Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Julie's Journal : What's With the Chirping in the Library?

If you've visited the library on certain days in the last couple of weeks, you may have heard unusual loud chirping.

Did you know that you can order baby ducks, chicken, and other fowl, and have them delivered by mail?  Last week, I received an order of ducks and a few chickens from Murray McMurray Hatcheries in Iowa.

Today I have a larger order of baby chicks.

This chick has unusual markings.

I ordered several Araucana chicks with this order.  These are otherwise known as Easter egg chickens because they will lay eggs with shells that are blue and green.  I'm excited about adding them to my flock.  

Today, the chicks will be residing behind the circulation desk in a box on a heating pad until my husband, Jason, is able to come pick them up when he gets off work at about 3:45.  The constant chirping certainly changes the ambiance of the library!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chance's Corner: Oscar's Season

It's that time of the year when Oscar buzz has turned into Oscar reality. Some hopefuls have become duds. Some underdogs have become contenders. While 2016 gave us an onslaught of remakes and sequels that left many wondering if cinema was dead, there were still a few rays of hope, and many of those rays were nominated for Oscars this year. But who will win?

Here are my predictions:

Best Picture:

La La Land, a jazz-inspired musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I think this one will win because the Academy has a history of appreciating films that remind them of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Examples include Chicago and The Artist. However, Moonlight could possibly overtake La La Land because it's extremely topical.

Best Actor:

This category is still up in the air. Casey Affleck won the Golden Globe (Drama) for Manchester by the Sea, Ryan Gosling won the Golden Globe (Musical/Comedy) for La La Land, and Denzel Washington won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Fences. I think Denzel is the man to beat, though. There's some serious buzz behind Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, but I don't think the Academy is going to swing his way.

Best Actress:

Everyone thought Natalie Portman had this category in the bag for her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, but Isabelle Huppert ran off with the Golden Globe (Drama) for Elle, and Emma Stone took away the Golden Globe (Musical/Comedy) and the SAG award for La La Land. Emma Stone is now the one to beat.

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali has the upper hand in this category for his supporting role in Moonlight, and I think he'll win unless something goes wrong.

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis has already been robbed of an Oscar twice, but here's hoping that the third time is the charm for her performance in Fences.

Best Director Winner Prediction:

It's the ultimate showdown between Damien Chazelle for La La Land and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, and Damien's odds of delivering the knock-out punch are extremely high.

Best Animated Film Winner Prediction:

Zootopia will most likely snatch up this award, but another Disney film, Moana, may steal it away.

That's my Oscar ballot for this year. We'll see how well I guessed on February 26th!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fine Forgiveness

Franklin County Library is offering a Fine Forgiveness Campaign during the month of February 2017.

Patrons with overdue materials may return them to the library and ask that the fines be forgiven.
Please take advantage of this opportunity!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tom's Two Cents : The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Anne Bronte, the younger sister of Charlotte and Emily, has long faded into literary obscurity, if indeed she ever emerged.  She died of consumption at the age of 29, having published two novels under the pseudonym of "Acton Bell" (her sisters were first known as Currer and Ellis Bell), not knowing of course that Charlotte and Emily would later become two of the most famous British novelists of all time.  Emily too died young; only Charlotte, the eldest of the surviving sisters, lived to enjoy fame and some fortune.

 Of Anne's two novels, "Tenant" is the lesser known, and probably the inferior work to "Agnes Grey," which I haven't read.  But it's still a good read, if the modern reader can tolerate what today would be considered excessively "flowery" 19th century prose.  There's nothing in the story itself that's out of sync with modern times--it's about a woman caught in the trap of an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and her attempt to escape that marriage and make a life for herself and her child.  The obstacles to female independence set forth in her age (the early 19th century in England) were virtually insurmountable, and the deck of cards was stacked against women, even women of means, whose fortunes at that time were usually controlled by their husbands.

Helen Huntington, the mysterious "tenant" of the title, is such a woman, trapped by circumstance until a smitten neighbor tries to become her protector, without understanding fully the nature of her marital dilemma.  The novel makes extensive use of letters and journals to tell its back story; indeed much of the novel is told in retrospect, rather than moving consistently forward.  Gilbert Markham, Helen's would-be suitor is no Rochester, much less Heathcliffe, nor is Helen herself a heroine in the class of Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw.  But the book is absorbing, nonetheless, and I would recommend it with some reservations.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chance's Corner: Movie Time at the Library

We've been showing movies here at the Franklin County Library off and on, but starting this year we're doing something a little different. We'll be showing a kid's feature film on the last Thursday of every month. We'll also be showing a feature film for adults on the last Friday of every month. The movies will start at 1:30 PM.

For the month of January, we watched Pete's Dragon and Sully. Pete's Dragon is a remake of the original 1977 Disney film, but it shares little to no resemblance to the musical classic. Instead, the new Pete's Dragon sets out on its own path, turning Pete into a feral boy and Elliot into a green fuzzball. It's a relatively simple film, and it's pretty cute, but it kind of feels like a rather safe film. Nothing new was brought to the table.

