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

March 2011 Recommendations

book cover  Island Beneath the Sea
by Isabel Allende

Island Beneath the Sea is an epic historical novel of slavery, politics, plantation life, and the plethora of relationships in between. The novel begins on the island of Haiti (aka Saint-Domingue circa 1770) when it was still a French colony. The history of 18th and 19th century globalization is woven throughout the book as French and Haitian revolutions throw the characters throughout the Caribbean, Europe, and early America via French Creole New Orleans. Allende's historical references peppered throughout plunge the reader into the politics of the day. Told from the perspectives of slaves, concubines, free slaves, and whites Allende touches eloquently on the perspectives and thought processes of each group, giving a seemingly accurate account of the mindset of the time period. Beyond her emphasis on slavery and history, Allende's characters also delve into the religions of Voodoo and Catholicism adding yet another interesting aspect to the story. The history is narrated by several characters and spans decades of their lives. Turning one page can pass seven years. Amongst all of these thick historical elements, it is at times difficult to feel deeply connected to the characters themselves. While each part is told from their multiple perspectives, the story does not have the typical inner dialogue one finds in most character driven novels. Nonetheless it was a tearjerker at several points. Overall it's a thoroughly enjoyable historical novel, with an excellent dramatic representation of the ins and outs of slavery that puts the reader into the time period. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Ines of My Soul: A Novel by Isabel Allende.]

[Also available in downloadable audio, book-on-cd, downloadable E-book and Large Print formats.]

[ official Island Beneat the Sea page on the official Isabel Allende web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a microfilm productApollo 11's Moon Landing
[Microfilm 629.454 Apo]

This microfilm reel is one of the library system's most unusual research resources, especially for space exploration buffs. Thought there have been many books about humankind's first physical visit to the Moon's surface, written in the over-forty years since that mission took place, none have quite the same sense of immediacy as reading the articles that are included in this microfilm collection. This reel includes over 1000 pages of articles from 16 different newspapers (including The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, The Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, and The Washington Post), and over 13 magazines (including Life, Look, National Geographic, Newsweek, Sky & Telescope, Time and U.S. News and World Report), all covering the build-up to the launch of Apollo 11, and the subsequent success of that mission that placed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the moon's surface. Though the technology of microfilm may seem a bit antiquated in today's world of digitization, the images on this film capture the world-wide fascination with the Apollo program in a way that a book or a website just can't seem to manage. If you are a space buff, I highly encourage you to stop at Bennett Martin Public Library and explore this excellent research archive! (B&W printouts can be made of articles for 10¢ per page)


[ Apollo 11 page on the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum site ] | [ Interactive Online Recreation of Apollo 11 mission ]

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


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book cover  A Fierce Radiance
by Lauren Belfer

Imagine a world where people routinely die from infected cuts and scratches. Its 1941 and penicillin is an experimental drug. Researchers at the Rockefeller Institute are growing the green mold in milk bottles and bedpans and testing the drug on patients with raging infections. Claire Shipley, a staff photographer for Life Magazine, is documenting the treatment of one of the patients, Edwin Reese. As she photographs Reese getting his penicillin shot from Dr. James Stanton Claire flashes back to memories of her daughter's illness and death seven years before. Three-year Emily got a scratch that became infected and turned into blood poisoning. After Emily's death, Claire and her husband divorced and Claire was left to raise their infant son, Charlie. Claire pushes her memories aside continue photographing Reese, his family and the staff of the Rockefeller Institute. Claire is drawn to the head researcher, James Stanton and they begin a romance that is interrupted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entry in World War II. While Claire continues her work James Stanton is tapped as the national scientific coordinator and he is tasked to provide enough penicillin to treat battlefield injuries. The story of Claire and James spans the war years. James travels around the United States and to North Africa in his official capacity. Claire's photo shoots bring war-time New York City into sharp focus for the reader in this well- researched book. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and City of Light by Lauren Belfer.]

[Also available in downloadable audio and downloadable E-book formats.]

