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Staff Recommendations – October 2019

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Spooky reads are common each year in our October Staff RecommendationsThe Bennett Martin Public Library downtown maintains an ongoing “Staff Recommendations” display – Staff from throughout the library system are encouraged to submit book, audio, CD and DVD/video recommendations for items to be placed onto this display. Items on the display have bookmarks inserted, giving brief descriptions about the item’s appeal factors, and listing similar books, audios or videos that the reader might also enjoy.

This page on BookGuide is used to highlight some of the items that have appeared on our Staff Recommendations displays in the past, including our staff members’ descriptions of the books, plus links to any “official Web sites” for the books, authors or series, if they exist*. Items on both the display and on this webpage may be recent releases, or older titles that deserve another look. Hotlinks on titles or formats (downloadable audio, book-on-CD, Large Print) connect to the appropriate entry in our on-line catalog, so that you may check on the availability of the item.

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

Would you like to submit your own Rating Score or Review Comments on one of this month’s titles?
Click here to visit our Reader Score submission form! | Click here to submit an original Customer Review!

October 2019 Recommendations

Out of Body
by Suzanne Brockmann (Hoopla downloadable audio)

Funny, paranormal, gay, male/male romance. I give this novella a PG rating.

It all begins on Halloween with a Ouija board when Henry’s best friend since college, Malcolm, suddenly disappears during the casting of a spell, and is presumed dead. Mal awakens to discover he’s a ghost; Henry is startled to learn he now has a ghost in the house.

Henry researches other spells to try to help Mal “move on” and some end up disastrously. Not to mention that Henry’s other friends think he’s going insane talking to himself – they don’t believe Mal is a ghost. Mal is convinced he’s a ghost with unfinished plans and that he’s to help Henry find a boyfriend, which also isn’t working out well because each is secretly in love with the other.

Hijinks ensue.

Brockmann writes with laugh-out-loud wit and interesting characters. She always provides an HEA (Happy Ever After) with her books and it was interesting to see how that worked out between a ghost and a very-much-alive human. But she made it work and I wasn’t anticipating the solution.

A quick, enjoyable story you can devour in an evening.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Old Loyalty, New Love, by Mary Calmes (as a Hoopla e-book). Shape-shifters, more of an “R” rating.] [ official Out of Body page on the official Suzanne Brockmann web site ]

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Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Rocks, Minerals and Gems
by Sean Callery and Miranda Smith (j552 Cal)

I picked up this marvelous reference book a few years ago, after my wife and I had gone to the extravaganza known as The Denver Gem & Mineral Shows (2019 show booklet), as a general guide to exactly what the title says — “Rocks, Minerals & Gems” — and am happy to see that this title has also now been added to the libraries’ collection.

The style/format of this volume reminds me of the Dorling Kindersley style of publishing, though it is not from that publisher — it’s actually from Scholastic, which I remember as the educational publisher I would order books from when I was going to school, eons ago. The book is broken up into three broad categories — Minerals, Rocks, and Gems. Each category starts with a beautiful photography “gallery” of examples of the different types of materials in each section. Under “Minerals” there is a “mineral gallery”, a “meteorite gallery”, and “more minerals”. Under “Rocks”, there are galleries for “Igneous”, “Sedimentary”, “Metamorphic” and “fossils”. Under “Gems”, there are two large gem galleries. Within each section after the galleries, there two page spreads dedicated to dozens of the different examples of the type of material listed — complete with gorgeous photos, scientific descriptions and little “sidebar” articles associated with the main topics — sometimes historical notes, sometimes related to jewelry, etc.

If you’re looking for an in-depth exploration about any of the topics covered in this broad, general tome, you’re better off looking elsewhere. But if you’d like to learn more information in general about the rocks, minerals and gems of the world we inhabit, along with absolutely beautiful photographs, then I highly recommend sampling this book! The only reason it doesn’t earn a rating of “10” from me is that sometimes the articles seem almost too short!

