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Staff Recommendations – March 2021

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March 2021 Recommendations

Long Story Short: 100 Classic Books in Three Panels
by Lisa Brown (YA 741.5 Bro)

For anyone who remembers Cliff’s Notes (which originated right here in Lincoln, NE in the late 1950s), or the more recent SparkNotes (which launched in the late 1990s), author/illustrator Lisa Brown is here to give you even more abbreviated study guides to some of the classic works of English-language literature! For some time, Brown (wife of author Daniel Handler — a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) has been produced the regular cartoon “Three Panel Book Review” for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and its website.

Long Story Short compiles 100 of her “three panel reviews” (although I think she may have create some original content for this volume as well. For this collection, the reviews are broken into broad categories — “Big Thoughts”, “(Un)Happy Families”, “Jeepers! (Creatures!)”, “Love”, “Sex”, “Death” and more. Each section starts with a slightly-longer cartoon sequence, but the majority if what appears in the book are as advertised — the plot of a work of classic fiction condensed and simplified down into three simple cartoon panels. Some are simply a straight-forward synopsis of a book’s critical plot points, while others take a more humorous or satiric view of the original novel’s essence. All generally tend to be funny, even if darkly humorous.

Not all 100 are real winners, but I’d say I laughed at about 65% of the 100 titles profiled. Admittedly, it would help the casual reader to already be a little familiar with the works being condensed and shared. But even if you don’t know all of them, you’ll get quite a few chuckles along the way. Similarly, not all of Brown’s cartoon-style art is equal in quality across the board, but it hits its mark more often than not.

Wry, dry, sardonic…and sharing of love of literature. Definitely worth checking out!

( official Long Story Short page on — the official Lisa Brown web site )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Red Bones
by Ann Cleeves (Cleeves)

After seeing the mystery series “Shetland” starring Douglas Henshall, I decided to read all of the books in the series. “Red Bones” combines two of my favorite subjects: archaeology and murder mysteries. An archaeological excavation leads to questions about skeleton fragments found at the site — and opens up questions about the past that relatives of Sandy Wilson would rather not have people poking into. The book was different from the filmed series, but I enjoyed it on its own as well. I highly recommend this series!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try pretty much anything by Agatha Christie.)

( official Red Bones page on the official Ann Cleeves UK web site )


Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Milo Imagines the World
by Matt de la Peña (jP de la Peña)

The story begins with Milo and his older sister entering the subway. During his ride, Milo observes other passengers on the subway to pass the time and imagines what their lives might be like. He draws pictures of the perfect or not-so-perfect lives that he envisions that they live when they get off the subway. He imagines a whiskered man trudging home to a house filled with cats, eating soup alone over a game of solitaire. He sees a boy in a suit and imagines him taking a carriage to his castle and butler and maids. He envisions a woman on the train in a bridal gown going to a grand cathedral wedding and then riding away in a hot air balloon. He even imagines what the other riders think about what his life is like and wonders if they can see him reciting a volcano poem in class or the chile Colorado bubbling in the pot on the stove.

But as Milo departs the subway to visit his mother in prison, he discovers that things may not be as they seem. And Milo takes a minute to re-imagine the pictures he made on the train to have very different stories.

Milo Imagines the World is a beautiful story that encourages that all of us keep an open mind beyond the first impression. It is a must read!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try I Promise by LeBron James, I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes.)

( official Mila Imagines the World page on the official Matt de la Peña web site )


Recommended by Cindy K.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Bedroom Beats & B-Sides: Instrumental Hip Hop & Electronic Music at the Turn of the Century
by Laurent Fintoni (Music 781.66 Fin)

Home studio recording productions have become increasingly common in recent decades, mostly built around computers as the center of home studio spaces. However, this book takes us back to the era immediately before computers became the focus of recording studios, where a “bedroom studio” for making beats consisted of hardware devices like samplers, turntables, drum machines, and analog or digital tape recorders. The mid-90s were a magical time for DJs, with a wide stylistic overlap between instrumental hip-hop and a range of electronic dance music idioms. Bedroom Beats & B-Sides begins its exploration at this pivotal moment in music history, and then takes us forward to about 2010, by which time many new genres have coalesced and new technology has enabled lots of people to make music on their own terms without the cost and complication of going into formal recording studios.

