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

September 2012 Recommendations

book cover  Cape Refuge
by Terri Blackstock

This is the first in the Cape Refuge series of Christian Suspense. Thelma and Wayne Owens, owners of a bed and breakfast for refuges, are murdered. The main suspect is their son-in-law, other suspects include questionable tenants of Hanover House. Their daughters must put aside their differences and work together to solve the mystery of their parents' killer as well as stop an innocent man from going to prison. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Southern Storm, or Shadow in Serenity, both by Terri Blackstock; A dangerous silence, by Catherine Palmer; Mr and Miss Anonymous, by Fern Michaels or anything by Grace Livingston Hill or Michael Phillips.]


[ official Terri Blackstock web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories
by Agatha Christie

This is a wonderful collection of short mystery stories. The stories are gathered into four groups. The first set, The Tuesday Club Murders, share the same group of characters who tell stories to one another to see if anyone can guess the correct ending to their mystery. Each character takes a turn telling a story. This was my favorite set because even though each story stands on it?s own, you feel as if you?re sitting in on their evening of mysteries. The later stories are just as enjoyable, and are told as the mystery unravels rather than in hindsight. This is the first Agatha Christie I have read, but will certainly be reading more. If you haven't tried these classic mysteries, I suggest you do.


[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  My Life as a Furry Red Monster
by Kevin Clash [791.53 Cla]

You may know that the beloved toddler Muppet "Elmo" is voiced and operated by Kevin Clash, a now-middle-aged "six foot African American male" but did you know that Clash began making puppets and performing before he was even in his teens? His life is truly a dream come true -- from watching Sesame Street as a shy but creative youngster, to being one of the mainstays of the long-running children's series. This 2006 autobiography highlights Clash's experiences from young neighborhood showman to voice of one of the best-selling Christmas toys ever, all the while emphasizing the importance of love, acceptance, and following your dreams.


[ official My Life as a Furry Red Monster entry on the Muppet Wiki site ] | [ official Kevin Clash entry Muppet Wiki site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Strawberry Shortcake Murder
by Joanne Fluke

When Hannah gets to judge a bake-off for her hometown, everyone is taken by surprise when a fellow judge ends up face-down dead in Hannah's dessert. Hannah does her sleuthing and finds plenty of suspects. There are yummy recipes included for you to try. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs; A midsummer night's scream : a Jane Jeffry mystery by Jill Churchhill; Agatha Raisin and the quiche of death by M.C. Beaton.]

[Also available in paperback and book-on-cd formats.]

[ official Joanne Fluke web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Kathy H.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Sherlock Holmes & Kolchak the Night Stalker: Cry of Thunder
by Joe Gentile (author), Andy Bennett and Carlos Magno (art) [741.5 Kol]

This graphic novel compiles the entire storyline of a 3-issue comic book miniseries from 2009. Having been a huge fan of both Sherlock Holmes and Carl Kolchak for decades, I was initially leary of any attempt to cross them together. Gentile, however, manages to tell a story with elements set in both the 1890s and the 2000s -- Kolchak having been updated from his original 1970s era -- with surprising effectiveness. While I found the artwork incredibly uneven -- at times excellent and at times awful, Gentile's characterization was top-notch. Holmes is brilliant, sharp-tongued, crafty, manipulative, physical and surprisingly compassionate in his pursuit of justice in the name of an unjustly imprisoned immigrant. Meanwhile in modern times, reporter Kolchak is approached by a woman to investigate a mystery in her family's history. Gentile's narrative voice for Kolchak perfectly captures Darren McGavin's noirish voiceovers and downtrodden schmuck-who-won't-give-up personality. The Kolchak part of the storyline involves unusual supernatural elements, which provide the method by which the characters sort-of cross over with each other...the weakest plot element. However, the strengths of each of the separate storylines make this a highly recommendable entry for fans of both sleuths. I particularly appreciate that there are writers trying to keep the Kolchak character alive -- he's always been a "cult" figure, and it's a pleasure to see some well-told stories featuring him, over 35 years since he was first introduced in The Night Stalker. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other Kolchak stories from this publisher -- Moonstone. Also, the excellent original Kolchak novel "The Kolchak Papers: Grave Secrets" by Mark Dawidziak, available through Interlibrary Loan.]


