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Staff Recommendations – March 2023

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March 2023 Recommendations

A Rip Through Time
by Kelley Armstrong (Armstrong)

A woman jogging alone at night in Scotland has a near-death experience via strangling… only to wake up 150 years in the past in a body that is not her own. Detective Mallory Atkinson must solve her own assault to stop a would-be Jack the Ripper while also trying to find her way back to her own time.

Excellent story, the pace is fast, the drama from the body’s previous tenet just enough to add spice and the characters are well-developed. Check this book out if time traveling detectives who are trying to fit into Victorian England are interesting to you!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner, The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan or A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong.)

( official Rip Through Time series page on the official Kelley Armstrong web site )


Recommended by Rio B.
Bennett Martin Public Library — Public Service

by Morgan Brice (Hoopla Downloadable Audio)

Simon Kincaide is a 35-year-old, former college professor with a PhD in Folklore and Mythology. He’s also a Medium and a Clairvoyant. He now owns and operates Grand Strand Ghost Tours in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, selling supernatural paraphernalia and books on local stories of ghosts and pirates, and giving ghost tours downtown.

Vic D’Amato, 31 years old, is a homicide detective recently transplanted from Pittsburgh. He doesn’t believe in any of this woo-woo stuff.

Problem is, a serial killer is targeting victims with psychic abilities.

This is a well-written paranormal/romance/murder mystery as Simon and Vic figure out their relationship as they also try to figure out the murders. The major characters are slowly unfolded for us, and the secondary characters are also well-developed.

If you enjoy the old TV series “Night Stalker,” with Darren McGavin as a journalist who discovers all sorts of supernatural creatures while he’s covering murders in his town — and no one believes him — then you might like this as well.

Currently there are five books in this series as paperbacks, ebooks, and audio books. The library has the first four available on Hoopla audio.

( official Badllands series page on the official Morgan Brice web site )


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

Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal
edited by Mark Christman, Celeste DiNucci and Anthony Elms (Music 781.65 Graves)

Milford Graves is one of the most important figures in the development of the free jazz approach to the drum kit. While many of the most notable jazz artists of the last several generations mention him as an important influence, by the standards of many jazz performers, his work isn’t heavily-represented on recordings, and over the years he didn’t gig or tour much compared to many of his peers. This has led to somewhat of a dearth of information about his work for those who weren’t lucky enough to work or study with him during his tenure at Bennington College between 1973 and 2012. Fortunately for the rest of us, a few resources have recently become available to learn more about Graves’ work. In 2018, the Jake Meginsky and Neil Young-directed film “Milford Graves: Full Mantis” was released, a documentary that takes us directly into the many interrelated activities which occupied Graves right up to his passing in 2021. Now we have a great new book called Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal which acts as another deep dive into his life and work, following two extensive exhibitions of his work that took place at the University of Pennsylvania in late 2020, and at Artists Space in New York in late 2021.

Where first impressions are concerned, I think most readers will be taken in by the sometimes complex and always colorful images throughout the book. Before you even get to the title page, you’re taken through a bit of a photography tour of Professor Graves’ house, which he adorned with organic sculptural shapes, his gardens, in which some of his metalwork sculptures reside, closeups of his main drum kit, which he painted with beautiful colors and patterns, the apothecary section of his workspace, and cassettes of various recordings, mostly involving his own performances. We’re clearly in the workspace and residence of someone who is more a polymath than a mere jazz drummer. While the book is mostly made of essays and reflections by those who collaborated or studied with Graves, the texts are truly illuminated throughout with photos of him in performance, show posters and ephemera, his visual art in a variety of mediums from collage to painting to sculpture, and lots of photos inside his workspace, which was a place for music but also a place for herbal medicines, martial arts, and long-time research into nuances of cardiac activity (the rhythms of humanity), among other activities. It can be a bit overwhelming: Graves was much like his music, in constant motion and polyrhythmically working along multiple paths, all of which informed and inspired one another. For those of us who weren’t lucky enough to see the exhibitions of his work in the last few years which included many of these elements, this book is a wonderful visual resource giving us a window into his unique world.

