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

June 2009 Recommendations

book cover  Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Trails (including Indian Peaks)
by Kent and Donna Dannen [917.886 Dan]

This is one of my all-time favorite books to take along on Colorado vacations! The library system only has the 7th edition (1989) so far, whereas the most recent is the 9th edition, but in comparing the 7th and 9th editions, the vast majority of the information is still valid. The Dannens provide detailed descriptions of every hike you might want to take in Rocky Mountain National Park, whether you're starting in the Estes Park area or the Grand Lake area. Beginning by identifying where you can find the trailheads, the descriptions then identify geographic landmarks, good photo spots, flora and fauna likely to be viewed, and distances covered on the many trails that wind through the Colorado Rockies. Detailed topographic maps show the routes of the individual trails, and artwork is included of the various plants and animals you might encounter. The 7th edition of the guide is a nice pocket-size version, whereas the 8th and 9th editions are larger trade paperbacks. The Dannens have also put out an extremely helpful smaller book -- Best Easy Day Hikes: Rocky Mountain National Park. Although the library doesn't own this one, it's easily available through our InterLibrary Loan service. I picked it up the last time I was in Estes Park, and found it quite helpful. If you're looking for a couple of great hikes, I recommend the Glacier Gorge trail system, with a breakfast stop at Alberta Falls on the way to Lake Hiayaha. Or, the latest trail system I tried was the Deer Mountain Trail, which boasts some absolutely gorgeous vistas in nearly all directions. Whatever your hiking choice may be, the Dannens' book will educate you on to prepare for. I find it to be indespensible!

[ official Hiking in RMNP park web site by the National Park Service ]

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


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book cover  Quieter Than Sleep
by Joanne Dobson

Drafts of three letters addressed to "Master" were found among Emily Dickinson's papers after her death. Who "Master" was remains a mystery to this day. These letters form the basis of the plot of Quieter Than Sleep. When the novel opens, assistant English professor Karen Pelletier is at the annual Enfield College Christmas party trying to escape from one of her colleagues, Randy Astin-Berger. Astin-Berger is trying to entice Karen into agreeing to meet with him later to discuss one of Emily Dickinson's "master" letters. Astin-Berger thinks that he may know who the "master" was. Karen escapes from him and circulates among the other guests. Later she decides to leave the party. When she opens the closet door to get her coat, Randy Astin-Berger falls into her arms. He had been strangled. Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Piotrowski is assigned to the case. He believes that Emily Dickinson's papers are the reason for Astin-Berger's murder and hires Pelletier as a consultant to trace Astin-Berger's research of Dickinson's papers. This is the first book in the series. Karen Pelletier is a woman with a lot of inner strength. She is a single mother from a working class background whose dedication and effort earned her a teaching position at an elite college.

[ Publisher's Quieter Than Sleep web site ] | [ official Joanne Dobson web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  The Trail of the Wild Rose
by Anthony Eglin

Retired botany professor Lawrence Kingston takes us along for the ride as he solves another horticultural mystery. This crime has its roots southern China and grows to fruition in the English countryside. When the book opens a motorcyclist is forced off the road by a car that drives away in the rain. The rider is badly injured when he is thrown from the bike. Police identify the man as Peter Mayhew by the license plate on the motorbike. In the hospital the victim mutters about a murder on a plant hunting expedition in China. Kingston is asked to try to make sense of Mayhew's ramblings. Soon after Kingston's visit Mayhew is murdered in his hospital bed. Peter Mayhew's half-sister, Sally called the police after one of her friends saw an article about the accident and shared it with her. Over the phone, Sally tells the police that her brother fell to his death while hunting for rare plants in China. His body was never recovered. Did Peter Mayhew come back to life? Sally dispels that idea when she goes to morgue to identify his body. Who was the motorcyclist and why did he have Mayhew's bike? What really happened on that rugged mountain trail? Kingston pursues his investigation and he unearths a complex scheme of deceit driven by greed and the need of a man to protect his status.

[ semi-official Anthony Eglin's English Garden Mysteries web site ] | [ U.S. Publisher's page for Anthony Eglin ]

related lists See more horticulturally themed mysteries on our Murder With a Green Thumb booklist
Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  The Art of Detection
by Laurie R. King

I hadn't read any of the Kate Martinelli books before this particular title was selected for the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group at the library. I'm not sure that I'll go ahead and read any others, either. That's not to say that The Art of Detection was unenjoyable...I did like reading it. The dual mysteries in this book -- first, the investigation into who killed a Sherlock Holmes memorabilia dealer and hid his body in a gun battery outside of San Francisco, and second, the storyline in a possible unknown Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle -- were both fascinating and kept me engaged throughout the book. What I didn't care for was Kate Martinelli herself. She came off as a bit too harsh and judgemental, especially considering the fact that as a lesbian police officer, she herself has probably faced a lot of judgemental types. In the long run, I like the book -- the interweaving of the plots from the two different time periods, plus the historical footnotes about Arthur Conan Doyle's visit to the San Francisco area in the 1920s, made for an intriguing "what if" scenario. And there's a doozy of a Twilight Zone moment thrown in at the end of the book, too. Holmes purists may or may not enjoy this one, and may also find Martinelli's opinions about Sherlock Holmes fanatics a bit off-putting, but it was still an interesting read, and I do recommend it. Fans of the Martinelli series may be surprised to find that 9 years have passed since the previous Martinelli mystery, but for newcomers to the series, that's not an impediment to the story.
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official Art of Detection pageon the official Laurie R. King web site ]

related lists See more books like this on our Sherlock Holmes booklist
Review Score - 7
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The West End Horror
by Nicholas Meyer

