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Staff Recommendations – November 2015

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

November 2015 Recommendations

The Mysterious Affair at StylesformatCDbook2mysteriousaffairatstylescd
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Book one in the Hercule Poirot series. The narrator of the story is Captain Hastings, staying temporarily at Styles, who finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. His old friend Poirot, a retired Belgian police inspector, happens to be staying nearby and takes up the case. Despite the similar arrangement of characters, as Sherlock and Watson, both series are enjoyable and sometimes rather funny for being so. I’d recommend it to people who liked the Sherlock television show. As I said, it has sort of the same character dynamics, but it is different enough that it does not feel like a copy.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Caribbean Mystery, also by Agatha Christie, but stars Miss Marple rather than Poirot.] [ official Mysterious Affair at Styles page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


We Don’t Need Roadswedontneedroads
by Caseen Gaines [not yet in library]

2015 marks several significant anniversaries for the Back to the Future film trilogy. The first film in the trilogy came out in July 1985, and we just passed the date — October 21 2015 — that Marty McFly travels to in “the future” in the second film in the series. As part of the anniversary celebrations, this new “making of” volume came out in early 2015, written by Caseen Gaines. This is one of the better “behind the scenes” filmmaking volumes I’ve read in recent years, mainly because Gaines did a tremendous amount of research, and managed to interview a large number of folks responsible for the trilogy’s success. This book covers all three films, with a strong emphasis on the first film in the trilogy, and all the details that had to come together to make it happen. Did you remember that Michael J. Fox wasn’t the first actor hired to be Marty McFly — no, that honor went to Eric Stolz (Mask), who was “let go” early in the filming, when it became clear he wasn’t giving the filmmakers what they wanted in the role! Learn about how difficult it was to work with a DeLorean car as Doc Brown’s time machine. Find out more details about why Crispin Glover did not reprise his role as Marty’s dad, George McFly in the sequels. Cringe at the description of stunt work gone awry! Hear from the actors about the impact that BTTF has had on their lives and careers! Truly a fun read, especially for anyone with a soft spot for this terrific film series.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to watch the films, particularly the very first one!] [ official Back to the Future web site ] | [ official Caseen Gaines web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Finders Keepersfinderskeepers
by Stephen King

Finders Keepers is the second book in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy. I was pleased because it does touch a bit on the first book in the series, Mr. Mercedes, yet it’s not absolutely necessary that the reader have that book under their belt before approaching this one. Finders Keepers could easily stand alone.

Something that really stood out, for me, in this story is the concept of Faithful Readers being so attached to their favorite authors and the characters they create… sometimes, those Faithful Readers have a bit of difficulty (or, perhaps, a LOT of difficulty) recognizing the difference between fact and fiction, where those favorite characters are concerned. I think most people who are avid readers do this to some extent; but this story really explores the idea of a person, or people, becoming so obsessed with a character in a story that they’ll stop at nothing to find out what happens next! In a way, the idea is similar to King’s earlier novel, Misery. Yet, it is so vastly different in the way the story unfolds. In keeping with typical King form, this novel definitely contains graphic violence.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Misery by Stephen King, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or Room by Emma Donaghue.] [ official Finders Keepers page on the official Stephen King web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


ThinnerformatCDbook2thinnercd
by Stephen King [Compact Disc King]

Thinner is a book that was written by Stephen King back in 1984, but under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. King had gained enough popularity with his earlier novels that he realized people were buying his books just because they had his name on them. So he wrote a novel and a few short stories under the pseudonym to see if those books would stand on their own. However, it was leaked fairly shortly after the release of this novel. When Bachman was an unknown, it sold over 28,000 copies. Once it was leaked that Bachman was King’s pseudonym, the novel sold over 280,000 copies!

I read this book back in 1986 or so, shortly after it was written, but after the truth came out about it being a King novel. I remember loving it so much, I lent it to my best friend–she, then, lost it. She became frightened while reading it, hid it from herself, and was never able to find it again!

