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Staff Recommendations – October 2016

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

October 2016 Recommendations

youngfrankensteinsoundtrackcdhooplaYoung Frankenstein
by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan [Compact Disc 782.14 Young, and Hoopla digital service]

Gene Wilder and Mel Brook’s 1974 film masterpiece Young Frankenstein, starring Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle and Cloris Leachman, was transformed into a Broadway musical sensation in 2007, enjoying over 480 performances on Broadway before closing in 2009. It then became a popular touring show, and has now become available for local theaters to produce their own versions in regional and community theaters. Anyone familiar with the classic old film knows that there were really only two noteworthy pieces of music (other than the background soundtrack) — the haunting violin piece that calms the monster’s anger, and the show biz standard “Putting on the Ritz”, to which Dr. Frankenstein and The Monster do a soft-shoe routine before things go awry. For this big show, Brooks and Thomas Meehan (who, together, also turned Brooks’ film The Producers into a successful Broadway musical), crafted 21 songs and dance numbers. Playing off of moments both small and large in the film, entire production numbers are built around Frederick’s lecture to his medical students (“The Brain”), fiancee Elizabeth’s odd behavior (“Please Don’t Touch Me”), the familial connect between Frederick and Igor (“Together Again for the First Time”), Frau Blucher’s illicit relationship with Frederick’s grandfather (“He Vas My Boyfriend”), and so much more.

formatCDmusic2The performances on this original Broadway cast album include Roger Bart as Frederick, Megan Mulally as Elizabeth, Christopher Fitzgerald as Igor, Sutton Foster as Inga, Andrea Martin as Frau Blucher and Sherman Hensley as The Monster. All turn in terrific singing jobs, making me wish I’d seen this cast perform the show. Young Frankenstein will be performed at Lincoln’s own TADA Theatre in the Haymarket the final three weekends in October, in case you’d like to see it performed live. Otherwise, I highly recommend this Broadway soundtrack!

[If you enjoy the goofiness of this musical, you may also wish to try The Producers, also by Mel Brooks.] [ Wikipedia page for Young Frankenstein: The Musical ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


wardsoffaerieWards of Faerie
by Terry Brooks

This is the first book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy and while it’s very reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings trilogy it is distinct. Set in a fantasy world with technology like airships I think is a really nice blend creating a fresh new world to delve into. Not having read any Terry Brooks before, I can’t compare this one with his others or discern how the story, characters, items, and places relate to the other books. While it’s a bit difficult to say if there is a main character at all, I considered Aphenglow, an elf and druid, to be the protagonist because the story starts with her, but as I read she merges into a group of characters that are all central to the story. The elves used to have what are called Elfstones, multiple sets of them in different colors that do different kinds of magic. The only stones still in the possession of the elves are the blue seeking stones. While doing Druid research Aphenglow comes across a diary of an elven girl in a time when all the Elfstones were still held by the elves and tells how they were all, save the blue ones, stolen away by a boy she loved of a different race. The leader of the Druids is told about the diary and decides that a quest must ensue to look for this lost magic before it falls into the wrong hands. The tale is very full of fighting, monstrous beasts, thrills and dangerous adventures but nothing is terribly graphic in nature. There is a variety of characters that all have their strengths and weaknesses; the leader of the Druids does not always have the answers, the young ones don’t always have physical strength, and the Elven king does not have all the power. While they are all brave, intelligent and strong, as they must to be involved the quest, they all show self-doubt from time to time and have thoughts of abandoning the hunt. However this is an epic undertaking and the fate of the world is at stake – more than they all realize till the next novel. If this sounds interesting, you really should read it. I don’t want to reveal more details, but I will say I really enjoyed it, even if it might not be Brook’s best according to some.

