Return to the main BookGuide page
Connect to the main Lincoln City Libraries Web site!
Staff Recommendations banner
INDEXES TO PAST STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: BY TITLE | BY REVIEWER | TV SERIES/SPECIALS ON DVD/VHS

August 2013 Recommendations

book cover  This review is for the Book on CD format of this itemThis I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women
by Jay Allison [Compact Disc 170.44 All]

I don't listen to anywhere near enough NPR, in my own opinion. Especially considering that I missed all of these wonderful audio essays as they've aired over the years. I was familiar with the This I Believe project back in the 1950s and 1960s, hosted by Edward R. Murrow. I'd even seen a couple of books compiling some of those classic essays in print form. But I was unaware of the more recent revival of that series on today's National Public Radio. This I Believe (both eras) was an attempt to summarize the personal beliefs of not only significant (i.e. "famous") members of society, but also everyday people. Contributors were asked to provide a short written essay beginning with the declarative statement "This I Believe". Those essays were then recorded for sharing over the radio airwaves.. This 5-CD set compiles 8 of those audio essays, a mixture of both the 1950s recordings and those which were recorded and aired in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Most of the audio recordings are by the writers of the original essays. The themes and tones of the essays can touch on religious, political, social and historical issues, but can also be highly personal. The necessity of brevity forces the essayists to distill their thoughts down to the absolutely essential points. I found these recordings very thought-provoking, and many of them were quite moving.

[ official This I Believe web site - an ongoing project ]

Review Score – 10
Recommended by scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Underwater Dogs
by Seth Casteel [636.7 Cas]

This amusing photography book jumped off the new books display at me a few months ago, grabbing my attention with its eye-catching cover image. Seth Casteel has compiled an extensive collection of photographs of a variety of different breeds of dogs, all plunging into swimming pools in search of tennis balls or other items thown into the water. The dogs are all captured, underwater, with expressions ranging from comical to bizarre, and many of the shots are completely unforgettable. If you are a dog lover, I highly encourage you to browse through this short, but intriguing photo book -- I challenge you to finish the book without a smile on your face!

[ Seth Casteel's official Little Friends Photos web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Hell or High Water
by Joy Castro

This book is more of a psychological study of sex offenders and of the main character, reporter Nola Cespedes than it is a mystery. Nola desperately wants move from writing fluffy social articles to reporting hard news. Her editor finally gives her the chance, and one would think that Nola would jump at it but he practically has to force her take it. He wants her write an article on the problems registered sex offenders have reintegrating into society after being paroled. The parolees come from all walks of life – those who struggle on daily basis to a wealthy man who lives an isolated life with his mother in their garden district mansion. The book spends as much time exploring Nola's psyche as it does on the sex offenders. Nola grew up poor with a single mother and still feels that she does not measure up to her friends who grew up in comfortable middle class homes with two parents. The mystery comes in the form of the search for an au pair who disappeared from a restaurant while dining with her charges and their father. Even though I didn't always like Nola, I felt compassion for her as I kept turning the pages intrigued by the story that unfolded before me. Castro teaches creative writing and literature that the University of Nebraska. The sequel to this book, Nearer Home, will be published soon. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Hank Phillipi Ryan and Jan Burke.]

[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

[ official Hell or High Water page on the official Joy Castro web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceThe Assassin's Curse
by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Ananna is a high ranking pirate's daughter. When her parents arrange for her to be married, Ananna wants none of it. She dosen't want to ba a pirate captain's wife, she wants to captain her own ship. Escaping on camel back, she runs from her husband-to-be and hides in the bustling city market. While in the market Ananna can't get her thoughts off of her fiancÚ's threats, that his father will hire one of the famed magical assassins to hunt her down. She makes a plan to brave the desert when everything goes wrong. An assassin shows up. During the insueing fight (in a somewhat unbelivable scene) Ananna saves Naji and thus activates his curse. He must protect her no matter what or he will die. This book starts off very quickly, which is a fast attention grabber but I usually prefer some world building first, especially in a fantasy world. Ananna is a nice change for a female character in YA fiction, and I did find that refreshing. I wasn't sure about this book in the first hundread pages or so as the book does move very fast, but after it really did start to grow on me. For her first novel Cassandra Rose Clarke did very well, and I believe her writing will get much better in the future. I will be reading the sequel, The Pirate's Wish, which I hope will tie up the loose ends.