In 1895, George Bernard Shaw calls on Sherlock Holmes, inviting him to investigate the death of a theater critic, Jonathan McCarthy. Of course, Holmes accepts and the chase is on. Along the way Holmes and, naturally, Watson, meet Bram Stoker and Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan). A volume of Shakespeare is open to a passage in Romeo and Juliet; Holmes feels sure that the dying critic opened the book to the passage as a clue to his murder. Meyer captures the era well and any Sherlock Holmes fan will enjoy this effort.

[ Wikipedia entry on The West End Horror ] | [ Wikipedia entry on Nicholas Meyer ]

related lists See more books like this on our Sherlock Holmes booklist
Review Score - 7
Recommended by Rianne S.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Ultimate Field Guide to Photography
by the National Geographic Society [778.71 Nat]

When I think of National Geographic photography I recall the gorgeous images that grace its books and magazines. I picked up this book as an opportunity to look at more great photos. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of down-to-earth advice. A chapter is devoted to cell phone photography. Robert Clark tells the story of his 50-day odyssey across the United States with his cell phone as his only camera. And the lessons that he learned about camera phone photography. Another chapter is devoted to the ubiquitous point and shoot camera. What all the settings mean and how to improve your compositions. Other chapters cover DSLRs and lens selection, macro and flash photography and reading histograms. These chapters are designed for people who view photography as a serious hobby. Still another chapter tells you how to tweak your photos in Adobe PhotoShop and PhotoShop Elements. Photographer John Healey condenses the multitude of technical information down to twelve tips. What do you do with all those images? There is a chapter devoted to photographic projects. The projects range from creating edible photos for celebration cakes to making calendars and greeting cards. How do you find the photos after you have downloaded them to your computer? National Geographic has some suggestions. A chapter talks about image management software available for PCs and Macs. This book is a comprehensive guide for improving your photography, storing your images and creating gifts for family and friends.

[ Publisher's page for The Ultimate Field Guide to Photography web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting
by the Readers Digest Association [917.304 Off 2009]

Are you planning a vacation? Are you looking for someplace that is not overrun by tourists? Off the Beaten Path has some ideas for you. It is a travel guide to hidden wonders in all 50 states. Twenty-two spots in Nebraska made the list. There are ideas for all interests. In Nebraska you can go hiking, camping and canoeing or visit historical sites and museums. The chapter about Nebraska starts at the western edge of the state with the Wildcat Hills and Toadstool Geological Park. It moves across the state with stops at such gems as Dancing Earth Lodge, Gallagher Canyon State Recreation Area, the Willa Cather Memorial, Neligh Mill Historical Site, the John G. Neihardt Center and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. There is a descriptive paragraph about each location and the activities available. A detailed map at the beginning of the chapter points out the attractions. Phone numbers and web sites are available for each locale. The book is well organized and illustrated with colorful photographs. The descriptions are enticing and the maps are handy.

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceInfluence
by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson [YA j746.92 Ols]

This is a gorgeous coffee-table book about fashion, seasoned fashion designers, respected authors and others who have influenced Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen with hope that they, in turn, will inspire others. Although this book is presented as a Young Adult item, due to its level of sophistication, in the artists interviewed as well as the discussions on fashion and writing, I feel this book is geared toward adults who are interested in the world of art and expression. In this book, Mary-Kate and Ashley reflect on what has paved the way for their generation and has helped shape them into who they are today. The girls interviewed twenty respected artists and seasoned designers who have impacted the twins throughout the past decade. Interviews include fashion designers Karl Lagerfield, Diane VonFurstenburg, John Galliano and Christian Louboutin, as well as model-actress Lauren Hutton. During each interview, the girls explore what inspired the interviewee as well. Influence has 4 major sections: Fashion, Environment, Art and Giving Back. The book's artwork includes photographs and drawings provided by the interviewed artists, exclusive photographs of Ashley and Mary-Kate from world renowned photographer Rankin, and a wide variety of other never-before-seen materials and interviews from the 22-year-old twins' private collections. This unique book is edited by fashion and arts writer Derek Blasberg and designed by prominent book designer, Rodrigo Corral.

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Jessica H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African-American Family
by Ntozake Shange [811 Sha]

The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African-American Family combines stunning black and white photography with beautiful poetry documenting the African-American life. Poet Ntozake Shange combines her striking work with the acclaimed photographers of Kamoinge Inc. In the introduction of the book, Frank Stewart discusses the inspiration of his photography, as well as a brief history of the Kamoinge Workshop. If you only read one book this month, I would recommend that you read this one.