[If you enjoy this, there are two books that follow this, Bloodfire Quest and Witch Wraith.] [ official Wards of Faerie page on the official Terry Brooks web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


dresdenfilesomnibus1Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Omnibus 1
by Jim Butcher, with art by Adrian Syaf, Brett Booth, Chase Conley and Kevin Mellon

I’ve been a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels, urban fantasy novels featuring Chicago private investigator Harry Dresden, who is also a practicising wizard. The series began with Storm Front in 2000 and has turned into a huge success, spawning a short-lived television series (on the SciFi channel) and 15 novels (and a whole lot of short stories) to-date. Comics publisher Dynamite began a Dresden Files comic book a few years ago, and has adapted several of Butcher’s novels into the graphical format, as well as telling some all-original stories in the comic books as well. Most stories run several issues — as many as 7 or 8 — and are then later compiled into a graphic novel with all the issues of that storyline together. This particular book — Omnibus 1 — gathers the original story “Welcome to the Jungle” (previously reviewed on BookGuide) with adaptations of the first two novels, “Storm Front” and “Fool Moon”, followed by another 10-page original, “Restoration of Faith”. These graphic novels are an excellent introduction to the character and storylines of Harry Dresden, nicely capturing both his wry, sarcastic sense of humor, and the complex, sometimes violent cases he gets mixed up in. The art in these stories is by various artists, including Adrian Syaf, Brett Booth, Chase Conley and Kevin Mellon. I found Syaf’s art to be gorgeous and highly detailed, while the art by the others tended to be a bit more abstract and/or grotesque. The coloring is beautiful. Having read both “Storm Front” and “Fool Moon” when they originally came out, I felt the comic adaptation did a tremendous job, hitting all the major plot points without loosing anything in translation.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the actual Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher, or the audiobook versions read by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer!)] [ Publisher’s official Dresden Files Omnibus Vol. 1 web page ] | [ official Jim Butcher web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


abcmurdersThe ABC Murders
by Agatha Christie

Captain Hastings and Monsieur Poirot are on another case together, this time it’s a serial killer. To begin with there is a murder in England of someone whose name begins with A who also lives in a town that starts with the letter A. The pattern of victim name and place name continues with the proceeding letters of the alphabet. The criminal mails letters to the detective announcing when and where the murders will occur, but it still takes a few tries before the culprit is caught. I feel this was one of the best in the series I’ve read so far. Many of my favorites are those that include Captain Hastings because it adds the familiar dynamic of Sherlock and Watson from Arthur Conan Doyle’s mysteries that I also enjoy. This title is highly recommended to anyone looking for a mystery novel; this series does not need to be read in order in my opinion so even if you haven’t read a Poirot you could start here at book 12.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try these: The Big Four, by Agatha Christie, is another Hercule Poirot mystery, that in my opinion is another one of the best in the series. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are both great mystery short story collections with the same sort of feel as the Poirot series.] [ official ABC Murders page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


childrensstoryThe Children’s Story
by James Clavell

This story takes place in a classroom somewhere in the U.S., with the feeling that a war has been lost. A new teacher is brought in to educate the youngsters while the old teacher is sent to the principal’s office, never to be seen again. This new teacher is young, enthusiastic, and friendly – exactly the type of person that sends warning signals to an adult, but easily wins over children with her alleged logic about loyalty and symbols, religion, and patriotism.

When one boy argues they always begin the day with the Pledge of Allegiance, she acquiesces then challenges the children to explain what it means. She kindly questions everything they have to say, gently leading them toward what we know to be the new party line.

An excellent short story that will make you angry and horrified. It warns how easily children can be manipulated by adults. A quick read at only 96 pages, it will ,nonetheless, stay with you for a long time.

[ James Clavell entry on Wikipedia ]

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Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


homecobenHome
by Harlan Coben

This 11th installment in the Myron Bolitar series (or 14th, if you insert into the timeline the trilogy with his nephew, Mickey – and I think you should) have the pair trying to solve a mystery that’s personal to Win. Ten years ago two six-year-old boys on a play date were kidnapped from a wealthy home. A ransom was demanded and paid, but never picked up. Neither boy was returned. One of those boys is the son of Win’s favorite cousin.

