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Staff Recommendations – June 2008

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June 2008 Recommendations

spymastersladyThe Spymaster’s Lady
by Joanna Bourne (Bourne)

An adventure story, a spy story, a love story–sharp, warm, incisive, at times humorous. The heroine is intelligent, sensitive, and quite resourceful. Set in Napoleonic times in France and England. A minimum of violence and sex.

( official Joanna Bourne Blog )


Recommended by Bob B.
Bennett Martin Public Library

avasmanAva’s Man
by Rick Bragg (B B87705b)

Memoir, written in the style of It’s All Over But the Shoutin’ and Angela’s Ashes. Funny, but very poignant, too!

( Wikipedia entry for Rick Bragg )

See Evelyn’s comments on Rick Bragg’s “All Over But the Shoutin'”

Recommended by Evelyn D.
Bennett Martin Public Library

oppositeofloveThe Opposite of Love
by Julie Buxbaum (Buxbaum)

Julie Buxbaum is a laywer-turned-author whose first novel is a funny, sad tale of finding oneself. Emily sabotages her relationship because she thinks her boyfriend will leave eventually, so she should beat him to the punch. Her mother died when she was fourteen and her father is distant. How Emily finds out who she really is and what she’s really made of is not the usual chick-lit journey.

( Julie Buxbaum’s official web site for The Opposite of Love )


Recommended by Deanne J.
Gere Branch Library

beautifulbluedeathA Beautiful Blue Death
by Charles Finch (Finch)

Late 18th century London with its gas fireplaces and gloomy skies. What is it about a wet cold that makes it feel so much colder than it really is? The London of winter 1965 in this mystery is just that, along with the smudgey skies and most probably dirty air. However the parlors and drawing rooms of the well-to-do are a haven of civility and refinement. The veneer of such fine living is broken when a former servant of Lady Jane is found poisoned at her most recent employer’s home. As Lady Jane says “It’s just too awful.” To the rescue is her friend, Charles Lenox. Lenox gets involved with such unfortunate events as these, when he’s not at his men’s club, drinking tea in front of his fireplace or perusing among the books in his home library. Settle on the couch with your favorite beverage, you’re in for a treat!

( official Beautiful Blue Death / Charles Finch web site )

Recommended by Evelyn D.
Bennett Martin Public Library

imchevychaseI’m Chevy Chase…and You’re Not!
by Rena Fruchter (791.432 ChaYf)

Interesting, but ultimately slightly disappointing biography of the funny man most often associated with early Saturday Night Live, the Vacation movies, and Caddyshack. The biographical revelations are truly fascinating, and explain his comedic style. However, the writing style for the book is quite flat and lifeless — there was no “flow” and at times it merely felt like a litany of facts and figures and less a portrayal of Chevy’s life and influences. I’d recommend this to die-hard SNL fans looking for Chevy’s version of the first season, but otherwise it was something of a disappointment.

( Wikipedia page for the actor Chevy Chase )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

forgeryofvenusThe Forgery of Venus
by Michael Gruber (Gruber)

In his latest book, Gruber examines themes of art’s creation and its imitation, the nature of time, and the very essence of what it means to know and remember. “The Forgery of Venus” tells the story of Chaz Wilmot, a painter and a reluctant fixture on the New York art scene. Chaz is blessed with phenomenal artistic talent, but is thwarted in his career by his inability to paint for the buying public. Instead of selling his work for big money in upscale Manhattan galleries, he makes a meager living painting in the style of other famous artists, some living, some long dead, for magazines and other publications. Chaz has two ex-wives to support, and several children as well, one of whom has a life-threatening illness. His life, and theirs, would be infintely easier if he could just bring himself to sell his original paintings to the art-collecting crowd that he despises. Then Chaz hears fro a couple of old college friends, one a doctor conducting research on a creativity-enhancing chemical, and one an artists’ agent offering him a lucrative fresco restoration job in Italy. Never one to turn down free drugs or travel, and chronically short of cash, Chaz says yes to both and the plot thickens considerably. To provide too much detail would be to lessen the impact of an intricately written and superbly imagined tale. The book is worth reading simply for Gruber’s descriptions of world-famous paintings, particularly those of Diego Velazquez, who figures prominently in the story. Gruber is a virtuoso when it comes to jumping between time periods, and meshing the past with the present. Art lovers, history buffs and fans of time-travel stories will all find something magical in this book-a real masterpiece of fiction writing.

( official Forgery of Venus page on the official Michael Gruber web site )


Recommended by Lisa V.
Eiseley Branch Library

peopleplacesandbooksPeople, Places and Books
by Gilbert Highet (820.4 H53p)

Highet’s introduction to a variety of interesting people, places, and books. Originally a series of radio talks. Very readable.