[ official A Fierce Radiance page on the official Lauren Belfer web site ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Trail of Blood
by Lisa Black

Lisa Black weaves the true story of the Cleveland Torso Murderer into this page-turner. The Torso Murderer terrorized depression-scarred Cleveland when he decapitated and dismembered 12 victims between 1935 and 1938. He was never caught. In Black's fictionalized version, forensic scientist, Theresa MacLean is called to a demolition site because a decapitated body is found in a sealed room. The body is identified as James Miller, a police officer who disappeared in 1936. This cold case fascinates Theresa and she looks forward to the challenge of solving it. Shortly after this body is found, someone starts killing people using the same M.O. as the Torso Murderer. Why is someone copying the old murders? Are the two killers linked in some way? Black draws on her experiences as a forensic scientist for the Cuyahoga County Ohio Coroner's Office to create a realistic character in Theresa MacLean.


[ official Lisa Black web site ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  The President's Photographer: 50 Years Inside the Oval Office
by John Bredar [779.935 qBre]

These are the stories of the nine photographers who covered the presidential administrations from 1960 to 2011. Each photojournalist tells his story of life with the president, his family and his staff. The presidential photographers are on call 24/7 and, as such, have the opportunity to catch the presidents in relaxed moments as well as during tense situations. Turning the pages of this book is like taking a walk through political history. There are black and white images of John Kennedy playing with Caroline and John-John in the oval office. The grim image of Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One. Photos of the Nixon family the night before he resigns from office. A picture of Betty Ford dancing on the Cabinet Room table. Pictures of the tragic assassination attempt on President Reagan. Bill Clinton playing a saxophone. The senior Bushes surrounded by their grandchildren at Kennebunkport, Maine. A thoughtful George W. Bush on 9/11. Oh, the stories these photographers tell. Cecil Stoughton describes how a chance comment by someone in Parkland Memorial Hospital alerted him to the fact that Lyndon Johnson would take the oath of office aboard Air Force One. Yaichi Okamoto talks about his tremulous relationship with President Johnson. (Johnson fired Okamoto and rehired him nine months later.) Ollie Atkins recounts the night in August he was called to take photos of the Nixon family dining in the White House solarium. The next day Richard Nixon resigned. David Kennerly described his warm relationship with Jerry Ford. Michael Evens recalled the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. There are a substantial number of photos of the Obama presidency in this book. Few of the Kennedy and Nixon administrations. And none of the Carter's time in office. One of the most interesting candid shots was taken by Okamoto of President Johnson standing nose to nose with Senator Richard Russell of Georgia while they discussed Johnson's proposed Civil Rights Act. The photos and the stories give the reader an insider's look at the life a president.


[ official PBS Special webpage on the National Geographic web site ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD format of this titleThe Poacher's Son
by Paul Doiron [Compact Disc Doiron]

Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch is out on a call about a bear that killed a farmer's pig. When he gets home there is a cryptic message on his answering machine from a man that he has not spoken to in two years, his father, Jack. The next day Mike learns that his father is the prime suspect in the murders of Jonathan Shipman, an executive of Wendigo Timberlands, and his bodyguard, Deputy Bill Brodeur. They were ambushed just after they left an acrimonious town hall meeting. Wendigo just purchased half a million acres in northern Maine from Atlantic Pulp and Paper (APP). APP had granted a number of long-term leases to local residents more than thirty years ago. The residents had built homes and businesses on these pieces of property and now they are being forced off the land because Wendigo will not honor the leases. Shipman tried to put a good spin on Wendigo's plans at the meeting but the residents are still angry. Brodeur is driving Shipman back to his motel when both men are shot and killed. Mike puts his job on the line when he tries to prove his father's innocence. He knows that Jack is a drunk and violent man but he does not believe that his father would ambush any one. It's just not his style. Doiron has crafted a novel with a strong sense of place. As I listened to the CDs I imagined myself tracking the pig-killing bear in the woods with Mike and slapping at the mosquitoes. This mystery has been nominated for an Edgar for best first novel. Paul Doiron's day job is Editor in Chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try ooks by C. J. Box, Nevada Barr, Joseph Heywood or Steve Hamilton.]

[Also available in print and downloadable audio formats.]