The book features a unique organizational style into “tapes” rather than chapters, with each “tape” containing song-based subheadings that serve as recommended listening lists. There are some classic as well as obscure song references to track down, and like the music discussed in the book, they’ll take you all over the US and Europe to burgeoning underground music scenes whose artists proved to be influential. I found this book especially exciting in how it ties the work of all of these scenes together, inspiring and influencing one another as they all evolved. The lines between hip-hop and electronica are quite blurred during the period documented in this book, and we can see how artists like DJ Shadow and the Beastie Boys matured alongside the work of Aphex Twin and Massive Attack. Since the time period this book focuses on, pop music in general has continued to absorb influences from many styles, and musicians have taken more control over their own sounds by making their own recordings. The essential changes in technology and society that made this possible are well documented in this book.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Bass, Mids, Tops: An Oral History of Soundsystem Culture by Joe Muggs & Brian David Stevens, Bring That Beat Back: How Sampling Built Hip-Hop by Nate Patrin or Raw Music Material: Electronic Music DJs Today by Walter Huegli.)

( publisher’s official Bedroom Beats web page ) | ( official Laurent Fintoni web site )


Recommended by Scott S.
Polley Music Library

Understanding Records: A Field Guide to Recording Practice
by Jay Hodgson (Music 781.49 Hod)

Understanding Records is a book aimed at people in music academia, but I found it helpful as someone getting into music recording at home. The idea is that the academic study of music has mainly focused on aspects like composition, arrangement, and performance without much attention to what Hodgson calls “recording practice.” He makes an analogy to “seeing the screen” in film arts.

Suppose we were focused on theater performance and half-heartedly acknowledged that sometimes people film performances for later viewing. Even in this situation, artistic choices must be made about how it’s filmed. Beyond that, new levels of artistry are available along with recording media. This book looks at those artistic choices and techniques at the level of tracking, mixing, and mastering. I learned that The Beatles were early adopters of many of these techniques that went beyond the “recording a live performance” approach. This book comes with Spotify playlists of commercial tracks that are a mixture of well-known songs (mostly rock and pop) plus lesser known tracks that the author was involved in creating. There are also short technique demonstration tracks to help train your ear, plus some YouTube videos to see how this is done in contemporary software.

While wordy and repetitive at times, I enjoyed reading through this book and listening to the examples when prompted. It clued me into when & how to use a number of features in software I already use. It also gave me new aspects to listen for when I’m enjoying a record..

( publisher’s official Understanding Records (2nd edition) web page ) | ( official Jay Hodgson faculty page on the Western University web site )


Recommended by Garren H.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

I Promise
by LeBron James (jP James)

Basketball superstar LeBron James here combines a surprisingly beautiful message with beautiful illustrations by Nina Mata to create a must-read for children. Although you may be wary of books that are more about a message than a story, this book is worth the read. It encourages readers to make a promise to themselves to be strong, be kind, be accountable, embrace change and to try again. He writes, “I promise to work hard and do what’s right, to be a leader in this game of life.”

I Promise follows a group of diverse children at school, on the playground, and on the basketball court. LeBron writes in a verse format and occasionally weaves in basketball phrases. “I promise to stand tall, rise up, and give all that I’ve got; to throw the alley-oop and uplift others on the spot.”

The book also encourages reading, going outside and being active, and standing up for what’s right. It’s a delightful read for any youngster.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller.)

( publisher’s official I Promise web page ) | ( official LeBron James web site )


Recommended by Cindy K.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Midnight Sacrifice
by Melinda Leigh (Leigh)

This book is number two in the Midnight series, dealing with a serial killer that had gotten away in the first book. The author provided enough background on the characters in this book to get the reader up-to-speed with past events so I didn’t flounder around lost in characters and events.

The suspense slowly and surely builds as the killer continues to kidnap victims one by one in this small Maine town. We learn why he needs his ritual that, in his mind, is required as part of the kidnappings, and what he hopes to accomplish with the murders. The reader isn’t subjected to participating in gruesome violence, and at times feels sympathetic toward the killer.

This is a mystery and a romance, and as such reminded me of Nora Roberts’ novels. The author pulled me into the story right away and kept the pages turning as the narrative and suspense unfolded. This was a quick, enjoyable read.