As for the many essays that make up the text of A Mind-Body Deal, the editors did a fine job representing most of Graves’ interests and disciplines. Music, of course, remains the dominant theme, and Graves’ own comments through interviews as well as recollections from collaborators and students supply readers with tons of musical inspirations. The mid-60s roots of free jazz are put into a thorough context in the book as well, as part of the larger Civil Rights movement and an expression of Black freedom and independence. The music of Graves incorporates many apparent opposites, too, which are approached from multiple angles throughout the book: how can one incorporate multiple levels of movement within music, while still accommodating space and stillness? How does the role of rhythm reconcile with melody? Should rhythms shift and breathe in tempo, or do they encompass multiple simultaneous tempos? Do vibrations point to rhythms or to pitch? Are pitches really fast rhythms? There is a lot to consider here.

While the majority of the texts focus on music, there are also pieces that delve into his work exploring the human heartbeat (which of course has lots of musical implications, too), his work with visual art, which increased in his later years, his studies of herbal healing, and reflections by long-term participants on his own form of martial arts, Yara, which he created in the 1960s and began teaching in 1971. All of these practices form part of a larger whole — even if your primary interest is in music, there are lots of lessons to take away from all of these disciplines that can readily be applied to music. They can be applied more generally to healthy living, too, and you’ll make better music if you’re feeling balanced and healthy. Dance is another underlying theme throughout the book — the body’s response to music making and music listening reveals even more layers of organic movement, rhythm and vibration.

Toward the end of the book, there is a photographic retrospective of sorts featuring the exhibits that were shown at the Philadelphia Graves retrospective in 2020. This was a truly multimedia exhibit, which included video presentations and music performances, but getting to see some of the more visually-striking materials Graves worked with every day in his studio in a gallery setting must have been fascinating! The exhibit, like this book, is a testament to a life well lived, and a model for artists of the future.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Common Tones: Selected Interviews with Artists and Musicians 1995-2020 by Alan Licht, Arcana II: Musicians on Music edited by John Zorn or Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity by Paul Austerlitz.)


Recommended by Scott S.
Polley Music Library

Sun Ra Sundays
by Rodger Coleman, edited by Sam Byrd (Music 781.65 Sun Ra)

Where most important jazz figures are concerned, diving into their work via recordings can be a daunting exercise, simply because there are so many records. Compared to most popular music idioms, where composition is the main form of musical expression and studio recordings generally stand as the most important recorded works for understanding an artist, songs are largely vehicles for improvisation in jazz, and charting the growth and development of jazz musicians is often best done by catching them live or through live recordings of performances. Naturally, most musicians play lots of shows, and this can mean that “important” live recordings of iconic jazz artists can start to number in the dozens or even hundreds.

This is true for Sun Ra as well, but let’s look at some practical realities about his long career that make things even more complicated in his case. Consider that he continued to work with a large ensemble, his Arkestra, well into eras where small-ensemble jazz combos became the norm. Considering the practical realities of keeping a large band together and traveling with them, that’s a lot of mouths to feed, and is likely one of the reasons that jazz from the bebop era onward tended to focus on smaller groups. Also unlike most jazz artists, who historically took little interest in the logistical side of making their own recordings, Sun Ra was one of the first people in the world to start buying and using his own recording equipment, as early as the 1930s and 40s. Just as he kept up with the latest inventions in the electronic keyboard world, he continued to keep up with recording technology over the years, and often engineered his own recordings in rehearsal spaces or live. Ra was also one of the earliest artists to side-step record labels and self-release albums of his music, starting his own El Saturn Records in the 1950s and Saturn Research in the 60s. With his own label, he could essentially private-press smaller quantities of his own recordings to take with the band on tours, a great way to supplement their income on the road. Problematically, though, this practice has sometimes left his discography hard to navigate, as there are multiple low-quantity pressings and re-presses of many records, sometimes new records made by combining cuts from previous records in new ways, and various differences between pressings. It all adds up to a lot of complication sorting things out. Many recordings have dropped in and out of print for years, and have been reissued in similarly altered forms by semi-legal entities over the years. It’s a headache to sort out.

Sun Ra’s music grew, evolved and shifted styles dramatically, too, arguably a lot more than typical jazz artists (although Miles Davis and John Coltrane come close). Because of this, it is entirely possible that you might be a fan of some parts of Sun Ra’s work, but not be so into others. Weigh this fact with the complicated maze of Sun Ra recordings out there, and sometimes it just seems like it’s too hard to figure out where to start.