[ official Paul Doiron and The Poacher's Son web site ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Wings Over Nebraska: Historic Aviation Photographs
by Vince Goeres [629.13 qGoe]

Incredibly appealing work on the history of aviation in the state of Nebraska, by a long-time volunteer and researcher at the Nebraska State Historical Society. Goeres collects hundreds of black and white, and sepia-toned photographs that illustrated the birth and growth of the fledgling aviation industry across the entire state, with particular emphasis on Lincoln and Omaha. Many of the photos in this book are incredibly rare historical artifacts, and the information Goeres has unearthed to accompany them provide invaluable insight into Nebraska history. Of particular interest were the chapters on Charles Lindbergh's experiences in Nebraska, the history of women in early Nebraska aviation, the history of the Lincoln Airplane and Flying School (whose building still stands along "O" St.) and a chronicle of Nebraska air crashes. This is a marvelous book, and should appeal to anyone interested in either aviation history or unique elements of Nebraska history! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Early Aviation in Lincoln: When and Where Lindbergh Learned to Fly - a Preservation Association of Lincoln recording presented by Vince Goeres (only available on VHS).]


[ Nebraska State Historical Society page for this book ] | [ Nov 2010 video presentation about this book (56 minutes on YouTube) ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD format of this titleUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand [Biography Zamperini]

Based on positive reviews I had read for this NYT best-selling biography, I reserved the book-on-CD version. I was not disappointed. This is one of the most powerful biographies I've read in years. Following the life of Louis Zamperini from his troublesome childhood, through the sports fame of his youth, to his nightmarish experiences during World War II, and concluding with a brief section on his post-War years, Hillenbrand has crafted an incredible tale. Narrator Edward Herrman does a remarkable job, infusing only minimal emotion into his reading of Hillenbrand's detail-infused text. I initially didn't like Louis, based on his anti-social behavior as a kid. However, once he dedicates his life to his sport -- running -- and ends up at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, I found myself intrigued by his story. But, it isn't until the narrative begins to chronicle Zamperini's experiences during WWII that the reader is fully sucked into the story. What follows, as we are told about his time adrift on a life raft after his plane is shot down, and then the horrors as he is moved from one Japanese P.O.W. facility to another, is truly gut-wrenching. Hillenbrand's matter-of-fact telling of these events helps to desensitize the reader to Zamperini's nightmare a bit, but I am still haunted by what he went through, weeks after finishing this book. This is an unforgettable tale, and one told with mastery by the author of Seabiscuit. I can't recomment it highly enough, and I particularly recommend the audiobook version with Herrman's narration. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II is a 2010 coffee-table photography/biography collection, which combines contemporary shots of WWII vets (including Zamperini) with essays in which they share their experiences (available through InterLibrary Loan). Zamperini also wrote his own autobiography in 2003, Devil at My Heels, which covers much the same ground but has a totally different feel or tone to it.]

[Also available in print, downloadable audio, downloadable E-book and Large Print formats.]

[ Publisher's official Unbroken web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for Laura Hillenbrand ]

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


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD format of this titleThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
by Michael Lewis [Compact Disc 330.973 Lew]

Did anyone know that the housing crisis was coming? Yes. A few very minor players, Steve Eisman, Michael Burry, Greg Lippman, and Gene Park, did. Lewis tells the story of this financial debacle through their eyes. Greg Lippman, a bond trader for Deutsche Bank, noted before home values declined, that people whose homes appreciated 1 - 5% in value were four times more likely to default on their loans than those whose homes appreciated over 10%. His colleagues ignored his observation. Michael Burry correctly assessed the impact of "teaser rates" and interest rate re-sets on sub-prime loans. Those very low rates that were good for only two years. And then those adjustable rates made a dramatic raise. Lewis tells the story of AIG's financial products through Gene Park who realized that AIG was relying on homeowners with poor credit ratings to fund the mortgage-backed CDOs (Collateralized debt obligations). Michael Lewis has written a very readable and informative book about greed in the financial world.

[Also available in Print format.]

