla films. This was especially true after the 1998 “reimagining” of the Godzilla mythology, starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno, directed by Roland Emmerich, which was pretty universally hated. It was therefore with some trepidation that I decided to watch the 2014 American-made Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards and featuring a large, mostly-American cast (including Bryan Cranston, fresh off his stint on Breaking Bad).

This version of Godzilla remains true to many of the standard Godzilla tropes, and the look of the creature is certainly an improvement over the the more lizard-like creature featured in the 1998 film. The special effects are tremendous in this film, as is the set design and especially the sound editing — Godzilla’s patented roar is back! The acting is fine — you don’t really expect top-notch acting performances in a giant monster movie — particularly Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ken Watanabe. But ultimately, the enjoyment of a Godzilla film comes down to how well Godzilla itself is done, and this version of the creature was done very well. That being said, my biggest complaint about this film is the limited amount of time Godzilla itself spends on screen. For a “giant monster” movie, I was hoping more of the action would actually feature the “giant monsters”, and not the humans who are reacting to them. Still, an improvement over the 1998 film, and a fun movie to watch. After seeing this, I’m happy to know that the producers of this particular version of Godzilla plan to do a trilogy of films (the others to appear in 2018 and 2020), the third of which will recreate Godzilla vs. King Kong.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the classic Japanese Toho Studios Godzilla films — most available online!]
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Facebook page for this Godzilla movie ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated April 2017
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