Note: For some reason, this was classified in the youth non-fiction collection, and while it is appropriate for somewhat younger readers, I strongly recommended it for adults, instead!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Periodical Table, also by Callery, and also published by Scholastic — looks to be identical in style and format to this “Rocks, Minerals & Gems” entry!] [ publisher’s official Rocks, Minerals & Gems web page ] | [ official Sean Callery web site ]

Check out the October 2015 issue of Scott C.’s library newsletter “It’s All Geek to Me!” for more materials about Rocks, Minerals, Gems and rockhounding!

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Through the Woods
by Emily Carroll (741.5 Car)

I have been a fan of Emily Carroll’s artwork for a long time, and if you’ve been on the internet in the past ten years there’s a good chance you have also had the opportunity to view her strange and haunting illustrations. In Through the Woods, Carroll takes the beautiful fairy tales and dark nighttime stories of folklore long past and twists them masterfully into pages ripe with the nightmares you’ve long forgotten the specifics of by the time you wake up, yet still leave you with unease and longing. If you’re a fan of Poe, of Brontë, or of any story macabre and spooky, you will treasure Through the Woods.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Death and Dementia, by Edgar Allen Poe, Alice Isn’t Dead, by Joseph Fink, Welcome to Night Vale, also by Joseph Fink, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, or Thornhill, by Pam Smy.] [ publisher’s Through the Woods web page ] | [ official Emily Carroll web site ]

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Recommended by Elanor J.
Gere Branch Library


And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie (Compact Disc Christie)

For the September meeting of the libraries’ Just Desserts mystery book discussion group, participants were assigned to talk about a memorable “stand-alone” mystery novel they’d read recently or in the past. I looked through my reading history list on LibraryThing to see what “stand-alones” jumped out at me — it was surprising how many books I have read (and loved) that are parts of ongoing series. But then I remembered Agatha Christie — in addition to her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series (among others), she had several significant “stand-alone” novels, including And Then There Were None, which has the distinction of being the top-selling mystery novel of all time, at over 100 million copies sold!

I originally read this back in high school, mumble-di-mumble years ago. I decided to revisit it for Just Desserts and took the opportunity to listen to the Book-on-CD audio adaptation, narrated by actor Hugh Fraser (who co-starred as Hastings in the Poirot television series opposite David Suchet). Fraser is a superb audio narrator, and gives each of the ten characters in this book a different audio personality. This story is legendary, and to say too much about it is to spoil the enjoyment of experiencing it (if you’ve never read it before). The book has evolved a little over the years, originally having been released in 1939 under a title that would be considered offensive today. Later American editions used the title “Ten Little Indians”, tied into a plot point of the story, but in the past 50 years, all editions have been titled And Then There Were None.

The plot, in a nutshell: Ten strangers find themselves lured to an estate on an island off the coast of Devon, England — either hired as employees or invited by distant and not-well-remembered associates. Once on the island, they are shocked by the playing of a recorded message, accusing each and every one of them of having committed murders for which they were never punished. Trapped on the island, with no way off, tensions rise as some of the ten die — first in what could be accidents, but later obviously by someone’s hand. And the fact that ten little carved Indian figures in the dining room begin disappearing to match the body count, means that the killer must be one of the remaining survivors. But who is it, and can anyone be trusted?

In true Christie fashion, the murders generally occur “off stage”, and are not overly gruesome. Which means this is a true psychological suspense novel. The story is told from the point of view of nearly every character, at one time or the other, and the reader gets to explore the psychology of each of them as the situation becomes more and more dire.

Christie said she felt And Then There Were None was the most complicated novel for her to write, with having to make sure so many characters’ stories matched up so effectively. In retrospect, having listened to it again, I can see a few flaws in the storytelling. But it is still an enthralling read, and Fraser’s audio version is marvelously entertaining!

