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Staff Recommendations – April 2019

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April 2019 Recommendations

Crusoe: The Celebrity Dachshund: Adventures of the Weiner Dog Extraordinaire
by Ryan Beauchesne [636.753 Bea]

I had never heard of Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund until this book and its sequel, Crusoe, the Worldly Wiener Dog, were acquired by the library. The book is presented as a series of Blog posts from the viewpoint of the world’s cutest dachshund, who is always dressed in clothing to match the location and occasion. The books are simply delightful, especially the sections that feature Crusoe and his brother Oakley as BATDOG and Robin. As much as I love the books, I would caution that the humor is definitely aimed at adults; I do not recommend the books for young children.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Crusoe, the Worldly Wiener Dog : Further Adventures With the Celebrity Dachshund, by Ryan Beauchesne.] [ official Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund web site ]


Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

The Elfstones of Shannara
by Terry Brooks [Brooks]

This novel is a sequel to The Sword of Shannara, and I’d recommend you read them in order to prevent confusion and some spoilers. The Druid Allanon once again senses danger and calls upon a member of the Ohmsford family to help him; in the last novel Flick and Shea Ohmsford went on a quest to save the land, but this time it’s their younger relative, Wil. His task is to protect Amberle, who is responsible for carrying a seed from the dying Ellcrys so that it maybe reborn. This is necessary because the Ellcrys is a magical tree that holds demons in an another realm. As the Ellcrys weakens, demons escape from the realm and wage war on all the races of the land. Allanon aids the armies’ defense against the demons, while more demons chase Wil and Amberle the all along their quest, so it’s very action packed and tense. It was interesting to read this one after the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy because the quest is the same, to renew the Ellcrys, but set many centuries after this book. As the title suggests, this is done, in both stories actually, with the help of the Elfstones which are very powerful magical stones. I very much enjoyed this one, just as well as the others in the series I’ve read, so I’d highly recommend it if you are looking a good immersive fantasy novel series.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Sword of Shannara (Book One of this trilogy) and The Wishsong of Shannara (Book Three of this trilogy), both by Terry Brooks.] [ official Shannara page on the official Terry Brooks web site ]


Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Does It Fart? The Definitive Guide to Animal Flatulence
by Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti, with art by Ethan Cocak [591.5 Car]

I’ll have to admit, I first checked this one out because I was amused by the title. But it turned out to be a fascinating little book, filled with intriguing facts about the animal world. The concept behind the book started with a question of legitimate scientific curiosity that zoologist Dani Rabaiotti was asked and didn’t personally know the answer to: “Do snakes fart?” She turned to a scientific expert, and their correspondence on Twitter led fellow researcher Nick Caruso to create the hashtag #doesitfart, which soon revealed that a lot of scientists get asked that type of question for the animals in their areas of expertise.

This book is the result of a huge collaboration across various fields of animal biologists. It answers the question “Does It Fart?” about 80 different animals, ranging from tiny insects like the beaded lacewing and millipede to the monstrously huge whales, with plenty of stops along the way at quirky critters like sloths, bearded dragons, honey badgers, sea cucumbers, the woodlouse and hamsters. Not to mention humans (you already know the answer to that one!) Each animal gets a page of text — first the answer to the titular question, then some scientific background about how that species’ biology works and why it does or doesn’t generate flatulence that is both audible and/or smell-able.

Approximately 1/3 of the entries in this book are accompanied by cartoonish illustrations of various animals “tooting their own horn”, shall we say. The back of the book includes a 9-page glossary explaining many of the scientific terms used elsewhere in the main content, as well as an acknowledgments page listing all the various animal specialists whose research contributed to the book.

You may laugh at the title, but if you give this book a chance, you’ll actually learn some very interesting things about the animals you share this planet with. For instance, I had no idea that one of my favorite animals, the sloth, did not fart. Their digestive system processes food so slowly that it does not produce intestinal gasses, unless it is malfunctioning, in which case the gasses are absorbed into their blood stream and bodily tissues. They may, in fact, be the only mammal that does not fart — although not enough studies on all animals species have been conducted to verify that.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try What Shat That? A Pocket Guide to Poop Identity, by Matt Paget (not in the libraries’ collection).] [ publisher’s official Does It Fart? web site ] | [ official Nick Caruso Twitter Feed | official Dani Rabaiotti Twitter Feed ]