Enter Sun Ra Sundays. What began as author Rodger Coleman occasionally talking about a favorite Sun Ra record on his blog NuVoid in 2006 gradually grew into a sizable body of Sun Ra record reviews. As Coleman describes in his Foreword, he gradually decided it would be fun to highlight all of his favorites, and then expanded even beyond those. By the time he stepped away from writing Sun Ra Sundays in 2016, he had covered around 200 Sun Ra records in some capacity in over 150 blog posts. As blog entries, though, there was no particular big-picture order to the posts, and they were formatted with the usual kind of informality of blog posts. To transform this content into a book, then, editor Sam Byrd organized all of the material covered into chronological order, combined mentions of recordings that have been made available across multiple releases, and included some of the latest information regarding availability of these recordings, many of which have become more broadly available digitally in recent years, among other adjustments to the original posts.

The result is a very readable, conversational journey through a hefty proportion of the Sun Ra catalog, meeting a need that’s long overdue! If you’re totally new to Sun Ra, this book is a great way to learn about his work through this series of fairly short but insightful reviews, and if a description is sounding like something you’d find interesting, you can start looking for albums from there. If you’re a little more familiar with his work, though — I’d place myself in this sort of category, where I’ve heard quite a few Sun Ra records that I like but still feel kind of lost looking for more — you’ll also find entry points to continue your hunt. And there’s plenty here even for quite seasoned Ra aficionados, too, as Coleman writes about some of the more obscure audience recording-sourced bootlegs that have circulated among tape and CD traders long before the advent of file sharing and review blogs. Some of these are pretty low fidelity recordings, but some also feature particularly spirited performances, and Coleman will let you know which ones are worth hearing and which ones are probably best left to completists.

The coverage here focuses on what most critics would probably agree are the best decades for Sun Ra: the 60s and 70s, with a few early reviews discussing his 50s work. For the later stuff, you’re still on your own, but in most cases, I don’t think you’ll feel like you’re missing much. And the occasional editor’s notes from Byrd keep these reviews very up-to-date. For example, Coleman reviewed the 2009 Art Yard CD versions of material recorded when Sun Ra traveled to Egypt, but it’s been noted in the reviews that there was a subsequent 4-CD version with lots of previously unreleased additions released by the Strut label in 2020, well after Coleman had stopped writing Sun Ra Sundays. Perhaps most important of all, Coleman’s enthusiasm for this music shines bright throughout the book. You can tell that he has a deep feeling for this body of work, and on the occasions where he declares a particular record “essential,” you can believe it.

In the Epilogue section, editor Byrd contributes some additional albums not covered by Coleman that listeners might find intriguing, followed by a short “core recordings” list to get folks started. I guess short is relative in the world of Sun Ra, where everything is measured in cosmic proportions: there’s 27 core records!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra by John F. Szwed or Sun-Ra : Traveling the Spaceways: The Astro Black and Other Solar Myths by John Corbett.)

( author Rodger Coleman’s music blog ) | ( Sun Ra Sundays page on the site )


Recommended by Scott S.
Polley Music Library

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard
by Tom Felton (Biography Felton)

As a fan of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books and the movies based on them, I was interested to see what actor Tom Felton had to say about his experiences portraying Draco Malfoy, the kid you love to despise in all of the stories. The book was incredibly funny — much more than I was expecting — and brutally honest about his experiences on set and off. I could empathize with Tom’s descriptions of being born the youngest in a family of four (his brothers called him “maggot”) and how those older brothers would get him in trouble. Yet through all of his experiences, he has nothing but good to say of his family, the actors he worked with, and his adoring fans. The best part of the book besides the descriptions of working alongside Britain’s finest actors is the honest reflections on his own life and the mistakes he made over the years which led to a stint in Rehabilitation. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of the Harry Potter series and with an interest in the child actors that grew up together in the films. I will mention that there is a lot of swearing in the book as well as drug and alcohol abuse, so I do not recommend Beyond the Wand for children.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try all of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, all of the Harry Potter movies starring Daniel Radcliffe or The Borrowers by Mary Norton (Tom Felton was in a film version of the Borrowers as a child prior to being cast as Draco Malfoy).)

( publisher’s official Beyond the Wand web page ) | ( official Tom Felton web site )


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

The Twist of a Knife
by Anthony Horowitz, with audio narration by Rory Kinnear (Compact Disc Horowitz)

After disappointing me a bit with his previous entry in the Hawthorne & Horowitz series, A Line to Kill, Anthony Horowitz returned in terrific form with this fourth installment, The Twist of a Knife. As usual, I listened to this as an audiobook-on-CD, which is narrated by British actor Rory Kinner, and he does a spectacular job.

