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Staff Recommendations – January 2016

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INDEXES TO PAST STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS: BY TITLE | BY REVIEWER | TV SERIES/SPECIALS ON DVD/VHS | AGATHA CHRISTIE | STAR TREK | STAR WARS

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January 2016 Recommendations

beshbigeasyBesh Big Easy
by John Besh [641.504 Bes]

I’ve been a fan of Cajun and Creole styles of cooking — those most often associated with New Orleans and Louisiana in general — for many, many years. I’ve also enjoyed seeing John Besh when he’s shown up on a variety of different cooking shows on The Food Network — he makes cooking seem very simple and straightforward. This cookbook is gorgeously illustrated, with photos of every single recipe’s end result, as well as numerous images that symbolize the color and flavor of New Orleans. Also providing for some extra “flavor” in this volume, Bush includes a lot of little “asides” scattered throughout the recipes, reminiscing about historical notes associated with individual recipes, or remembering significant residents of “Nawlins” who shared their recipes or influenced his cooking in some way. A delightful read, and mouth-watering photos. If you like spicy southern cooking, don’t miss this one!.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try My New Orleans: The Cookbook, also by Besh. Or the cookbooks of Emeril Lagasse and Justin Wilson] [ official Chef John Besh web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


bestofbowiecdformatCDmusic2The Best of Bowie
by David Bowie [Compact Disc 781.66 Bow]

The passing of legendary musician David Bowie had me digging out this 2002 collection, The Best of Bowie, to remember the iconic songs for which he’ll be remembered. This 20-track single-disc collection covers all of his “big hits”, but barely scratches the surface of his incredible, multi-faceted career. Continually reinventing his performing persona, Bowie had the ability to slide from glam rock, to R&B, to punk, to plaintive ballads, to infectious dance club beats, to in-your-face rock & roll, and mastered all those styles. He was highly experimental, and this collection’s only weakness is that it emphasizes the “hits” without including some of his more exotic material. None-the-less, if you’re looking for a broad snapshot of his lengthy career, you can’t go wrong with trying out this particular album.

I’m a happy camper, because my four favorite Bowie selections all made this album: The sad, mournful “Space Oddity” — check out Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s music-video cover of this, filmed aboard the International Space Station in 2013; “Suffragette City”; “Under Pressure” (teamed up with Queen); and “Dancing in the Streets” (an upbeat duet with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger). This 2002 album was released alongside a 2002 DVD of the same title, which gives viewers the added benefit of seeing the incredible changes in Bowie’s physical appearance over the course of his career.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters, by Sean Egan, The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Star Icons, hosted by Nebraskan Dick Cavett, and Labyrinth, the cult fantasy film on DVD, directed by Jim Henson, in which Bowie acted/sang as The Goblin King!] [ official David Bowie web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


suddenlyroyalSuddenly Royal
by Nichole Chase [PB Chase]

Samantha Rousseau is minding her own business, working on her Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology. When The Duchess of Lilaria and her nephew visit campus, the only care that Sam gives about it is that the flock of people around the Duchess is blocking the doors to the library. However later that day, one of the Duchess’s assistants visits Sam at work and sets up a meeting for Sam and the Duchess. Thinking that the Duchess is going to make a donation to the school’s Ornithology (study of birds, and Sam’s passion) program, Sam meets the Duchess but receives some different news.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book and was not expecting to like it as much as I did. I really enjoyed Samantha as the main character. She was spunky, quick-witted, and down to earth. There were several times that her sarcastic comments made me laugh out loud. After reading several books in a row where the main character annoyed me, Sam was a very refreshing character to read.

[ official Nichole Chase web site ]

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Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


unforgettablewithlovecdformatCDmusic2Unforgettable With Love
by Natalie Cole [Compact Disc 781.63 Col]

