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

November 2012 Recommendations

book cover  No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
by Chris Baty [808.3 Bat]

Amusing, insightful and inspirational guide to writing from the founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo started in 1999, as an experiment to challenge a small number of aspiring writers to put their noses to the grindstone and crank out a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30 (or at least a first draft). Each November since then, hundreds and now thousands of participants have pushed themselves to reach a 50,000-word-count goal, so that they can claim the honor of "winning" NaNoWriMo! Numerous professionally published novels have resulted from this intense "writing camp" (including The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern). In this book, Baty provides a great deal of humorous insight on good ideas for preparing for a month of intense writing, and what kind of hurdles to expect during the month of November, including how to have a life outside of the writing environment, how to deal with family members seeking your time, and how to deal with inevitable issues of writers block and other technical complications. For anyone wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo, this is an excellent tutorial. For writers not wanting to push themselves quite so hard, this volume still has come good ideas about the basics of a writer's life. [If you enjoy this, and you're interested in other books that will help you participate in NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to check out the booklist for my 2011 NaNoWriMo booktalk -- Write? Right! -- also available as an audio podcast!.]

[ official National Novel Writing Month web site ] | [ official Chris Baty web site ]

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


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book cover  O Pioneers!
by Willa Cather

Willa Cather, 1873-1947, has written several novels set in Nebraska. I might have read this earlier as I grew up here, but sometimes it's good to read or reread such classics. "O Pioneers!" reminds me just how difficult it was to live on this land, how life has its low moments and its high points. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try other Cather novels, or Bess Streeter Aldrich's pioneer novels.]

[O Pioneers! is available in a wide variety of formats and languages. This link (or the links above) should take you to ALL versions of this title in the libraries' collection.]

[ official Willa Cather Foundation web site ] | [ Wikipedia page for O Pioneers! ]

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


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book cover  Sleuths, Sidekicks and Stooges
by Joseph Green and Jim Finch [R 809.387 qGre]

In an ongoing effort to promote some of the excellent reference books in the libraries' non-circulating Reference collection, let me bring your attention to this terrific tool for mystery fans! Sleuths, Sidekicks and Stooges is a massive oversized encyclopedia of mystery protagonists, organized alphabetically by the name of the sleuth -- be they Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Travis McGee or Sam Spade. You'll find details descriptions of each sleuth, from their physical appearance to their basic personality traits, plus notes as to how many novels and/or stories they were featured in (up through 1995). Additionally, if the sleuth had a partner or sidekick, they get their own detailed blurb -- Spenser's Hawk, for instance. Additionally, if the sleuth has a regular police antagonist -- what the editors of this volume call "stooges" -- they also will get their own descriptive blurbs, within the broader scope of the sleuth's main entry. The book features extensive indexes to the Authors, Books, Sidekicks and Stooges, as well as a helpful appendix itemizing dozens of Sherlock Holmes parodies up through the mid-1990s. This is an excellent research volume for mystery fans -- I'm only sorry an updated edition has not been produced since 1997. But for classic mystery lovers, this is an essential tool!


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


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book cover  Venomous
by Christopher Krovatin

I don't normally read many books with the main character being male, but Locke's story was appealing to me because of my background in social work. Locke has severe issues with being able to control his anger, something he has been dealing with since he was in elementary school. He and his mother refer to his anger as "Venom" and Locke believes he can actually feel it running through his veins when he loses his temper. Locke is not a bully, but his anger has exiled him from any kind of social life with the exception of one friend, who has problems of his own. His social life changes, whether for the best or worse is up to the reader, when Locke attends a party and meets a new group of people his age. One new person in particular is a girl, who becomes his love interest in the story. The one thing that impressed me about the character is that he is a really good son and brother, despite his issues. His physical description of being very thin and wearing glasses, does not fit the stereotype of a teen with anger issues, so it seems to add another dimension to the character's personality. It's a fictional, yet honest story of a troubled teen trying to attain maturity, self-knowledge and to once and for all, rid himself of the "Venom." The Graphic novel style illustrations make this book really unique and add another dimension to the story. It's my opinion that this book would best be suited for adults and older teens as it has elements of sex, violence, drugs and drinking throughout the story.

[ Wikipedia page for Christopher Krovatin ]

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


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book cover  Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
by Alexander McCall-Smith

Isabel Dalhousie lives in Edinburgh Scotland and works as an editor for a philosophy journal. Her niece runs a deli which she asks Isabel to run for her while she is away on holiday in Italy. One day, while chatting to a customer Isabel learns that the man she is talking to has recently had a heart transplant and that he is experiencing memories he does not believe are his. Isabel is so intrigued by this that she sets off to discover who the heart donor was, to the help the man come to an explanation of his strange memories. As in the previous book in the series, she has a habit of getting into other people's business when she really shouldn't. Despite the fact she means well, some readers may find her a bit too nosy, as I did in the first book of the series. The plot moves a bit slowly, but if you want a leisurely mystery with a protagonist who follows her curiosity wherever it may take her -- even past social norms -- then give this a try.

