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Staff Recommendations – January 2012

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January 2012 Recommendations

lakeedencookbookLake Eden Cookbook
by Joanne Fluke (641.5 Flu)

Christmas is near and Delores Swenson is holding her 4th Annual Cookie Exchange luncheon and we’re invited. Hannah is catering the lunch and she has thoughtfully provided a binder of her recipes for each guest. There are no photos in this cookbook. Instead, it has the feel of a real community cookbook. The kind put out by church groups where everyone contributes a recipe or two with notes and serving suggestions. The recipes range from appetizers to soups and main dishes to the cookies that Hannah serves at The Cookie Jar. Fix yourself Hannah’s Razzle Dazzle Champagne Cocktail and snuggle into a comfortable chair and enjoy the cookbook. This is a well-done series tie-in book and a delight for culinary mystery fans.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook and the Coffeehouse mystery series by Cleo Coyle.)

( official Joanne Fluke web site )

Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department

murderincmajorMurder in C Major
by Sara Hoskinson Frommer (Frommer)

Joan Spencer grew up in Oliver, Indiana. After her husband dies suddenly, she and her teenage son, Andrew, move back to her hometown to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Oliver has grown into a busy college town and Joan finds a few familiar faces and revives an old friendship. She lands a job as director of the senior center and she joins the Oliver Civic Symphony where she plays viola. Rehearsals go well until the obnoxious first oboist, George Petris, collapses during the big oboe solo in the Schubert. He is rushed to the hospital where he dies. Violinist, Yoichi Nakamura, is the first person to suggest that George’s death may not have been natural because it reminds Yoichi of his uncle’s death in Japan from fugu poisoning. An autopsy confirms that he was poisoned. Lieutenant Fred Lundquist determines that the deadly puffer fish may not be the only source of this poison. And he turns to Joan for guidance in the musical world. Frommer weaves her love of classical music into this well-crafted debut novel.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Benni Harper series by Earlene Fowler, the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert and the Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron.)

Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department

garnerfilesThe Garner Files
by James Garner [Biography Garner]

James Garner has always been one of my absolute most-favorite television actors. Though I was born a little too late to have enjoyed him in Maverick, I consider The Rockford Files to be, perhaps, one of the most perfectly-constructed television series ever made. And James Garner deserves the lion’s share of the credit for that. He puts out the impression of gruffness or, as he mentions in his biography, “crochetyness”, but underneath it, he’s got a warm personality. His autobiography is definitely written in his voice — he shares anecdotes, both positive and negative, from throughout his career. He’s blunt but honest about the people whom he has issues with, but cordial and sentimental about the creative types whom he respects. He spends about equal time on his TV and movie careers, but also a large amount of the book covers his personal life outside of the show-biz trappings — his hard-scrabble youth, his love of both golf and racing cars, and the issues of growing older. I very much enjoyed this book, and recommend it highly to anyone who’s a fan of Garner’s extensive body of work on screen.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try This is Jim Rockford…, Maverick on DVD, The Rockford Files on DVD, James Garner’s feature films, particularly The Great Escape, Murphy’s Romance, My Name is Bill W., Support Your Local Sheriff, and so many others…)

( James Garner page on Wikipedia ) | ( Internet Movie Database page for Garner )

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

houseofsilkHouse of Silk
by Anthony Horowitz (Horowitz)

If you are a fan of Conan Doyle, this book holds true to his style. And – wow! – what a mystery. Holmes and Watson take you on a trail where seemingly unrelated things actually are related and the House of Silk is a place where no one wants to find themselves.

( official Anthony Horowitz / House of Silk web site )

Recommended by Jodene G.
Walt Branch Library

deathcomestopemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley
by P.D. James (James)

As a fan of both Jane Austen and P.D. James, I felt compelled to read the latest attempt to provide a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Acclaimed mystery writer P.D. James provides an interesting follow-up story using the death of one of Jane Austen’s characters as the basis for this mystery. Although James does an excellent job of writing in the style of Austen, she changes the character of Mr. Darcy enough that it does not seem like a sequel at all; it just seems like one of many attempts to pick up where Jane Austen left off following the marriage of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Regardless, this is a fun read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys good, clean mysteries.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and A Mind to Murder by P.D. James.)