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys
by Kent Crowley [Music 781.66 Wilson]

Many books have been written about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys over the years, but this is the first time I have seen a biography on the life of Carl Wilson, Brian’s youngest brother. Carl was the guitarist and sometimes lead singer who had the reputation of being the “glue that kept the touring band together” while Brian stayed at home in southern California. This book looks at the history of the Beach Boys from its earliest roots to the untimely death of Carl at age 51. What I found most interesting about the book is that it looks at all of the contributions that Carl made over the years while overshadowed by the illnesses and excesses of his older brothers, Brian and Dennis. Without Carl’s talent and ability to lead in his brother’s absence, there would not have been a Beach Boys band touring the country every year. Once Carl was gone, the group fell apart and became two separate touring entities, both laying claim to the name “Beach Boys – America’s Band.” This book is a must-read for any hardcore Beach Boys Fan (of which I am one)!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, by Peter Carlin, I am Brian Wilson: A Memoir, by Brian Wilson, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, by Mike Love, or The Words and Music of Brian Wilson, by Christian Matijas-Mecca.]


Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

The Man in the Willows
by Matthew Dennison [Biography Grahame]

As a lifelong fan of the children’s books written by English author Kenneth Grahame, I was excited to see a new biography come out about his life. Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is one of my all-time favorite books, one that I re-read over and over. I knew very little about Graham’s personal life until I read this new biography and found myself depressed to discover that his entire life was one of sorrow, loss and tragedy. Grahame used escapism and fantasy worlds to cope with his life all through childhood and well into his adulthood. Knowing more about the author has helped me to appreciate his writing even more. I recommend this book for fans of his work even though I found parts of it difficult to get through.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Wind in the Willows, The Reluctant Dragon, and The Golden Age, all by Kenneth Grahame.] [ publisher’s official Man in the Willows web site ] | [ publisher’s Matthew Dennison web page ]


Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

How to Talk to Girls at Parties
by Neil Gaiman, with art by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba [741.5 Gai]

This graphic novel is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s LOCUS-Award-winning short story from his 2006 story collection Fragile Things. It was also adapted into a 2017 film (with major changes made).

Enn, an introverted British teenager, and his more extroverted friend Vic, plan to crash a party in their neighborhood of East Croydon. The party they end up isn’t the one they expected, but the girls there seem interesting so they stay. The story is narrated by Enn, who doesn’t feel equipped to “talk to girls at parties” like Vic does with ease. But, over the course of the evening, he interacts with three different girls, each of home has a somewhat unearthly personality.

The artwork in this graphic novel is compelling — at times a bit grotesque but captures the otherworldly tone of Gaiman’s story very well. I’ve read the simple text story a few times before, but I’ll have to admit — if and when I read it again, I’ll now have the images from this graphic novel as I think about the characters. This is a well-done adaptation, and I believe readers will enjoy this even if they haven’t read Gaiman’s story previously.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Fragile Things, the Gaiman short story collection that originally featured the short story upon which this graphic novel is based. Also, pretty much anything else by Gaiman, who is one of the most amazing fantasists writing today.] [ official How to Talk to Girls at Parties graphic novel web site ] | [ official Neil Gaiman web site ]


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Dear Old Nebraska U: Celebrating 150 Years
by the UNL Regents with Kim Hachiya [378.782 Neb]

Released in early 2019 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, this 10″ square book is a marvelous collection of photographs and, statistics and anecdotes covering the history of the University here in Lincoln. The photographs range from rare old B&W photos from various historical artifacts, to images shot at both the downtown and East Campus with modern drone technology.

The content of Dear Old Nebraska U is broken up into six main chapters — “One University” (Teaching, Research and Service), “Infininite Possibilities” (The Student Experience), “Fight on For Victory” (Husker Athletics), “Frontiers of Knowledge” (Research and Creative Activity), “No Place Like Nebraska” (Campus Buildings and Landmarks), and “Legends and Legacies” (Nebraska Alumni and Notables). These sections are then followed by appendices covering all UN-L Chancellors, Presidents, a University Timeline and Enrollment statistics, and Husker Athletics Through the Years.

