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The Bennett Martin Public Library downtown maintains an ongoing "Staff Recommendations" display -- Staff from throughout the library system are encouraged to submit book, audio, CD and DVD/video recommendations for items to be placed onto this display. Items on the display have bookmarks inserted, giving brief descriptions about the item's appeal factors, and listing similar books, audios or videos that the reader might also enjoy.

This page on BookGuide is used to highlight some of the items that have appeared on our Recommendations displays in the past, including our staff members' descriptions of the books, plus links to any "official Web sites" for the books, authors or series, if they exist*. Items on both the display and on this webpage may be recent releases, or older titles that deserve another look. Hotlinks on titles or formats (downloadable audio, book-on-CD, Large Print) connect to the appropriate entry in our on-line catalog, so that you may check on the availability of the item.

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

September 2011 Recommendations

book cover  iPod: The Missing Manual [2011 ed.]
by J.D. Biersdorfer with David Pogue [Music 786.76 Bie 2011]

If you consider yourself merely "competent" to use your iPod, I recommend this volume from the Missing Manuals publishers at O'Reilly. This 2011 edition covers the iPod Classic, the Shuffle, the Nano and the iPod Touch. You've probably got the "basics" down, and understand how to use the main controls of your iPod. This book will help you make the most effective use of your device's sub-menus, as well as showing you the best ways to use iTunes to manage your music and video collection. Includes handy sections on loading photos, using your iPod as a digital personal assistant, surfing the web with the iPod Touch, troubleshooting, and the vast array of peripheral devices available to make even more use of your iPod. With a huge digital music collection, I particularly appreciated a section on how to move your music to an external hard drive, without disrupting how the iTunes software recognizes where to find your collection. Recommended for those who already have some minimal iPod experience. [If you're into personal entertainment tech and/or computer software, but need help, I'd recommend the other volumes in the Missing Manuals series.]


[ official Missing Manuals web site ]

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


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book cover  Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World
by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen [640 Coy]

The DIY movement has been gaining momentum for quite some time bringing about a revival in canning, homesteading, urban farming and knitting circles to name a few. While nearly everyone appreciates the results of homemade, it can be a time consuming undertaking with a full time job, family, friends etc. Making It is a charmingly written and thorough practical household DIY reference resource book that accommodates busy people who want to integrate environmental friendly homemade products and projects into their household. To achieve this, authors Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen structured the chapters of the book in relationship to time management! Projects and tasks are broken up into chapter timelines; day to day, week to week, month to month and season to season tasks and recipes. As for content, the book is home-ec for adults. As a reference book, Making It includes friendly introductions to soap-making, various homemade toiletries and cleaning supplies, practical use of medicinal herbs, homemade condiments, laundry, mending, gardening, home brewing, and even beekeeping. At times while reading it seems to be a somewhat haphazard collection of tasks and ideas for making things at home from scratch. However, as an introductory book to the DIY homemaking, it is a great place to start. The recipes are simple and easy to follow. The authors took great care in writing practical instructions, with time management and economy in mind. Most of the recipes are feasible to do as a DIY beginner and without access to exotic supplies. Readers be prepared to use your visual imagination, the book contains a few illustrations, but no photographs to compare your projects to. That said, it is chock-full of neat projects and homemade philosophy for living on the cheap and making a healthier happier home. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try DIY Projects for the self-sufficient homeowner: 25 ways to build a self-reliant lifestyle (640 qMat), The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan (641.3 Mad), The edible front yard: the mow-less, grow-more plan for a beautiful, bountiful garden by Ivette Soler (635 Sol), Urban homesteading: heirloom skills for sustainable living by Rachael Kaplan and K. Ruby Blume (640 Kap), Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail (635.048 Tra), and Mother Earth News (magazine).]