[ Publisher's Sweet Breath of Life web site ] | [ Wikipedia entry on Ntozake Shange ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  1776 and All That
by Leonard Wibberley

In the White House in 1776, a dignified man comes for the clock, saying that the Maker wants to look at it; he signs a receipt with a flourish. In heaven, unicorns and wyverns cry, "In excelsis Deo." George III remarks that a bit of frost is good for the turnips. Thomas Jefferson notices the clock and begins to get nervous: there is no Time in eternity, so why is it here? Benjamin Franklin, who also notices the clock, reminisces with an angel named Ruth about the Countess Marie des Petit Chalons, who once called him Poo Poo. (He reminded her of a stuffed bear.) Then the hands of the clock begin to move and Voltaire, King George, and Thomas Jefferson find themselves at the Presidential Costume Ball to honor the Bi-Centennial of the United States. This book is an utterly delightful, brief, (it's only 96 pages long), and humorous look at the concept of liberty. Treat yourself with this one for Independence Day.

[ Wikipedia article on Leonard Wibberley ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemBabylon 5: The Complete First Season

Babylon 5 is, perhaps, one of the best science fiction television series ever made. Set aboard a space station that is supposed to be a neutral meeting place for representatives of numerous warring alien races (including humans), the look of the series is dark and gritty. The characters all have multiple shadings -- the heroes all have serious failings, and the "villains" are often given logical and believable reasons for behaving as they do. The acting is superb, from the main cast to the vast array of supporting roles. The series was designed to last 5 seasons, and had an overall story "arc". Circumstances forced the producers to shorten their five-year story plan into four years, but then a fifth season was ordered, allowing the writers to go beyond the "end point" that they had set up, to see what kind of ramifications resulted from the events at the end of season four. This Season One set gives a good introduction to the main characters, and the bureaucracy and politics that all the regulars have to deal with day-in and day-out. Standout performances are Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo, the late Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar, and Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn. The set design was also impressive, but it is the special effects that will truly blow you away. One fair warning...be prepared to watch all five seasons if you enjoy this one, because the story keeps building and building. Television science fiction at its best!
[Also available: Several original novels based on Babylon 5 -- which you can find on our TV Tie-Ins booklist ]

[ Internet Movie Database page for this series ] | [ official Babylon 5 British web site ] | [ highly detailed Wikipedia entry on Babylon 5 ]

related lists See more books and TV boxed sets like this on our TV Tie-Ins booklist
Review Score - 9
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Barbarian Invasions

I liked this somber yet gratifying story, of a cancer-stricken university professor, who tries to come to terms with the life he has led and the people he has influenced. Throw in the Canadian health care system, which is, accurately or not, portrayed as an overcrowded, under-financed system, and you see the frustration of the estranged relatives, trying to help him die a peaceful and pain free death, while at the same time coming to grips with their feelings of this man who was not always the person they wanted him to be.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemPaper Clips [DVD 940.531 Pap]

This is an out of the ordinary documentary, about a rural high school class in Tennessee and how they set out to collect 6 million paper clips, representing the 6 million Holocaust victims of World War II. When the news spread on the internet about this project, paper clips came pouring in. Some paper clips came individually. Some came in by the box loads. People, who sent paper clips, often wrote stories about the memory of a loved one that had died in the Holocaust. The climax of this project to me was when they invited Holocaust victims from New York to come to their school and talk about their experiences. The stories brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience, and created a special bond between the young students and the aging victims. The fact that the students were able to acquire a rail car that transported thousands of people to the concentration camps, and used that rail car to display all of the paperclips, was the culmination of the project.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ] | [ official Paper Clips web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library


It's been a couple years since I've seen this movie, but I remember it as powerful. Seeing that rail car at the end full of paper clips was overwhelming.

Review Score - 8
Rated by -- Jodene G.
staff member at the Walt Branch Library

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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemPlay Misty For Me

I decided to borrow this movie because of a debate with my husband. He said that Roberta Flack sang "Killing Me Softly" in this show. I disagreed. One evening I brought the DVD home and popped it into the player. We sat on our couch with a bowl of popcorn and watched this 1971 classic. Evening DJ, Dave Garver (played by Clint Eastwod), coaxes his listeners to phone in their requests. One of his ardent fans frequently asks him to "play Misty for me." One night this fan, Evelyn Draper, happens to meet him at his favorite bar. They have what Garver believes is a one-night encounter. Draper thinks that this is the start of a relationship and she goes to extremes to stay in his life. Things become complicated when Garver's former girlfriend, Tobie, moves back to town and Garver begins seeing her. Outraged, Evelyn terrorizes Garver and everyone in his life. Did Roberta Flack sing "Killing Me Softly"? You'll have to watch it find out.

[ Internet Movie Database page for this film ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries


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last updated June 2009
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