[ official Kolchak page on the Moonstone publishing web site ]

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


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book cover  Death on Tour
by Janice Hamrick

Jocelyn Shore has gone through a messy divorce. As a treat she decides to cross off one of the items on her bucket list. She invites her cousin Kyla to go on an Egyptian tour with her. Shortly after they arrive in the land of pyramids, the obnoxious Millie Owens apparently falls to her death. A close examination of Millie's body reviews that she was stabbed in the neck. Thus begins a series of unnerving events with Jocelyn as the prime target. Mysteries that take place on tours require a delicate balance of travel log and plot and Hamrick did a good job. As a reader, I felt what it's like to be accosted by aggressive street venders trying to drag you to their stalls and Hamrick smoothly integrated this annoying experience into the plot and makes it seem sinister. It's easy to see why this book won the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel award. I look forward to reading the second book in this series, Death Makes the Cut. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Maddy Hunter and Wendy Dingwall.]


[ official Janice Hamrick web site ]

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


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book cover  Redemption
by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley

When Kari Baxter Jacobs finds that her husband is involved in an adulterous relationship and wants a divorce, she decides to love him and remain faithful to their marriage no matter what. This book shows how seemingly hopeless relationships can be redeemed, and illustrates that love is a decision. "Redemption" is the first book in the five-book Redemption series that Gary and Karen will write about the Baxter family. Each book explores key relationship themes as well as the larger theme of redemption, both in characters' spiritual lives and in their relationships. Each book includes study questions for individual and small-group use. The Redemption series won "Christian Retailing"'s 2005 Retailer's Choice Award for Best Series. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other books by Karen Kingsbury, Nancy Moser, Tracie Peterson, Francine Rivers, Kristen Heitzmann, and Beverly Lewis.]

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

[ official Karen Kingsbury web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kathy H
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  Corduroy Mansions
by Alexander McCall-Smith

This novel is centered on the residents of a block of flats in London called Corduroy Mansions. The book does not have a central story line that ties everyone's on-goings together, rather it switches between the characters and their acquaintances in a way where there are multiple stories going on at once. I found myself getting into a few of the stories more than the others and kept skipping over a few sections about the other characters to read about what happened next in my favorites. I did of course go back and read what I had skipped, and I'm looking forward to reading the second and third books in the series. Personally I enjoy this style of writing, but I know that it might irritate other kinds of readers who prefer a continuous plot. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Dog Who Came in From the Cold (Corduroy Mansions 2), A Conspiracy of Friends (Corduroy Mansions 3), or the 44 Scotland Street Series by Alexander McCall Smith.]

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

[ official Alexander McCall-Smith web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Giant George: Life With the World's Biggest Dog
by Dave Nasser [636.73 Nas]

Dave and his wife adopted a Great Dane runt. George ended up being named the Guinness biggest dog in the world AND the biggest dog ever. This is their story of raising and living with such a big and loving dog. You learn not only George's story, but the Nasser family story and how George was a comfort in times of stress. If you love biographies and/or dogs, you must read this book!


[ official Giant George web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Jodene G.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  The Big Empty: Contemporary Nebraska Non-Fiction Writers
edited by Ladette Randolph [810.098 Ran]

A collection of 27 essays and book excerpts by contemporary Nebraska nonfiction writers. The authors examine the many facets of life in Nebraska, showing their affection toward the state. Something for everyone; a great sampler. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the companion volume, A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers.]