This 1991 album was the return to recording for Natalie Cole, after several years battling drug addiction. She couldn’t have picked a better project to revive her career, tapping into the deep well of hits by her father, legendary singer Nat King Cole, to create a unique tribute to her dad. Natalie’s full, rich voice is perfect for reinterpreting such Nat King Cole hits as “Mona Lisa”, “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “Don’t Get Around Much Any More”, as well as a number of his lesser-known but still wonderful songs like “Avalon” and “Non Dimenticar”. However, for me, there’s just one song on this album that makes the entire album worthwhile — using some creative audio editing, Natalie is actually able to sing a duet with her dad on the title track, “Unforgettable”. This duet is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. A music video was also done of that duet, cutting together imagery of both Coles, and I recommend viewing that on YouTube. Following her passing in 2015, as I sampled her various albums, I kept coming back to this one as a personal favorite, and I still highly recommend it!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try almost another other album by Natalie Cole, particularly Still Unforgettable, and Holly & Ivy, Natalie’s Christmas album.] [ official Natalie Cole web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


somebodycdformatCDmusic2Somebody
by Connie Dover [Compact Disc 781.62 ScoD]

This nice CD ranks in the middle of other Scottish and Irish music I’ve listened to. The booklet provides information about each song, some are traditional, some are adapted from their original and some Connie Dover wrote herself. All of them are performed by the same singer. If you like Enya’s music, you’ll most likely enjoy this too. I also recommend Phil Coulter’s music and The Corries.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Scottish Tranquility, by Phil Coulter] [ official Connie Dover web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


monument14Monument 14
by Emmy Laybourne [YA Laybourne]

When their school bus is caught in a monster hailstorm, the bus driver crashes through the front doors of a superstore, to protect the kids. Then the driver leaves to go get help. Now there are 14 kids, ranging from high-schoolers to little kids who have barricaded themselves in the store, waiting to be saved. Outside the store, people are trying to survive the freakish weather, and a chemical weapons spill. Those exposed to the chemicals have different reactions to the chemicals, including paranoia, and extreme, animalistic rage. The kids inside the store seal themselves off from the outside world, which is tearing itself apart.

I read this book a couple years ago, but the year I read it, it was one of my top-five favorite books that year. It is still one of my favorite post-apocalyptic books.

[Note: **This book does include a near-rape scene**.] [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sky on Fire and Savage Drift, the next two volumes in this series, by Emmy Laybourne] [ official Emmy Laybourne web site ]

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Recommended by Marie P.
Bennett Martin Public Library


joyofforaginThe Joy of Foraging
by Gary Lincoff [581.63 Lin]

I generally do not go out looking for plants to eat in the great outdoors, but after reading this book, I think I could possibly give it a try! The author has taken excellent photos of various fruits, vegetables and nuts in everyday settings to show how easy it is to find food in the most common places. The instructions are very clear: know your plants and do not make the mistake of eating something that is potentially poisonous. What I like about this book is that it gives you a guideline for finding the right plants at the right time of year. I checked out the book to increase my knowledge of edible plants, but ended up with a desire to go out and find some of these remarkable foods. I highly recommend this book.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Edible Landscape, by Emily Tepe, Eat Your Yard!, by Nan Chase, or Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants, by the National Geographic Society.] [ official Gary Lincoff web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


holidaywishescdformatCDmusic2Holiday Wishes
by Idina Menzel [Compact Disc 394 Men]

Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy some holiday classics, especially when sung by someone as talented as Idina Menzel! I happened upon this collection of holiday songs just after Christmas. I had told my daughter that I had been hearing a song on the radio that was sung in part by Idina Menzel with Michael Buble. My daughter just happens to be a huge fan of Idina Menzel, but not for her incredible performance in Disney’s “Frozen;” she loves to listen to her sing in “Wicked.” I checked out the CD for my daughter, but enjoyed listening to it myself. It is difficult to find holiday CDs with songs performed in a style that stands out from all of the others, but this collection does just that. If you are looking for a CD that is a joy to listen to and makes you want to sing along, then give this a try!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Frozen, the soundtrack, or Christmas by Michael Buble] [ official Idina Menzel web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


thensingsmysoulThen Sings My Soul
by Robert J. Morgan [Music 782.28 Mor]

I have been a lifelong fan of the great hymns and enjoy singing them as well as playing them. Wanting to know a little more background on some of my favorite songs led me to check out this book. The stories behind some of these great works are incredible! Many of the famous hymn writers endured hardships and personal loss which inspired them to put their faith into words and music. Anyone with an interest in the stories behind the songs will want to look at this book.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, by Kenneth Osbeck.] [ official Then Sings My Soul page on the official Robert J. Morgan web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Screening Room

formatdvddumbanddumbertodvdDumb and Dumber To
[DVD Dumb]