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


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book cover  Enchanted Cornwall: Her Pictorial Memoir
by Daphne DuMaurier [914.23 DuM]

I picked up this photograph filled memoir by one of my favorite authors. Daphne Du Maurier tells the story of how she first came to Cornwall on a holiday with her mother and her sister Jeanne when she was nineteen. They stayed at a farm in Cumberland and Du Maurier writes "earlier holidays could not compare with this my first experience of rugged scenery, of running water coursing through the hills down to the lake." It was love at first sight. Later that year Du Maurier, her mother and two sisters returned to Cornwall to buy a house to use for their holidays. They settled on Ferryside near the village of Fowey. After the house was renovated, twenty-year-old Daphne moved in to pursue her writing career. She roamed the hills and sailed along the Cornish coast soaking up the atmosphere and finding inspiration for her novels. It was on one of her walks that she found Menabilly, a deserted manor hidden away down a long driveway. This house was the model for Manderlay in Rebecca and for the estate in My Cousin Rachel. Du Maurier found Jamaica Inn, the setting for her book with the same name by accident. Daphne Du Maurier and her friend Foy Quiller-Couch were out riding and got lost in the dark, desolate Bodmin Moor. They stumbled upon the inn. Once inside, Daphne and Foy learned stories about smuggling, wrecking and legends of the Moors. The entertaining glimpses of Du Maurier's past is illustrated will color photographs taken by Nick Wright.


[ official www.dumaurier.org web site ]

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


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book cover  102 Minutes
by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn [973.731 Dwy]

This narrative of the World Trade Center aspect of 9/11/2001 was published in 2005. Journalists Dwyer and Flynn are both native New Yorkers, so they had an additional impetus to analyze and piece together what the victims' and rescuers' perspectives were. Not only do we journey from shortly before the first airliner cleaved into Tower One to nearly midnight of that day, but we find out much about what led up to such a catastrophic chain of failure and destruction. By following the timeline through records of radio and telephone communications, and eyewitness accounts, the authors make the account intimate and gripping while yet presenting the facts clearly and cohesively. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Nation Challenged: A Visual History of 9/11 and its Aftermath.]


[ official 102 Minutes interactive web site from the New York Times ] | [ Jim Dwyer page on Wikipedia ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for a Book-on-CDSet Sail for Murder
by Carolyn G. Hart [Compact Disc Hart]

Senior sleuth Henrie O helps her old friend, James Lennox; protect his wife on a Baltic cruise. Jimmy's wife, Sophia Montgomery, will decide when her stepchildren get their inheritances from their late father's estate. Her stepchildren are not happy about the situation. There have been two attempts on Sophia's life and Jimmy is certain that one of her stepchildren is the culprit. Sophia has invited all of the children on the cruise and she will announce if the stepchildren will receive their inheritances now or if they will remain in the trust fund for ten more years. Sophia is concerned that her adult stepchildren will fritter away their inheritances and she is thinking about keeping the trust fund intact. Set Sail for Murder is the seventh book in this engaging series. As in the other books, the characters are drawn with a deft hand. They pop out at the reader. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Maddy Hunter, Donna Andrews and Ellery Adams.]

[Also available in downloadable audio and print formats.]

[ official Henrie O page on the official Carolyn G. Hart web site ]

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


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book cover  My Word is My Bond
by Roger Moore and Gareth Owen [Biography Moore]

Actor Roger Moore, best known as "The Saint" and James Bond 007, recounts his life, nearly chronologically, from his childhood in England, his plays, his movies, and his work with UNICEF. He mostly sticks to his ideal of "if you can't say anything nice about someone then say nothing at all" so this is NOT a kiss-and-tell book with nasty gossip about celebrities. As all good biographies do, this one has photos in the middle of the book. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Elizabeth: The Queen Mother: A Twentieth Century Life by Grania Forbes.]