( official Midnight novels page on the official Melinda Leigh web site )


Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Whatever It Takes
by Tom Morello (Music 781.66 Morello)

Tom Morello is one of the most legendary rock guitarists of our time, having been a founding member of Rage Against the Machine, and then going on to play with Audioslave, Prophets of Rage, and his solo act, the Nightwatchman. Not only is he known for his inventive guitar playing, which includes very creative use of effects and extended techniques, but he’s among very few artists who carried the traditions of protest music forward into the 90s and beyond. In Whatever It Takes, Morello offers us a little bit of an autobiography, but done through the context of a photo book. There’s a section devoted to his childhood, then a string of early bands he played in before Rage Against the Machine, and then lots of cool ephemera related to the rise of Rage and his work in subsequent bands. There are fun anecdotes here that you’ll appreciate if you’re a guitar player, just a fan of any of the bands Morello has worked with, or if you’re a songwriter hoping to make a mark yourself.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Guitar Anthology by Rage Against the Machine, or Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll by Jason Kerr Dobney.)

( publisher’s official Whatever it Takes web page ) | ( official Tom Morello web site )


Recommended by Scott S.
Polley Music Library

The Eighth Detective
by Alex Parvesi (Parvesi)

There are a lot of layers in this intriguing mystery novel by Alex Pavesi. At its core, it is about a young editor traveling to a remote Mediterranean island to interview a reclusive author. Grant McAllister is a professor of mathematics, who devised a mathematical model by which all mystery stories can be plotted. Decades ago, to illustrate his theory, he wrote a collection of 7 mystery short stories, entitled “The White Murders”, which has long been out of print. Julia Hart works for a small specialty press, interested in bringing “The White Murders” back into publication, but only if Julia can get some more information from McAllister about his mathematical mystery fiction formula and some answers about some seeming incongruities in his stories.

This novel has alternating chapters as Julia reads the stories back to Grant, then as they discuss them. And the further we go, the more obvious it becomes that not all is as clear and clean-cut as both Julia and Grant would have us believe. To say more would be to spoil the fun of discovering the rest of the details.

The Eighth Detective is a twisting, ebbing and flowing mystery novel, with a number of surprises. In the end, perhaps it is not as surprising as it wants to be, but it is still a fun and challenging read, and as the last few chapters lock into place, you’ll wonder if you read the earlier ones close enough to see all the clues.

( publisher’s official The Eighth Detective web page ) | ( official Alex Pavesi Twitter feed )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

by Pet Shop Boys (Music Compact Disc 781.66 Pet)

If you are itching to get your disco/synth-pop/techno-groove on, grab this 2020 album from one of the premier 1980s super-duos. Masters of hook-laden songs incorporating lush, plush, slightly nasal vocals which have just an edge of sand with smooth, beat-driven primo electronic accompaniment, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe deliver the goods again, updated without losing that oh-so-distinctive PSB feel. Along with several bouncy numbers, there are a couple that are more quiet and contemplative. Hotspot is an all-around enjoyable offering of tasty techy coolness, if this kind of music is your “cuppa”.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Pet Shop Boys Discography: The Complete Singles Collection by Pet Shop Boys, Actually by Pet Shop Boys — this and many other albums are available on Hoopla through LCL, or Musique Vol. 1, 1993-2005 by Daft Punk. Other artists of interest may be: Depeche Mode, Human League, A-ha, Soft Cell, A Flock of Seagulls, Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, Spandau Ballet, Peter Schilling, Thompson Twins, Donna Summer, Jean Michele Jarre, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears.)

( official Hotspot page on the official Pet Shop Boys UK web site )


Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

by Jason Reynolds (j Reynolds)

If you have never read any books by Jason Reynolds, this is the one to read. Reynolds, who has won the Coretta Scott King Award for his outstanding children’s books, has a number of great kids and young adult titles, but this one is my favorite.

Ghost is the nickname that middle-schooler Castle Cranshaw chose for himself. He is super-fast, but trouble keeps catching up with him. It all begins when Ghost is a small boy and he and his mother run from his father, who in a drunken-rage attempted to shoot them. The shop keeper that helps them looks at Castle like he was looking at a ghost, and the name stuck with him.

