Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection by Lisa Kathleen Graddy & Amy Pastan

I know it's been a while since I posted a review.  I was reading a book, and it took forever and a day.  Okay, really it took most of February, but I finally finished it, and that review is forthcoming.  I was flipping through my notebook, and I found the notes for this book review that I'd forgotten about and hadn't posted yet.  So here it is!

I saw an ad for this book in Smithsonian magazine, and I thought, hmmm.  That sounds interesting.  The library now has a copy of The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection, and if you have an interest in presidential history, women's history, or fashion history, I recommend you check out this book.  You won't regret it.

The book contains a brief history of the collection as well as an overview that includes photos of selected items in the collection, such as gowns, jewelry, china, and other memorabilia, including photo copies of the invitations for two weddings that took place in the White House.  Photos of each first lady's gown are accompanied by a brief biography and overview of her accomplishments while her husband was in office.  It should be noted that not every first lady is represented in the collection or at least they are not represented in the book.  This is because the collection does not have gowns for every woman who served as first lady (I think that was reason; I read this book a while ago, so I could be assuming this is the reason...).  There is also a brief description of each gown and usually the occasion on which the gown was worn is also shared as well.

This is an interesting book and one that you will want to really study the photos of each gown.  In fact, the high quality photos of the gowns are the best parts of the book.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Friday, January 30, 2015

Staff Picks 2014: Part 5

This is the fifth and final installment of the Staff Picks 2014 series.  It'll be back again next January with our picks for 2015!  To catch up on previous installments, you can click here, here, here, and here.  Today Miss Shayne, one of our library aides, shares some of her favorites from 2014.

Favorite Books

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Opel, is an adventurous story of how a brother would go to extreme lengths to save his twin.  Miss Shayne enjoyed the excitement and the theme of the importance of family.

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger; Miss Shayne says the main character is very honest and explains everything in detail.

Favorite Movies

The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spiderman; Miss Shayne says that both of these movies are good superhero films that were re-made with better special effects.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Staff Picks 2014: Part 4

This is the fourth installment of our Staff Picks 2014 series.  To read previous installments, please click here, here and here.  In this installment Miss Cherrie, who is a volunteer here at the library, shares her favorites from the past year.

Favorite Books

Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Miss Cherrie says, "This is a kid's book, but I loved it."

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and The Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Miss Cherrie says, "I liked the beginning especially and the part about the presidents when they were younger. ... It was really long."

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. "I liked it, and I couldn't put it down," Miss Cherrie says.

Favorite Movies

The Monuments Men


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians And Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

This is the second book I've read about the library field, and it was a pretty good book.  Marilyn Johnson's current release is Lives In Ruins; it's about the field of archaeology and those who work in the field.  I'd read a review of Lives In Ruins, and I thought it sounded interesting, and through the course of investigating that book, I found This Book Is Overdue.  Incidentally, at the beginning of this book Johnson explains how research for a previous book about obituaries lead her to write about librarians.  Based on how I much enjoyed this book, I will definitely check out some of her other books.

Johnson sheds light on the field of library science by examining the many diverse, sometimes eccentric, personalities who work in the profession.  And while I could relate to some of the incidents recounted in the book, there were some that, thankfully (very thankfully), I could not relate.

Johnson covers one New York library system's bumpy online card catalog migration in one chapter, while another chapter illuminates the so-called 'Connecticut 4.'  The Connecticut 4 were four librarians who sued the federal government after receiving a top secret letter demanding patron internet usage records from the Department of Homeland Security.  This demand was made without a subpoena or court order and under a gag order--not only were the contents of the letter classified, but the fact of receipt of the letter was classified as well.  And it was legal, if not entirely ethical, under the USA PATRIOT Act.  This was probably the scariest, most surreal chapter in the book.  Another interesting chapter was the one about the New York Public Library system and its merging of its research and circulating libraries.

Honestly, who am I kidding--the whole book was an interesting read, and strangely, it read like a page turner.  It was hard to put down.  In addition to the subject matter being interesting, Johnson has a very accessible writing style.  If you want to learn more about the field of library science or the people who work at your public library, I encourage you to pick up this book.  You won't regret it.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Double Feature Review: Chef and Transformers: Age of Extinction

I may start reviewing DVD's a little more on this blog.  I recently watched, Chef and Transformers: Age of Extinction on DVD, so I'm sharing a short review of each movie today.


Chef Carl Casper's career implodes in the space of a week thanks to a poor review from a prestigious food critic, his own misunderstanding of the nature and lightening speed of social media, and a boss more concerned with the bottom line than with serving cutting edge cuisine.  Left jobless and without any future prospects for employment, Casper travels to Miami with his son and ex-wife.  But Casper's misfortunes are blessing in disguise because they allow him to return to developing and cooking new recipes rather than remain stagnant in a stifling job.  In Miami Casper buys a food truck, and he's finally happy again--he's serving food that he believes in, he's working with his best friend, Martin, and he's re-connecting and bonding with his son, Percy.  Once Casper gets the food truck up and running, works out the menu and builds a stellar reputation in Miami, it's time to hit the road.  With Martin riding shotgun, and Percy harnessing social media to build anticipation and herald their arrival in each new city cross country, Casper embarks on the journey back to L.A.

The scenes at the beginning of movie that depict Casper's career spiraling out are painful to watch.  Once the action moves to Miami, the movie gets better.  One question I have that bothered me through the entire road trip part of the movie: how did Casper get so quickly the proper permitting to operate in each city he drives into?  This wouldn't have occurred to me had they not made a point of showing that he had a permit in Miami.  This is a heartwarming, humorous movie with a helping of appreciation of good food and good family.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

This is the fourth Transformers movie, and while they've gotten a whole new cast, this is a sequel that follows up on the aftermath of the events that destroyed Chicago at the end of the preceding installment.  Age of Extinction inhabits a world in which all transformers, even the autobots, are outlawed, any contact between human and alien is illegal, and a shadowy black ops arm of the government hunts down, captures, and neutralizes all transformers at all costs.  Unfortunately, for reasons that are never fully explored, the CIA man in charge of the black ops team and his minions have become corrupted zealots in the battle against transformers.  They don't care who they have to kill or what unsavory alliances must be made to rid earth of the aliens so long as their mission is accomplished and the means by which they accomplish this mission remain secret.

Cade Yeager's bull headed insistence that his daughter not date becomes old and insufferable pretty quickly.  However, any sympathy that Yeager's daughter's secret boyfriend, Shane, garners is just as quickly squandered when Shane whips out a copy of Texas' Romeo and Juliet law that he just so happens to carry around in his wallet. The movie run time is about 30 or 40 minutes too long and Shane's Irish accent sometimes sounds Australian.  The bottom line is this: if you're a fan of Michael Bay's Transformers movie franchise, you will like this movie too.  Everyone else should probably steer clear.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie