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

December 2007 Recommendations

book cover  Tolkien: A Biography
by Humphrey Carpenter [B T578c]

I have enjoyed reading about the development of "The Lord of the Rings" into a published work -- a process that took J.R.R. Tolkien over a decade to complete!

[ The Tolkien Library web site ] | [ Bio on The Tolkien Society web site ] | [ official J.R.R. Tolkien Estate web site ]

Recommended by Kim J.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Spineless Wonders: Strange Tales From the Invertebrate World
by Richard Conniff [592 Con]

They're weird. They're creepy. They have disturbing personal habits, and they're all around us. They're invertebrates, and we share our world with them, or maybe they just share theirs with us! Conniff takes us up close and personal with such seemingly common critters as the housefly, the leech and the ant. You will never look at a beetle in quite the same way again after reading this, and you may have new respect for the hagfish and the tarantula. No, these beings are not like us, but they have lives that are just as complex and full of drama. This is a fun way to learn more about a seldom-mentioned part of the animal kindgom.

[ New York Times review ] | [ article by Conniff on the writing of the book ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Lisa V.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Murder League
by Robert L. Fish

Three elderly ex-mystery writers, fallen on hard times, decide to put their intelligence to use and set up a "Murder League." They advertise for clients and will dispatch someone for £1,000 plus expenses. Their goal is £10,000 to invest for themselves and live off the interest. They successfully complete nine such arrangements, but an innocent bystander is arrested for the 10th murder. Being men of integrity (?!) they fess up to their involvement, then hire a famed defense attorney. A fast read; humorous tale. The end has a surprise twist that will make the reader laugh out loud.


Review Score - 10
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The 47th Samurai
by Stephen Hunter

The newest thriller in the Bob Lee Swagger series is highly recommended to those who like their heroes with a highly developed sense of duty and honor. In 47th Samurai, Swagger is asked to return a sword his father had taken from a Japanese soldier in a battle at Iwo Jima. Swagger makes a special trip to Japan to return the sword and shortly after discovers that the sword has been stolen and the family brutally murdered. Bob Lee begins a quest for atonement and along the way becomes immersed in Japanese organized crime, history, and culture. If you like high-action, all-out thrillers you'll love Stephen Hunter and the Swagger novels. If you shy away from graphic fight sequences, this may not be the novel for you. While the action is intense, the characters are well-developed and the plot tightly researched.

[ Publisher's page for Stephen Hunter ] | [ The Unofficial Stephen Hunter web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the Book-on-CD format of this titlePontoon
by Garrison Keillor

Spend some time with the folks of Lake Wobegon as they prepare to celebrate a wedding and mourn the passing of one of their fellow denizens. This compact disc is narrated by the author and is sure to please even those who have never visited Lake Wobegon.
[Also available in the traditional print edition]

[ Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion web site ] | [ Garrison Keillor page on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Tammy T.
Collection Management -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson

Absolutely riveting science fiction/horror novel, about the last man alive on an Earth where all the other humans have been turned into vampires. At least that's what it seems on the surface...but in this case it appears that the changed humans have been altered by a bacteria or virus that gives them vampiric symptoms. Robert Neville fights a losing psychological and emotional battle as he tries to cope with the loss of everyone and everything dear to him and the horrors of hunting his former friends and neighbors by day and barricading himself in his home by night. This book, originally printed in 1954, is perhaps the first full-length vampire novel to try to explain vampirism in logical, scientific terminology. Although it's been adapted to several films (1964's The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price; 1971's The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston; and the new 2007 I Am Legend, starring Will Smith), each has played fast and loose with the original story. This is a powerful novel...read it!

[ Wikipedia page for this novel ] | [ Richard Matheson bibliography at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database ]

related lists See more books like this on our "Fangs a Lot" booklist
Review Score - 9
Recommended by Scott C.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Speaks the Nightbird
by Robert R. McCammon

One of the fiction best-sellers this winter is bound to be the new book, The Queen of Bedlam, featuring the character Matthew Corbett. Matthew made his first appearance, however, in this gripping, highly entertaining novel of witchcraft and intrigue set in a small Colonial Carolina town. The year is 1699, and Matthew is acting as law clerk for a magistrate who has been called upon to hear the case of a woman suspected of witchcraft. The two men run into trouble almost immediately, and the path of their investigation never does run smoothly. There's a lot going on behind the scenes in the settlement of Fount Royal, and no one is who he or she seems to be. Pirates, Spanish gold, Satanic manifestations and more figure into this suspenseful and detailed story. Is the lovely Rachel Howarth guilty of trafficking with the Devil, or is she the victim of those who will gain by her death? That's the question that Matthew sets out to answer, and his search takes him down a twisting, turning path of deceit and death. Prepare to stay up late reading this one, and don't forget the sequel, which is getting great reviews.

[ Speaks the Night Bird page on the official Robert McCammon web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Lisa V.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
by Candice Millard [B R67m]

After Theodore Roosevelt failed in his last attempt at the Presidency, he was talked into an expedition on a South American river that many doubted ever existed. Joined by his son Kermit, several naturalists from noted geographic societies, a priest, and a failed Arctic explorer, they set out on an ill planned venture in the unknown rain forest. Plagued by insects, Indians, fever, and shortage of supplies, Roosevelt contracted a serious illness that almost drove him to suicide. After surviving the debacle of the expedition, he returned home only to be ridiculed and doubted about his extraordinary accomplishment. For lovers of historic adventure and suspense.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]

[ Publisher's page for River of Doubt ] | [ Reading Group Guide for River of Doubt ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Rayma S.
South Branch Library


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book cover  The Complete Essays of Montaigne
by Michel de Montaigne [844 Mon]

These highly personal thoughts on a variety of subjects (friendship, superstition, the limits of knowledge, etc.) explore how one can know oneself, and thus, better know the world.
[Also available in a variety of other full or abridged editions.]

[ The Essays of Montaigne at Wikipedia ] | [ The Complete Essays of Montaigne at Project Gutenberg ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Bob B.
Reference -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  A Fatal Grace
by Louise Penny

"A stupid, vapid and vindictive woman" is how one of the residents of Three Pines described CC de Poitiers. Chief Inspector Gamache and his team from the Sūreté du Quebec had trouble finding anyone in the tiny village that had a good word to say about CC. As a result, their suspect list was long. Her henpecked husband, her spineless lover and any of the eccentric residents. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who we first met in Still Life, came back the village of Three Pines in southern Quebec to find CC's murderer. Gamache renews his acquaintance with the artist couple that eke out a living doing what they love, a poet fixated on death and the gay couple who run a B&B and a bistro as he investigates the latest crime. It was Boxing Day. The villagers met at the legion hall for a community breakfast. Then they headed out to the frozen lake for the annual curling tournament. While everyone cheered the players CC collapsed on the ice. The locals thought it was a heart attack and rushed her to the hospital. The doctor realized that CC had been electrocuted and contacted the Sūreté du Quebec. Gamache and his team have to determine how a woman can be electrocuted while sitting on a frozen lake with a small group watching the annual curling tournament. No one else in the group even received a small electrical jolt, let alone one big enough to kill them. The rest of the villagers were sitting in stands on shore and none of them left their seats. How could someone have killed her?

[ Fatal Grace page on the official Louise Penny web site ]

Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  A Test of Wills
by Charles Todd

This is a classic British police procedural with several twists. The setting is Upper Streetham, a small village in Warwickshire, England. The time is 1919, the world still reeling from the Great War. The detective is Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, recently returned to police duty from the bloody battlefields of World War I. The victim is Colonel Harris, a career soldier, also recently returned from the war to his estate outside Upper Streetham, where he lived with his ward, Lettice Wood. Miss Wood is recently engaged to Captain Wilton, a young soldier back from the war, also. As you might suspect, World War I and its aftermath feature prominently in this mystery. A woman in the village continues to be shunned because she fell in love with a German prisoner of war detained in the Upper Streetham during the war. Hickam, the town drunk, who suffers from shell shock, was the last person to see Colonel Harris alive. And our Inspector Rutledge, also suffering from shell shock, is dealing with his first murder case since his return to police duty, and his own very personal nightmares. As a captain in the army, Rutledge was forced to order the execution of a young soldier for refusing Rutledge's command to fight. This young soldier, Hamish MacLeod, haunts Rutledge, speaking to him in a voice that only Rutledge can hear. The central question of this mystery is who would want to kill Colonel Harris, a well-liked man for the short amount of time he actually spent in Upper Streetham in between his numerous military postings? Why has the romance between Lettice Woods and Captain Wilton suddenly cooled? Will Inspector Rutledge be able to find the killer or will he succumb to the inner torment and chaos always hovering at the edge of his next thought? With the voice of the dead, young soldier constantly questioning his judgment and character, the hunt for the killer of Colonel Harris will truly become "a test of wills."
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]

[ A Test of Wills page on the official Charles Todd web site ]

Recommended by Evelyn D.
Technical Processes -- Bennett Martin Public Library


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last updated December 2007
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