[ official Assassin's Curse page on the official Cassandra Rose Clarke web site ]

Review Score – 7
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceThe Pirate's Wish
by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Picking up where The Assassin's Curse left off, Ananna and Naji are still stranded on a magical island. When they are rescued their quest to break Naji's curse (Naji has to protect Ananna at all costs) resumes. The romance between the main characters also intensifies. Clarke's writing has definately improved since her first book and is highly entertaining. She has expanded on her somewhat limited world building from The Assassin's Curse, as well as included much more history on the characters. My only complaints are the love hate relationship Ananna has with Naji as well as the very convenient way they seem to get out of their problems. Other than that a very enjoyable YA read.

[ official Pirate's Wish page on the official Cassandra Rose Clarke web site ]

Review Score – 8
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  The Cold Room
by J.T. Ellison

This police procedural involves Nashville police detective Taylor Jackson, her fiancÚ Dr. John Baldwin, an FBI profiler and a New Scotland Yard inspector. The murders are brutal. Afterwards, the killer stages the victims to look like famous works of art. Inspector James "Memphis" Highsmythe flies from London at Baldwin's request to help with the investigation because the same murderer appears to have killed in Great Britain. His instant infatuation with Taylor (she resembles his dead wife) is creepy. Jackson struggles with her demotion within the Nashville Police Department. She misses leading her own team of investigators and she locks horns with her new lieutenant. To add to the stress in Taylor's life is The Pretender, a serial killer who stalking Taylor. He called Taylor to let her know that he was not involved in these murders and that he is still out there and watching. This is fourth book in this series. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Alex Kava and Lisa Gardner.]

[ official J.T. Ellison web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is for the Book on CD format of this itemQuantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories
by Ian Fleming [Compact Disc Fleming]

This is a collection of nine short stories by Ian Fleming. There is a good variety of story lines in this set, featuring the iconic James Bond. Some are told in the present, some as a conversation looking back at a story in the past, and some as a mix. The settings also vary greatly, including London, Paris, the tropics, and the sea. All the stories are full of excitement and would appeal to readers who enjoy a mix of adventure, travel, war and spy stories. The library only has this on book on CD, but don't let this disappoint you. Because of the high quality narration and the page turning plots, you won't want to turn it off.

[ official Ian Fleming estate web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is really a special novel. It is hard to express just how amazing this book really is. Gaiman writes in such a way that not only do the words leap off the page but they blend together like poetry. This is also one of the rare books that when I was finished I got a sense of satisfaction that is so unusual for me. I have had that feeling with books I didn't care for and some that I loved, this is the latter. The story feels so much like a myth or fairy tale and is just as magical.There is not much I can say about the story itself without taking anything away from the experience and I encourage you to enjoy the magic and dream, Neil Gaiman, for yourself.

[ official The Ocean at the End of the Lane page on the official Neil Gaiman web site ]

Review Score – 9
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  "The Woman Who (Maybe) Struck Out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig"
by Tony Horwitz in the Jul/Aug 2013 Smithsonian

This was a very interesting article in Smithsonian Magazine (July/August 2013) about how women athletes began competing with men-- sometimes playing on the same teams in semipro baseball leagues. The article is mostly about how Jackie Mitchell struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back in 1931; and...she was only 17 years old at the time! It also mentions other notable female baseball players, such as Lizzie Arlington - the first woman in baseball's minor leagues. The article describes pitch-by-pitch how Jackie's match-up with Gehrig and Ruth went down, but also muses on the possibility that Gehrig and Ruth might have purposely struck-out to gain publicity for the league. Overall, a very fascinating article. Props to Tony Horwitz at Smithsonian Magazine for researching the story. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A League of Their Own (DVD); Sports Illustrated; ESPN Magazine.]

