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

June 2013 Recommendations

book cover  I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High
by Tony Danza [Biography Danza]

Actor-singer-dancer, ex-professional boxer, ex-amateur wrestler, and problem student Tony Danza had a lifelong dream to be a teacher. In 2009-2010, he fulfilled it by teaching (under strict supervision) for one year at Philadelphia's largest public high school via Teach for America and A&E Television, which aired a short-lived reality series (Teach: Tony Danza) about it. Just shy of 60 years old, first-year teacher "Mr. Danza" shepherded 26 students through their 10th-grade English class. This chronicle of his eye-opening stint at Northeast High runs a wide range of emotions: charming, passionate, clueless, frustrated, comical, touchy-feely, hopeful, humble. When network executives wanted Danza to "create" more drama, he refused. They pulled the cameras, and he stayed put, refusing to bail on the kids or make an irresponsible representation of what was happening. Along the way, He came up with some creative ways to flesh out lesson plans and he developed a number of lasting bonds with his students. Who knew?!

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ official I'd Like to Apologize... web page on the official Tony Danza web site ]

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


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book cover  Girl Genius: Omnibus One: Agatha Awakens
by Phil and Kaja Foglio [741.5 Fog]

For anyone interested in trying out the world of Steampunk literature, this graphic-novel format story is a perfect place to start. Creators Phil and Kaja Foglio refer to it more as a "gaslamp fantasy", but this amusing and exciting adventure story has a lot of the elements that go into typical steampunk stories as well -- plucky and adventurous heroes (in this case a heroine, who is only just coming to realize that she's "special"), anacrhonistic technologies, including airships and steam-powered robots, and an oppressive government to fight back against. Phil Foglio has been doing comical fantasy art for decades -- I loved his "Phil and Dixie" comic strip in Dragon magazine for many years, and his were the illustrations I liked best for the Robert Asprin "Myth" fantasy novels. With Girl Genius, he's given free reign to let is humor go loose, and a whole world to invest with interesting stories. If you enjoy this first hardback graphic novel compilation, you should be aware that the Girl Genius storyline is much longer than just this volume -- it has continued with a long-running plot online at Girl Genius Online Comics -- you can read the whole thing for free there!.

[ official Girl Genius Online Comics web site ]

related lists See more books like this in Scott's Thrilling Airship Adventures booktalk booklist
Review Score - 8
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Wool
by Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey is a dystopian novel set in the cramped confines of the Silo. Originally self-published as five novellas, the omnibus edition collects the original stories in one printed volume. The Silo is an underground bunker over a hundred stories deep and housing thousands of people who are stratified into a rigid society. The level you live on determines your social status, culture, job, and values. But all residents of the Silo share the ultimate taboo...don't talk about the outside. The outside world is toxic, the only view of their surroundings visible through camera lens that are constantly being degraded by dust storms, acid rain, and caustic air. Those who wonder out loud about the world beyond the constantly degrading view will be sent to clean, and the Cleaners don't come back. In a society this cloistered, control must be absolute. When the people in power begin to question the absolutes they have always taken for granted, the fate of the Silo is called into question. Wool is many things. A dystopian examination of a society pushed to the breaking point, a tragic love story, and a claustrophobic thrill ride. This novel will appeal to fans of post-apocalyptic stories like Fallout 3, Bioshock, and Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy. Also recommended for older YA readers looking for more dystopian thrillers after they finish the Hunger Games. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Pure by Julianna Baggott, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.]

[ official Hugh Howey web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Cally O.
Gere Branch Library


This was ranked supremely high on Amazon.com, so I figured I would give it a shot. Wool is a collection of stories that were first released exclusively for the Kindle. After they went viral, they published the books in an Omnibus collection. There is a Prequel omnibus as well "Shift," and a sequel omnibus "Dust." This wasn't a fast read, I found myself re-reading passages, and some of the detail bogs down the plot. But over all I would highly recommend it to post-apocalyptic science-fiction fans. Imagine planet earth in the future, where people can't go outside but must live in underground silos, shut off from the outside world. There is a mayor, a sheriff, different levels to live on: one for Information Technology, Mechanical, Supply; people work; children play and go about their business as normal. But as punishment for a crime, people are sent outside the silo to "clean" it with steel wool, hence the title-- ultimately a death sentence because after leaving, no one is allowed back in; bodies speckle the horizon. But there is another meaning to wool, for the main character Juliette, someone has tried to pull the "wool" over her eyes, and she sees right through it. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Dune by Frank Herbert.]