Based on a couple of teaser scenes that had gotten a lot of play when the movie came out in 2014 and when the DVD was released last year, and knowing that Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey are pretty decent actors, I decided to give this official sequel to Dumb and Dumber — which I have NOT ever seen — a try. I was pleasantly surprised that “I like it a lot.” It’s a great have-some-popcorn-and-relax-your-mind movie. It even has some sweet and touching moments in among the low-brow antics. Suffice to say that when all is said and done, Harry and Lloyd have each other’s backs despite their elaborate prankstering and high stupidity quotient. Kathleen Turner has a key role and Rob Riggle, playing twin brothers, gets to literally scene-steal as one of the two. Rated PG-13.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try these — Jim Carrey: Yes Man, The Truman Show, Bruce Almighty; Jeff Daniels: The Martian, The Crossing; Rob Riggle: Let’s Be Cops.] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Dumb and Dumber web site ]

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Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library


formatdvdfullcirclepalindvdFull Circle with Michael Palin
[DVD 911.823 Pal]

Chronicling Palin’s journey around the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska down to Asia to Australia up through South America and back to Alaska. This 10 episode tv mini-series, like Palin’s other travelogues is fantastic. You really feel like you are traveling with him and the camera crew to places that aren’t the tourist stops. This journey takes 245 days and 50,000 miles through 17 countries. I’ve watched this and Palin’s other travelogues multiple times and they don’t get old. I think this would appeal to a wide audience; anyone who likes documentaries, travel, and or Michael Palin would enjoy this set.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Pole to Pole and Around the World in 80 days, also with Michael Palin.] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Palin’s Travels web site ]

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Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

See also the earlier review of this same production in November 2004, by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdhalloweentreedvdThe Halloween Tree
[DVD j Halloween]

I’ve been a huge fan of Ray Bradbury’s novella, The Halloween Tree, for several years — its one of my favorite books from Bradbury’s lengthy writing career. In that tale, aimed at youth readers, Bradbury’s creepy main character Moundshroud takes a group of rambunctious youth a trip back in time, to explore the origins of many Halloween traditions — Mummies, Witches, Skeletons, Monsters, death and afterlife rituals — and their adventure becomes a fight for the life of one of their friends. This made-for-television short animated movie manages to capture a lot of the spirit and tone of Bradbury’s story. To a large degree, this can be attributed to the fact that Bradbury himself is the voiceover narrator of the story, and legendary Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy provides the voice of Moundshroud. The art is fairly simplistic — this came from the Hanna-Barbera studio that produced The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest and Scooby Doo. And the story is simplified from the novel. But, I still recommend this for viewing, particularly around the time of Halloween. But nothing can replace the original novel!

[Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdschoolhouserockdvdSchoolhouse Rock!
[DVD j 372.2 Sch]

For anyone who grew up as a kid in the 1970s, the little jingles of ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock are an unforgettable part of watching Saturday morning television. This two-disc set all 46 original animated tunes that taught us the basics of math, English language usage, politics, history, etc. “I’m Just a Bill!”, “My Hero, Zero”, “Conjunction Junction”, “Interjections!” and “Three is a Magic Number” will remind you about all the little shorts that were interspersed between Saturday morning cartoons. In addition to reproducing all the original shorts, this DVD set has some missing songs/animations, trivia games, documentary features and tons of additional information about how we were all educated along with our entertainment. I highly recommend this as a trip down memory lane for those of us in our 40s or older, but its amazing how well the original jingles have held up — they are still a great teaching tool for today’s young kids!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Schoolhouse Rock: The Official Guide by Tom Yohe, as well as several CDs of music from all these educational ditties!] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Schoolhouse Rock web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdwolfhalldvdWolf Hall
[DVD Wolf]

I am the kind of person who enjoys reading Historical Fiction, especially English or French history. A friend had recommended this series to me and I took the opportunity to watch this over the holidays. The films depict the life of Thomas Cromwell, a lowly blacksmith’s son who rises to become a man of power and influence in the court of Henry VIII. The story is one of intrigue and scandal in a time of great change in England. Thomas Cromwell is at the heart of it all. The sets, costumes and cinematography in this production are simply superb. I am looking forward to seeing more from this series.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Poldark, or Henry V.] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this mini-series ] | [ BBC’s official Wolf Hall web site ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated February 2016
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