[ official article link on the Smithsonian's web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is of material for a Young Adult audienceProxy
by Alex London [YA London]

Syd's life is not his own. In the future people may sell years of their lives to repay debt, they are Proxies. Society (the rich) encourages this system. Those born rich are the fortunate Patrons, those born poor have no choice but to sell their lives to the Patrons just to live. Sixteen year old Syd is just trying to get by. Going to school and being in the city has already gotten Syd eighteen years as a Proxy to probably the worst Patron he could have been stuck with. He has taken beatings and electric shocks as punishments for his Patron's vandalism and pranks. But then he faces the worst punishment possible for his Patron. Death. Knox is a rich kid parting hard and goofing off. Trying to impress a girl Knox steals one of his dad's high speed hover cars. On the road he loses control and crashes. He is told the girl is dead and that the punishment for the murder is death. His Proxy's death. Proxy was a quick read for me and I did find it entertaining. The author does a good job at keeping the story moving and for a dystopian I found the idea original. I thought the interaction between the characters was very realistic and you can see how they grow from knowing each other. Overall a very fast paced and action filled story.

[ official Proxy page on the official Alexander London web site ]

Review Score - 6
Recommended by Wyatt P.
Gere Branch Library


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Beethoven's Hair
by Russell Martin [Music 780.92 Beethoven]

This was a extremely fascinating read. After Ludwig van Beethoven died, several composers and friends clipped lockets of hair as a keepsake. One of these was student and friend Ferdinand Hiller; the locket of hair stayed in the Hiller family, passed down to his son Paul, but then disappeared at some point in World War II - resurfacing to a family in Denmark, where it was passed down to an adopted daughter who later auctioned it off. In the 1990s the locket was sold to two Americans Alfredo Guevara, Jr. and Ira Brilliant, two Beethoven enthusiasts. However, two questions remain: How did the locket end up in Denmark? And what was Ludwig van Beethoven's ultimate cause of death? A historical odyssey mixed with recent scientific testing reveals some startling clues about Beethoven's health, his life, and his destiny for greatness. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Beethoven: Biography of a Genius by George Marek.]

[Also available in downloadable E-book format.]

[ official Beethoven's Hair web site ] | [ official Russell Martin web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  The Royal Wulff Murders
by Keith McCafferty

On the surface, fly-fishing does not appear to be a murderous sport. But combine it with a plot to spread whirling disease in Montana trout streams for profit and the temptation is too great. I like the variety of characters. They range from wealthy businessmen who own summer homes in the area to vacationers to locals (both native and newcomers). There was too much fly-fishing detail for my taste and not enough of Sheriff Martha Ettinger, who wrestles with the pitfalls that a job in law enforcement puts in the path of a woman. McCafferty is an editor of Field and Stream magazine. This is his first novel. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of C.J. Box, Joseph Heywood and Paul Doiron.]

[ Penguin's official Royal Wulff Murders web page ] | [ official Keith McCafferty web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is for a music CDThe 2nd Law
by Muse [Compact Disc 781.66 Mus]

The 2nd Law was released in October 2012, and the second track "Madness" has been played on the radio consistently ever since. The rest of the album is good, but not nearly as great. The very first track actually quotes a theme from Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, and some of the other songs on the CD sound awfully similar to other bands like U2 and Coldplay. Muse themselves claims influences from Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Skrillex, Queen, and Stevie Wonder. The album makes great use of mixed meter (One of the pieces is in 5/4) and its use of mixed modes (a variant type of scale). "Madness" was on the top of the Billboard Alternative chart for 19 weeks, and was nominated for a Grammy for "Best Rock Song," it clearly dominates the rest of the album. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Muse - Absolution; Muse - The Resistance; The Origin of Symmetry; Black Holes and Revelations.]