[ Wikipedia page for Michael Lewis ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CD format of this titleOperation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
by Ben Macintyre [Compact Disc 940.548 Mac]

How does one fool German intelligence? This was the question that British intelligence officers mulled. Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu and Squadron Leader Charles Cholmondeley dreamed up the idea of allowing the Germans to find the body of a courier carrying false invasion plans. This is the story of how this pair found a body that had appeared to have drowned and created an identity for him. The identity that the Germans would see could only come from the clothes he wore, the items in his pockets and the letters in his possession. They chose the body of Glyndwr Michael, the son of a poor Welsh coal miner to play the role of William Martin, a major in the British Marines. Montagu and Cholmondeley gave a lot of thought to the personal letters in his possession. With the letters they painted a picture of Martin as the impulsive son of a well-to-do family. Martin was not careful with his money as evidenced by a letter from his banker telling him that he had overdrawn his bank account. A scolding letter from his father, John, saying that he will cover the overdraft but that William must be more responsible in the future. And loving letters from his fiancé, Pam, a woman that he knew only a short time before he proposed. Much discussion went into the creation of the documents locked in Martin's briefcase. The Germans had to believe that Sardinia, not Sicily, would be the target of the allied invasion. And how would the Germans find the body? Montagu and Cholmondeley decided that Martin would be released from a submarine just off the coast of Spain since Spain was a German ally. The Spaniards would turn the documents over to the Germans and both groups were to believe that Martin was carrying these secret plans when his plane crashed in the sea and he drowned with the briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. (The British had spies in Spain to make sure that the fake plans fell into German hands.) Ben Macintyre wrote this fascinating account based on papers that Ewen Montagu left after his death. Montagu's family saved all these documents in a wooden chest. When Macintyre opened the box he found official records, memos, letters, photographs and a 200-page memoir that Montagu wrote, all pertaining to Operation Mincemeat. Macintyre is not the first author to write about Operation Mincemeat. Montagu published his own novel based on this scheme in 1953. It was titled The Man Who Never Was and an instant best seller. This book was made into a popular movie in 1956 starring Clifton Webb.

[Also available in Print and downloadable E-book formats.]

[ Wikipedia page for Operation Mincemeat ] | [ Publisher's official Ben Macintyre web page ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Bones of Contention
by Jeanne Mathews

The Top End of northern Australia is where Cleon Dobbs has decided to deal with cancer on his own terms. He asked his family to come to a remote, rundown lodge outside of Katherine for a final good-by. Everyone in this hodge-podge group comes with his or her own agenda -- even Dinah Pelerin, our spunky heroine. This debut novel sparkles with wit. Dinah, in a rush to get to Crow Hill Lodge, doesn't wait for the next commercial flight from Darwin to Katherine but accepts a plane ride from one of the colorful locals. Jacko insists on giving her a scenic air tour of the area, including Melville Island where he found body of a murdered journalist a few weeks before. As the plane circles the island, Jacko tells Dinah about finding the body of the reporter impaled on a sea turtle. By this time, Dinah believes that she flying with a madman who will never take her to Katherine. She thinks that the plane will crash and that she will die. But Jacko is true to his word and deposits her safely in the Katherine airport where Eddie, her brother's partner picks her up. They drive down a rutted dirt lane to the shabby lodge where things are not what they seem. Jeanne Matthews weaves a colorful tapestry of Australia and its people. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try books by Ann Cleeves and Cornelia Read.]


[ official Bones of Contention page on the official Jeanne Mathews web site ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Nebraska: Off the Beaten Path [7th ed.]
by Diana Lambdin Meyer [917.82 Lam]