[This novel has been adapted for film and TV several times (1945, 1965, 1974, etc.) — almost always with major changes made to the plot. I particularly enjoyed the TV mini-series version of it done in 2015, featuring Charles Dance and Aiden Turner (among others). The novel was also adapted (by Christie herself) into a stage play, which is a staple of community theaters around the US and UK. The play features two potential endings, one of which differs significantly from the novel.] [ official And Then There Were None page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Read Elizabeth J.’s review of the print edition of And Then There Were None, from August 2005

Read Kristen A.’s review of the audiobook of And Then There Were None, from December 2017

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Welcome to Night Vale
by Joseph Fink

The podcast “Welcome to Night Vale” rose to international pop culture fame back in 2012, and its continued presence across the internet has surpassed the test of time. Now, new and old fans alike can enjoy the baffling and strange brilliance of the podcast in physical form. Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor’s knack of creepy storytelling is a brand new kind of absurdist cryptic horror, in which strangeness can be found lurking just over your shoulder and to the left a bit. If you’ve ever wanted to laugh both with mirth and terror, this book is for you. Perfect for the Halloween season, and any season you want to have just a little more existential dread.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Alice Isn’t Dead, by Joseph Fink, The Haunted Looking Glass, by Edward Gorey, or the TV series The X-Files, or Twin Peaks.] [ official Welcome to Night Vale web site ] | [ publishers Joseph Fink web page ]

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Recommended by Elanor J.
Gere Branch Library


Three Parts Dead
by Max Gladstone (downloadable audio)

Three Parts Dead is the first novel in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, though it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone novel that ties everything up neatly at the end.

I picked this book up based on (1) the gorgeous cyberpunk-looking cover, and (2) the fact that Max Gladstone is coming to Lincoln’s science fiction and fantasy convention, CONstellation, in Spring 2020. I was pleasantly amazed to find that it is — I kid you not — a fantasy world legal thriller!

In this world, gods are real beings who form legal agreements and reward worshippers in tangible ways. When the story opens, a god of fire who powered an entire city has died. His church quietly hires a magical legal firm to represent their interests in the aftermath. As readers, we primarily follow the engineer priest who was on duty when the god died and a just-out-of-school Craftswoman on her first assignment. Things get dangerous right away when a judge connected to the case is murdered.

One thing I really enjoy about this book series is that, culturally, their setting is contemporary or even slightly futuristic. It’s as if an alternate Earth had magic to power its mechanisms rather than electricity, but art, music, philosophy and the like developed in very similar ways. ‘Three Parts Dead’ a fun read, with smartly-written dialogue and lots of whodunnit suspense.

[For more speculative fiction legal thrills, I recommend Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi.] [ official Craft Sequence page on the official Max Gladstone web site ]

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Recommended by Garren H.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Locke & Key: Volume 5 – Clockworks and Volume 6 – Alpha and Omega
by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (741.5 Hil)

Clockworks and Alpha and Omega are the 5th and 6th (final) entries in the Locke & Key graphic novel series by author Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King) and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. They comprise the final “third act” of a complex story with horror underpinnings. Each graphic novel is, itself, composed of six comic book issues.

The overall storyline is not told in purely chronological order. Though there is a “throughline” set in the current era, there are many flashbacks that help explain the originals of the supernatural threats faced by the contemporary characters…with some scenes set as far back as the U.S. Revolutionary War. At its core, this is the story of the three Locke children — Tyler, Kinsey and Bode — who move to Keyhouse on the Eastern seaboard, with their mother, after their father is brutally murdered. Over the course of the entire series, they discover that Keyhouse sits on a nexus of supernatural power, dating back to the 1700s, and that a series of “magical” keys have been designed that give their users a variety of unusual powers. By the time of Clockworks and Alpha & Omega, the main supernatural threat to our heroes has grown in power and influence and these final two graphic novel volumes build to a deadly conflict between Good and Evil.

Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son, has definitely inherited Dad’s penchant for telling compelling stories. This is a multi-layered and complex tale, with characters that multi-faceted and flawed. Gabriel Rodriguez’ art continues to impress me. There are occasional hiccups, where something doesn’t seem up to his regular quality, but for the most part, the characters all remain consistent, with incredible facial expressions, and the level of details he puts into larger illustrations is tremendous. Because of the nature of the story, there are sometimes rather gruesome imagery.

These two volumes cannot be read on their own. You HAVE to start at the beginning of the series, and carry through to the end of volume 6. This series is appropriate for fans of both comic books and horror. The language used in some scenes would normally have me place it in the realm of “R”-rated films, so that caution is offered to potential readers. [I would give Clockworks an 8 and Alpha & Omega a 10 — it really wraps things up very powerfully. I would probably give the entire Locke & Key series overall either an 8 or 9 rating.] [ Wikipedia page for Locke & Key ] | [ official Joe Hill web site ] [ official Gabriel Rodriguez web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


The Stand
by Stephen King (downloadable audio)

I never thought this, my FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME, could get better! I really didn’t! I knew I’d always love it, but I just didn’t think it could be any more perfect than it already was. Then I LISTENED to it! Oh. My. Gosh!!! I loved it so much more!!! All my friends — my favorite characters, both good and bad — seriously came to life when I had this story read to me! I highly recommend listening to this — it was fabulous!!!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Firestarter, by Stephen King, or The Fireman, by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son).] [ Wikipedia page dedicated to The Stand ] | [ official Stephen King web site ]

Read Scott C.’s review of The Stand from October 2004

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries


hooplaSpell Cat
by Tara Lain (available only as an eBook and eAudiobook via Hoopla)

This is the first book in the Aloysius Tales trilogy featuring the ancient and powerful cat familiar Aloysius – who seems to be more aware than one would normally expect in a cat.

We encounter conspiracies, political intrigue, magical skirmishes, the Russian mob, romance, and LIES. With all this going on history professor Killian Barth, secretly a witch, is the Witch Master for his tribe and must marry a witch. But of course, he’s fallen in love with the new quantum physics professor, Blaine Genneau – a human male.

In this universe witches are unknown to the regular population, so Killian’s first problem is convincing the logical physics guy that he really is a witch. Then we deal with the rest of the intrigue and problems, assisted by a handful of witch students in Killian and Blaine’s classes.

I admit, I suspected a specific solution might be the resolution and I turned out right in that matter, but getting there was still fun and interesting. Each book in this trilogy includes a male/male romance along with the intrigue and witchery.

There are two additional books, at this time, in this series with the final book focusing on the mysterious Aloysius and how he came to be.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Winter Oranges, by Marie Sexton. A young man has been hiding inside a snow globe for years and cannot escape.] [ official Spell Cat information on the official Tara Lain web site ]

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Recommended by Charlotte M.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties
by Tom O’Neill (364.152 One)

I found this to be extremely fascinating! I’ve been obsessed with Charles Manson and the Family for as long as I can remember. One thing I particularly appreciated about O’Neill’s book is that he frequently referenced other books about the Tate/LaBianca murders (not only “Helter Skelter”, but others I haven’t read yet), so I can feed my fascination even more!

I appreciated the time and dedication O’Neill put into writing this book. I learned so many interesting things, not just about the Manson story, but about other questionable things happening in the sixties and 70s…even into present day. I’m the kind of person who is rather naive, so learning that there have been questionable practices going on around me is disturbing yet intriguing.

This is a great read! It’s a bit on the long side, but when you know how much time Tom O’Neill put into researching it, you can totally see why it HAD to be this long.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi.] [ publisher’s official Chaos web page ] | [ official Tom O’Neill web site ]

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Recommended by Tracy T.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries


My Papi Has a Motorcycle
by Isabel Quintero (jP Quintero)

This beautiful, heartwarming picture begins: “My papi has a motorcycle. From him I’ve learned words like carburetor and cariño, drill and dedication.”

It’s a celebration of working-class, Latinx fathers that’s based on the author’s own memories of her father giving her motorcycle rides around Corona, California. In the story, a young girl proudly wearing her unicorn helmet sees their librarian walking by, her grandparents’ house, her father’s current worksite, and a raspado (shaved ice) shop that has closed since their last visit.

The story itself is a trip down memory lane, showing local businesses that existed in Quintero’s childhood. It’s also a trip down Grand Boulevard, a circular street in Corona that was the site of several international car races in the 1910s. As the girl and her father zoom along, she imagines being in one of those car races. As readers, we see the history of this city woven with the history of its Latinx community.

I’ve had this book go over great in elementary-age storytime. I showed the girl’s motorcycle helmet to the kids and asked what they would have on their own motorcycle helmet. They all knew immediately! When the girl and her dad reached the closed down raspados shop, I asked them what flavor raspados they would like to have. They yelled out fruit flavors I knew, plus a new one on me: tiger’s blood. This turned out to be watermelon, strawberry, and coconut. They were mesmerized by the imagined car racing scenes and the motorcycle streaking down the road like a blue lightning bolt. So long as the storytime leader understands the Spanish words and phrases, kids don’t need everything defined to follow the story. When I did pause a few times to ask if anyone knew what raspados, or albóndigas, or conchas are, the kids who had food-related vocabulary were thrilled to be the experts who could explain to the others about snow cones, meatballs, and sweet bread.

For another picture book celebrating awesome dads who are often overlooked in this format, I suggest Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee. I also suggest the award-winning Lowriders series of graphic novels by Cathy Camper because the girl in this story is shown reading them and they have strong Latinx and vehicle culture ties back to ‘My Papi Has a Motorcycle.’

This title is also available in Spanish at Lincoln City Libraries as ‘Mi Papi Tiene Una Moto.’

[ publisher’s My Papi Has a Motorcycle web page ] | [ official Isabel Quintero blog ]

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Recommended by Garren H.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Pumpkinheads
written by Rainbow Rowell with art by Faith Erin Hicks (YA PB (Graphic Novel) Rowell)

This is an absolutely charming little “graphic” novel by Omaha author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Fangirl), with art by fan favorite Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Nameless City, Comics Will Break Your Heart). Though set in a nameless city, it is based on Rowell’s experiences in pumpkin patches in the Omaha area where she lives.

Josiah and Deja are two high school seniors who are seasonal workers at DeKnock’s World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree, a temporary theme park open only in September and October. He (Josie) and she (Deja) dress in plaid shirts and overalls — the uniform of “Patch” workers, and look forward all year to working with each other (they don’t attend the same school). But today is the last day of this year’s “patch”, and being seniors, they both anticipate moving on to college and perhaps losing touch with the other. Deja has a plan, though — she’s going to help her rather shy and introverted friend finally strike up a conversation with the “Fudge Girl” (from the Patch’s fudge shoppe), whom he’s had a crush on for all the years they’ve worked together.

Thus begins an adventure as the two friends explore all the nooks and crannies of the Autumnal theme park, eating caramel apples, Frito pies, kettle corn, apple cider slushies and “pumpkin bombs” as they race from one park attraction to another in search of Josie’s dream girl. Along the way, they share their thoughts and feelings, and discover things about themselves they hadn’t been aware of.

Josie and Deja sound (and look) like real people — with all their imperfections and flaws, but with all their emotional highs and lows as well. By the end of the story, I felt like I really knew and cared about these two individuals. And the local flavor of the pumpkin patch theme park really felt like the world we live in here in Eastern Nebraska. And with it being October right now, this is appropriately seasonal this month! Highly recommended!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the other works by both authors, especially the novels of Rainbow Rowell and Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks.] [ official Rainbow Rowell web site ] | [ official Faith Erin Hicks web site ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Incredible Mysteries and Legends of the Sea
by Edward Rowe Snow (910.453 Sn6i)