But now, Win has sighted one of the boys in London, and after a wild and explosive negotiation, Myron and Win rescue one boy, but we still know nothing about the second boy, and questions and suspicions continue to mount. Count on the unexpected, as well as a, mostly, satisfying ending that ties up several story arcs. As always, Myron and Win are full of side-splitting, smart-aleck banter.

Coben’s stories don’t rely on a formula other than you can count on the first part of a book to introduce you to characters and histories, then suddenly take off with the mystery, dead ends, more questions, and twists – forget trying to read ahead to the ending to see whodunit. His theme always revolves around family – how the events in the story impact the family unit.

Esperanza, Big Cyndi, and Myron’s nephew, Mickey, are back, as well as Mickey’s friends Spoon and Ema. Read this series in order beginning with “Deal Breaker.”.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Virgil Flowers series by John Sandford. Start with Dark of the Moon.] [ official “Home” novel page on the official Harlan Coben web site ]

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Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


rosspoldarkRoss Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787
by Winston Graham

Ross Poldark (1945) was the first book published by author Winston Graham in the Poldark series which includes twelve additional titles. The characters and plot lines are so well done that it is difficult to put this book down. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about Graham’s writing is that he switches point of view throughout the book, so the reader sees situations from different perspectives. Ross Poldark is not perfect, but he is a man of honor and is willing to fight for the things he believes in. Having returned from the Revolutionary War, we see Ross as someone who has lost everything — his father, his fortune, and his fiance. But Ross is not one to give up. He seeks to re-open the copper mine on his father’s property and rebuild his life. Along the way, Ross learns to love again.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, or Captain Hornblower, by C.S. Forester] [ official Winston Graham web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


highwaymanThe Highwayman
by Craig Johnson

This novella is part of the Sheriff Walt Longmire series, and is inspired by “The Signal-Man,” an 1866 ghost story by Charles Dickens. A patrol officer claims to hear a radio call nearly every evening during specific hours from an Arapaho patrolman who died in a fiery crash on that stretch of road fifty years earlier.

I expected a straight-forward, updated retelling of a ghost warning travelers of danger. Oh so wrong. Johnson is such a rich storyteller and adds so much layering to his tales that this story went in directions and possessed depth that I hadn’t anticipated for a tale of this length.

Being a novella, I would call it #12.5 in the series – in between #12 “Dry Bones” and #13 “An Obvious Fact.” One doesn’t need to have read the previous Longmire books, nor have watched the A&E or Netflix series to follow the events or the characters, and of the series regulars only Longmire’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear, makes an appearance. This is simply a well-written ghost story and mystery with well-developed characters.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the rest of the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson, or the TV series based on those novels.] [ official Craig Johnson web site ]

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Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


pizzaonthegrillPizza on the Grill (expanded)
by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer [641.824 Kar]

Another example of a culinary book that grabbed my attention on our New Books display at the downtown library. I love pizza. I love cooking on the grill. Combining the two has to be a sure-fire win, right? The authors open with some general background on how to prepare pizza for grilling on both gas grills and charcoal grills, including special handling for gluten-free doughs. Then, they launch into over 100 pizza recipes, broken into categories: Classics, Marvelous & Meatless, Seaworthy (seafood), Porkilicious, Tastes Like Chicken, Big & Beefy, Morning Glories and Sweet Thangs (dessert pizzas). They then include a small section on Nibbles & Noshes (appetizers, salads, side dishes and finishing touches to go alongside your gourmet pizza). Finally, they finish with a 30-page section of recipes for a variety of pizza doughs, sauces and other standard elements that will go into the larger world of pizza creation.

