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

Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 Staff Picks: Part 3

Throughout the month of January I'm sharing our staff picks in a multi-part series.  You can read the previous installments here and here.  In today's installment I'm sharing my picks for the previous year.  All of my picks for books have been reviewed here on the blog, and I encourage you to click the link to read the review for each pick.

Favorite Books

An Inquiry Into Love and Death and Silence For The Dead, both by Simone St. James: thus far, I've read and reviewed all of St. James' novels after falling in love with her debut novel, The Haunting of Maddy Clare.  These novels are must reads for anyone who loves a good period piece with more than a dash of terror and/or suspense of the supernatural persuasion thrown in.

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess & A Family Secret by Catherine Bailey: if it seems like these picks have theme so far, sorry, that's just the way my picks shook out this year.  I think the title pretty much says it all--it's British drama, it's a mystery, there's a family secret, there's sleuthing involved, and there's DRAMA, oh, and a scheming duchess.

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand; Hilderbrand writes stories set on Nantucket Island, and I've become a fan of these family dramas.  This particular one requires tissues at the end (really, get ready to cry your heart out at the end of this one).

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon: This is a very tense, suspenseful thriller with a supernatural twist.

Those are my favorite books from the previous year (in no particular order).

Favorite Movies

I used to also review movies sometimes on this blog before I switched the sole focus to books and began reviewing every book I read.  I still watch a lot of movies, and I wanted to share some favorites from the previous year.  Usually I wait until the movie comes out on DVD and one of the library's acquires it before I borrow it and watch it, but sometimes there's a movie that I'll want to see in theaters because I can't wait for the DVD.  I had to see The Dark Knight Rises, the last of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy (and before the sacrilegious re-casting of Ben Affleck in the role; for real, BEN AFFLECK.  WHY.), in theaters.  I also had to see Avengers (the first one) in theaters (did not regret it).  I also saw Man of Steel in theaters.  But all of those were not from 2014.  And in case you noticed a theme to these movies, well, you won't be disappointed in my pick.

Captain America: Winter Soldier is the only movie I saw in theaters this year.  At first I was just going to wait for the DVD, but then the previews sucked me in and made me incredibly anxious about what was going down in the movies--so much so that I was obsessing about the movie to my cousin on facebook ["Steve Rogers is a fugitive and he needs to STAND DOWN.  WHAT IS HAPPENING"].  This particular cousin was the one that was going with me to see the movie, and I'm sure she was glad when we finally saw it because then I could stop posting about it on her facebook page.  It was a great movie, and we were not disappointed.

Literary website

I just wanted to share with you a website dedicated to books that I discovered a while ago.  It's called Book Riot.  And if you're a book lover, you have to check it.  There are articles about upcoming books, reviews, discussions about books, literary links, AND there's a shop that features literary themed wares plus so much more.

Those are my picks for 2014.  What are yours?

--written by Ms. Angie

Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Staff Picks: Part 2

Throughout the month of January I'm sharing our staff picks of reads, movies, and websites that we enjoyed over the past year.  This is the second installment of the series.  To read the first installment, please click here to read about Miss Sheila's picks.  Today I'll share Timothy's picks for 2014.  Timothy is one of our assistants here at the library where he works part-time while attending college.

Favorite books from 2014 (listed in no particular order):

The Story of a Macaron-loving Girl Who Lived a Thousand Years Somehow by Karate

Everything Is Going To Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways The World Wants You Dead by Robert Brockway

Jam by Yahtzee Croshaw

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Favorite movies from 2014:

Guardians of the Galaxy

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Rebellion Story

Timothy enjoys seeing what other people are reading on Reddit/r/books.