One day Ghost is out wandering town with his sunflower seeds and he wanders right into Coach, a former Olympic track medalist, and his middle-school track team of Defenders. Ghost proves himself to be a quick sprinter and is welcomed on to the team on a trial basis. But unfortunately difficulties find Ghost — tough track practices, living in a rough neighborhood, bullies, and the desire for good running shoes. Bad choices could cost him his chance on the team. But Ghost discovers that sometimes you have to face trouble rather than run from it, especially when you have someone you can trust by your side.

This National Book Award Finalist is one in a set of books by Reynolds. The other titles — Sunny, Lu, and Patina — feature the other newbies on the Defenders track team. Each title depicts the season from the perspective of one of the other runners, who all have strong personalities and approach track from vary different backgrounds.

The book is one of my favorite Reynolds book because it is a reminder that we don’t truly know where anyone is coming from; we don’t know what challenges they are facing. While we all may be running the same race, we all are running in different shoes, coming from entirely different directions.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Lu Patina, and Sunny by Jason Reynolds, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist or Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome.)

( publisher’s official Ghost web page ) | ( official Jason Reynolds web site )


Recommended by Cindy K.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

The Peach Truck Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes for All Things Peach
by Jessica N. Rose and Stephen K. Rose (641.634 Ros)

Jessica and Stephen Rose turned a love of peaches into a business model — selling the luscious fresh-picked fruit out of the back of their classic ’64 Jeep pickup. They then proceeded to gather recipes for the best ways to make use of this fruit in a farm-to-table cooking model. The Peach Truck Cookbook is the result of their years of recipe collecting, and making contact with chefs and other culinary types in the Nashville area.

This book opens with some background on the Roses, on peach growing (the many varieties), and on the history of peaches in culinary use. The bulk of the book is peach recipes, though, broken into the following categories: Breakfast, Small Bites, Lunch, Sides, Supper, Drinks, Dessert, and a final chapter called Pantry, which talks about the many ways in which peaches can be saved or preserved for year-round use when it isn’t “peach season”.

I’ll have to admit — Peaches are my all-time favorite fruit, and a good peach-blueberry pie is my absolute favorite dessert. I’d substitute it for a cake on my birthday, given the choice. The recipes in this book are intensely mouth-watering to a peach lover. Some are simple but many are exotic, and each and every one is accompanied by a very artsy photograph, showing the finished product. You’ll be enthralled by things like “Peach Dutch Baby”, “Peach Candied Bacon”, “Stone Fruit Crostini”, “Peach Jalapeno Cornbread”, “The Grilled Cheeserie’s Shaved Peach Melt”, “Peach Tamales”, “Savory Peach Fritters”, “Avocado Peach Salad”, “White Pizza”, “Peach Glazed Ribs”, “Peach Prosecco Granita”, “Burger Up’s Peach Truck Margarita”, “Peach Pavlova”, “Pearson Farm Bourbon Peach Bread Pudding”, “Peach Rum Conserve” and so many more.

There are fascinating sidebars about the Rose family, and about their many friends and recommended establishments in the Nashville area. But they never stray too far away from the peachy keen recipes!

The Peach Truck Cookbook should be essential reading for peach lovers, or fans of “southern” food. I loved this one, and will probably buy a copy for my own cookbook collection!

( official web site ) | ( publisher’s official The Peach Truck Cookbook web page )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Free Jazz, Harmolodics and Ornette Coleman
by Stephen Rush (Music 781.65 Coleman)

Ornette Coleman is widely regarded as a key figure in modern jazz music, and his work laid the foundation for generations of players who moved toward forms of improvisation that don’t stay tightly linked to a harmonic foundation, often called “free jazz” or “free improvisation.” All was not completely free in Ornette’s world, however: his work generally exemplified his own “Harmolodic Theory,” or “harmolodics,” in which harmony, melody, and rhythm take on unique moment-to-moment relationships approaching a unique kind of conceptual unity. Ornette used harmolodics compositionally, and lacking any kind of formal text (a book was planned in the 1970s but never completed), he and his band’s adventurous improvisations serve as both the textbook and the application of the idea.

Lots of music made by Ornette and his circle over the last 50 years employs harmolodic concepts, but lacking much written explanation, the idea remains misunderstood by many musicians and much of the listening public.

Enter Stephen Rush, whose recent Free Jazz, Harmolodics and Ornette Coleman makes great strides toward representing and clarifying the underlying concepts in this approach to music. Rush, a music professor at the University of Michigan, has taught a class on harmolodics for thirty years, and composes and improvises fluently within a harmolodic framework with his own bands. Using detailed analysis of music samples, and through extensive conversations with Ornette Coleman himself, Rush has written an essential book that addresses technical, philosophical, and social implications of harmolodics.

Although the book is formatted into three parts, it’s less formally divided into two main parts, with the “official” part 1 serving as more of a brief historical introduction. The first half of the book focuses on a series of interviews Rush conducted with Coleman in 2011, which explore harmolodics from multiple perspectives as the conversations flow into different subject areas. The range of topics covered is wide, from philosophy to aural semiotics to civil rights. When read through the historical context provided in the introduction, it becomes clear that Ornette’s feelings about unity between harmonic and melodic contexts in music are inspired by and contribute to the stages of the civil rights movement.

The second half of the book is more technical in nature, offering transcriptions and detailed analysis of ten representative Ornette recordings throughout his career. If you’re a practicing musician with an understanding of conventional jazz harmony, this section will be especially illuminating, as Rush digs deep and breaks down the sophisticated (but very much present) harmonic shifts that happen in Ornette’s music, both melodically and among band members. But even if you’re not a musician, I’d recommend reading through this section, too — you might not understand some of the theory talk, but I think you will come away with a fundamental understanding of how harmolodics seems to work best through the deployment and manipulation of relatively short, memorable musical phrases. This music is “free jazz” relative to the melodic/harmonic lockstep music the preceded it, but it’s also fundamentally a socially-focused music, and the conversations that happen within melodies and around the bandstand ultimately turn phrases into transcendent narratives.

If you’re into Ornette, or you feel like you’re close to “getting” his music but not quite there, this is the book for you. Come on up to the Polley Music Library and check it out!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Experiencing Ornette Coleman : A Listener’s Companion by Michael Stephans, Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure by Maria Golia or This is Our Music: Free Jazz, the Sixties, and American Culture, by Iain Anderson.)

( publisher’s official Free Jazz book page ) | ( official Stephen J. Rush web site )


Recommended by Scott S.
Polley Music Library

The Big Book of Cidermaking: Expert Techniques for Fermenting and Flavoring Your Favorite Hard Cider
by Christopher Shockley and Kirsten K. Shockley (663.2 Sho)

I’ll have to admit — I don’t drink beer. I enjoy an occasional cocktail or wine cooler, or glass of white wine. But if I’m going to indulge in any “adult” beverage, my first choice is going to be a hard cider.

So when I saw this book on the libraries’ “new books” display, all about the history of, and mechanics of creating your own hard ciders at home, I was fascinated. I can remember when my dad made his own wine at home, in the early 1970s, and I have other friends and relatives who brew their own beer. The authors of The Big Book of Cidermaking go into incredible detail about how to engage in this craft hobby. In particular, I appreciated the chapters touching on the different flavor elements of the many varieties of apples used in cider distilling. As is usually the case with books from Workman Publishing, the photos accompanying the text are absolutely gorgeous.

On the other hand, the authors are also straight-forward in their explanations for how equipment-intensive cidermaking can be — I don’t think it’s something I’ll pursue — but this book makes me appreciate all the various local small-brew companies in the Lincoln, NE area that have established Lincoln as a hotbed for craft cideries. Places like Glacial Till, Saro Cidery and James Arthur Vineyards have been producing impressive small-batch hard ciders for the past several years, many available canned or bottled in local grocery and liquor stores. If you have been curious about what it would take to create your own ciders — this is the perfect book for you. If you just want to know more about what goes into these fruity beverages, give this one a try!

( publisher’s official Big Book of Cidermaking web site ) | ( – the official web site of Christopher and Kirsten Shockley )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

The Deep
by Rivers Solomon (Solomon)

This fantasy novella takes the horror and trauma of the transatlantic slave trade, and comes out the other side with human-descended, water-breathing life. These babies, initially cared for by other sea life, have grown and now have a society of their own in the depths of the ocean. Their lives are full of joy and freedom. However, the tragedies of their mothers’ lives need to be remembered, and there is one historian for the group who holds on to that burden. As she gets older, Yetu comes to realize that her responsibility is going to be the death of her. She needs to find a way to share the heavy burdens with the other wajinru.