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

[ Publisher's official Friends, Lovers, Chocolate web page ] | [ official Alexander McCall-Smith web site ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Bg Sky Country
by Linda Lael Miller

A good ol' modern cowboy romance. This is the first book of three in a new series that takes place in Parable, MT. Sheriff Slade Barlow, the illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, was never acknowledged by his father, and lived a hardscrabble life with his single mother. He's stunned to learn he's inherited half of the entire estate - which doesn't set well with his half-brother Hutch. Re-enter Joslyn Kirk who left town in shame due to her stepfather swindling many of the townfolk out of their life savings. Now a software designer she's recently sold her highly successful company and has secretly begun paying them back. Sparks fly between Slade and Joslyn. We meet memorable, likeable characters that make this series and town come alive. A nice romance, a quick easy read, a couple of love scenes. How can you not like a cowboy romance with characters named Slade and Boone? [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Book #2 is Big Sky Mountain; Book #3, Big Sky River, is due out in Dec.]

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

[ official Big Sky Country page on the official Linda Lael Miller web site ]

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


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book cover  Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection: 400+ Easy Embroidery Designs
by Aimée Ray [746.44 Ray]

If you haven't done embroidery before and want to give it a try, this is a great book to start with. It tells you about the basic stitches, has clear diagrams, and includes photos of what the stitch looks like on fabric. They have a number of step by step projects, and what I particularly like about this book is that they suggest variations for each project beyond using different colours. In the back half of the book are a wide array of motifs; they have baby, circus, flowers, food, space, under the sea, and a woodland fairytale among others. Included in the back is a CD with digital copies of all the motifs, making it easy to make enlargements or to combine multiple motifs into an arrangement. Over all the book does a very nice job on making things so clear and simple, even to someone who has never attempted embroidery before. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners also by Aimée Ray.]

[ official Aimee Ray web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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book cover  Musicophilia
by Oliver Sacks [781.11 Sac]

This book provides detailed accounts of music and the brain. One particularly interesting case is that of a man who gets struck by lightning and becomes much more musically astute. Other music and the mind cases are told first from the subject's own perspective. Then Oliver Sacks weighs in with his own scientific thoughts and explanations; a very interesting read! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Music, the brain, and ecstasy : how music captures our imagination, by Robert Jourdain, This is your brain on music : the science of a human obsession by Daniel Levitin, or The biology of musical performance and performance-related injury. by Alan H. D. Watson.]

[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

[ official Musicophilia page on the official Oliver Sacks web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Assimilation2
by Scott and David Tipton and Tony Lee (writers), J.K. Woodward (and others) (art) [741.5 Tip]

Considering the popularity of crossovers (also known today as mashups) I'm surprised that this has never happened before, but apparently this comic-book-turned-graphic-novel is the first official cross-over of these two incredibly popular multi-media juggernauts: Star Trek (in this case Star Trek the Next Generation) and Doctor Who! Originally released as a monthly comic-book in multiple installments, this trade paperback combines the first four issues of a much larger ongoing story. The 11th (current) Doctor, with his travelling companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams, crosses paths with the crew of the Enterprise D (Jean Luc Picard,Geordi LaForge, Commander Data, et. al.) only to discover that their realities should not co-exist -- they come from two parellal timelines. Ever worse, one of the Doctor's worst enemies, The Cybermen, have teamed up with, and then taken over the Federation's deadliest foe, The Borg. I have mixed feelings about this cross-over. While I'm a huge fan of both properties, and the writers even work in a subplot featuring the classic Trek characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy encountering the 4th Doctor, I found the artwork to be all over the place. Woodward's art, which is made to resemble paintings in each panel, ranges from very good to absolutely atrocious. The art in the Classic Trek flashback sequence was terrific. The writing, on the whole is strong, but occasionally sacrifices story logic in order to emphasize character quirks. The dialog, especially for The Doctor, really captures the personality of the characters as they were seen on screen. And the chilling storyline of the Borg and Cyberman joining forces made for a suitably powerful villain. I wish I liked this more than I did, but find myself only recommending it for it's fannish historical significance. Fans of both Star Trek the Next Generation and Doctor Who should certainly appreciate it! I just wanted better artwork!.

[ Wikipedia page for this comic series ]

Review Score - 6
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 itemAmerican Horror Story: The First Complete Season
[DVD American]

This horror, drama, mystery TV series from FX Networks stars Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Jessica Lange, and Evan Peters. When a family moves into a large old home many strange things happen. The nosy neighbor next door, (Jessica Lange) seems to know an awful lot about the house and its previous owners, as does her daughter who keeps showing up inside the home, uninvited. One of the Dad's counseling patients really likes his daughter, but he thinks this is a bad idea. Are there ghosts in the house? Will the daughter's new friend help them or hurt them? [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Tell-Tale Heart, DVD, by Edgar Allan Poe; Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season one DVD; The Birds, DVD.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ FX's official American Horror Story web site ]

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


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemGrimm: Season One
[DVD Grimm]

Grimm is a TV series about a cop in Portland named Nick Burkhardt who learns he is an ancestor of the original Grimms. After his aunt dies he inherits the power to see supernatural creatures. These creatures look like average humans to everyone else which makes his life as a detective interesting. All of his cases seem to involve some sort of creature whether they're evil or harmless. Along the way he meets Monroe, a Blutbad aka a big bad wolf, who becomes his confidant and adviser on all things supernatural. The show is great if you love fairy tales or are looking for a new crime drama. There is some humor but not to an excess. The special effects are great - no two creatures look the same. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Once Upon a Time - another TV series putting a new spin on old fairy tales.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ NBC's official Grimm web site ]

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


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last updated November 2012
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