Once again, this series is one of the most “meta” fiction series being published. Anthony Horowitz is not only the author of the novel, but he is also the central character and narrator. In the first three books in the series, Horowitz was contacted by abrasive private investigator (and ex-cop) Daniel Hawthorne, who wants to hire Horowitz to accompany him on a case and write a book about him. This eventually leads to more of the same, and in the third book, the two men attend a book festival to promote the release of their first joint adventure.

In this fourth book, Anthony Horowitz would like to make a break from the taciturn Horowitz, and is happily participating in the production process of bringing his play, Mind Game, to the stage. After some successful tryouts in outlying communities, Mind Game is finally opening in London. But, after a seemingly bravura opening night, Sunday Times reviewer Harriet Throsby gives it a savage review. Then, the next morning, she’s found dead in her home, with a cheap costume dagger sticking out of her chest — the dagger Horowitz and all the cast members received as opening night gifts — and Anthony’s fingerprints are all over it. When the local police seem intent on railroading him for the crime, Horowitz’ only option is to ask Hawthorne for helping in proving his innocence.

This was a funny, suspenseful tale, filled with quirky theatrical characters, and the relationship between Horowitz and Hawthorne adds some new layers. The mystery itself is clever — I didn’t see the end coming until just before it was revealed. I would absolutely love to see this series of novels turned into a series of occasional TV-movies for British TV and PBS in the U.S. Though I’m sure Anthony Horowitz has no desire to portray Anthony Horowitz!

The Twist of a Knife is an absolutely terrific entry in this series…and I’m happy to know that there are more forthcoming!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the first three entries in this series — The Word is Murder, The Sentence is Death, and A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz, as well as his other current series featuring Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders.)

( official Hawthorne & Horowitz page on the official Anthony Horowitz web site )


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

Always the First to Die
by R.J. Jacobs (Downloadable Audio)

What a nice little thriller to break up the monotony of winter. Always the First to Die by R. J. Jacobs is full of secrets, storms, and suspense to the very end. I’m generally not a fan of “scary” books, but I found this thriller to have just the right amount of suspense without all the gore, and I was hooked.

Lexi’s husband Cam went missing and was presumed dead a year and a half ago. They met at her teenage acting debut on the set of his father’s horror movie Breathless. Lexi was the first to die when the movie took place at the rundown Pinecrest Estate manor house in the Florida Keys. When one of the main stars dies at the end of Breathless’ production, people begin to question if the dilapidated Pinecrest property is cursed.

It just may be.

It is the same place her husband Cam disappeared from 18 months ago. It is the same place her teenage daughter Quinn snuck off to in order to stay with her estranged grandfather, the horror film director, to search for answers. And it is the same place about to be hit by a category four hurricane.

Now Lexi has to return to a place she hoped to never see again. Hopefully this time she will be able to save her daughter and get some answers. What suspicious discovery did Quinn make before the storm? Why did Cam disappear? Is the manor cursed?

You will have to tune in to a digital copy on Hoopla to find out who will be the first to die in a return to the Pinecrest Estate. Or, will anyone make it out alive?

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger, One by One by Ruth Ware or The Villa by Rachel Hawkins.)

( official R.J. Jacobs web site )


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

Paladin’s Grace
by T. Kingfisher (downloadable audio)

Stephen is a berserker paladin afraid of losing control now that the god who kept him from harming innocents has died. He and the other surviving paladins serve as clerical guards and emotional support for people giving legal testimony. Stephen knits socks for the paladins to pass the time.

Grace is a perfumer with a turbulent past who becomes drawn into a dangerous political conflict, and a serial murder case, and somehow keeps running into a certain large, overly polite paladin. She far exceeds Sherlock Holmes in the olfactory department.

Paladin’s Grace is the first volume in a series that has intrigue, violence, hot romance, heart, and humor. Recommended to fans of Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree or Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell.