( official P.D. James / Death Comes to Pemberley web site )

Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library

howthewwwcdformatCDbook2How the West Was Won
by Louis L’Amour (Compact Disc L’Amour)

L’Amour’s version is based upon the screenplay for the movie How the West was Won which in turn was based upon a series in “Life” magazine (seven consecutive issues beginning April 6, 1959; available at Bennett Martin library). This story follows one family through several decades of Westward expansion in the 1800’s including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads. In this case, I recommend you view the movie first. While listening to the CDs I kept envisioning the movie actors and could easily follow the tale. This version differs slightly from the movie but remember this was based on the screenplay and screenplays are frequently altered during filming. More in-depth with some characters than the movie, and a very enjoyable story.

( official Louis L’Amour web site )

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

mcmurtryhollywoodBooks | Literary Life Hollywood
by Larry McMurtry (Biography McMurtry)

This trio of slim autobiographies was an unexpected delight. I haven’t read any other titles than these from McMurtry’s large output but I am a big fan of the Lonesome Dove TV installments and am familiar with the film of Terms of Endearment, primarily because part of it was made here in Lincoln. Whether you are a McMurtry devotee or not, these memoirs are very engaging on a cerebral, social, and cultural level. The chapters are short, sometimes carrying a similar thread throughout several, and give the sense that you are confabbing with Larry one on one — whether it’s talking about his childhood and a pivotal box of books given to him by an uncle or describing the M.O. of a persistent impersonator. Reading all three installments creates a fascinating yet down-homey portrait of this multi-faceted man of letters, bibliophile, and accidental screenwriter. His fond recollections of friends have charm and poignancy and his no-nonsense observations about acquaintances and events confirm his “outsider” status. The first volume is probably the ‘dryest’ but all three contain adroit and concise anecdotes about the people he’s known and the things he’s done and seen, from glimpsing Paul Newman only from afar when he visited the set of the first movie (Hud) made from one his novels (Horseman, Pass By), to owning rare-books stores in Washington DC and Texas, to winning a Pulitzer Prize and an Oscar.

( Larry McMurtry on Wikipedia )

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

by Jim Ottaviani (Biography Feynman)

This is a fascinating, and very readable biography of one of the most interesting and influential minds of the 20th century. Richard Feynman (1918-1988) was one of the foremost theoretical physicists in scientific history. His story is told here, in graphic-novel semi-autobiographical format. The art, while occasionally sketchy and off-putting, never-the-less captures Feynman’s spirit (as evident in Feynman’s own words), and serves as an extremely simplified introduction to numerous concepts in advanced physics. I was only vaguely aware of Feynman’s contributions to the world of science, but through this intriguing telling of his life’s story, I’m curious enough now to want to track down some of the more traditional books that both he and his biographers have published over the years. Congrats — job well done, Mr. Ottaviani!

( publisher’s official Feynman web site ) | ( official Publishing site of Jim Ottaviani )

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

letsbereasonableLet’s Be Reasonable
by Joel Sartore (814 Sar)

Native Lincolnite and renowned National Geographic photographer/essayist Joel Sartore’s latest book combines his two great creative loves — interesting photography and thought-provoking commentary. In this spare collection, he pairs iconic and/or quirky images, shot in many different locales (although quite a few of them are from right here in Nebraska), with truly thoughtful essays, both short and long. The images and words are indelibly intertwined, and the topics run the gamut from environmentalism, to commercialism to the issues of families and traditions. Though a fairly quick and easy read, I did end up finding myself thinking more strongly about many of the issues Sartore brings up. Ultimately, though, I enjoyed this book for his beautifully captured images. Recommended for fans of photography, and thoughtful prose, especially if you’re from Nebraska!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sartore’s Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species.)

( official Joel Sartore web site )

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

irishcountrydoctorAn Irish Country Doctor
by Patrick Taylor (Taylor)

This is the first book in the Irish Country Doctor series (#6 just came out in 2011). Taylor based this series on the journals he kept while working as a country doctor in Northern Ireland. Think James Herriot but a People Doctor and not a Veterinarian. Barry Laverty accepts a position as an assistant to an older physician who has been the doctor for years in Ballybucklebo in Northern Ireland in the mid-1960’s. Barry is thinking of staying as a GP or choosing a specialty. There are your standard eccentric characters who teach the inexperienced young doctor there’s more to medicine than book-learning.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the James Herriot books and Jan Karon’s Mitford series.)