( Wikipedia entry on Gilbert Highet ) | ( Columbia University profile of Highet and his radio show )

Recommended by Bob B.
Bennett Martin Public Library

gastroanomaliesGastroanomalies: Questional Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery
by James Lileks (817 Lil)

A sequel to Lilek’s “Gallery of Regrettable Food”, “Gastroanomalies” is a smorgasbord of awful culinary illustrations and horribly dated cultural references, wrapped up sarcasm, and lacerated with Lilek’s sharp wit. The images in this book are alternately nauseating and hilarious, but without Lilek’s off-the-wall humorous commentary they wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny as they are. Honestly once you’re finished with this book, you’ll never look at your mother’s cookbook collection the same way again!

( official James Lileks web site and blog )

See Scott’s review of “The Gallery of Regrettable Food”


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

fallingleavesFalling Leaves
by Adeline Yen Mah (B M277)

Adeline, a Chinese girl, becomes a successful American doctor by overcoming child abuse, neglect, political strife, the loss of her mother and her own self-doubt. This is an amazing story of a courageous young girl.

( Reading Group Guide for this book ) | ( Wikipedia entry for Adeline Yen Mah )

Recommended by Andrea S.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries

borderlandsofscienceThe Borderlands of Science: How to Think Like a Scientist and Write Science Fiction
by Charles Sheffield (500 She)

This is a very casually written guide to scientific issues as they related to telling fictional stories — a guide to what’s real and what’s possible in a variety of scientific fields as viewed from the prism of a 1999 Speculative Fiction writer’s perspective. This book is written for the lay reader — scientific terms and theories are made easily understandable, and for the science fiction fans in the audience, Sheffield brings up numerous examples of how genre authors have effectively made use of real science in their stories. Topics covered in this book include: Physics, Relativity, Cosmology, Biology, Space Flight, Computers, Robots, Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Chaos Theory, Future Warfare, and a wonderful grab-bag chapter about quirky scientific topics that don’t fit comfortably anywhere else. I recommend this book particularly to science fiction fans, but anyone with an interest in cutting-edge scientific theories and studies should appreciate it as well.

( Publisher’s page for this book ) | ( Wikipedia entry on Charles Sheffield )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

heirtotheempireHeir to the Empire
by Timothy Zahn (Zahn)

Not a cheap knock-off of the “Star Wars” movie series. Well-written, fast-paced, exciting, excellent storylines that could have been written by Lucas himself. Doesn’t branch off on its own, follows the “rules” and storylines as created by the first three movies.

StarWarsReviews( official Star Wars website ) | ( Wikipedia page for Timothy Zahn ) | ( Wikipedia page for Heir to the Empire ) | ( official Expanded Universe page at the official Star Wars Web site )

See more books like this on our Star Wars Reading List booklist

Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Screening Room

formatdvdcharliewilsonswarDVDCharlie Wilson’s War
(DVD Charlie)

A fast-moving, riveting film filled with quick, snappy, intelligent dialogue based on the true story of Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman, who secretly funds the Afghanistanis’ revolt against the Soviet Union. Thought this would be a slow-moving, dry, behind-the-scenes political story but it’s not! The viewer is quickly sucked into the story. Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent! Caution: strong language.

(Also available: the 2003 book this 2007 movie was based upon.)

( Internet Movie Database page for this film )


Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library

formatdvddoctorwhoseriesoneDoctor Who – Complete First Series
(DVD Doctor)

Longtime fans of the British television series Doctor Who, as well as viewers new to this time-traveling adventure series will appreciate this season-long boxed set of the 2006 episodes featuring Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and Billie Piper as his new companion Rose Tyler. The series actually began in 1963, and concluded its 26th continuous season in 1989 (not counting occasional specials and/or films). An all-new production team revived the series in 2006, but rather than calling it the “27th season” they called this the “first season”. Unlike the cheesy special effects of the 1960s and 1970s, this series is mostly state-of-the-art, and features excellent acting performances, especially from Eccleston and Piper. Long-time fans will appreciate that the new producers are very conscious of decades’ worth of continuity, while still wanting to put a new fresh spin on the series. All in all, a spectacular rebirth for one of television science fiction’s legends. Bravo!

(Numerous books are also available in the library collection that feature Doctor Who; also: additional Doctor Who books.)

( official Doctor Who BBC web site ) | ( Outpost Gallifrey – Top Doctor Who Fan Site )

See books based on shows like this on our TV Tie-Ins booklist


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

last updated September 2023
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