( publisher’s official Paladin’s Strength web page ) | ( official Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher web site — site currently off-line )


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

Organic Music Societies
edited by Lawrence Kumpf, Naima Karlsson and Macnus Nygren (Music 781.65 Cherry)

Don Cherry first came to prominence as a member of Ornette Coleman’s band on his first albums from the late 50s and early 60s. His work with Ornette helped to lay the foundations for much of jazz music throughout the 60s and 70s, as free jazz concepts became an important part of the conversation. Cherry became a sideman/guest performer of choice for many important jazz artists throughout those decades, appearing with Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, George Russell, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, and many more. But even as one of the earliest well-known performers of free jazz, Cherry was always looking forward into even more areas of music. He collaborated with contemporary classical musicians, such as composers Jon Appleton, Jean Schwarz, and Krystof Penderecki. He made his own solo albums, adding musical concepts and instruments from all around the world into his own inclusive approach. During his travels and explorations, he gradually became one of the earliest pioneers of what’s now generally referred to as “world fusion” music, or world music generally made by Western musicians that may combine a variety of world music ideas and sounds with western musical concepts. Some of Cherry’s later music, like his early 80s albums with the Codona trio, are just as foundational for world fusion as his earlier efforts were toward free jazz.

Cherry’s transition between jazz and world musics took place most prominently during a period in which he collaborated closely with his wife Moki, who was an interdisciplinary artist focusing mostly on textiles and fashion design. Between 1966 and 1977, the two of them shared a comprehensive project they called “Organic Music” or “Organic Music Theatre,” which hasn’t been discussed much within the larger tale of either artists’ history until now. That will likely change with the publication of the extensive book Organic Music Societies, edited by Lawrence Kumpf, Naima Karlsson and Magnus Nygren, which you can now borrow from the Polley Music Library.

Spending just a few minutes flipping through Organic Music Societies will make it clear to readers that the Organic Music concept was far more than a musical concept. First there is the question of what “world music” meant to Cherry in this formative era: as Lawrence Kumpf describes in the book’s introduction, “One of the goals of this book is to foster better understanding of what Don and his collaborators meant by ‘world music.’” Looking at these very early stages of world music’s development, this is indeed an important question whose answers shed light on many strains of music produced in subsequent decades. But this fascinating book, which includes primary source writings, interviews and art from Don and Moki along with many essays from their collaborators and critics, reveals a decade of activity in which music was only part of a larger effort toward living and working organically and creatively. Organic Music as a concept turns out to be an all-encompassing way of living and working. It was music, but it was also visual art, theater, film, dance, clothing, diet, and education in the form of workshops for adults and children. Where music was concerned, the concept involved an embrace of musical influences from around the world, with an emphasis on folk music forms and improvisation to bring everything together. This involved integrating both musical styles and musical instruments from around the world. And all of these activities were intended to be non-commercial in nature, blurring the lines between artists and audiences, and communal-style living was another way to minimize hierarchies and share resources and talents.

In terms of written highlights in this book, I was especially impressed with Don Cherry’s “Report to ABF” and “At Dartmouth: A Teaching Report,” both primary-source documents in which he describes his teaching style in Organic Music-oriented workshops. The ABF report is letting the Swedish Workers’ Educational Association know what he’s doing in weekly workshops with musicians in 1968. In these, the focus was on group playing of long tones to bring participants into a certain “oneness” of focus, from which other kinds of musical expression such as Eastern rhythms and scales could be studied and used for improvisation. Similarly, his report of teaching a class at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire during his 1970 residency involved getting the class to be able to feel and improvise together, and then they put on a “living opera” performance at the end of the term. In both environments, it’s clear that he was emphasizing learning from a wide range of disciplines, and doing so from the perspective of a deep listener, to borrow a concept from Pauline Oliveros that seems to fit perfectly. And the various excerpts of Moki Cherry’s diaries and poetry included in the book help to lay the context for their working and living together as well, as she recounts first meeting Don and how they came to move to Sweden for much of the Organic Music period. I was also taken by her observations about the way they came to adopt somewhat different roles to keep everything working. As she notes in her diary, “Don was wonderful but completely impractical, which meant I took on the practical tasks. Stubborn as I am, if I did not know how to do something, I would learn. Don was great at playing with the children while I cooked, etc.” There’s a theme one often hears around artist couples!

Speaking of Moki, while learning about the Organic Music era through writing is a fantastic resource, the book is packed with visual resources, too. The visual aesthetic of Organic Music was almost entirely Moki’s work, as she produced beautiful, brightly colored mixed-fabric tapestries that were used as backdrops for performances and on many of Don’s album covers. A detail from one of these serves as this book’s front cover. Many of her fabric arts projects and posters from this era are reproduced in the book. Photographs are also a critical part of the book, which features both live photography from performances and events, as well as some more personal candid photos from their home life and behind-the-scenes images of setting up exhibitions and performance spaces.