[ official Muse web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Foal Play
by Kathryn O'Sullivan

This funny cozy is perfect for a lazy afternoon. Fire Chief Colleen McCabe doesn't plan on getting involved in a murder investigation. It just happens after the body of Myrtle Crepe, a cranky retired school teacher who fiercely protects the wild horses roaming the area, is found in her burned out home. Things spin out Colleen's control and she ends up investigating three murders – much to the annoyance of Sheriff Bill Dorman. O'Sullivan paints great word pictures of the Outer Banks in this award winning debut novel. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Donna Andrews and <Ellery Adams.]

[ official Foal Play and official Kathryn O'Sullivan web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Small Gods
by Terry Pratchett

This fantasy novel is part of Pratchett's Discworld series. It's not necessary to read them in order, but I got the feeling that the more of them you read the more they will make sense. While I could follow the plot, a number of things just seemed odd. I wasn't sure if I was missing some background information or if it is meant to seem random in a humorous way. This story follows Brutha who lives at the citadel in Omnia. The people of Omnia worship the great god Om. Whilst gardening Brutha encounters a talking tortoise, who only he can hear, who claims to be the great god Om. Why can only Brutha hear the tortoise? Is the tortoise really Om, and if it is why is he in the shape of a tortoise unlike the statues of him around the citadel? To find out and to follow Brutha on his adventure when someone discovers Om is speaking to him, you must read the book. I would recommend this to those who enjoy philosophical quandaries, fantasy novels, or books by British authors. If you like this, there are at present 39 books in the Discworld series, and a few have been made into movies. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Hogfather By Terry Pratchett (DVD Hogfather).]

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

[ official Small Gods web site ] | [ official Terry Pratchett web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Nebraska's Post Office Murals
by L. Robert Puschendorf [751.72 Pus]

This book, published by the Nebraska State Historical Society, provides information about 14 murals found in post offices around the state. The murals came out of one of the programs of The New Deal. Very interesting and informative!

[ official Nebraska's Post Office Murals web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Every Last Secret
by Linda Rodriguez

Rodriguez turned her pen from poetry to prose and created an award winning mystery. Marquitta (Skeet) Bannon left the Kansas City Police Department for the job of police chief at Chouteau University in Brewster, Missouri. Life is less stressful than solving murders in KC. That changes when Skeet gets a late night phone call from her new officer saying, "Chief! It's Dave Parker. I found a body." The body is that of Andrew McAfee, the assistant editor of the campus newspaper. Who would have reason to bludgeon this student to death? Was he working on a story that someone did not want published? As Skeet pokes into McAfee's life she finds a trail of blackmail that leads to the college's administration. The second book in this series, Every Broken Trust, was just published. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Linda Castillo, Bill Crider and the Johanna Brady series by J. A. Jance.]

Novels page on the official Linda Rodriguez web site ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is for the Downloadable Audio format of this item Davidsbunderlantze
by Robert Schumann [downloadable resource]

Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6, is a collection of pieces written for solo piano. The actual title refers to a philosophical "League of David" Music Society in which they defend contemporary music against its detractors or "Philistines." It's two primary member's consist of Robert Schumann's two alter-egos: the passionate "Florestan" and introverted "Eusebius." Each one of the pieces is initialed at the end by its author: F or E, (keeping in mind that Robert Schumann composed the entire set). The set lasts about 30 minutes, depending on if the artist takes the repeats. Every single one of these pieces is a gem, but I particularly like "Zart und singend," and "Frisch." The Stephen Hough recording is one of my favorites, and keep in mind this piece is ONLY accessible through our online database. There is no CD of the piece in our system. This is one of the epic pieces of the Romantic Era, and I encourage you to explore other pieces from our music databases! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Smithsonian Global Sound database, Jazz Music Library database, other pieces accessible through Classical Music Online.]

[ Robert Schumann Wikipedia page ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse
by Jennifer Worth

Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, this compelling PBS TV series is now being published in print form. I found the stories flesh out shows that I have seen very well. the writing is excellent and draws the reader into the world of the slums of mid-twentieth century England. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Call the Midwife, the BBC series on DVD.]