[ official Big Empty page on the official Ladette Randolph web site ]

Review Score - 10
Recommended by Meredith M.
Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors


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book cover  A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers
edited by Ladette Randolph [813.08 Ran]

Nebraska has long been known for its strong literary heritage; today's writers continue that excellence as shown in the 25 short stories and books excerpts chosen for this anthology. There is something for everyone. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the companion volume, "The Big Empty: Contemporary Nebraska Nonfiction Writers.".]


[ official A Different Plain page on the official Ladette Randolph web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Meredith M.
Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors


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book cover  Niceville
by Carsten Stroud

Niceville, a small southern town where things aren't so nice. There's a giant cliff that reaches over the town, and a sink hole that defies science -- so black and too deep to measure. And the black crows that are always gathered. There's a missing boy, and then the boy is back. Or is he? And a daring bank robbery that goes terribly wrong. There's Nick, the cop; his wife Kate, the attorney; Dillon Walker, her dad and history prof at VMI who was researching 80 years of stranger abductions in Niceville; Glynis Ruelle and her sister Clara Mercer; Abel Teague, a rake; and a mysterious mirror -- that feels warm as blood; and a long-standing feud between the four founding families of Niceville that reaches from the past. Everything intersects. A well-written, quick read even at 383 pages. The plot moves along quickly and is full of interesting characters. Each chapter has a one-line title that gives a hint as to its contents -- sometimes tongue-in-cheek or understated and makes you chuckle ("Bock Gets More Consequences Than He Can Handle"). This is a supernatural story, a thriller, and a crime story rolled into one. Caution: some of the characters are not so nice so there will be language to match. All the threads were not as neatly tied up as this reader would have preferred but overall an excellent read.


[ official Niceville web site from Carsten Stroud ]

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


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemJohnny Carson: King of Late Night
[DVD Biography Carson]

Heeeeere's Johnny! Warts and all. This episode of PBS' American Masters arts biography series takes a look at King of Late Night, from his beginnings as a teenaged magician in Norfolk, NE to the height of his popularity as the host of The Tonight Show for over 30 years. Filled with rare home video footage from his childhood and punctuated by interviews with dozens of comedians and Tonight Show staff, this is an engaging look at Carson's enduring popularity and influence. It's particularly interesting to see how much credit some of today's entertainment superstars give to Carson for helping to launch their careers. This DVD includes two "special features" -- a behind-the-scenes of Kevin Spacey doing the voice-over narration and reminiscing about Johnny, and additional interview outtakes. Watch for Drew Carey nearing breaking down as he remembers his first appearance on The Tonight Show! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Here's Johnny by Ed McMahon; Forty Years at Night: The Story of the Tonight Show by James VanHise; various DVD collections featuring Johnny's favorite Tonight Show moments.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official American Masters - Johnny Carson web page ]

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 itemMonty Python and the Holy Grail
[DVD Monty]

I can't believe one of my co-workers hasn't already recommended this! This movie is a brilliant addition to the Monty Python troupe's long list of irreverent and bawdy humor output. Holy Grail is both a parody of film-making, and a hilarious poke at the whole King Arthur mythos, which gives each of the Pythons plenty of moments to shine. Graham Chapman is perfect as the stuffy, heroic Arthur, who assembles an eclectic group of knights from across the realm, in a quest to locate the mythical Holy Grail of Christian legend. I can't count the number of times I've seen this movie -- and every time it makes me laugh even harder. The unforgettable comedic moments from this film just keep coming: The Black Knight, the Knights Who Say Ni, the Holy Hand Grenade, the Killer Rabbit, What's Your Favorite Color, I'm Being Persecuted, She's a Witch, Brave Sir Robin, I'm Not Dead, and so on. This film, and its marvelous "The Knights of the Round Table" musical number, served as the inspiration for the Tony-Award-winning musical Spamalot. A true masterpiece of subversive comedy film-making! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Spamalot, or, frankly, any other Monty Python production.]
[Also available as The Album of the Soundtrack of the Movie of Monty Python and the Holy Grail
[
Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Pythonline web site ]

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


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last updated September 2012
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