All in all, this is a nice little package — beautiful photos, short but effective blocks of explanatory text, and well-organized. If you’re looking for a good look back at the history of UN-L, and don’t want a massive tome, this is a good place to start.

My only complaint was that, having grown up with this university (and having attended 1981-1987), I’m still used to thinking of it in the context of NU being part of the Big Eight (and later Big 12) conferences, rather than the current Big 10 affiliation. It’s not that this progression of membership isn’t addressed in some some of the historical appendices, but I would have appreciated seeing it addressed in the main body of the text. But that’s a very minor quibble, and most readers won’t consider that a problem in the slightest.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try 150@150: Nebraska’s Landmark Buildings at the State’s Sequicentennial, Jeff Barnes.] [ publisher’s official Dear Old Nebraska U web page ]


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Star Wars ReviewsQueen’s Shadow
by E.K. Johnston [Johnston]

I really liked the idea of Queen’s Shadow. In all of the Star Wars novels, television shows and movies, we have never really gotten to know just who Padme Amidala is. The fact that she has never really gotten to know who she is functions as an undercurrent in the story. Much of Padme’s life has been serving a role first as Queen of Naboo and then as a Senator of the Republic. Overall, the novel is pretty good. And the idea of getting to know Padme and the handmaidens who have served as friends, advisers and confidants is interesting and carried off fairly well. The challenge with the novel is that there really is not a plot. There’s ample foreshadowing of the Clone Wars and many well-used cameos, but not much of story to tie it together. The ending is a tad clunky. This is a book I really wanted to love, but ending up just liking it. Enthusiastic Star Wars fans will enjoy at least parts of it. Casual fans may have a harder time fully enjoying it. E.K. Johnston’s previous Star Wars novel Ahsoka is a much better example of what the author can do with previously underdeveloped Star Wars characters.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, Most Wanted by Rae Carson, or Rebel Rising by Beth Revis] [ Queen’s Shadow entry on Wookiepedia ] | [ official E.K. Johnston web site ]


Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library

Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels (1949-1984) (and) Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels (1985-2010)
edited by David Pringle (no longer in libraries’ collection) and Damien Broderick and Paul Di Filippo [823.08 Bro]

This is actually a review of two books in one. in 1985, Interzone magazine editor David Pringle ut out Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, which covered novels from 1949’s 1984 by George Orwell and The Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, to 1984’s Neuromancer by William Gibson. Each novel featured is given two pages in this book — a brief plot description overview, the title’s publication history (if/when known), and Pringle’s explanation for why he believes that novel should be considered one of the essential works of science fiction.

For many years, Pringle’s volume was considered a kind of “bible” for scifi fans, to help them to identify the 20th century classics they shouldn’t miss if they wanted to have a full education on the best that science fiction literature had to offer. Over 25 years passed before an update was offered, in the form of Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels (1985-2010), edited by Damien Broderick and Paul Di Filippo, with an introduction by David Pringle. Following the exact same format as the original, this new volume covers 101 novels from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale to Hanu Rajaniemi’s 2010 The Quantum Thief. This later volume also includes reproductions of the covers of the 101 novels it reviews, which Pringle’s earlier book did not.

If you’re looking for a list of 201 of the most essential science fiction novels published from 1949 to 2010, you don’t have to look any further than these. Their lists cover social SF, hard SF, military SF, religious SF, alternate history, political SF and much, much more. These two volumes, by themselves, should be part of every SF fan’s reference collection!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The SF Book of Lists by Maxim Jakubowski, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, or What Makes This Book So Great?, by Jo Walton.] [ semi-official Science Fiction 101 Best Novels web page ] | [ David Pringle Wikipedia entry ]


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

The Moon Within
by Aida Salazar [j Salazar]

This novel in verse follows an 11 year old girl, Celi, of mixed heritage as she approaches her first period, experiences her first sexual attraction to a boy, and finds that her tomboyish best friend thinks of himself as a boy, at least sometimes. This is a book written with English/Spanish/Nahuatl code-switching without italics, and it’s such a joy to read in that style. Obviously, this is a book meant to show young people that it’s okay—great even—to begin cycles, which is why I find it interesting that her mother’s enthusiasm for making this okay for her daughter is itself a major point of stress for Celi. The other major conflict is Celi’s interest in firsts with a boy she’s been crushing on vs. being there for her best friend.