This is a fun travel guide about unique places throughout the Cornhusker state. Places such as the Filley Stone Barn in Gage County. Elijah Filley employed a number of local residents to build this three-story "bank barn" out of wood and limestone in 1874. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It was described as one of the largest limestone structures presently known and one of the most magnificent barns in the state. One of a kind eateries such as the Drifter's Cookshack near Crawford are also included in this guide. The Cookshack is part of the High Plains Homestead. The homestead is an old cow town that a local family has brought to life. Walk on the boardwalk through the swinging doors into the saloon for a sarsaparilla or a brew. Or step into the Badlands Mercantile and browse the antiques. Native American life can be experienced at the Dancing Leaf Cultural Learning Center near Wellfleet. A willow and grass lodge plastered with mud is the heart of this center. The Native Americans that lived here are known to archaeologists as the Upper Republican Culture and are thought to be the ancestors of the Pawnee. Guided tours of the 115-acre center are available. Visitors can also spend the night in an earthen lodge. The book is divided into six sections for ease in trip planning and have colorful names such as Land of Cather and Cranes for the south central section. This area inspired Willa Cather's writings. This book is filled with tidbits about little known areas. It's enjoyable to read even if you aren't planning a vacation in the near future.

[Also available in multiple earlier editions.]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  Our World
photographs by Molly Malone Cook, text by Mary Oliver [770.924 CooYo]

This book is a tribute to Molly Malone Cook by her long-time partner, Mary Oliver. Cook's black and white images are interspersed with Oliver's eloquent prose and poetry. Together these photos and writings tell part of the story of a photographic pioneer. Cook opened what was probably the first photographic gallery on the east coast in the early 1950s, called the VII Photographers Studio. She represented photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Steichen. Cook began honing her photographer's eye while traveling through Europe when she was in her twenties and preserving the slices of life that she saw on film. The majority of the photos are shots of people who walked through Cook's life. Some lingered only long enough for one picture. Others became friends and neighbors. A few were famous such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Norman Mailer. Many were unassuming souls. As I paged through the book admiring the artistry of photos I paused to read Mary Oliver's reminisces about their lives together. All in all it is a very satisfying book.


[ Wikipedia page for Mary Oliver ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  How to Make Your Car Last Forever
by Tom Torbjornsen [629.28 qTor]

If your mechanic sounds like he's speaking Latin, why not reintroduce yourself to your car. Auto maintenance can be daunting for non-enthusiasts and disinterest can lead to costly repairs. In Tom Torbjornsen's book he explains from the ground up the functions of your car along with the "how to" and "why to" of proper maintenance. This book is no nonsense, with diagrams and pictures illustrating detailed descriptions of car parts and their functions. Some of the written descriptions of parts are a bit lengthy and detailed, but don't be overwhelmed, study the diagrams instead if need be. Each chapter ends with a step by step car maintenance task from checking fluids to changing wiper blades. Torbjornsen's career has been connected to all fields of the car industry, which surely lends to his concise explanations. He is currently the host of America's Car Show (fm radio) and includes in each chapter frequently asked question Q&A. Even if these are not directly applicable to your situation they drive home the importance of car maintenance (and might spark a laugh or two). This book is a nice refresher or teaching tool for someone with advanced car knowledge. Geared towards beginners though, I'd recommend this book to those who have a new driver in the household, want to brush up on their car maintenance knowledge, thrifty do it yourself types, or those who simply want to make their car last forever. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Car Talk with Click and Clack the Tappert Brothers (629.28 Mag), or DVD Long Way Down and Long Way Down (910.41 McG). Also, check out the library's online Auto Repair Reference Center database.]


[ official Tom Torbjornsen's America's Car Show web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemDead Again
[DVD Dead]

This is one of the most impressive mystery/thriller movies I've seen in the past 20 years. It's also one of my personal favorites from among Kenneth Branagh's lengthy list of credits. Branagh and Emma Thompson (who were a couple at the time of the movie's release) play dual roles. He is Mike Church, an L.A. private eye specializing in missing persons. Thompson is Grace, an amnesia victim whom Church is helping to rebuild her memory of her own personal history. However, they also play ill-fated lovers Roman Strauss (a composer) and Margaret Strauss (a pianist). Strauss was blamed for the brutal murder of his wife in 1948. When Mike's efforts to dig into Grace's history trigger memories of past-life experiences, both the P.I. and the amnesiac find their lives in danger from elements still at play in the 1948 murder. Every performance in this film is terrific, from the leads to the supporting cast, including Andy Garcia, Derek Jacobi, Hanna Schygulla and many more. Branagh's directing is suspenseful, and the flips in time periods are handled with excellence. This is a beautiful, tense, and engaging film. Mystery fans (and romance fans) will not be disappointed. And remember... "I'm Not Roman!!" [If you enjoy this, you may wish to try Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, Henry V, starring Kenneth Branagh and Stranger Than Fiction, starring Emma Thompson]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemRED
[DVD Red]