Review Score - 9
Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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book cover  The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World
by Guillaume de Laubier [727.8 qLau]

This book provides the reader with short histories of libraries around the world complemented with large full color photographs. The histories of each are only a few pages long, but covers every stage of each building's history up to modern times. I finished it feeling informed about the specific libraries and about library history in general. I think it would appeal to library lovers, architecture fans, and history buffs. There are no Nebraska libraries featured in this book, so if you are looking for a bit of their history, checkout this webpage by the NE Library Commission: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/history/carnegie/. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Library: an Illustrated History by Stuart A.P. Murry.]

[ official Guillaume de Laubier web site (in French) ]

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


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book cover  Let's Pretend This Never Happened: [a Mostly True Memoir]
by Jenny Lawson [Biography Lawson]

Be ready to laugh, cry, and laugh some more as you get a glimpse of Lawson's life from childhood to adulthood with all the raucous adventures that form her into the woman she has become. If reading in public, be warned you might not help but burst out into laughter quite frequently as Lawson brings humor into every situation she encounters. Warning - explicit language used.

[ official The Blogess web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Sarah J.
South Branch Library


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book cover  Liver Let Die
by Liz Lipperman [PB Lipperman]

In college, Jordan McAllister dreamed of being a sports columnist. After making a few bad choices she ended up in Ranchero, Texas writing personals for the Ranchero Globe. One day her editor, Dwayne Egan, asks her to take over the food column and write restaurant reviews while the regular culinary columnist recovers from a broken hip and arm. Jordan agrees with some trepidation because she can barely make macaroni and cheese from a box. Where is she going to find recipes for fancy food for her column? Jordan's friends in her apartment building come to her rescue and supply her with recipes with sophisticated names. Jordan's first restaurant review is an exposť of the way ducks are raised for foie gras and it created quite a stir. The public was outraged by the cruel way ducks are treated. Her editor is elated because newspaper sales are up. The restaurant owner had NO IDEA about the way the ducks treated and he invites Jordan back to his restaurant for a free meal (hoping for a better review the second time). Things become sticky for Jordan when her waiter from the restaurant is found murdered in her apartment building and Jordan is the prime suspect. This is the first book in the Clueless Cook series. With all of the winning characters in the series, it won't be the last. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Cleo Coyne, Joanne Fluke and Julie Hyzy.]

[ official Liver Let Die excerpt on the official Liz Lipperman web site ]

Review Score - 5
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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book cover  This review is for a music CDMDNA
by Madonna [Compact Disc 781.66 Mad

After seeing the hit "Give Me All your Luvin'" at her Superbowl 2012 halftime performance (with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.), I was impressed with the hit and thought I would delve more into the full album. The rest of the album is remarkably similar - a techno/rhythmic hodgepodge of songs (which all start to sound the same toward the end). Some of the more popular hits include: "Turn Up the Radio" and "Girl Gone Wild." The one exception to the predominately dance album is track 11 - "Masterpiece," a modern pop ballad (song). Overall, it's a great album for people who like to dance rather than sing. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try True Blue, Like a Prayer, I'm Breathless, Ray of Light, American Life - all by Madonna.]

[ official Madonna web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Copykat.com's Dining Out at Home Cookbook
by Stephanie Manley [641.5 Man]

Do you love the Ham & Egg Casserole from Cracker Barrel and wish you could make it at home? Or how about the Pasta Alfredo from Olive Garden? Here are easy-to-read, unauthorized recipes that taste like the real thing. Copykat.com has been publishing copycat recipes for years on her website and this is her first cookbook that pulls together some of the favorites. (Complaint: I have a copycat recipe for KFC Coleslaw that is spot-on and was surprised she didn't have one as well.) Recipes are divided into standard categories — Drinks, Appetizers, Salads, Main Dishes, Sides, etc — and the book includes a Recipe Index by Restaurant at the back. Ingredients are basic ones you can find at your local grocery store and the instructions are easy to follow. There are many recipes from Chili's, Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, and T.G.I.Friday's but there are still 71 other major chains included (though on principle I didn't copy any recipes from Hooters). One more minor complaint, there is no nutrition info for each recipe. Just keep in mind restaurants are usually higher in fat, calories, and sodium.