All told, Organic Music Societies gives us as thorough a sense of this unique period as we’re likely to get. The music Cherry created or co-created during this era remains some of his best work, and both the sounds and sights around it tend to be colorful and optimistic, something we can all use in these complicated times. An inspirational book for remembering that music can be a powerful force toward bringing people together.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Black Music: Essays by Amiri Baraka or Free Jazz, Harmolodics, and Ornette Coleman by Stephen Rush.)

( publisher’s official Organic Music Societies book web page )


Recommended by Scott S.
Polley Music Library

Number One is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions
by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss (Biography Martin)

Comedian/actor/musician/writer Steve Martin and cartoonist Harry Bliss team up for a second collaborative book, following their 2020 release, A Wealth of Pigeons.

This time, it’s even more autobiographical than it was the last time. The first 60% of the book is Steve Martin’s reminiscences about his years in the motion picture industry, where he made over 40 films before ultimately becoming disenchanted with the film-making process and walking away. This portion of the book is told through a series of cartoons of Steve and Harry taking a walk with Harry’s (talking) dog, and Steve throwing out bits and pieces of memories, which Harry then illustrates. The book is crammed with dry, wry humor and fond memories. And Harry’s artwork, while occasionally fanciful, also includes absolutely stunning recreations of many of Steve’s co-stars or the other celebrities in whose orbit he occasionally found himself.

The latter 40% of the book is a collection of (mostly) single-panel cartoons co-created by both Martin and Bliss — which feel very much like Bliss’ frequent contributions to the New Yorker magazine.

I enjoyed Number One is Walking a great deal, and constantly found myself in awe of Harry Bliss’ ability to capture the essence and personalities of so many recognizable entertainers and celebrities in a few simple brush strokes. However, as much as I enjoyed reading this, I left this book feeling like I wanted more than I was given…it feels very lightweight, especially in comparison to most celebrity biographies. On the other hand, even if each of Steve’s show biz memories is only 2-4 pages long, the artwork brings them all to life! So…it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Wealth of Pigeons by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, or the autobiography Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, or possibly Steve’s humor book, The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten. The Tweets of Steve Martin.)

( official Harry Bliss web site ) | ( official Steve Martin web site )


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

The I Love Cookies Recipe Book
by Jacquelyn Parkes (641.865 Par)

Let’s get this out of the way right off — there are not photos of every recipe in this book. Which is a major drawback otherwise I wouldn’t have recognized how fabulous “Peanut Butter Crispy Brownie Bars” are simply from the recipe. Seriously, photos of every single recipe are necessary in recipe books.

Aside from that, I enjoyed browsing through this book and nabbed a few recipes for my kitchen.

What drew me to this recipe book is the cookie yields are small: 24, or 36, or 48 — some are even 12 or 16 (okay, what actually drew me to this book was the photo and recipe for Chocolate Thin Mint Cookies). With the lower yield, you don’t have massive amounts of cookies if there are only one or two of you at home (for example, the original Toll House cookie recipe yields 60 cookies — assuming you aren’t eating the dough along with the baking…). Nor are you struggling to find a large enough container to store them all (again, assuming you baked all of the dough). Neither are you spending the entire afternoon mixing, baking, and cleaning up the kitchen.

The author claims these are 100 of our favorite cookie recipes. I think she did a fine job of giving us a favorite assortment of Drop Cookies, Brownies and Bars, Shaped Cookies, Rolled Cookies, Slice and Bake Cookies, and Holiday Favorites. She also gives us a US/Metric Conversion Chart.

The I Love Cookies Recipe Book begins with Cookie Basics, including Equipment and Pans: Essential Equipment, and Not Essential but Nice to Have (I always enjoy looking at the extra fun equipment you might buy). There’s also a segment Gilding the Lily: Decorating Tips, and a small section on Tools for Decorating.

Each recipe is only one page in length — so there aren’t a lot of intricate steps — and also includes nutrition information, since we all recognize how nutritious cookies are for us.

( publisher’s official I Love Cookies Recipe Book web page ) | ( publisher’s official Jacquelyn Parkes web page )


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

Detransition, Baby
by Torrey Peters (Peters)

First of all, based on the title, I was initially reluctant to read Detransition, Baby. My concerns that the narrative would promote the idea that transgender individuals are destined to de-transition, was misplaced. Instead, it was a compelling tale of three women, one divorced and cisgender (her gender identity corresponds with the sex registered for her at birth), one trans (her gender identity does not correspond to that registered for her at her birth), and one detransitioned trans woman (she transitioned from male to female as a young person but later decided to reverse that transition) and how the three of them deal with an unexpected pregnancy. These three personal journeys are braided together, sharing their flaws, fears, and desires, as they each explore what it means to be female. The author asserts, that like trans women, divorced women understand what it is like to have to start from scratch, having to create a future that is not reliant upon their assumptions from the past, having to make up their own definition of where to go from here as a woman.

In interviews, the author Torrey Peters, who is trans herself, explains that she wrote the book for transgender friends, that they need books by and about them with true points of view. I think that’s what I loved most about the book; it was a window into a world that I’ve brushed up against, having a trans kid of my own, but I am still an outsider with much to learn. One thing I hadn’t understood before reading this book is how the AIDS epidemic has affected the trans community; I hadn’t realized how much higher the rate of AIDs is for trans women even when compared to homosexual men. It seems the epidemic created a motherless generation who are trying to figure out how to mother themselves and their little sisters, making the topic of motherhood, not just what it means to be female, of prime importance.

Like any story, each person’s narrative is both true and untrue. I’ve read many reviews that disagree with one character’s interpretation of feminine motivations; while I agree her particular extreme take on gender roles is challenging, I found it challenging in an interesting way. There were scenes that I found to be uncomfortable, but they also led me to think deeply about my own assumptions.

This is that kind of book. The author does not baby the reader; she assumes that you have a familiarity with the topic or that you are ready to put the work in to understand. It’s not for everyone, but those who make the effort will be rewarded with thought-provoking characters and situations.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan.)

( official Detransition, Baby page on the official Torrey Peters web site )


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

Hidden Pictures
by Jason Rekulak (Rekulak & Compact Disc Rekulak)

If you like thrillers and ghost stories, you will love this book! Mallory, a recovering addict, becomes a nanny for Teddy, a young boy with an imaginary friend named Anya. When Teddy begins to draw sinister scary pictures of a man dragging a woman’s body through a woods; Mallory becomes suspicious, especially when Anya begins to communicate with her. It turns out that Teddy’s family has some secrets of their own.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney.)

( official Hidden Pictures and Jason Rekulak web site )

See Charlotte M.’s earlier review of Hidden Pictures in the August 2022 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!


Recommended by Susan S.
Eiseley Branch Library

Creature: Paintings, Drawings and Reflections
by Shaun Tan (YA 741.64 Tan)

I have been a fan of the artistic work of Shaun Tan since stumbling across his phenomenal wordless graphic novel The Arrival many years ago, and always enjoy seeing a new book from this Australian artist.

Creature is not a typical book — it is more of an artistic retrospective of his career from the mid-1990s through 2020, viewed through the lens of some over-arching themes in his work. Tan offers up some explanatory essays on the themes “Lost Things”, “Companions”, “Myth & Metaphor” and “Birds”, followed by dozens of examples of his own work that embody those themes. His fantastical fantasy illustrations embody both whimsy and alien-ness. His drawings and paintings are as likely to included a misfit robot, made of household objects merged with otherworldliness, as they are a jovial yet monstrous alien critter the size of a house. And next to these will be tiny birds, playing with tentacled and feathered pocket-sized figments of the imagination.

Tan explains his passion for shining the light on “lost” objects, and on normalizing the abnormal — the beautiful illustration on the book’s cover is a perfect amalgamation of Tan’s career — showing the ease with with a giant, one-eyed, feathered “creature” can befriend a young girl, who things nothing of the oddity of their friendship but simply revels in it.

The last fifth of the book is an appendix in which Tan offers background information on most of the pieces of artwork found in the book, explaining what inspired each piece or what his intentions were in creating them.

Tan is a true contemporary genius in the field of fantasy art. Creature would be a great introduction to his work for anyone who hasn’t seen it before. However, I would even more highly recommend his books that actually tell a story within a narrative structure, such as The Lost Thing, The Arrival, Cicada or Tales From the Inner City.