Nearly half of the main pizza recipes are accompanied by gorgeous full-page photographic illustrations, making this book almost as fun to simply read, as to consider trying the recipes. If you like grilling, and don’t mind doing some experimentation, I recommend giving this one a try. Although their cooking recommendations include cooking the pizza directly on the wire rack of a charcoal grill, I recommend following their alternate suggestion, of using either a pizza stone or a cast-iron pizza pan. Otherwise, all their instructions are fairly simple and easy-to-follow. Happy grilling!

[ official Pizza on the Grill page on the official Elizabeth Karmel web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


finderskeepers200Finders Keepers
by Stephen King

Although this is Book Two of the Mr. Mercedes series, it’s one that could easily stand alone. The bits about Mr. Mercedes are only included marginally, and they are spelled out clearly enough that a reader wouldn’t have to have read the first book of the series. Peter Saubers discovers a real-live treasure chest with a real-live treasure in it: some fabulous writing that’s never been published, and a ton of money. Since the chest looks like it’s been buried for about twenty years, Pete’s confident nobody remembers it’s there… and he helps himself to the contents. But his actions aren’t completely selfish–he uses the money to dole out “helping gifts” to his parents every few months, over a number of years, to help them get back on their feet again. By the time the money runs out, his parents are back on solid ground, both financially and also within their marriage. Trouble is, someone might have come back to look for that old treasure chest after all…. someone more dangerous than a fairy-tale pirate…

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn] [ official Finders Keepers page on the official Stephen King web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatCDbook2gingerbreadgirlcdGingerbread Girl
by Stephen King

Emily escapes to the secluded Vermillion Key off of Florida’s coast after the death of her infant child. Her new neighbor also enjoys the privacy of the key, but the women he brings with him never return home. Emily’s curiosity leads her right into the hands of the madman, but it’s her legs that are her only hope for survival.

Spoiler Alert: Out for a run after moving into her father’s cabin for a bit–she’s trying to get the thoughts of her estranged husband and the child they lost out of her head–Emily is curious about the car she sees in her neighbor’s drive. The trunk is open, and she’d swear she could see what looks like hair in there. She goes down the driveway, meaning to just take a closer look and then run home to call the police, when instead, she is captured by whoever captured (and killed) the blonde woman in the trunk. Despite the fact that her husband had complained about how much running Emily had been doing lately, it seems that the running has provided her with the one thing could help her get away from this murderous madman.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, also by Stephen King] [ official Gingerbread Girl audiobook page on the official Stephen King web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


hellboyghostspecialhooplaHellboy/Ghost Special
written by Mike Mignola, with art by Scott Benefiel and Jason Rodriguez

This is a Hellboy and Ghost crossover from 1996; that’s 20 years ago now, but it does not feel dated at all. Hellboy and the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) are investing a call about a ghost and Hellboy decides it’s best if he enters the building alone. On the other side of the story and inside the building, we have Ghost; that’s her name and she is one. She has a troubled soul and past which is not explained too much in this story, but she is convinced by an entity in a mask (calling himself Peace) that Hellboy is the cause of her torment. What she must do is take Hellboy’s hand and present it to Peace to end her suffering. Ghost believes him and does his bidding for a while. I’ll let you read it if you want to know the ending. This was maybe a bit darker and more graphic than what I usually read, but I thought it was good. There was also some funny bits in the story, particularly some of Hellboy’s lines; he’s just so matter of fact about things that even in grim settings it makes you laugh. If you are looking for a quick (it’s only 50 pages) Halloween story and don’t mind the blood and guts then I think you’ll like it, especially if you liked the Hellboy movies or have read other Hellboy graphic novels.

This is only available at the moment on Hoopla, so you’d need to either download the Hoopla app or login at Hoopladigital.com, then create an account if you don’t already have one. It’s pretty quick to set up and there is never any waiting for other customers to return items so you can check out anything right away.

[If you want more Hellboy and or more Ghost, Hoopla has plenty of both.] [ Wikipedia page for this two-issue crossover title ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatCDbook2biglittleliescdBig Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty [Compact Disc Moriarty]

DEATH at Perriwee Public School Trivia Night!!!

