Link to our Facebook Page
Link to our Twitter Page
Link to our Pinterest Page
Link to our Flickr Page
Link to our Youtube Page

Staff Recommendations – September 2015

BG Staff Rec Banner

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

September 2015 Recommendations

thetestingThe Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau [YA Charbonneau]

Cia Vale has dreamed her whole life of being chosen as a Testing Candidate. Those who are selected as candidates during the high school graduation ceremony have the chance to show they would be good candidates to go to the University. Only those who will bring innovation and success to society are chosen. Cia is chosen, and the night before she leaves her family (likely forever), her father tells her what he remembers of his testing, and about the blackouts he also has about the testing. His advice is to trust no one.

The testing begins, and Cia learns herself that what is at stake should she fail a test. And the tests are getting harder. This Dystopian novel is a Golden Sower Nominee for 2015-2016.

[ official Joelle Charbonneau web site ]

revscore7

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

scottishtranquilitycdScottish TranquilityformatCDmusic2
by Phil Coulter [Compact Disc Music 781.62 ScoC]

This album consists of traditional Scottish songs performed without vocals. It’s beautiful and I never tire of listening to it. Even if the tunes are unfamiliar to you, it’s very well done and would still be enjoyed. I have one other album by this artist, A Touch of Tranquility, and it’s very good as well.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Best of Scottish Pipes and Drums.] [ official Phil Coulter web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

foodalovestoryFood: A Love Story
by Jim Gaffigan [Biography Gaffigan]

I have long been a fan of Jim Gaffigan’s — he’s not only hilarious, but his jokes tend to be clean (i.e. I don’t have to change the channel if I’m watching him on TV and the kids come in the room) and he’s Catholic, meaning we share similar values. I think people appreciate comedians who joke about things they can relate to… I relate to Gaffigan’s humor about growing up and remaining Catholic, dealing with young children, and interactions with the general public. Most of all, however, I feel like his commentaries about food are SPOT ON! It’s as if he were somehow reading my mind! He totally articulates thoughts I’ve had and follow-up thoughts I have, almost as I’m saying them aloud in my car as I listen to him! I had considered reading this book in its print version, which is always fun if there are pictures… but when I found the audiobook on CD, I knew I had to jump at the chance to listen to Jim reading his own work. He’s not as smooth as some other professional audiobook readers, nor as when he’s delivering his routine on stage — I attributed that to the fact that he’s not a professional reader. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and feel that I could confidently recommend it to a vast majority of people.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Mr. Universe, also by Gaffigan, or Bossypants by Tina Fey.] [ official Food: A Love Story web site ] | [ official Jim Gaffigan web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Tracy T.
Bennett Martin Public Library

hexhallHex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins [YA Hawkins]

Sophie Mercer is a witch. She also just created an extremely powerful love spell for a classmate which resulted in everyone in her school finding out that she was a witch, while also ruining the prom. Sophie is then sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for teen witches, faeries, and shapeshifters who are attracting too much attention in the ordinary world.

Sophie’s first day consists of being nearly attacked by a werewolf, having a group of three other witches ask her to join their coven, and finding out her roommate is a vampire. After adjusting to the shock, Sophie settles into life at Hex Hall.

When a fellow student is attacked, and Sophie’s only friend being accused of doing the attacking, Sophie tries to find out what is going on, and clear her friend’s name.

[ official Rachel Hawkins blog ]

revscore7

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

cloaksociety1The Cloak Society
by Jeremy Kraatz

The Cloak Society has a classic ‘Heroes versus Villains’ plot with a bit of a twist. It’s a vivid and imaginative tale that can be enjoyed by all ages. A great book for those who love superhero stories.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Villains Rising, the next in the series.] [ official Jeremy Kraatz web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Amy G.
Bennett Martin Public Library

bertiesguidetolifeandmothersBerties’ Guide to Life and Mothers
by Alexander McCall-Smith

Set in modern day Edinburgh, Scotland this novel follows the lives of some of the city’s residents. The chapters are very short and rather than having one plot going through there are multiple stories of multiple groups of characters. Bertie is anticipating his 7th birthday. Angus discovers he is a sleep walker. Matthew and Elspeth, new parents of triplets, decide to hire an au pair for the au pair they already have. Big Lou takes in a foster child. Pat, a soon to be university graduate, finds love, and discovers to her displeasure her father has too. And a former neighbor returns for a visit from her new home, a nunnery in Italy. The characters seem real because we look into their daily lives and see them change and grow as time passes. This is the ninth book in the series, and I would recommend starting at the beginning, but it’d still be enjoyable, and I don’t think too confusing to start with any of them, the author does a good job reminding the reader the important bits from earlier in the series. If you’d like to have a bit of an escape from your daily life, try reading this about daily life on the other side of the pond.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the 44 Scotland Street series, also by Alexander McCall-Smith.] [ official Alexander McCall-Smith U.S. web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

kurtvonnegutlastinterviewKurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
edited by Tom McCartan [Biography Vonnegut]

This slender volume, part of Melville House publishing’s “Last Interview” series, reprints six different interviews with legendary American suthor Kurt Vonnegut, the last two of which were conducted in the final few weeks before Vonnegut died on April 11, 2007. Seeing Vonnegut’s personality coming through in a feisty way, in comments from 1977, 1980, and 1992 and then comparing them to a more world-weary Vonnegut in the interviews from 2006 and 2007 provides considerable insight into his attitudes and opinions about the issues covered in his novels. While I do highly recommend this volume, I will admit that there is a lot of repetition in the content of the interviews — all the interviewers seem to bring up the topic of Vonnegut’s experiences in Dresden, Germany during WWII and how that influenced his writings. It’s the little quirks in each of the interviews where we learn other things about this influential writer that I ended up finding fascinating.

[If you like this item, you might like these too – Other volumes in the “Last Interview” series, including those for Ray Bradbury and James Baldwin, as well as others not currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries but available through InterLibrary Loan.] [ official Last Interviews web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

bughouseaffairThe Bughouse Affair
by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

The Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group discussed the (supposedly) 3-volume “Carpenter and Quincannon” mystery series by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini for its August 2015 meeting. The Bughouse Affair was my first exposure to this series, and I’ll have to admit to some mixed feelings. The covers of the three volumes put out by Forge all make it look, vaguely, like these are mysteries crossed with paranormal and/or science fiction elements. The titles also made me think that — The Bughouse Affair, The Spook Lights Affair, The Body Snatchers Affair. However, this series turns out to be a pretty straight-forward historical mystery series, set in 1890s San Francisco. Sabina Carpenter is a former Pinkerton operative, and the widow of a fellow Pinkerton agent who died on the job. John Quincannon is a former U.S. Secret Service agent who left the service after a tragic accident has left him with a case of post-traumatic shock. Together, they’ve formed a San Francisco private detection agency. In The Bughouse Affair, they are each working on separate cases — she’s tracking a female pickpocket targeting carnival guests, he’s trying to identify and stop a skilled burglar who’s hitting the homes of the wealthy. By the end of the book, the two cases have tied together. I loved Sabina — she’s a remarkable, strong, level-headed female detective character in a time period where such accomplishments would be rare. Quincannon, on the other hand, I never warmed to. He’s bull-headed, brusque and full of himself. Yet…he’s observant and has uncanny intuition and stick-to-it-iveness.

I would recommend this series to anyone who likes humorous mysteries, witty banter or historical mysteries that don’t take themselves too seriously. At the top of this review, I stated “supposedly 3 volumes”. As the group discussed this series, we discovered that it is based on a series of earlier novels and/or story collections by Bill Pronzini alone, from the 1980s and 1990s, that introduced these characters. If you like this item, you might like these too – The earlier Carpenter & Quincannon stories and novels, most of which you would have to get through the libraries’ InterLibrary Loan service, as they don’t currently exist in the Lincoln City Libraries’ collection!

[ publisher’s official Carpenter and Quincannon web site ] | [ official Marcia Muller web site ] | [ Wikipedia entry for Bill Pronzini ]

See The Carpenter and Quincannon Series handout prepared for the Just Desserts group

revscore10

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

undeniablecdUndeniableformatCDbook2
by Bill Nye [Compact Disc 576.8 Nye]

In February 2014, popular television host and science educator Bill Nye (“the science guy”) agreed to appear in a debate with creationist Ken Ham at the Creation Museum, on the topic of whether creation is a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era. This book (and audiobook) came about mainly as a result of the topics raised at that debate. Nye is an incredibly enthusiastic support of the scientific method of theorizing, research and fact/evidence gathering. Over the course of 37 chapters in this science-for-the-average-reader volume, Nye covers the latest knowledge and theories in a wide variety of scientific fields, tracing much of the advances in human knowledge to our studies of and understanding of the details of evolutionary biology. While I’ve seen some critiques of this book where reviewers say he has “dumbed down” the science, and others where readers with a pro-creationist viewpoint are unwilling to accept many of Nye’s basic science-based tenets, I found his writing style to be very engaging and in the areas where I was not already aware of the scientific developments, his “broad strokes” were helpful in explaining things in a very understandable way. Nye may be a bit of a polarizing figure for those with differing viewpoints, but there’s no denying that in this audiobook (read by Nye himself), he is genuinely excited by the world of science, and he wants to share that sense of excitement at scientific discovery with people of all ages and backgrounds. Nye is also a comic performer and entertainer, and his sense of humor comes across in this volume very well. If you’re curious about what Bill Nye the Science Guy has been up to since hosting that kids science show on TV, or you’d like a good overview on the varied worlds of scientific studies today, I highly recommend this one. I also specifically recommend the audiobook format, as Nye’s genuine enthusiasm is even easier to appreciate in his own voice.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Carl Sagan, and possible both Cosmos television documentaries — the orginal by Carl Sagan from the 1970s and the newer one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson from 2014.] [ publisher’s official Undeniable web site ] | [ official Bill Nye web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

miracleataugustaThe Miracle at Augusta
by James Patterson and Peter DeJonge

I am not a fan of James Patterson nor of golf, but the flyleaf on this book continued to call to me. I finally picked it up thinking that if I didn’t like it, at least it was a short book. But it has turned out to be one of my favorites. Travis McKinley shocked the world the previous year as an amateur golfer coming out of nowhere to win the PGA Senior Open. This year, through a series of poor choices Travis is suspended for several weeks from the tour which doesn’t help his feeling that he really doesn’t belong there. A snow storm socks in Chicago and while at home he meets a neighbor kid who offers to shovel his driveway. He continues to notice the bullied-teen while dropping his own kids off at school, and finally makes a connection with him through golf. Turns out the kid is a natural and Travis now has plans for him.

You don’t need to be a golf fan, understand the game, nor know who the famous golf players are to enjoy this sweet story of Travis getting back his self-esteem while helping a kid in need. Travis has a wicked sense of humor which has you chucking out loud while reading.

This is actually the sequel to Miracle on the 17th Green which I then read (and recommend). There’s a 17-year publication lag between these two books, but in the timeline of the story “Augusta” takes place only one year later.

And somehow the authors made golf exciting — though I’m still not a fan.

[ official Miracle at Augusta web page at the official James Patterson web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

dalekprojectThe Dalek Project
written by Justin Richards with art by Mike Collins [YA Richards]

As a huge Doctor Who fan, I was pleased to grab this one when it came across the desk recently. The Dalek Project is a graphic novel, published in 2012, and featuring the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). Ever since their first appearance on the Doctor Who television series in the early 1960s, the Daleks have been The Doctor’s arch-enemies — metal-encapsulated monstrosities with a hatred of all other living things, that, like the Doctor himself, have developed the ability to travel through not just space but also time. In this story, which crosses between two parallel lines of events in modern time and in 1917, the Doctor must try to prevent a decades-long plot from coming to fruition, to the doom of humanity. I can’t really give away more details without spoiling the whole thing. I will say the writing in this short work is great — for anyone familiar with Matt Smith’s performance as The Doctor, you’ll hear his voice in your head as you read his dialog. But the art is ! haphazard — some is excellent and other parts are cringe-worthy. I would say this is a must-read only for Doctor Who completists, but it is also a nice introduction to the whole Doctor Who mythos for anyone who hasn’t ever seen an episode or read one of the novels. The only thing that’s a little different is that throughout the history of Doctor Who, the Doctor usually travels with “companions” (most often humans), who provide a bit of point-counter-point to the Doctor’s over-the-top nature. In this storyline, The Doctor is…”between companions”, so readers don’t get that particular experience. Otherwise, a top-notch read!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the various other Doctor Who graphic novels or comic-book versions.] [ entry on this Graphic Novel at the tardis.wikia.com site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

poisonstudyPoison Study
by Maria Snyder

Poison Study is a thrilling fantasy novel filled to the brim with action, adventure, and magic. The characters are so vivid, I thought they might leap right off of the page. I couldn’t put it down.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas.] [ official Maria Snyder web site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Amy G.
Bennett Martin Public Library

startreknewspapercomicsvol1Star Trek ReviewsStar Trek Newspaper Comics, Volume 1: 1979-1981
by Thomas Warkentin [741.5 War]