[ official Dining Out at Home web site ]

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


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book cover  Hot X Algebra Exposed
by Danica McKellar [512 McK]

This is basically an algebra text book companion. It's written by mathematician Danica McKellar, who starred as Winnie Cooper on the Wonder Years television show. It covers algebraic concepts in a friendly conversational way, making difficult concepts more approachable than most text books or other help books. The overarching theme of the book is making math something you feel you can conquer, maybe even have fun with. She starts off each chapter with a real life story and ties it into the concept covered in the chapter. Each algebraic topic is explained, then lists out the steps, then sees the steps applied to a few examples. There are some practice problems at the end of each chapter with answers in the back. You can also check the author's website to see all the steps involved in answering each question. This way if you get it wrong, you can check where you made your error. As great as this book is, it is written with a teenage girl audience in mind. She'll use flowers for variables, talk about pesky little brothers spoiling your party, and includes encouraging quotes and stories from other teen girls. This aspect didn't bother me too much, but it could annoy other readers. If you are brushing up on your math skills, or are taking an Algebra class this is a good book to have around for reference. If you are looking for practice problems, I would also recommend 'The complete idiot's guide to algebra practice problems' by Jane Gardner. This one has plenty of practice problems to work through as well as the how-to part. This book may also appeal to those those interested in reading about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, & math). For more information and stories about women in these fields, checkout the Ada Lovelace Day webpage at findingada.com. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Complete Idiot's Guide to Algebra Practice Problems by Jane Gardner.]

[ official Hot X web site ] | [ official Danica McKellar web site ]

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


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book cover  The Bookseller
by Michael Pryor

First in a new mystery series, set in Paris. Hugo Marston is the head of security for the U.S. Embassy in Paris, recovering from a relationship break-up and enjoying the prestige of a job he's good at after years of intelligence work. When one of his Parisian friends, a quirky bookstall owner named Max appears to be threatened and then disappears, Hugo feels obligated to look into the matter on his week off of work -- mainly because the local authorities seem to be turning a blind eye to the situation. With the assistance of an old ex-CIA friend and a crusading female reporter (with whom he's begun a new relationship), Marston steps on lots of the wrong people's toes as he tries to discover the fate of his friend...the bookseller. Really nice descriptions of the settings, even if the characters are a bit wooden. The second volume is due out in 2013.

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ official Mark Pryor blog ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  The Baker Street Letters
by Michael Robertson

When I saw the third volume in this quirky series at Barnes & Noble recently, I realized I had missed the first two entries, so I backtracked to read The Baker Street Letters. Two British brothers, respectable Reggie Heath and his flightier younger brother Nigel, have set up a legal office on the 2nd floor of the office building at 221 Baker Street in London. Part of the conditions of their inexpensive lease is that they are required to answer all of the fan mail that comes addressed to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street, with standard form letters -- no personal responses. When Nigel believes foul play is afoot in Los Angeles, based on a 20-year-old letter that has had a recent follow-up, he disappears from England on the even of a hearing to reinstate his law license. Reggie follows his errant brother to the States, and finds himself hip deep in a mystery involved falsified land records, a missing surveyor, and his brother...who is soon accused of murder. Not perfect -- there's a few lapses in logic and it could have used a tighter editorial hand, but this is still a fun and fast read, with likeable characters and an amusing premise. I definitely recommend this, and look forward to reading the subsequent volumes in the series!

[ official Baker Street Letters / Michael Robertson web site ]

related lists See more books like this in our Elementary booklist -- Holmes parodies, pastiches, sequels and homages
Review Score - 8
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for a music CDSimon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel [Compact Disc 781.66 Sim]

I remember listening to the vinyl record of this album when I was younger from my mom's old records, and I was thrilled that Lincoln City Libraries had it in our collection. This CD includes the greatest hits of Simon and Garfunkel. It was released in 1972, two years after the group disbanded (they reformed later--twice, and have performed as recently as 2010). Interestingly, several of the songs on the CD were recorded live from a 1969 concert in St. Louis, so many of the tracks include audience applause. Every single song on the CD is great, including: "Mrs. Robinson," "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," "I Am a Rock," "Scarborough Fair," "Homeward Bound," "Bridge over Troubled Water," and my personal favorite: "Cecilia.". [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Simon and Garfunkel: the biography, by Victoria Kingston; The Essential Simon and Garfunkel, Music CD; The Best of Simon and Garfunkel, Music CD.]