There is a wonderful amount of good stuff happening here. The dance and drum arts. The cultural blending, which includes spiritual and healing traditions. The moon metaphors. Loving family that still get on each other’s nerves. The visual poetry of the format. The amazing vocabulary made so inviting. No matter what, this could easily be the most important book many young people read.

I am holding back from 100% endorsement at this point for two reasons: (1) I’m uncomfortable with the lack of respect given to Celi’s own wishes even if it happens to work out for her & (2) I’m a cisgender reader of this cisgender writer who is trying to do the right thing for kids she calls “gender expansive.” The level of justifying cultural detail in here might be overdone compared to sticking to basic respect and friendship. Or it might be vital. I would leave that judgment to transgender or gender fluid reviewers.

Strong recommendation for checking this out. It’s a quick read that may be just what a young person in your life on the cusp of puberty needs to understand themselves or their friends.

[ official The Moon Within page on the official Aida Salazar web site ]


Recommended by Garren H.
Bennett Martin Public Library

The Book of Essie
by Meghan MacLean Weir [Weir]

The Book of Essie is about a young woman who has lived her whole life on a reality TV show about her father’s preaching and his large, seemingly perfect family. Early in the book, Essie lets her mother find out that she’s pregnant and drops hints that a particular boy at school was involved. But when we as readers get the boy’s perspective, he’s clueless. Essie is carrying out a secret, daring plan on her own right under her family’s noses and in front of the world’s cameras.

This book was one of the 2019 Alex Award winners, for books written for adults with special interest for teens. I would consider it a genre fusion between contemporary realistic, thriller, and maybe even romance. Plus, the hardcover version has pretty sparkles on it.

[ publisher’s official The Book of Essie web site ] | [ official Meghan MacLean Weir web site ]


Recommended by Garren H.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Screening Room

written by Bill Kelly, directed by Kevin Lima [DVD j Enchanted]

This 2007 film is an absolutely charming cross between a traditional Disney-style animated fairy tale movie and a contemporary Harlequin-style Hallmark romance movie. Amy Adams (in one of her earlier roles before she became a perennial Oscar contender) stars as Giselle, a beautiful young maiden in the animated kingdom of Andalasia, who is banished by that kingdom’s Evil Queen to the live-action gritty, grungy streets of Manhattan. Completely innocent to the harsher realities of our world, Giselle, in her glittery ballgown, is rescued by a bitter divorce lawyer (played by Patrick Dempsey) and stays with him and his young daughter. Meanwhile, the animated Prince that Giselle was engaged to wed comes through to our world to try to rescue his betrothed, and the Evil Queen’s minion also tries to keep an eye on Giselle in the live-action world.

Written by Bill Kelly, directed by Kevin Lima, and with music by the incomparable Alan Menken, this is NOT your typical Disney princess film. But by the end, it still gives you all the positive “feels” that any fairy tale princess story does. Great performances, especially by Adams and Dempsey, and James Marsen as Prince Edward, this film also features Julie Andrews as its “narrator”. This one is a lot of fun and has some really catchy music, including “Ever Ever After” performed by Carrie Underwood..

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Enchanted, or Enchanted: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Enchanted web site ]


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdThe Greatest Game Ever Played
[DVD j Greatest]

Let’s clear up four things right now:

1. I DO NOT like golf. I like miniature golf with windmills, fake alligators, and other fun obstacles but that’s the extent of it.

2. I’m not a Shia LaBeouf fan.

3. Golf is what you put on the TV to take a nap by.

4. Did I mention I’m not a golf fan?

But I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Based on the novel by Mark Frost (The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet and the Birth of Modern Golf), who also wrote the screenplay, and directed by the late Bill Paxton, this film is the true story of the 1913 US Open and the upset victory of a poor kid over the top two golfers in the world.


No really, this was exciting. I was so enthralled with Ouimet’s story I even watched all the bonus features and looked him up online. Shia LaBeouf did a fine job in this role.

During this time period golf was the territory of the wealthy, the snobs, the upper class. Former caddies were not allowed to play with their betters. The family was poor, Ouimet had tried to supplement the family income with caddie tips, and his father didn’t approve of him playing golf. After Ouimet won, the number of golf courses tripled in the US.

So many odds were against this kid while he fought against prejudice, the wealthy, and his father to even be allowed to play in the Open. Not to mention, now he’ll be playing against his hero, Vardon.