With a cast like Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Mary Louise Parker how can you go wrong? The story follows Bruce Willis, a retired spy for the CIA, who finds himself being hunted by his own agency. He teams up with his old gang (Mirren, Freeman and Malkovich) to find out why while trying to keep Mary Louise Parker (his love interest) safe. There's action, romance and a lot of comedy in this thrilling adventure. If you like spy movies this is a must-see. [If you enjoy this, you may wish to try Burn Notice the TV series- which is also about a spy who's been made a target by his own agency, and The Die Hard series also starring Bruce Willis, more action and comedy.]

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

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemOne Giant Leap for Lambkind
[DVD j Shaun]

From the animation wizards who brought us Wallace & Gromit, here are Shaun the Sheep and his many barnyard friends and foes. This DVD contains 6 of the 40 first-season episodes of this British stop-motion animated series. Each episode is about 7 minutes long, and features absolutely no dialog, although plenty of baas and other animal sounds. Shaun has human level intelligence, and is very crafty...which comes in handy for getting himself and his friends both in and out of trouble. Bitzer is the farmer's loyal sheepdog, but he's as much a friend to the sheep as a foe. In this particular collection, in which the episodes are aired completely out of order, two of the six stories feature visits from adorable meddling aliens. The humor is all very slapstick, and resembles that of silent film comedies of the 1930s. And the animation is fresh, unlikely most of the computer and/or hand-drawn animation common to today's televised cartoons. The only negative about this DVD is that the producers have chosen to convert the original widescreen British version to a pan-and-scan version on the US edition -- In several of the cartoons, it is very obvious that part of the image has been cut off. Still...incredibly entertaining. Aimed at kids, but the adults will definitely appreciate it as well. I hope the libraries will get more in this series!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Shaun the Sheep web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemSome Like it Hot
[DVD Some]

This 1959 comedy, directed by Billy Wilder, is a spoof on the 1920s era gangster movies. Two down-on-their-luck musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness a gangland slaying in Chicago and must leave town. Their only way out of town is to join an all-woman dance band for a two-week gig in Florida. Joe and Jerry dress as women and talk their way onto the train that is taking the female musical group to the sunshine state. On the train they must keep the ruse up to avoid being tossed off at the next station. Things become complicated for Joe when he meets Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and falls in love. How does he woo her when she thinks that Joe is a woman? Wilder took advantage of the changing entertainment landscape to make this risqué, gender-bending comedy. In 1959, the movie moguls and their studios were weakening, television was threatening and the Production Code with its censorship restrictions was losing its influence. The action is non-stop in one of the most successful films of 1959. It was nominated for six Oscars and won one academy award.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemWallander
based on books by Henning Makell [DVD Wallander]

This gritty, atmospheric series, starring British actor Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander, aired in the UK in 2008 and then on PBS' Mystery series in the US. These are somewhat faithful adaptations of some of the novels written by Swedish author Henning Mankell, which have only recently been translated into English. The setting (Ystad in southern Sweden) and production values are unique, and the performances, particularly by Branagh, are amazing. However, this series is not for everyone. The tone is very dark, and Wallander the character is a driven, obsessive personality with numerous depressing flaws. If you like dark, gritty police procedurals, especially with a foreign setting, this is worth your time. If you prefer your sleuths and settings to be more in the vein of Murder She Wrote, you'll probably want to avoid this one! [If you enjoy this, you may wish to try the books by Henning Mankell. There were 10 novels to feature Wallander, and an 11th that focuses on his daughter, with him as a supporting character. His story arc -- he ultimately recognizes the signs of Alzheimers in himself -- is depressing. But the books are masterful mysteries.]
[Also available: Season Two.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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last updated March 2011
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