[NOTE: Although this has been cataloged as a Young Adult item, it didn’t feel like it — I’m reviewing it here as a recommend for adult readers.]

( official Creature page on the official Shaun Tan web site )

See Scott C.’s review of Shaun Tan’s graphic novel Cicada, in the June 2019 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!


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

Screening Room

formatdvdBullet Train
(DVD Bullet)

This 2022 action/comedy film is based on a 2010 novel by Japanese author Kotaro Isaka, previously untranslated but subsequently translated into English based on the success of the film.

Brad Pitt headlines an eclectic cast of oddballs and misfits. He plays an assassin, codenamed Ladybug, who just wants to be left alone because he feels like he’s been beset by bad luck on all of his recent assignments. He reluctantly agrees to a quick job — board a Japanese bullet train, steal a briefcase, and leave at the next stop. Unfortunately, his mission forces him to cross paths with a series of other assassins on the train, whose stories all criss-cross and become enmeshed.

Everyone in the cast does a tremendous job, particularly Pitt as Ladybug, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine and Brian Tyree Henry as Lemon (two bickering British brothers, one of whom constantly quotes lines from the TV series Thomas the Tank Engine), Joey King as “Prince”, and many more. The humor is quirky, the dialog is snappy (though frequently laced with profanity) and the action is close to non-stop! The setting aboard a high-speed Japanese bullet train is unique and challenging for all the stunt work.

As long as you have a tolerance for foul language and extreme bloodshed, I strongly recommend this one. I didn’t know anything about it before seeing it and ended up quite impressed. The DVD available from the libraries has a couple of special features, including a “making of” documentary.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the action films of Quentin Tarantino, like Kill Bill.)

(Also available in traditional print format.)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )


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

formatdvdEverything Everywhere All at Once
(DVD Everything)

Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently a front-runner for the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2022, after having pulled in many other film industry awards over the past couple of months. It has been nominated for 356 awards, and has won 335 of them.

This is a highly surreal and imaginative blend of “slice of life”, science fiction, fantasy, martial arts and many other types of films. Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Wang, struggling owner of a financially-failed laundromat, and unhappy wife to Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan), as well as mother to unhappy daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and daughter to disappointed patriarch Gong Gong (James Hong). Facing foreclosure on the family business by slovenly IRS auditor Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn appears to suffer a break from reality, when an alternate universe version of her husband appears, warns her that her help is needed to save a multiverse of realities from ultimate destruction, then leaves her to deal with the chaos that ensues.

A reluctant Evelyn then finds herself jumping from reality to reality, never quite grasping what’s happening to her, but making use of elaborate skills (including spectacular martial arts) that each of her alternate world counterparts have. The gunfire-rapid changes of settings and realities are counter-balanced by absolutely terrific performances from everyone in the cast, particularly Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan (who played Indiana Jones’ kid sidekick in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and one of the Goonies in The Goonies, both back in the 1980s) — he has REALLY turned into an excellent actor!

Everything Everywhere All at Once will not be for everyone. But if you’re willing to be patient, and perhaps view it more than just once or twice, you’ll be rewarded by picking up on the multiple layers of storytelling, and perhaps you’ll agree that it is definitely worthy of being considered the best picture of last year!

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Everything Everywhere All at Once web site )


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

(DVD 598.41 Hon)

Honk is the nickname for a domestic gander that was dumped in an urban park in a city in Texas. The producer of the film, Cheryl Allison, relates the story of how she discovered Honk in the park during the COVID pandemic and the relationship she built with this gander during a difficult time. Many neighbors in the area tell her that Honk has a mate, a white goose that is probably nesting somewhere in the area, so she begins the search for the goose. When she discovers the remains of the white goose, she knows that she needs to find a different home for Honk because this small pond is not safe. The last half of the movie focuses on the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Honk’s new home. The message of the movie is all about kindness, friendship and hope. Honk developed quite a following on social media during the pandemic which is probably the reason why Ms. Allison decided to promote the story through the release of this DVD. Although I enjoyed the story, I am not fond of documentary-style DVDs that are a collection of selfies recorded on one’s cell phone. However, the DVD of Honk is only 46 minutes, so you won’t need to suffer too long.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Christmas Doodle)

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film ) | ( official Honk: The Film web site )

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

last updated May 2023
* Please Note: The presence of a link on this site does not constitute an endorsement by Lincoln City Libraries.