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

thinkofanumberThink of a Number
by John Verdon (Verdon)

Mark Mellery receives an anonymous note from someone in his past that challenges him to think of a number up to 1000. The writer claims that he knows Mellery so well that he can guess the number. Mellery plays the game and thinks of the number 658. He opens the second envelope to find out the sender’s guess. Staring back at him in red ink is the number 658. The note implies that Mellery had wronged this person in the past. Mellery racks his brains trying to recall this person. It must have been someone he knew during his drinking days when he worked on Wall Street. What had he done in alcoholic haze? At his wit’s end, Mellery turns to his old college classmate, Dave Gurney. Gurney, a retired NYPD detective, has settled into a comfortable life with his wife in the Catskills and he has little desire to look into these mysterious notes. Instead, he recommends that Mellery contact the local police. Mellery is loath to do so because it will bring unwanted publicity to himself and his retreat for the wealthy, the Institute for Spiritual Renewal. Gurney reluctantly agrees to look into matter. This suspenseful, well-plotted debut novel leads the reader down twisted roads to a killer bent on revenge.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton and the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny.)

( Publisher’s official website for both John Verdon and this book )

Recommended by Donna G.
Virtual Services Department

formatCDbook2ifyouaskmecdIf You Ask Me (and Of Course You Won’t…)
by Betty White (Compact Disc Biography White)

Betty White reads her own book to you on this book-on-CD. I enjoyed this light memoir as she discusses a few favorite topics. She doesn’t dwell long on each topic but mentions her latest projects, working with Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sigourney Weaver, the Hot in Cleveland TV show and her co-stars, reminiscences about her husband, some of her early work, and of course stories of her animals. Only two hours on CD.

( Betty White on Wikipedia )

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Screening Room

(DVD 636.1 Buc)

Buck is not your typical big screen western cowboy movie, because unlike John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, Buck is the real thing. Buck is a documentary about the life of horseman cowboy Buck Brannaman. Brannaman is a leader in natural horsemanship and spends much of the year touring the country teaching horse clinics. Brannaman’s personal story begins with a troubled childhood. Growing up he was a child rodeo star with an abusive father. As an adult he channeled his difficult past into a passion for teaching away the abusive training methods common in horse breaking and training. His empathy and understanding of the unique relationship between humans and animals is expressed in his gentle teaching style and methodology. The documentary weaves Buck’s personal story with his philosophy of horsemanship. Buck is soft spoken, but articulate and straight to the point thus leading to some humorous and blunt moments throughout the film. Buck’s many students play an important role in the documentary as well. An interview with Robert Redford credits Buck with much of the inspiration for the 1998 movie Horse Whisperer. Redford divulges quite a bit of interesting background information on Buck’s contributions to the film?s production (including the use of Buck’s personal horse in the movie). Documentary enthusiasts will be pleasantly surprised by Meehl’s style, which captures Buck’s personal story through archival footage, and small subtle details. Keep watch for a small funny moment that allows Buck’s personality to shine through in a diner, where he consumes many meals on the road. Those who are horse owners and western fans might appreciate a high quality genre documentary, which captures the spirit of the west. Everybody can expect to learn a thing or two about leadership, compassion and respect too. Buck is a must see uplifting documentary.

(If you like this, you may also enjoy Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (Book & DVD), and War Horse by Michael Morpurgo j Morpurgo/YA PB Morpurgo.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Buck web site )

Recommended by Glory B.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdthehelpdvdThe Help
based on the book by Kathryn Stockett (DVD Help)

This is the movie version of the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Skeeter – a college graduate – returns to her hometown in Mississippi and discovers her maid, who raised her, was no longer around. She sees the way her friends treat their maids and decides to write a book with interviews of maids from her hometown. At first the maids are wary about talking to her, but eventually they open up. Though there are moments with humor, most of the story is very emotional – you will cry. The acting is fantastic, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis steal every scene.

(If you like this, you may enjoy reading A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg, In Love & Trouble by Alice Walker, Sweet Jiminy by Kristen Gore, and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )

Recommended by Carrie R.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvdsupportyourlocalsheriffSupport Your Local Sheriff
(DVD Support)

This movie was a fabulous combination of the perfect cast, a witty and sarcastic script, and an era in which the traditional, staid, heroic western was ripe for satirization. Garner’s wise-ass persona, exemplified in his earlier role of Bret Maverick, pokes perfect fun at the overly heroic “white hat” stars of traditional westerns. His Jason McCullough is looking for a quick buck while making his way to Australia, and stumbles across a temporary position as Sheriff of a small gold-rush town. He sobers up the town drunk, Jack Elam, to become his deputy, and goes up against the powerful Danby family in a hilarious showdown on main street. There’s also an unwanted romance with the Mayor’s daughter, and the complication that McCullough doesn’t really like to work very much at all. It’s all goofy fun, with an extremely wry sense of humor. Elam’s particularly funny in one of his first major film roles!

(There was a follow-up film, Support Your Local Gunslinger, which was entertaining but not quite as good as this film. Of course, Garner fans should see Maverick and The Rockford Files.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

last updated June 2022
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