[ Wikipedia page for the late Jennifer Worth ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

The Screening Room

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Breakfast Club
[DVD Breakfast]

A conversation between some of my younger co-workers recently got me to thinking about this quintessential 80s-era "brat pack" classic. Written and directed by John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes Trains and Automobiles and many more), The Breakfast Club is the ultimate for navel-gazing teens. Four high school students are forced to attend an all-Saturday detention day, overseen by their overbearing principal. The teens come from drastically different backgrounds -- The Jock (Emilio Estevez), The Princess (Molly Ringwald), The Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), The Criminal (Judd Nelson) and The Basketcase (Ally Sheedy), but over the course of a morning and afternoon spent verbally sparring, then sharing, with each other, they each come to a better understanding of the complications that anyone's life can have. This film should be required viewing for any student of the 1980s, and features terrific performances from a very talented young cast. Molly, Judd and Ally, in particular, stand out, as does Paul Gleason as Mr. Vernon. What, on the surface, appears to be a very lightweight film, actually carries considerable heft. I was impressed, and still am, even though it's been almost 30 years since it was released. Also features an iconic musical soundtrack as background to the drama. This specific "Flashback" DVD version features a 12-part documentary, in which cast members look back at the making of the film, and others in the entertainment business reflect on The Breakfast Club's cultural impact, as well as feature commentary by Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall, and a mini-documentary on the origins of the "Brat Pack" of 80's actors.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Breakfast Club Facebook page ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemMoonrise Kingdom
[DVD Moonrise]

I haven't seen many Wes Anderson films, despite their critically acclaimed status -- I've missed both Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, but did enjoy The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The the trailers for this one were quirky and attractive so I gave it a shot. Moonrise Kingdom is intensely quirky, filled with odd performances and a twisty plot. I was looking forward to seeing memorable performances from the adult stars, such as Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, but instead it is the youthful first-time actors who really steal the show. Bruce Willis and Edward Norton contribute a lot to the film's appeal, but it is Jared Gilman as Sam and Kara Hayward as Suzy that anchor this oddball film. Part of the film's charm is uncovering the plot as it goes, so it's hard to describe the film without spoiling it a bit. In a nutshell -- it's 1965, and two 12-year-old social outcasts connect, fall in love and run away together, all on a small New England coastal island. Throw in a well-meaning but slightly bumbling cop, two troops of scouts, and a pair of addled, legalese-spouting inattentive parents, and you've got a sweet, weird romantic adventure. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other films of Wes Anderson.]

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

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

book cover  This review is for the DVD format of this itemThe Twilight Zone Collection 1
[DVD Twilitght]

In the decades since DVDs first became commonplace instead of VHS tapes, The Twilight Zone has been released and re-released in a variety of different packages, from full-season box sets, to "fan favorites" collections, to several different Full Series boxes. I treasure my own full series collection of DVDs, however for anyone just wanted to sample the show or revisit some of the best-known episodes, this Collection 1 set available through the libraries is a great place to start. This set contains 35 of the classic 1959-1965 series' 156 episodes, in their original black and white. Whether you're looking for Agnes Moorhead's bravura performance in "The Invaders", Burgess Meredith in the wistful "Time Enough at Last", the Cold War allegory "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with William Shatner vs. a gremlin on the wing of a plane, "A Game of Pool" (with Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters -- both of whom have passed away within the past 12 months), or "Mr. Dingle the Strong", "A Passage for Trumpet" (Klugman again in one of his best performances), the quintessentially ironic "To Serve Man", or creepy Billy Mumy in "It's a Good Life!", you'll find them all in this collection. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the many Twilight Zone story collections, or collections by some of the show's greatest writers, including Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. I also highly recommend the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone (not currently available from the Lincoln City Libraries, but available through our InterLibrary Loan service. It, too, featured excellent writer, directing and acting!]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Twilight Zone Facebook page ]

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


Be the First to Rate This Item

last updated August 2013
* Please Note: The presence of a link on this site does not constitute an endorsement by Lincoln City Libraries.

Connect to the main Lincoln City Libraries Web site!