[ Page for this book on the official Sir Roger Moore web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  For Husker Fans Only
edited by Rich Wolfe [796.332 NebYw]

This is a marvelous collection of essays, by Nebraska fans, about the experience of being a Nebraska football fan. In these 48 pieces, you'll get a variety of personalities, sharing what it's been like to follow the Huskers their entire lives. Some come from writers who've been fans since before Bob Devaney took the reins, and others are from fans of the more recent generations. Chapters include "Growin' Up Husker", "Sweet Home Memorial Stadium", "A Hard Way to Make an Easy Living", "I Saw It On the Radio", "Put Me in Coach", "On the Road Again", "Huskerpalooza", "Ah, a Female Husker Fan", and "Fandemonium". Rich Wolfe edits a series of similar volumes for football and baseball programs across the county. He inserts little arcane facts about football facts, which often have nothing to do with the Huskers, to fill out the ends of many of the pages, and some of these fall flat. But, if you're looking for unique voices sharing the experience of what it's like to be a part of Husker Nation, this is a volume you shouldn't pass up! [The libraries have a huge collection of materials related to Husker football and its history, most of which is in the 796.332 Neb__ section of the non-fiction.]


[ This book's entry at Huskerpedia.com ]

Review Score - 7
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemCommunity - The Complete First Season

This TV comedy series began during the 2009-2010 television season, on NBC and is beginning its third season this year. Set at a community college, this series features an ensemble cast, though when it began a large number of the stories focused on Jeff (Joel McHale), a lawyer whose degree has been proven to be faulty. As he entered Greendale Community College, he ended up joining a study group for his Beginning Spanish class. That group consists of Pierce (an older, somewhat bigoted man, trying to recapture his youth), Britta (an attractive young feminist who occasionally goes overboard), Troy (a former standout high school athlete who is having trouble fitting in), Annie (a recent high-school honors grad, who had a crush on Troy), Shirley (a middle-aged housewife having some relationship issues) and Abed (an Indian student obsessed with pop culture and TV tropes). As the season progressed, stories focused less on Jeff and more on the entire cast, with Abed proving to be an amusing breakout cast member. Towards the end of season one, and throughout much of season two, the producers broke the tradional barriers between the television audience and the cast, having fun with standard TV traditions (and movie traditions) along the way. This series can be a wild ride, veering between extreme parody and sentimentality. However, if you let the characters build on you, it can be worth the ride in the end. The relationships that have built up between the characters over two years are tremendously satisfying, even if some of the individual stories end up being too "out there".

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Community web site ]

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 itemChuck

A classic tale of computer geek sees something he shouldn't and now needs to be protected by government agents while foreign operatives hunt him down. Zachary Levi plays Chuck, a computer genius who works at a Buy More and lives with his sister and her fiance Captain Awesome. After Chuck's former college roommate sends him an email filled with pictures encoded with government secrets that, once viewed, stick in your brain he is forced to be guarded by CIA Agent Sarah Walker and NSA Agent John Casey. The back and forth relationships between the characters are what makes the show so fantastic. Not to mention the stunts, the storylines and the comic relief of Chuck's best friend Morgan and the rest of the Buy More crew. [If you enjoy this, you may also like Chuck seasons two and three, or Burn Notice - about a spy working with his best friend and his ex girlfriend

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Chuck web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemJust Go With It

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston star in this romantic comedy. Danny (Sandler) has an interesting way of picking up women - he uses a wedding ring and makes them feel sorry for him claiming that his wife doesn't care about him. This plan seems to backfire when he meets a girl he actually cares about. He tells the girl he's getting a divorce and she insists on meeting his soon-to-be ex-wife. Danny convinces his assistant (Aniston) to pretend to be his wife and she lets it slip that she has kids. Then he's forced to make her kids pretend to be his as well. They end up going to Hawaii where secret feelings begin to reveal themselves. I loved this movie - the back and forth comedy between Aniston and Sandler is hysterical, plus the comic relief by Nick Swardson - who plays Aniston's fake boyfriend she was "cheating" on Danny with - just adds to the comedy dynamic. If you're looking for a break from reality and need a laugh check this one out. [If you enjoyed this movie, you may also like similar Adam Sandler or Jennifer Aniston movies such as 50 First Dates, The Bounty Hunter, or Management - all available through our library system.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Just Go With It web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Carrie K.
Bennett Martin Public Library and South Branch Library


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last updated September 2011
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