With themes similar to Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score, this profound work unmasks the heart and soul in traumatized beings who perpetuate violence. Many of the characters do not realize they need to heal themselves, so we see generational trauma’s effects on micro and macro level relationships. The ocean setting just adds to the beauty and despair of these lives.

( official The Deep page on the official Rivers Solomon web site (site currently unavailable) )


Recommended by Naomi S.
Eiseley and Williams Branch Libraries

Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom
by Kelly Thompson (writer) and Jenn St.-Onge (artist) (YA PB (Graphic Novel) Thompson)

I’m going to age myself — I grew up in the late 1960s/early 1970s, reading the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels with equal interest (though my favorites were the novels in the Three Investigators series, which never achieved quite the popularity of Nancy, Frank and Joe). Both Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys have gone through various transformations over time, updating the characters for new generations — though I haven’t read any of those versions from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.

However, the cover of this new (2019) graphic novel caught my eye on the “New Materials” display in the Teen Room at the downtown library, and I’m really glad I gave it a shot. The Palace of Wisdom is a terrific update of the characters of both Nancy and the Hardy boys (who play a supportive role in this story), keeping them in their late teens (some of them have drivers licenses) but bringing them up-to-date with modern technologies, lingo and relationship statuses. Nancy is now living in River Heights, and obsessively solving crimes with the assistance of some capable tech-savvy sidekicks. When she receives an unusual anonymous message from her old home of Bayport, she feels compelled to return — where she hooks up with past friends Bess and George (and ultimately Frank and Joe Hardy).

The mystery she’s pulled into ties into her mother’s mysterious death years ago, though some of the new friends she makes in town have more recent losses that they’d like her to look into. The characters are all hip, fresh and sassy. The artwork is marvelous. Nancy is a much more active character than she was in the books of the 60s/70s, and a lot of fun is made (by the other characters) of her tendency to lose or forger her cellphone, leading to her getting in a lot of jams that her friends must rescue her from.

This graphic novel comprises a complete story, as it appeared in issues #1-5 of a new comic book — with the presumption that that comic book would continue, and this graphic novel ends on a major cliffhanger. I hope there will be additional issues, as I can’t wait to see more of this modern Nancy Drew’s adventures!

(If you’re into “retro” — investigate the old yellow-spine hardback Nancy Drew novels (a few remain in the libraries’ collection, attributed to Carolyn Keene. They’re definitely from another era, but you can see the character archetypes that have led to this new series.)

( Wikipedia page on the history of Nancy Drew ) | (Wikipedia page for Kelly Thompson )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

The Adoption
by Zidrou (writer) and Arno Monin (artist) and Jeremy Melloul (translator) (741.5 Zid)

At first glance, I figured this graphic novel by Belgians Zidrou (writer) and Arno Monin (artist) was going to be a typical sentimental feel-good story. The cover sums up that impression — crusty old grandfatherly Gabriel faces off against adorable waif Qinaya, and you presume the story is about how an old white guy comes to love the little dark-skinned girl his children have adopted.

Don’t be misled — that is part of this complex story, but only part, and not the most important part. In a nutshell, retired Belgian butcher Gabriel does find it initially hard to connect when his forty-something son and wife adoption a little girl in Peru following a devastating earthquake that has left hundreds dead, including little Qinaya’s parents. In the first half of this two-part graphic novel, Gabriel does go through the growing pains of a new relationship and does come to love his incomprehensibly cute new granddaughter. That’s what makes the second half of this story the most important — when it turns out Gabriel’s son cut some corners in the adoption process and actually kidnapped Qinaya, whose parents turn out to be alive. In the second half of this story, Gabriel travels to Peru, first to see Qinaya one last time, but also in a voyage of personal growth and discovery, that leads him back to Belgium and a chance to mend some fences in his family.

The artwork in The Adoption is absolutely phenomenal, from the highly detailed and expressive characters, to the well-realized geography — both up close and in scenic backdrops. The storyline is emotional and I challenge any reader not to be affected by the twists and turns.

Highly recommended!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The House by Paco Roca, Paul at Home by Michel Rabagliati.)