While searching for books to put on a “Pirate” display, I came across this delightful collection of stories about pirates, shipwrecks, mysteries and even people who had been found frozen and “brought back to life.” The author is Edward Rowe Snow, a prolific author who was descended from eight generations of sea captains. His writing style combines elements of journalism, first person interviews and storytelling, which all make for fascinating reading. Some of the best stories feature tales of mermaids and mermen, fantastic sea creatures and mythical legends. I was also impressed with the story about Theodosia Burr, daughter of former Vice President Aaron Burr. Fans of the musical “Hamilton” will recognize the name Theodosia Burr from the song “Dear Theodosia.” Her death is one of the great mysteries of the early 19th century. I highly recommend this book.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Boston Bay Mysteries and Other Tales, or Tales of Sea and Shore, also by Edward Rowe Snow.] [ Wikipedia page for Edward Rowe Snow ]

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Recommended by Kim J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


The Spirit of Nebraska: A History of Husker Game Day Traditions: The Tunnel Walk, Mascots, Cheer and More
by Debra Kleve White (796.332 NebYw)

A unique and unusual look back at the history of pep squads, spirit squads, cheerleading squads and the like, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This is a fascinating glimpse at various different eras in UNL sports history, and the traditions that have grown up around them over the decades (with a particular emphasis on the traditions and student support groups associated with the UNL football program.

Filled with both B&W and color photos, this book wanders back and forth in its specific subject matter, although it is broken into major thematic sections, such as “The Greatest Fans in College Football”, “The Beginning of Nebraska Football, School Spirit and the Ushering in of Cheerleading”, “The Secrets of the Innocents Society”, “How the Sea of Red was almost a Sea of Gold”, “No Place Like Nebraska – University Yells and Songs”, “Pride of the Cornhusker State – The Band”, “The Razzle-Dazzle of the Pompon Squads and the Scarlets Dance Team”, and “From Bugeaters to Cornhuskers and Corn Cob Man to Herbie Husker – The Lore Behind the Team Names and Mascots”.

I enjoyed this one, though the writing is a bit dry and lecturing in tone. But White, a former Yell Squad member, has an obvious passion for the history that she’s a part of. The photos are some of the most interesting parts of this hefty volume, and I definitely felt as thought I’d learned a lot of about University of Nebraska history after reading this book. As a member of the “Pride of All Nebraska” marching band in the early 80s, I would have enjoyed a little more than just seven pages dedicated to the band’s history, but the book as a lot of ground to cover.

[ official The Spirit of Nebraska web site ] | [ NET: All About Books – library director Pat Leach interviews Debra Kleve White about her book ]

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Star Wars ReviewsThrawn: Treason
by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn: Treason is the 3rd book in Timothy Zahn’s new “Thrawn” trilogy. The latest story takes place around the same time as season 4 of “Star Wars: Rebels” and finds Thrawn caught up in the political maneuverings of Grand Moff Tarkin and Director Krennic. What starts out as a seemingly routine assignment uncovers a pirate operation tied to an alien race that threatens both the Galactic Empire and the Chiss Ascendency. It’s another very-well written and nicely paced novel that expertly balances plot and character development. It’s undercut by Zahn being unable to wrap the trilogy due to Thrawn’s fate being linked to the finale of “Star Wars: Rebels”. It is still a worthwhile read and ample evidence that Timothy Zahn continues to keep getting better as an author.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Thrawn, and Thrawn: Alliances, also by Zahn, or Heir to the Empire, also by Timothy Zahn (to compare the “first draft” of Thrawn to the new version).] [ publisher’s official Thrawn: Treason web page ] | [ Wikipedia page for Timothy Zahn ]

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Recommended by Corey G.
Gere Branch Library


Screening Room

formatdvdAvengers: Endgame
[DVD Avengers]

This film, which was released in theaters in the Spring of 2019, and on DVD/BluRay and streaming platforms in the Summer of 2019, was the culmination of an incredible amount of planning and movie-producing. It was the 22nd film in a series of interconnected films that stretch back to Iron Man in 2008, in which all the films fit into a single continuity, with characters (played by the same actors) that cross over between films at will.

