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

September 2007 Recommendations

book cover  The Faithful Spy
by Alex Berenson

This is a new thriller with an espionage theme seemingly pulled from today's headlines. The Faithful Spy is a book about the first U.S. operative to infiltrate al-Qaeda and his journey, which races towards an explosive climax. This post 9/11 suspense novel investigates motives and scenarios perhaps possible, perhaps not. Berenson was stationed in Iraq as a correspondant for the New York Times and drew inspiration from his time there. If you like Cold War spy novels, you'll like the new face of espionage in the 21st century.

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Sean S.
Eiseley Branch Library


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book cover  The Recluse of Herald Square: The Mystery of Ida E. Wood
by Joseph A. Cox [B W851c]

When her elderly sister is dying in an apartment in a hotel on Herald Square in New York City in the early 1930s, Ida Wood summons help. Both ladies are in their nineties. A doctor (soon to be joined by a lawyer) finds the apartment filled with old newspapers, magazines and other trash. About a year later, Ida herself dies. During that year, however, she talks about dancing with the Prince of Wales, meeting Abraham Lincoln and the fact that her brother-in-law was once the mayor of New York. She also refers to her wealth. All of her claims are met with skepticism, but all of them turn out to be true. In fact, Ida is worth over a million dollars--this in the midst of the depression. After Ida dies, the law firm that has been handling her affairs must determine who will inherit this windfall, since Ida has no immediate family. But first, the law assistant assigned to the job (who later became a judge and wrote this book) must discover Ida's real identity, because she'd been keeping quite a few secrets for over 70 years. Although this is a true story, it reads like fiction. I literally could not put it down.

[ Two part profile of Wood in Irish Echo Online: Part 1 | Part 2 ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Rianne S.
Technical Processes Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Family Tree
by Barbara Delinsky

A young couple discover that their newborn daughter has distinctly African American features. Friends and family respond with disbelief in the wife's fidelity. This is an interesting study in latent racism. Great for those interested in family history and family relationships.
[Also available in unabridged downloadable audio, book-on-cd, and Large Print formats.]

[ Family Tree page on the official Barbara Delinsky web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Rayma S.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Ugly American
by William J. Lederer

This classic novel about international relations, published in 1958, merited my recent rereading. My 50-cent paperback copy had been on my bookshelf for years. The copy I picked off a library shelf is a hardback with jacket intact. Though the setting of the novel is in Southeast Asia, the modern day reader can readily apply its message to more current settings and situations. The late fifties synopsis on the jacket describes the book as being urgent and fascinating. Oddly enough, that still rings true. Review quotes were excerpted from such publications as the New York Times: Excellent—blunt, forceful, completely persuasive. (Today's reader will have some perspective on that.) Or the Chicago Sunday Tribune: If this angry novel results in a little sense being applied to the choice of State Department officers abroad, it will have accomplished the authors' intent, and a good thing that would be. And finally, the Boston Herald: Very readable and hard hitting . . . should be required reading both in Washington and among our people. This reviewer agrees in 2007. Certainly anyone aged sixteen or older, who is interested in how we got where we are today in world relations, should have a go at this. Even more certainly, anyone interested in seeing the patterns of history repeating themselves should have either a first look or a more seasoned second look!

[ Ugly American Study Guide at Bookrags.com ] | [ Wikipedia page for The Ugly American book ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Kaye V.
Youth Services Dept. -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a Magazine or JournalLOCUS: The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field
by Charles N. Brown [publisher and editor-in-chief] [Periodical Locus]

The ultimate monthly guidebook to what's happening in the world of science fiction, fantasy and horror publishing, both in the U.S. and around the world. Each issue features one or two major, in-depth inteviews with luminaries of the science fiction literary world, news reports about the genre publishing industry (including who's made what sales recently), coverage of all the major genre awards, and obituary listings for the science fiction and fantasy field. There is a quarterly Forthcoming Publication schedule for all genre publishers, usually going at least 6 months into the future. There are detailed convention reports from all the major SF/F/H literary conventions (Worldcon, NASFIC, World Fantasy Con, DragonCon, The International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts and many others. Each issue contains dozens of new reviews, of both books and short genre fiction (in print and on web sites). Best of all, the February issue each year is a "Year in Review" for the previous calendar year, which includes the annual Locus Recommended Reading List (based on a variety of critics' opinions) -- an excellent tool to locate what the "best" novels, short stories, collections and genre-related non-fiction titles were in the past 12 months. This is the "bible" for SF fans -- anyone who's a serious reader of science fiction literature should be reading this cover-to-cover every month! Similarly, the Locus Online web site should be bookmarked by serious SF fans looking for excellent online sources for genre news and links!

[ official Locus web site ] | [ Locus Index to Science Fiction: Site Directory ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Good Good Pig
by Sy Montgomery [636.4 Mon]

This is "Marley & Me" with a pig instead of a dog. I tend to stay away from books with animals involved because they're invariably sad. This book is touching and funny and yes, it did invoke a few tears but they were well worth it. The author and her husband were given a piglet and decided to keep him as a pet. Christopher Hogwood is funny, smart, and has a penchant for getting out of his fence. The ways in which he touched the lives of not only his owners but the lives of the people around them, will touch you as well.
[Also available in Large Print format.]

[ official Sy Montgomery web site ] | [ official Good Good Pig web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Deanne J.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  The Speed of Dark
by Elizabeth Moon

This Nebula-Award-winning novel is ostensibly a science fiction tale, however its setting and level of technology place it sometime "next week", and should thus be accessible to even non-genre readers. A group of functioning autistics faces the possibility of undergoing a scientific procedure that would improve their abilities to interact successfully with the world around them, but may fundamentally alter the way their brains work...possibly eliminating their current personalities. Told primarily in first-person narrative form from the perspective of Lou Arrendale, one of the most functional (and brilliant) of the autists, this is a compelling fictional exploration of what makes us "us", and what the values are that we place on our predictable interactions with our fellow human beings. What would you choose to do, if you might be able to fit into society more effectively but you might not be "you" anymore?

[ official Elizabeth Moon web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
by Julie Phillips [B T49p]

From roughly 1967 until 1977 Alice B. Sheldon wrote acclaimed science fiction short stories under the male pseudonym James Tiptree Jr. As a genre, science fiction writng at that time was male-dominated but Sheldon chose her male persona partly as a way to play out a life-long disconnect she felt between the woman she knew herself to be and the male traits that were inextricably part of who she was. As Tiptree, Sheldon carried on extensive correspondences with several well-known science fiction writers allowing her to explore topics as various as writing philosophies, politics, gender relationships, feminism and aging. Phillips explores Sheldon's early life and influences as keys to explain her later struggles with depression, drug abuse and gender identity.

[ official Book and Julie Phillips web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Vicki W.
Youth Services Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Not-So-Big-Life
by Sarah Susanka [304.23 Sus]

The author of the "Not So Big" house series offers suggestions for ways in which to 'downsize' our lives. By ridding ourselves of physical and emotional clutter, we can enjoy a fuller and more satisfying life.
[Also available in unabridged audiotape and book-on-cd formats.]

[ official community forums for the book ] | [ official Sarah Susanka web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kimberly S.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemRobert Reed reads his short story "The New Deity"
by Robert Reed [DVD 813 Ree]

Lincoln, Nebraska's own award-winning science fiction author, Robert Reed, reads his short story "The New Deity" and a portion of his longer work "Good Mountain", and discusses the art, craft and business of being a midwestern author of speculative fiction. Robert Reed won the 2007 Hugo Award for his novella, "A Billion Eves", just this very month! This appearance in the John H. Ames reading series was taped February 16, 2006. Reed has also made two previous appearances in the John H. Ames reading series, which are available to check out on VHS tape (see links below).
[Also available: November 18, 1999 John H. Ames, March 18, 1993 John H. Ames episodes ]

[ official Robert Reed web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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last updated September 2007
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