After thirty years of rereading various other King novels, I remembered Thinner and decided to give it another go–see if I loved it as much as I did the first time. This time, however, I opted to listen to the audiobook, which was read by Joe Mantegna (who, it turns out, plays one of the characters in the movie version). It was even scarier than I’d remembered, and listening to it made it even more so! I knew what was coming, at times, but I couldn’t remember specifics… so when I heard the story unravel once again, I was pleased and often surprised.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try King’s novel ‘Salem’s Lot.] [ official Thinner page on the official Stephen King web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Pretty Babyprettybaby
by Mary Kubica

Life on the street is wearing thin young Willow and baby Ruby as they trek around Chicago in search of food and baby essentials. Day after day, businesswoman and mother Heidi sees the pair at the train station and begins watching them, worrying through the day in her comfortable surroundings with her young teenage daughter, Zoe – and husband Chris.

Slowly, Heidi builds a relationship with Willow and in an especially heavy downpour, brings them into her home.

The story of what happens next is told from Willow, Heidi, and Chris’s point of view as we gain not only insight into the characters, but learn their backstories and grow attached to everyone involved in the situation. The story bring forth the question – What is the ‘right’ thing to do?

Think again if you think you have this psychological thriller figured out because soon you will not want to put this book down and instead navigate the twists and turns of masterful suspense late into the night.

[ official Pretty Baby page on the official Mary Kubica web site ]

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Recommended by Sarah J.
South Branch Library


LeahyformatCDmusic2leahycd
by Leahy [Compact Disc 781.62 IreL]

This is some pretty fantastic fiddle music. The band members are siblings from Ontario but play in an Irish folk style. All the songs on this album are purely instrumental and very upbeat. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to hearing their other albums. It’s part of the Narada collection and I’ve yet to listen to one of their albums I don’t enjoy. It’s definitely music that gets you going, or at least toe tapping.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try music of The Chieftains.] [ official Leahy web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Shatter Meshatterme
by Tahereh Mafi [YA Mafi]

Juliette has been in a maximum security prison for 264 days. Her whole life she has been called a monster, because when she touches another person’s skin, they experience incredible pain. If the contact is held for long enough, that person dies, which is why Juliette is in prison.

In a world that is falling apart, it is easier for The Reestablishment to lock Juliette up than try to figure out why her touch is fatal. But now, they’ve decided that maybe her touch is not a bad thing. One of the commanders of the army even sees it as a useful weapon. Juliette must decide if this is the only option available for her.

[ official Tahereh Mafi web site ]

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Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Librayr


Uprooteduprooted
by Naomi Novik

I have been reading Fantasy literature nearly all of my life, so I know a good Fantasy book when I come across one. This book surprised me with its creative elements, something that doesn’t happen very often in current Fantasy literature. As a fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, I was pleased to see that she had published something completely different. This book fulfilled my expectations and more. Novik’s writing is well-crafted as she pulls the reader into the story and makes you want to keep reading without a break. I especially enjoyed how she fleshed out the characters of Agnieszka and Kasia, lifelong friends and warriors in the battle against the evil that lurks in the Wood. The character of the Dragon, the wizard who is the overlord of the town that Agnieszka and Kasia live in, is one of the most unlikable heroes I have ever found. If I could criticize anything about the story, it would be to wish that Novik had improved his character in the story or not made him the object of a romantic relationship. On the other hand, one of the things I enjoyed most was how the author would suddenly throw in a plot twist that took me completely by surprise. Even the ending was much different than I was expecting. I would guess that the author plans to write a sequel to this in the near future. I will look forward to it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, starting with His Majesty’s Dragon, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip, The Riddlemaster of Hed also by Patricia McKillip, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey.] [ official Uprooted page on the official Naomi Novik web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Scents and SensibilityformatCDbook2scentsandsensibilitycd
by Spencer Quinn [Compact Disc Quinn]