11 years of planning let up to the two-film climax that started in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and concluded with Avengers: Endgame. Dozens of characters from across the cinematic world based on the Marvel Comics universe end up on screen in this “finale”. Where Avengers: Infinity War ended on a depressing cliffhanger, as arch-villain Thanos “snapped” 50% of all living things out of existence, Avengers: Endgame is the attempt (several years later) by the surviving superheroes to “reboot” their new reality and return to what they knew before, through an audacious and complicated plan.

People who don’t care about comic book characters on the screen should avoid this one like the plague. If you DO love Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and their many friends and associates, this film was a dream come true. To say much about its complex and multi-layered plot would be to spoil the viewing experience. Suffice it to say — you really need to watch most of the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from 2008 to 2019, in order to make sense of this film’s many plot developments.

The core group of actors who’ve portrayed the most iconic characters in the MCU films put in some of their absolute best performances in this crown jewel. The effects work is astonishing. The music is perfect. This film, which needed to live up to over a decade’s worth of hype, lives up to it in almost every way.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try all 21 of the films that preceded it, but particularly Marvel’s The Avengers, Avengers: The Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Avengers: Endgame web site ]

Read Scott C.’s review of Avengers: Infinity War from September 2018

Check out the extensive DVD list: If You Like…Superheroes on Film and TV in our BookGuide resources

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdIt (Part One)
based on the novel by Stephen King [DVD It]

It’s the summer of 1989. Bill Denbrough and the rest of the “Losers’ Club” are enjoying their summer, when they start to see strange things happening around town. Outsiders seem to be oblivious and soon children start to disappear — Bill’s younger brother Georgie being one of them. The Losers take it upon themselves to figure out what’s going on, and soon find themselves face to face with a shape-shifter who takes on the shape of a clown named Pennywise. After doing some research they realize this has happened in Derry before, and seems to come back every 27 years. Determined to kill it, they must band together and face their deepest, darkest fears.

The acting in this film is fantastic. Bill Skarsgård has a very different approach than Tim Curry did in the original mini-series in that he’s less comedic and more childlike, but devilish. I feel that THAT plus the cast of unknown child actors made it feel genuine to the novel.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try It – The TV mini-series, or, really, any other killer clown movie!] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official It the Movie web site ]

Read Scott C.’s review of the original 1990 4-hour television miniseries It from October 2017

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Recommended by Carrie R.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdNOVA: Particle Fever
by Thomas Campbell-Jackson and Gerry Ohrstrom [DVD 539.721 Par]

In 2008, thousands of scientists join forces to engineer and build the Large Hadron Collider (or LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. We meet six of the scientists each tasked with various roles. There are theorists, who crunch the numbers and philosophize through complex math. And then there are experimentalists, who build, design, and engineer experiments to verify these theories.

In 2010, scientists successfully send one ray of particles around the 17 mile loop. While scientists drink champagne and celebrate prematurely — a chemical leak and a host of other realities sink in, delaying the project two painful years.

On July 3, 2012, universal physics as we understand it was changed forever. Complete with stellar graphics and personal narratives, enjoy this fascinating inside scoop to one of the most expensive and rewarding scientific endeavors in human history — to find the elusive Higgs Boson particle, and to complete the standard model of particle physics.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail, Cosmos by Carl Sagan or NOVA: The Planets] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Particle Fever web site ]

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Recommended by Jeremiah J.
Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries


formatdvdRocky Horror Picture Show
[DVD Rocky]

Brad Majors and Janet Weiss get engaged and go to visit the teacher who brought them together. On their way they get a flat tire and decide to walk to a castle they passed to use their phone. The castle is owned by Dr. Frank-N-Furter — a cross-dressing alien from Transylvania — and he is hosting a party to celebrate the unveiling of his newest creation. The house is filled with dancing groupies and shenanigans ensue. While originally frightened by what they encounter, eventually they begin to partake and broaden their horizons.