( publisher’s official The Adoption web page ) | ( one of many Zidrou author pages for this Belgian writer ) | ( official Arno Monin Instagram feed )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

Screening Room

formatdvdThe Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)
(DVD Broken)

I hadn’t seen any trailers or promos for this one, so when I saw that the DVD had come out at WalMart, I immediately placed a hold on it at the library. Then my wife ended up bringing home a copy from her library branch before my hold had even come in! Great minds think alike!

Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) is a 20-something art gallery assistant whose life is upended by the end of her long-time romantic relationship AND her being fired from the gallery shop she accidentally sabotaged. Lucy has compulsively collected mementos from all her failed relationships — her shelves in the flat she shares with two friends look like a tchotchke shop. A soused Lucy accidentally gets into the car driven by Nick, thinking he’s a Lyft driver, and goes off on an inebriated rant. Nick gives up on convincing her he’s not her driver, and drives her home. Later, she connects back up with him in the boutique hotel he’s remodeling, and a friendship begins. Happenstance leads to one of Lucy’s mementos being put up on the balcony wall of Nick’s “hotel”, with a caption explaining how it represents a broken relationship — and the Broken Hearts Gallery has begun. Lucy’s skills with social media turn the concept into an underground success, and Lucy and Nick become ground zero for people wishing to donate their own mementos of broken relationships.

There’s a lot more to this than it sounds — relationships fluctuate, job possibilities come and go, Nick’s future hotel is in question, and the question of “Will Lucy and Nick” every really connect is central to the whole thing. Suffice it to say, despite road bumps and detours along the way, this really is a Rom-Com.

I really enjoyed this!

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

formatdvdDr. No (1962)
(DVD Dr)

A British agent and his secretary go missing in Jamaica. Agent 007, aka James Bond (Sean Connery), is assigned the case and goes to Jamaica where he gets help from a boat captain named Quarrel and a CIA agent named Felix Leiter (Jack Lord, before he starred in Hawaii 5-O). Bond learns the missing British agent was investigating a mysterious island called Crab Key. Upon his arrival at Crab Key he meets Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), a blonde in a bikini (of course) collecting sea shells. They’re soon under attack by armed guards and are forced to hide. Unfortunately, they’re caught and are covered in radiation. After being cleaned of the radiation by the staffers of Crab Key they’re then tricked into drinking spiked coffee, and forced to eat supper with a mysterious metal-handed man named Dr. No. After further investigation Bond discovers Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) is planning to destroy a NASA rocket that is about to be launched. Dr. No places him in a prison cell, which Bond breaks out of. He then disguises himself as a worker and sabotages Dr. No’s plan by blowing up his base. Bond and Honey Ryder escape Crab Key in the nick of time before it’s blown to pieces. The movie ends, as most Bond movies do, with him and the Bond Babe getting together.

While this movie was not the first James Bond movie to be filmed (there was a 1954 adaptation of “Casino Royale” for the American TV series “Climax”, which starred Barry Nelson as an Americanized James Bond), it is still considered by many to be the first “official” James Bond movie. I had never really seen any of the early Bond movies but did enjoy this one as it introduced many of the important characters — M, Moneypenny, Felix, Q, etc. — while also laying the groundwork for future recognizable James Bond themes..

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the James Bond movies or books — check out our exhaustive The Name is Bond…James Bond list here on BookGuide!)

(Also available in traditional print format.)

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


Recommended by Carrie R.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

formatdvdFrom Russia With Love (1963)
(DVD From)

Mad at Bond (Sean Connery) for taking out Dr No, members of SPECTRE devise a plan to lure him out. They trick a Russian agent named Tatiana Romanov (Daniela Bianchi) into claiming she wishes to defect and will also turn over a Russian decoder machine called a “Lektor” as part of the deal. MI6 and Bond know this is a trap but as it’s too good to be true they send him anyway. Bond meets Tatiana in Istanbul where they break into the Russian Consulate and steal the Lektor. They then board a train posing as a married couple. A Soviet Secret Agent (Robert Shaw) is also aboard the train. Bond kills him and jumps off the train with Tatiana. Following that there is a boat chase scene where the bad guys try to throw explosives at him from their boats. Bond releases fuel barrels which were on his boat and then shoots at them with a flare gun, alighting the fuel and the bad guys. It seems that Bond and Tatiana have succeeded and make it all the way to Venice when Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), the SPECTRE Agent in charge of this plan, shows up at the hotel and holds Bond at gunpoint. Tatiana knocks the gun out of her hands, Bond kills Klebb, and as always, the movie ends with Bond and the Babe getting together.