This is the ninth volume in the mystery series featuring Bernie Little and his dog Chet (“the jet”). Narrated from the point-of-view of Chet, this particular volume features some major developments in Chet and Bernie’s world. First, after the previous two volumes in the series took Chet and Bernie out of their standard Arizona setting (first to Louisiana Bayou country in The Sound and the Furry, then to Washington D.C. in Paw and Order), in Scents and Sensibility, the due is back home in “the valley”. The case they get involved with is extremely personal, with Bernie’s elderly neighbor Mr. Parsons being victimized by his just-out-on-parole son, and Bernie stepping in to help him out. Additionally, as he digs around, Bernie ends up butting heads with a corrupt cop — and we learn about the circumstances that caused Bernie to end his police career several years earlier. And finally, a little puppy (introduced briefly in an earlier book in the series) named “Shooter”, who bears a distinct genetic resemblance to Chet, becomes a major new character in the novels.

I continue to enjoy this series as audiobooks (in this case books-on-cd), with narrator Jim Frangione doing an absolutely perfect job of capturing Chet’s personality with his voice. If you can, and you’re interested in mysteries told from unique character points-of-view, I can’t recommend this audiobook series highly enough. This particular volume is a return to high form for Spencer Quinn (actually Peter Abrahams writing under a pseudonym), after a couple of occasionally lackluster volumes in the past couple of years. I’m also looking forward to reading Woof! — the first in a new series for youth readers, featuring Bowser and Birdie, a dog-and-a-pre-teen-girl pair of sleuths.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try al the earlier volumes in the Chet & Bernie series by Quinn.] [ official ChettheDog.com web site ] | [ official Spencer Quinn (Peter Abrahams) web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Sleuthsleuth
by Anthony Shaffer [822 Sha]

One of the best mystery/thriller plays ever written, Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth came out in 1970, and won the Tony Award for Best Play, as well as numerous other theatrical awards and nominations. Although there is a cast of five, Sleuth is primarily a two-man show, with a few supporting characters thrown in near the very end. Set at the Wiltshire manor house of bestselling British mystery author Andrew Wyke, the play features Wyke having invited a young upstart, Milo Trindle, to his home. Wyke is obsessed with games, game-playing and quirky inventions. Wyke’s also upset with Trindle, who he’s discovered is having an affair with Wyke’s wife (never seen in the play). In a series of sharp, snappy give-and-take conversations, Andrew and Milo dance around their differences and similarities, and Andrew ultimately suggests an elaborate scheme, in while Milo will “break into” Andrew’s home to steal his wife’s jewelry, giving Andrew an opportunity to make a profit in insurance claims while also getting rid of his unfaithful wife.

But not everything is as it seems, and Andrew’s efforts to entice Milo to larceny may not be quite as simple as they seem.

Sleuth has been performed hundreds of times in the U.K. and U.S. and is a powerful example of the “two-man” play, with both Andrew and Milo being full, vibrant characters for actors to bite into. The play has also been adapted into two successful films. The first, in 1972, featured Laurence Olivier as Andrew and Michael Caine as Milo. The second, in 2007, also featured Michael Caine, this time as the senior character Andrew, and Jude Law as Milo. Both are very much worth your time if you can find them. But, I still recommend reading this in playscript format and/or seeing a staged version if at all possible. I’d love to see it produced locally!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Deathtrap, by Ira Levin.] [ Wikipedia page for Sleuth ] | [ Wikipedia page for Anthony Shaffer ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hopemistakenidentity
by Don Van Ryn and others [363.1 Van]

This book tells about how Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak were mistaken for each other at the scene of an accident and tells the family’s story as they went through their respective recovery and grieving processes.

Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak attended the same college, and were on a trip with some other members of their college. In a vehicle crash which 5 people died, Laura was taken to the hospital and Whitney was pronounced dead at the scene. However, Laura and Whitney were similar in their features, which caused their identities to be mixed up.

When Laura (who was really Whitney) came out of her coma. It was discovered that their identities had been switched.