The human element and drama made this an exciting story. This didn’t have to be a golf story it was simply the background – and you don’t need to know anything about golf, or even care about golf to be pulled into this tale.

This has been catalogued as a juvenile DVD, but it could just as easily be considered an adult, so don’t let the label put you off.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Miracle book series by James Patterson: Miracle on the 17th Green, Miracle at Augusta or Miracle at St. Andrews] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official The Greatest Game Ever Played web site ]


Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdIndiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
[DVD Indiana]

An archaeology adventure of Professor Indiana Jones, spurred by the U.S. Government to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. He gets to travel around the world, meet up with an old friends and locate the Ark, all the while out-smarting and combating Nazis. It was pretty good, though I have only seen one other Indiana Jones movie, so I’m not sure how I would rank them. I think it’s worth watching if you are looking for an action adventure movie with some history.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Indiana Jones Facebook page ]


Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

It is my considered opinion that Raiders of the Lost Ark (I refuse to include the “Indiana Jones and the…” that subsequent re-releases added) is one of the best motion pictures ever made. It is a meticulous recreation of the type of heroic serial action dramas made in the 1920s-1930s, but with the big budget sensibilities of a modern-era film. Everything about this is superb – acting, directing, music, cinematography, stunt-work, editing, etc. I can’t recommend this one highly enough! One of my all-time favorite films! Harrison Ford is unforgettable in this role.


reviewed by Scott C.
customer/staff at Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdThe Last Movie Star
[DVD Last]

I really didn’t know what to expect with this film. My wife and I didn’t watch it until after Burt Reynolds had passed away, and it was being referred to as “his final film”. Reynolds plays Vic Edwards — basically just a version of himself — a former action/comedy/drama film actor living alone in his twilight years. When he is invited t0 receive a “lifetime achievement” award from a small, unknown film festival, one of his few friends convinces him to accept the invitation. However, when he arrives in Tennessee he discovers that the “film festival” is a rinky-dink amateur affair, and the organizers weren’t really set up to pay tribute to him. He’s being put up in a run-down discount motel, and his driver is the foul-mouth, grunge-dressing sister (Lil) of one of the festival’s hosts, who’s having relationship issues with her emotionally abusive boyfriend.

After making a token appearance at the festival, Vic basically commandeers Lil and her almost-broken-down car to go on a road trip — he actually grew up not far away, and Lil serves as his chauffeur to revisiting the sites of his youth, including a reunion with his wife, whom he abandoned years ago but has never stopped loving. Along the way, Vic and Lil bond. This was sort of an uncomfortable film to begin with, but ultimately turned into a very emotional journey, an exploration about aging, and how anyone who reaches Vic’s age has a lot of living to look back on.

One specific technical note — the filmmakers made creative use of clips of Burt from some of his classic film roles — Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit and Conan O’Brien’s talk show among them — that give “old Burt” a chance to interact and talk with young versions of himself. This was an incredibly risky experiment, but it pays off tremendously. Burt Reynolds is magnificent in this film, and the rest of the cast shines as well. I’m sorry he’s gone, now, but at least he left us with one final performance.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of Burt Reynolds lengthy list of feature films and television appearances.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdOnce Upon a Time: The Complete First Season
[DVD Once]

Once Upon a Time puts a twist on your average fairy tale by mixing them all together. Meet Emma Swan. On her 28th birthday she makes a wish not to be alone. Suddenly, a child named Henry knocks on her door and claims to be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. He tells her he is from Storybrooke, Maine and the people who live in Storybrooke are different…they’re fairy tale characters stuck in a world with no happy endings. And the worst part is they don’t even know it. When she drives him back she meets his mother Regina (who he claims is the evil queen) who happens to be the Mayor of the town. She starts to bond with Henry and decides to stick around. As the season continues Henry continues to try to convince her that magic is real, Regina does all she can to scare her away, and little by little Emma starts to believe.

I’m a huge fairy tale fan and this show is so unique because while you can connect each character to their own original background story the beauty is really the twists it takes to mix them all together.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Enchanted, Grimm, Sleepy Hollow or Charmed (all on DVD).] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this TV series ]


Recommended by Carrie R.
Bennett Martin Public Library

last updated September 2023
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