[ official Simon and Garfunkel web site ]

Review Score - 9
Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


I consider this to be one of the most essential albums of my own personal collection -- an almost perfect snapshot of the era in which it was recorded. That and the Live at Central Park concert recording from Simon and Garfunkel are both "10"s in my book.

Review Score - 10
Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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book cover  Yummy Potatoes
by Marlena Spieler [641.635 Spi]

A recipe book dedicated to the spud. Includes a few classics (soup, salad, mashed, scalloped) with mostly fancy recipes. Spieler includes nice lists such as "yummy things to put on baked potatoes," "other things to sprinkle oven fries with," "things to do with fries," and "simple dishes with warm boiled potatoes." She also provides a short history of the tater as well as a potato primer. About half of the recipes included an illustration of the finished product.

[ official Marlena Spieler web site ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  Shadows on the Coast of Maine
by Lea Wait

Lea Wait weaves a bit of her family's history in this engaging cozy. Wait's family summer home in Maine was built in 1774 on an island and moved across the river to the mainland in 1832. The original fireplace was walled up when the house was moved and uncovered by Wait, her mother and grandmother when Lea Wait was a child. Wait's family summer home is the setting for this novel. The characters in the novel also uncover a fireplace in their home. Antique print dealer Maggie Summer is thrilled when her old college roommate, Amy Douglas, invites her to come to Madoc, on the coast of Maine to see her new home. Amy and Drew's "new" home was built in the 18th century and they are busy restoring it. Things are not as tranquil as Amy and Drew would like. Amy thinks that the house might be haunted because she heard a baby crying during the night. There was a mysterious fire in the unused ell that connects the house to the barn. And there are the eerie late night phone calls. When Crystal, Amy and Drew's summertime helper, is murdered on way home from work Maggie puts on her sleuthing cap and finds the murderer. I love the sense of that this book evokes and I plan to read more by this author. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Emyl Jenkins, Sharon Fiffer and Lyn Hamilton.]

[ official Shadows on the Coast of Maine page on the official Lea Wait web site ]

Review Score - 8
Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department


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The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemHere Comes the Boom
[DVD Here]

I find Kevin James goofily appealing, and this recent film of his, from Adam Sandler's production company, is no exception. At times it does not sufficiently suspend disbelief but it does have a certain charm. James is a burned-out teacher who, through no initial intention of his own, becomes the best hope for saving the music program at his high school, and also getting in the good graces of the sexy school nurse. How? by becoming a Mixed Martial Arts competitor! As the teacher's trainer and manager, Henry Winkler and Bas Rutten steal the movie. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Paul Blart, Mall Cop; I've Never Met an Idiot on the River; School of Rock.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Here Comes the Boom web site ]

Review Score – 7
Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemLincoln
[DVD Lincoln]

This isn't a full birth-to-death biography of Abraham Lincoln's life, but centers more on his emancipation of the slaves and his inner-working of Congress up to the end of the Civil War and his death (and don't worry, they don't show the assassination.) Daniel Day-Lewis won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Lincoln, and the movie had a plethora of other Oscar nominations and awards. I especially liked Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Overall, it was historically accurate, and tastefully done. It really opened my eyes to Lincoln's personality and temperament through his story-telling. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Killing Lincoln - Bill O'Reilly, Lincoln: A Biography - Ronald White.]

[Based in large part on the award-winning non-fiction work A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.]

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

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Sound of Music
by Rodgers and Hammerstein [DVD Sound]

One of my favorite movies of all time. In pre-World War II Austria, Fraulein Maria (Julie Andrews) leaves a convent to become a governess for a Naval Officer (Christopher Plummer) and his seven children. Along the way, she wins the kids and ultimately the Captain over through her music. When the Captain is forced to sign on with the Third Reich, the family sets off into the Alps to escape, with the help of some mischievous nuns. Includes famous hits such as "Do-Re-Mi," "The Hills are Alive," "Edelwiess," "My Favorite Things," "The Lonely Goatherd," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," and "Climb Every Mountain." (Also, look for the cameo appearence of Maria von Trapp herself in the background fountain scene during "I Have Confidence.") Approximately 3 hours long, but don't let that stop you from this great classic movie. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.]

[Also available as sheet music in a wide variety of formats, as well as the soundtrack on cd.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Review Score – 10
Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


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last updated June 2013
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