There were a lot of random moments in the one, including a whole scene where Bond hid at a Gypsy camp and was forced to pick a woman to marry another man…but it also had its moments and with a few good one-liners it was a worthy addition to the Bond collection.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the James Bond movies or books — check out our exhaustive The Name is Bond…James Bond list here on BookGuide!)

(Also available in traditional print format.)

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


Recommended by Carrie R.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

formatdvdSafety Last! (1923)
(DVD Safety)

I first saw this DVD in the libraries’ collection shortly after having the opportunity to tour Harold Lloyd’s boyhood home, outside of Beatrice in Gage County, Nebraska in 2019. Lloyd is one of Nebraska’s cinematic treasures, having grown up in Gage County, before eventually making his way to Hollywood, and film fame.

Safety Last! is one of Lloyd’s masterworks, originally released in 1923. Lloyd is generally considered to be one of the silent film era’s three single-star auteurs — Charlie Chaplin was the “sweet innocent”, as personified by his Little Tramp character; Buster Keaton was the stoic, emotion-less outsider; and Lloyd was the “every man” that audiences could identify with. Safety Last! is 73 minutes of humor, adventure and spectacular stunt work, most notably the classic scene in which Harold hangs from a skyscraper’s click face by the clock’s hands.

In addition to the beautifully restored film itself, this DVD set from Criterion also features two marvelous documentaries, including “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius” (108 minutes), all about Lloyd’s life and film work..

(e aware that the Gage County Classic Film Institute has, for years, held an annual film festival celebrating the lives and careers of Gage County natives who’ve gone on to fame in the film and tv industry. You can follow them on Facebook to see what native film star is featured next, and/or you can visit Lloyd’s boyhood home in Burchard, NE, now a small-town museum.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( Wikipedia page for Safety Last! )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

formatdvdShetland (five seasons so far, 2013-2019)
(DVD Shetland)

A friend recently recommended the series Shetland to me as a mystery series that I might enjoy watching, so I was pleased to discover that the library owns the first five seasons of the series starring Douglas Henshall as detective Jimmie Perez. The mysteries take place on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. The accents are sometimes hard to follow, but are also part of the reason I enjoy this series so much. One of the actors, Steven Robertson, who plays DC Sandy Wilson, was actually born in the Shetland Islands, which adds some authenticity to the production. The murder mysteries are gritty and not easy to solve. The complexity of the relationships and the storylines make this one of the best mystery series I have seen. My favorite character in this is the female assistant to Perez, DS Alison “Tosh” McIntosh. She provides enough comic relief to keep the mood light in an otherwise dark drama. The original cast is planning another season, hopefully to be filmed in the next year. The stories are based on the original novels by author Ann Cleeves.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the TV series Vera, or Wallander.)

(Also available in traditional print format.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this tv series ) | ( BBC’s official Shetland web site )


Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

formatdvdThe Unicorn: Season One (2019-2020)
(DVD Unicorn)

I never tried to tune this series in when it began on CBS in the Fall of 2019. Now I wish I’d been watching it all along — it’s a very funny and yet touching show.

Walton Goggins plays Wade Felton, a landscape architect now raising two pre-teen daughters (Grace and Natalie) following the death of his wife. His support structure includes his best friends, found in the form of two other families — Forrest and Delia (Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins) and their young daughter, and Ben and Michelle (Omar Benson Miller and Maya Lynne Robinson) and their four kids. The friends try get Wade back into the world of dating, with pushy-but-loving advice, and Wade tolerantly accepts their well-minded interference in his life. “The Unicorn” refers to Wade’s exalted status (in the eyes of his friends), because he’s a loving father and devoted former husband, so he’s as elusive and rare in the modern dating pool as the legendary unicorn.

Like so many sitcoms nowadays, there’s a little too much emphasis placed on the pursuit of sex, but when the characters aren’t obsessing about Wade’s sex life, and are simply dealing with their lives and relationships, it hits a home run. Recurring plots about supporting their kids, job hunting, career-building and Wade’s “widows” support group all add to making this an enjoyable part-comedy/part-drama. If you liked Modern Family, you’ll probably love this show!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Modern Family.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this TV series )


Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

last updated September 2023
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