I really think this story holds great appeal for mothers, especially those of kindergarten to middle-school age. Many of the things that I’ve gone through over the years, with my three children, are replayed for me in this story. Well, except for the part where someone DIES at Trivia Night, of course. The fake friendliness with hidden cattiness underneath, the cliques, the true friendships that develop, etc. It’s a whole dynamic that you don’t even realize exists until your kiddos begin school. This story takes that to a whole new level, which is hilarious and scary and fun all at once.

I first discovered Liane Moriarty when I read The Husband’s Secret, as recommended to me by a friend. I really loved it. So then I saw this book, and I snatched it up. Let me clarify: I had listened to the audiobook of The Husband’s Secret, and then I listened to the audiobook of Big Little Lies. I have to tell you, Moriarty’s writing is absolutely fabulous–and it is PERFECTLY paired with the reading done by Caroline Lee. (She did both.) I am completely in love with the combination of them, and I’m going to get my hands (ears?) on every piece they’ve done together, no matter what it takes!

[ official Big Little Lies page on the official Liane Moriarty web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library


hooplaintothewoodscdInto the Woods: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Deluxe Edition
by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine [Compact Disc 782.14 Into]

Into the Woods was a staged musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, which opened in San Diego in 1986, then on Broadway in 1987, winning Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Book (opposite Broadway juggernaut Phantom of the Opera). After years of successful runs, touring productions, local community theater and high school productions, Hollywood finally produced a motion picture version just within the past couple of years, featuring a cast full of both movie and stage stars. Meryl Streep is The Witch, James Corden and Emily Blunt are The Baker and his wife, Anna Kendrick is Cinderella, Chris Pine is Prince Charming and Johnny Depp is The Wolf — among many, many more.

Over the years, many different soundtrack albums have been released, from various productions — New York, London, revivals, etc. — and the movie version put out two different soundtracks. One was a shorter single-disc album, featuring 20 songs — all the major “hits” from the show — while the Deluxe Edition was a two-disc album featuring 50 tracks, including a ot of the dialog that leads into the individual songs. The cast, overall, does a marvelous job with what is sometimes extremely fast-paced lyrics, often with various singers overlapping each other with their own motifs. The show, which plays around with traditional fairytale tropes and pokes loving fun at long-standing storytelling traditions, still manages to evoke a lot of intense emotion, and the performances here capture that emotion well. The “Opening Prologue”, which sets all the characters’ storylines in motion, is tremendous. Every character has a moment to shine, both with humor and with drama. And by the end of the show, when the entire cast shares verses of “Finale/Children Will Listen”, I challenge you not to have been moved. I know some fans of the staged version are not fans of the movie version, but, personally, I loved the movie and this two-disc soundtrack is one of my favorites! Highly recommended!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the two-disc soundtrack to the recent filmed version of Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman and a cast of other notables.] [ Wikipedia page for the Into the Woods movie soundtrack ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


hooplaredsonjablacktowerRed Sonja: The Black Tower
written by Frank Tieri, with art by Cezar Razek

Red Sonja has battled many a strange or unusual beast in her time, but she has not encountered robots until now. Even as just a traveler, she finds it odd when a mysterious black tower appears suddenly in a town she’s passing through. Perhaps stranger yet, robots emerge from it. This is a fantasy world similar to Conan the Barbarian’s, so no one has seen robots before and are therefore justly terrified, especially when they start killing people. Some of the villagers start to worship the Black Tower and some, Sonja included, stand against it. Unfortunately Sonja, strong and brave as she is, is no match for them. I’ll let you read it to find out how it ends. I enjoyed this one mostly for its novelty compared to other Sonja mini-series I’ve read, not just because of the robots but about the ending too. It’s not one of my favorite mini-series, but it’s not bad. As with any Red Sonja comic, there is blood and violence, so it’s for teen and adult audiences!.