As for Sully, I was completely blown away. It very well could have been a generic, linear tale about an ensemble of characters who survived the "Miracle on the Hudson", but just as the title implies, this is all about the man himself, and Tom Hanks plays him subtly, yet powerfully. Structurally, this is an incredibly-tight, masterfully-told film. Assuming we already knew what happened, Sully picks up after the forced water landing. I love a film that cuts through the malarkey and gets right down to the meat of the story. The meat here is that while the public immediately labeled Sully a hero, it took the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 15 months to believe it. In the second act, the events leading up to the forced water landing are shown via flashback, and there is a little ensemble action concerning a handful of passengers, but director Clint Eastwood doesn't let the film get bogged down in it.

We'd love to have you join us for our upcoming films in February! Keep checking our Facebook page to see what we'll be showing each month.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Julie's Journal : The Lost Girls by Heather Young

I’ve been in a little bit of a reading slump in this new year.  Nothing seems to have grabbed my attention and held it.  However, Friday, I was looking for something to read over the long weekend and I picked up The Lost Girls by Heather Young.  I was attracted by its menacing, dark blue cover, and the fact that it is a multi-generational story.  The Lost Girls is told from two points of view – that of Lucy and her great-niece Justine.  

Justine is a little lost herself.  She lives in San Diego with her two daughters and a boyfriend she picked up after her long-time partner, and father of her children, left without warning.  Her new boyfriend, Patrick, is a control freak and a master manipulator.  Justine, whose childhood was tumultuous, seems to feel that his manipulation is the price she must pay for finally being loved.  The night he stages a robbery to see if he can scare her into thinking something has happened to him scares her, but she probably would have continued justifying his behavior.  The next day, though, she finds out that Aunt Lucy has died and left Justine her house on a remote lake in Minnesota.  Justine packs up her daughters and drives cross country to the house, trying to leave no clues behind her as to where she has gone.  She arrives in the middle of a Minnesota winter and begins to try and rebuild her life. 

Lucy’s story was much more compelling.  Her baby sister, Emily disappeared on the last day of the summer of 1935.  Nothing has been seen of her since.  It is assumed that Emily tried to run away and perished in the deep woods around the lake.  However, Lucy begins her memoir by writing about the beginning of the summer.  From a well-to-do family, Lucy is eleven years old and feels like her older sister and friend, Lilith is slipping away from her.  She hopes that their annual summer at the lake will help them reconnect.  In truth she spends the summer watching as Lilith grows further and further away from her.  She begins to befriend her younger sister, the previously despised Emily, and makes friends with a boy from the lodge at the lake.   She continues describing the long summer, culminating in Emily’s disappearance. 

Ms. Young’s descriptions of the lake were lovely.  Justine and her daughters arrive in the dead of winter, just before Christmas, and the reader can feel the cold seeping through every crack in the dilapidated house.  The lake is frozen so hard that a car can be driven on it, something this Texas girl has a hard time imagining.  Lucy’s story takes place in the summer, and the cookouts, swimming parties, teenagers hanging out, and the heat come alive.  Ms. Young is very adept in setting the atmosphere of her novel and the summer of Lucy’s story contrasted with the winter of Justine’s is very effective.

Published in August of last year, The Lost Girls, is Ms. Young’s first novel.  I hope we see more from her soon.         

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Poet's Perch : Then Laugh by Bertha Adams Backus

Then Laugh

Build for yourself a strong box,
Fashion each part with care;
When it's strong as your hand can make it,
Put all your troubles there;
Hide there all thought of your failures,
And each bitter cup that you quaff;
Lock all your heartaches within it,
Then sit on the lid and laugh.

Tell no one else its contents,
Never its secrets share;
When you've dropped in your care and worry
Keep them forever there;
Hide them from sight so completely
That the world will never dream half;
Fasten the strong box securely - 
Then sit on the lid and laugh.

Bertha Adams Backus

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chance's Corner: Ding Dong! The Wicked 2016 is Dead!

No year has ever looked better than 2017. It's a year full of hope. It's the light at the end of a very long tunnel called 2016. Sure, it's only a number, but 2016 was such a downright malicious year.

2016 started off with a real bang for me. I found myself being rushed to the ER with a case of kidney stones within the first three weeks of January (and five days before my birthday). Then in March, I had to have oral surgery, which left me with a big black eye. During two months of recovery, I could only eat soup and soft foods, and I couldn't even brush my teeth. Ick!

2016 also seemed to hold a personal grudge against celebrities. It claimed the lives of music legends Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen, Bobby Vee and George Michael, while also targeting big screen legends such as Alan Rickman, Patty Duke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Gene Wilder. If that wasn't enough, 2016 also took away our TV mom, Florence Henderson, our TV dad, Alan Thicke, our TV grandmother, Doris Roberts, and real-life mother/daughter duo Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. Yes, time marches on, and our idols must get older, but so many were lost that still had so much life to give. Many were just in their 60s and 70s, while up-and-coming stars, Christina Grimmie and Anton Yelchin, were just in their 20s.