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Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Aftermathaftermath
by Chuck Wendig

The first Star Wars “new continuity” title set after “Return of the Jedi” is something of a mixed bag. There is a fun story featuring some new characters that gives us a feel for the universe after the Battle of Endor. Fan favorite and classic Star Wars characters only show up as cameos or background characters. The main story is interrupted by a variety of interludes that seem like they are setting up for future stories. If one accepts Aftermath for what it is, a set-up for future Star Wars novels, it is a fun read. Others may likely feel unsatisfied with Aftermath on its own.

StarWarsReviews[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Lords of the Sith by Paul Kemp, Tarkin by James Luceno or A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller.] [ Aftermath entry in Wookiepedia ] | [ official Chuck Wendig web site ]

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Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library


Screening Room

formatdvdArrow: The Complete First Seasonarrowdvd-1
[DVD Arrow]

Billionaire Oliver Queen has been marooned on an island for 5 years. Experiencing trama on this island, Oliver is no longer the spoiled playboy he used to be. He has returned home to Starling City, were he plans to seek revenge for his father, and to help clean up the crime in the city. In doing so, he adopts the persona of “The Arrow.”

[Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Arrow web site ]

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Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdChasing Shackletonchasingshackletondvd
[DVD 910.45 Cha]

In 1914 an exploration team in Antarctica was shipwrecked. In a rescue mission to save his crew Shackleton and few other men set out from Antarctica to New S. Wales for help. The mission was a success. In this documentary, a modern day crew assembles to find out what it was like to tackle the same sea journey followed by a trek over mountains using only period gear. No modern navigation tools, no modern cooking equipment or clothes, even a replica boat just like Shackleton’s. For safety the boat was fitted with a GSP that an observer ship monitored and a there was a radio for emergencies. The adventure is spread out over 3 episodes. It was fascinating to watch them travel with such rudimentary equipment and still know where they were going. I won’t spoil any surprises because it feels like a real adventure is unfolding as you watch. I thoroughly enjoyed it and very highly recommend it. It’s a fabulous documentary but could be enjoyed as an action adventure survival movie.

[There is also a companion book to the DVD. The title is the same, Chasing Shackleton.] [Also available in Chasing Shackleton DVD on PBS web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdWhat We Do in the Shadowswhatwedointheshadowsdvd
[DVD What]

This comic vampire movie had come highly recommended by some friends, so when a copy became available just before Halloween, I grabbed it. From some of the folks who produced the wry comic television limited series Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows is a film about four vampires who share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand. Shot in mockumentary style (think TV’s “The Office” or “Modern Family”), each of the vampires sits for interview segments, and we also see them interacting with each other, and the Wellington night life. The film pokes fun at standard vampire tropes, with each of the central vampires being of a different traditional type. Viago is an 18th century dandy, Vladislav is over 800 years old and older and set in his ways, Deacon is the youngest, at only 183, and has a human familiar who helps find prey (other humans) for her vampire master. And Peytr is the oldest, at over 8000, but doesn’t appear human — he’s more like Count Orlok from Nosferatu. Although there are a few bloody, gory scenes involving vampires feeding, for the most part this film is wryly humorous, having fun with standard vampire traditions, as an unseen documentary crew follows the central characters around Wellington for several months, capturing their lifestyle — and in the case of vampires who are hundreds of years old, their outdated lifestyle is having trouble meshing with modern life. Watching the vamps trying to figure out texting and the internet is hilarious

In many ways, the introduction of Stu, a human who is best friends with a newly turned vampire, Nick, is the best part of the film — everyone likes Stu just as he is…a fairly bland but friend guy, who helps all the undead with their societal issues – nobody wants him to be turned into a vampire. So, when a pack of werewolves attack Stu, the vampires all get angsty about Stu’s fate. The performances in the film are all terrific. The set design is great, with the vampires’ Wellington apartment building a marvelous combination of modern and ancient. The costume designers had a field day, and the outfits the vampires wear to go out in public every night are crazy. And the make-up is also marvelous, especially Petyr, who is incredibly creepy. If you like your vampires with a bit of comedy, or you were fans of Flight of the Conchords, I highly recommend this quirky, offbeat horror film!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official What We Do in the Shadows web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated February 2016
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