[If you like the steam punk genre, you may also like Legendary, which gathers together a bunch of Dynamite’s characters, Red Sonja included, for a story set in a steampunk world. You can check out this title, Legendary, and other Red Sonja graphic novels digitally at HooplaDigital.com. You can also get to Hoopla by searching for the titles in our catalog and clicking on the download button.] [ Publisher’s web page for this graphic novel compilation ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Screening Room

formatdvd10cloverfieldlane10 Cloverfield Lane
[DVD 10]

Not necessarily related to “Cloverfield” (2008) but some say you can treat it that way.

This stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr. and John Goodman.

Michelle (Winstead) is in a car accident and wakes up locked in a fallout shelter. There are two men there with her, Howard (Goodman) and Emmett (Gallagher). They claim that they saved her and she must stay underground with them because some sort of worldwide chemical disaster has happened and it’s not safe to leave. Howard is a farmer who built the shelter, Emmett was his farmhand who convinced him to let him in. As time goes on Michelle and Emmett discover strange things about Howard that make them believe there is more happening than what might seem.

This is a psychological thriller. At first you’re not quite sure what to believe – did these men actually save her or kidnap her, did something really happen outside or is that just an excuse so that she stays, etc. This theme of not knowing continues far into the movie and once you hit the point where you know everything you are floored by the whole story. I’m so used to seeing John Goodman in comedies and this role is drastically different than those.

[This movie is very dark and just when you think things have calmed down something happens. Would recommend it to people who like horror movies or psychological thrillers, such as Panic Room, The Shining, or Cloverfield.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official 10 Cloverfield Lane web site ]

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Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvddracula2007dvdDracula (2007)
[DVD Dracula]

This 2007 Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel is a stylish, visually appealing version this gothic tale. Marc Warren (whom I’ve enjoyed as Danny Blue in the con-game series Hustle, Rochefort in The Musketeers and The Gentleman in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) plays Count Dracula as both sensual and reserved, and gives off a perfect menacing air. But it was actually the non-vampiric performances that impressed me the most — Tom Burke as Dr. John Seward, Dan Stevens as Lord Arthur Holmwood and Donald Sumpter as cult leader Alfred Singleton are all impressive. And David Suchet (Poirot) is quirky but earnest for the short time he’s on-screen as Abraham Van Helsing. But the women steal the show — Sophia Myles is doomed Lucy Westenra (the same year she starred in the CBS vampire series Moonlight!), and Stephanie Leonidas is quite memorable as Mina Murray.

Production design, set decoration, costumes and make-up are all top-notch. This 90-minute film is a visual feast. However, for those who are accustomed to today’s big-budget special effects and stunt extravaganzas, featuring horrific “monster” make-up and athletic “vampire hunters”, you need to be aware that this film is true to Stoker’s original novel, and the scares and thrills come from the atmosphere and characterizations, not from “shocks”. A classy production, and one that I recommend!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try reading the original novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, or the 1970s TV-movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, starring David Soul of Starsky & Hutch fame. ] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ PBS Masterpiece Theatre’s official Dracula web page ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdpoldarkseries1dvd-200Poldark: Series One
[DVD Poldark]

After seeing the new Poldark (2015) series on PBS and loving it, I decided to go back and watch the original series produced by the BBC in the early 1970s. Robin Ellis does an outstanding job of portraying the tempermental Captain Ross Poldark who is fighting to regain what had belonged to him before he left Cornwall to fight in America, including his former love, Elizabeth, now engaged to his cousin. Enter Demelza, a poor girl with family issues, as the kitchen wench who becomes the wife of Ross, and teaches him what it means to be compassionate for others. Series one includes all 16 episodes of the first season. Although I love the performance of the actor Robin Ellis, I found that other aspects of the production were not as well done as the newer series. The production does not follow the books as well and adds strange plot lines that simply are not there. It is worth watching this series just to see the fine performance of Robin Ellis, especially in the scene where he fights his nemesis, George Warleggan.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Poldark: Series One (1975) on DVD. Books: Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark, Warleggan, all by Winston Graham.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdpoldarkseason1dvd-200Poldark: The Complete First Season
[DVD Poldark]

When I first saw this production on PBS in 2015, I had never read any of the Poldark novels by British author Winston Graham. This series which features Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza changed that for me. I have to admit I have become obsessed with all things Poldark. The film starts out showing Ross as a British soldier in America during the Revolution; he is wounded and captured. The next thing we know, Ross is back in Cornwall, returning home after the British defeat. Seeing how Ross copes with the loss of his father, his fortune and his fiance is just the beginning of this saga that takes us through the struggles of the Poldark family in the late eighteenth century. The best part of this series is the cinematography along the Cornish coast. I also loved the fact that the original actor to play Ross Poldark, Robin Ellis, has the role of Reverend Halse in this new production. The plots and characters are some of the best I have seen in recent PBS productions.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Poldark: Series One (1975) on DVD. Books: Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark, all by Winston Graham.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ PBS Masterpiece’s official Poldark web page ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdrealmurdersdvdReal Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
[DVD Real]

Nice, classy adaptation of the first Aurora Teagarden novel by Charlaine Harris — which was one of her earlier mystery series, long before the Sookie Stackhouse books that ended up being adapted into the cable TV series True Blood.

Candace Cameron Bure is perfect as Aurora, and this TV-movie version of the story is filled with excellent character actors, familiar faces to anyone who watches TV shows that are produced in Canada (pretty much anything on the Syfy network). The mystery holds together fairly well, although there were some plot changes from the book.

Oddly, the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries cable network did this adaptation of the first book as their second Aurora Teagarden movie, and at this time they’ve produced four different TV-movies in the series. I look forward to seeing the rest.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the rest of the Aurora Teagarden TV-movies, or other recent Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie series productions: A Garage Sale Mystery, The Gourmet Detective, Murder She Baked and The Flower Shop Mysteries.] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Aurora Teagarden Movies web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdvictorfrankensteinVictor Frankenstein
[DVD Victor]

This 2015 film is an alternative take on the well-known Frankenstein storyline, as originall written by Mary Shelley. Instead of the focus being on Doctor Frankenstein directly, this film follows Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe as Igor, who becomes Victor Frankenstein’s personal project first, and then his partner in experimentation later. The main leads — Radliffe, James McAvoy as Frankenstein, and Jessica Brown Findlay as Igor’s romantic interest, Lorelei — all give excellent performances. The production design, makeup and costumes are all top-notch, but I was somewhat disappointed in the modifications made to the basic storyline. Well done for what it is, but a bit off-putting to anyone who’s a fan of the original Shelley story.

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

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdyoungatheartdvdYoung@Heart
by Bob Cilman [DVD 305.26 You]

If you’ve never seen the documentary film, “Young @ (at) Heart”, it’s about time you did! This group of senior singers who can rock modern tunes will please your ears, tickle your funny bone, and steal your heart. The chorus from Massachusetts has been going strong for over 30 years and has performed nationally and internationally. Witness as they prepare for their big annual show in their home city, led by their indefatigable choir director. Will they learn the lyrics and the rhythms of all the new songs that are to be included in the program? How will their run-through at a local correctional facility go over? Will illness prevent some of the soloists from participating? This is a wonderful and candid look at the lives of two dozen elderly people — the youngest folks in the chorus are over 70 — who are full of life and passion and camaraderie, willing to share their love of music with each other and the public. Be prepared to hear some songs in a way you haven’t before, like “Schizophrenia” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” It’s “a trip” worth taking!

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

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Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


last updated October 2016
* Please Note: The presence of a link on this site does not constitute an endorsement by Lincoln City Libraries.

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