This book is a collection of Star Trek newspaper comic strips. I didn’t know there was such a thing till I found this book. The comic didn’t run for very long so there is only this volume and one more. The original series is my favorite and this collection features the original crew characters of Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Scotty. There are about ten separate stories in this first volume. I really enjoyed it. It felt like reading new episodes of the show; the characters and moods of the stories felt the same. It’s like an extension of the show, movies and the animated series rather than something completely different, but at the same time, the storylines were new. I would highly recommend this book to Star Trek fans, particularly of the original series, or of the new movies with Chris Pine.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz or The Original Series on DVD.] [ entry for this book at the Library of American Comics site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

stungStung
by Bethany Wiggins [YA Wiggins]

As the world began to break down, as sickness started taking over, injections which contain venom from bees were given to children and teens, to help them. Fiona and her brother were given these injections. But after a while, those who were given the injections turned into violent, mindless beasts, intent on killing everything they saw. A wall was built to keep the beasts out and everyone else protected.

Fiona wakes up in her room, her bed, but there is dust covering everything. Her window is broken and filthy. There are dead leaves and branches on the floor. She has a tattoo on her hand that she does not know where came from. She does not remember anything about the injections or the beasts. But she is normal, and she’s on the wrong side of the wall. This Post-Apocalyptic novel is a Golden Sower Nominee for 2015-2016.

[ official Bethany Wiggins web site ]

revscore8

Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library

icecreamandsadnessIce Cream and Sadness
by Kris Wilson and othrs [741.5 Wil]

This latest collection from the web comic “Cyanide and Happiness”, created by several different artists/writers working together, captures the sarcasm and occasionally sick sense of humor of the comic series perfectly. These artists work on taking standard presumptions about jokes and humor, and putting unexpected twists on them — a punch line that would normally be a “feel good” line turns into something that makes you wince or cringe even. If your sense of humor is open-minded and willing to be bent in strange directions, you’ll probably appreciate this collection and the ongoing web comic. If you prefer more traditional humor strips, you’ll probably want to avoid this one!

[If you like this item, you might like these too – The web comics (and related print collections) by The Oatmeal and possible xkcd.] [ official Cyanide & Happiness web comic site ]

revscore10

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Screening Room

formatdvdbletchleycircledvd-1Bletchley Circle: Series 1
[DVD Bletchley]

Set just after World War II this series is about four female friends who worked at Bletchley Park during the war as code breakers. While there is not really a main character, the story starts with Susan who has gotten married, had children, and is getting very bored being a housewife after her challenging job during the war. She hears on the news of murders occurring in London and takes it upon herself to put together the pieces. The police don’t take her leads seriously so she turns to her friends who attempt to find the killer themselves. Over the three episodes in this season there is a lot of character development which I really enjoyed. I like mysteries but the show is so much better when we see the characters grow too. This was also a nice glimpse into life in post war England.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ]

revscore10

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

formatdvdadayinpixarA Day in Pixar: A Visit to Pixar Studios in Emeryville, CA
[DVD 791.438 PixYf]

I had placed a hold on this title when it first showed up as “on order” in our catalog, simply based on the fact that it was about Pixar, the celebrated animation studio. In the end, while this may hold some interest for some viewers, who may not be particularly familiar with the studio — kids in particular will enjoy the short clips from the many popular animated films — I found this 30 minute documentary somewhat disappointing. It feels like an industrial film, intended to introduce newcomers to the company — rather bland and dry. Clips of films are interspersed with interviews with a handful of Pixar employees. Those “live action” bits are all poorly lit, although the employees are certainly enthusiastic about the company. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this short video to everyone, with the exceptions of either the extreme Pixar fans, or to viewers who have no idea what the Pixar studio is.

revscore4a

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdnonstopdvdNon-Stop
[DVD Non]

Liam Neeson is terrific, as always, in this claustrophobic action thriller from 2014. Neeson plays Bill Marks, a U.S. Air Marshall on a transatlantic flight from New York to London, who begins receiving mysterious text messages on his phone, threatening the lives of the passengers on the plane. Marks is dealing with numerous issues, including reliance on alcohol and cigarettes following a tragedy in his life. He’s not a 100$ reliable narrator, and the fact that the mysterious terrorist threatening him seems to know too much about him ratchets up the suspense. The tight quarters of the plane, and the escalating anxieties of Marks and the various other characters he brings into his circle of confidants makes this an entertaining thriller. Admittedly, after the film was over, numerous logic holes started making me pick the film apart. But while I was watching it, it was a heckuva roller coaster, with Neeson in fine form. The supporting cast is also excellent, including Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Omar Metwally and Corey Stoll.

If you like this item, you might like these too – Any of Liam Neeson’s other recent action films, including the Taken trilogy or The A-Team film.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Non-Stop web site ]

revscore8

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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