This 1975 film is a cult classic and I still listen to the soundtrack to this day. If you haven’t yet I would recommend seeing it in theaters — the Joyo in Lincoln still does showings around Halloween — so that you can take part in the live commentary.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Rocky Horror Picture Show Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (a 2016 live-for-TV remake starring Laverne Cox), and Shock Treatment, the 1981 sequel/spin-off from the original film.] [The music for this show is available in a variety of formats, including sheet music, CD soundtrack and downloadable audio.] [Note: The Rocky Horror Show is a stage musical production of this story, which is frequently produced by community theaters — Lincoln’s own TADA Theatre has a production of this running in October 2019!] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Rocky Horror Picture Show fan web site ]

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Recommended by Carrie R.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show is an unforgettable experience, especially with a live — and enthusiatic — audience! The music, once you’ve heard it, is rather infectious — a variety of styles and tones, but certain songs stand out — “Science Fiction Double Feature”, “Damn It, Janet”, “Sweet Transvestite”, “Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch”, and the most memorable song, “Time Warp”. Definitely worth tracking this down for all these crazy Richard O’Brien songs.


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Rated by — Scott C.
staff member at the Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdYesterday
[DVD Yesterday]

I started looking forward to this film after seeing the earliest “teaser” trailers, back in 2018. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire), from a screenplay by Richard Carpenter (writer of Notting Hill, Love Actually, Pirate Radio), this film ended up being a completely charming experience, with an unforgettable soundtrack.

Himesh Patel stars as Jack Malik, a struggle folk/pop composer/singer, whose efforts to become a success with his music have proven fruitless. Despite the support of his closest friends, including not-quite-girlfriend Ellie Appleton (Lily James), Jack decides it may be time to give up on music. Then, one night, while riding his bicycle home, he is hit by a bus during a freak global blackout. After recovering in the hospital, at a party to celebrate being released, he is gifted with a replacement guitar by his friends. To christen it, he decides to play “Yesterday”, one of the most beautiful songs for the guitar. Only — his friends don’t recognize the legendary song by Lennon and McCartney, nor do they know who The Beatles are.

At first disbelieving, Jack eventually realizes that, following his accident, nobody in the world except himself remembers The Beatles and their music. Initially suffering pangs of guilt and conscience, Jack eventually transcribes several Beatles songs and performs them himself, gaining the notoriety and attention he’s sought for his own music for years. What follows is a roller-coaster ride as Jack becomes a star, ostensibly for being a musical wonder, but constantly battling the guilt of playing someone else’s music and pretending it’s his own.

In addition to the great music — Himesh Patel is very competent and doing single-voice versions of classic Beatles hits — this film explores his moral quandry, and the relationships he has to the people who surround him. Patel’s performance is flawless, as is Lily James’ as Ellie. Joel Fry, as friend and “roadie” Rocky is amusing. Pop star Ed Sheeran is great as…Ed Sheeran. The only performance I didn’t care for was the usually reliable Kate McKinnon, who was way over the top as a music agent. Robert Carlyle (Once Upon a Time) has an uncredited cameo near the end of the film that provides for an emotional high point.

Suffice it to say, I really liked Yesterday. I’ve run into others who can’t stand it, so it might not be your cup of tea, either. But I found it an intriguing and effective tribute to the unforgettable music of The Beatles while still being a compelling personal story about an original character. Your mileage may vary.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the Yesterday soundtrack, currently available from the libraries only digitally on Hoopla.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Yesterday web page ]

 

Read Scott C.’s review of the soundtrack to the film Yesterday, from just last month (September 2019)

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Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


last updated October 2019
* Please Note: The presence of a link on this site does not constitute an endorsement by Lincoln City Libraries.

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