The evil of 2016 was felt by many, and as a result, a slew of memes (humorous images) flourished. Here are a few examples:

So, here's to a new year, and hopefully 2017 won't deal any major blows to our health and hearts. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tom's Two Cents : A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Once in a while a rare book comes along that has the gentility of another time, another place. "A Gentleman in Moscow" is that kind of book, although one would not necessarily expect such from its premise: a Russian aristocrat is detained by a Bolshevik Tribunal in the 1920s in Moscow and sentenced to life imprisonment in an empty service room in the elegant Metropol Hotel instead of hard labor in Siberia.  Why?  Because he supposedly wrote a poem in 1905 that favored the seeds of the Russian Revolution, which took place in 1917.  Thus, those who came into power were lenient, though not totally forgiving.

Count Alexander Rostov (remember the Rostovs in "War and Peace"?  Of course you do!), the aristocrat in question, is a gentleman to the very core.  The one percent of the aristocracy that ruled Russia under the Czars taught him everything he needed to know in 19th century Russian society, but nothing that worked in a 20th century Russian police state, masquerading as a state ruled by "the will of the people."  How will he survive?  In fact, how can he?  The fact that he not only does, escaping at one very low point a suicide attempt, but triumphs, over an almost impossible situation, is the substance of this very unusual novel.

I say "unusual" when I could just as well say "unique."  This novel, be it mainstream, has no profanity, no explicit sex, no violence, well, none of the usual things that seem to carry most audiences forward today.  It is not exactly a sentimental story--given the background of its time and place it could not be--but a story told nonetheless in both a sentimental--and at times quite humorous--manner.  Perhaps it is a reminder that certain things, like courtesy, manners and the refined pursuit of cultural goals, never quite leave a civilization, even though they may be shoved to the back burner.  If you can do without a compelling story line or in-depth characters, moving toward a smashing climax (there is a surprise ending), this book could well be for you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Most Read Titles of 2016 and a Book Challenge

I (Julie) am a bit of a statistics nerd and I've been running reports this morning to find out what titles were read the most in 2016.  I ran a general report, but then I decided to break it down into different areas.  So without further ado, here are our most read titles of 2016.

Adult Fiction:
          The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
          The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag
          Off the Grid by C.J. Box

          Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
          Tyrannosaurus Rex: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals by Helen Frost
          There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

          Diary of Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney
          Mermaid Tales Series by Debbie Dadley
          Big Nate Series by Lincoln Peirce

          Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
          The Siren by Kiera Cass
          Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

          A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
          Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
          The Sojourner by Marjorie Rawlings

          American Sniper by Chris Kyle
          Troublemaker by Leah Remini
          Once Upon a Time by Randy Taraborrelli


Lisa decided to create a Book Challenge for our library.  It's just for fun - the only prizes are bragging rights.  She's calling it 17 books in 2017.  The categories are below or you can stop by the library and pick up a form with blanks for you to fill in with titles you read.  We'd love to see your recommendations for the different categories.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Julie's Journal : Book Challenges - Year End Wrap Up

At the end of 2015, I decided to participate in four book challenges for 2016.  I was to read certain books to fulfill different category requirements for each challenge.  Well, I don't mind telling you that I didn't do very well this year.  Oh, I read a lot of books.  141 to be exact, with one more that I plan to finish before the end of the year, but the book challenges are a different story.  (Read my original post about the challenges here.)

I only finished one of the four book challenges in its entirety.  It was the Anne of Green Gables challenge.  I thoroughly enjoyed rereading the entire series and reading a new Anne book, The Blythes are Quoted.  It is filled with Anne's poetry, conversations within her family, and short stories about the people in her community.

As for the other three challenges, the Back to the Classics challenge, the Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge, and the Grown Up Reading Challenge, well what can I say.  I partially completed all of them, reading more than 50% of the categories required.  I found, though, that rather than trying to find books to fit the categories, I tried to fit the books I was already reading into the required slots.  I guess that kind of defeats the purpose of expanding my reading horizons.  

2016 was the third year that I kept an exhaustive spreadsheet of everything I read and the related statistics and the second year I participated in book challenges.  As for 2017, I can't decide what I want to do.  I like the idea of book challenges - meeting requirements and expanding my horizons.  However, I also enjoy the freedom to read whatever I want, without the internal pressure that is telling me I should be reading something else.  I'm pretty sure, though, that whatever 2017 brings, I'll be reading lots of books, both new and old, and enjoying every minute of it!

2016 Book Statistics

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tom's Two Cents : Elmer Kelton's "The Good Old Boys"

It hardly seems coincidental that Texas writer Elmer Kelton's "The Good Old Boys," first published in 1978, was re-issued by TCU Press in a special edition in 1985, the year of first publication of Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning "Lonesome Dove."  Both novels are by Texas writers, Kelton older by ten years than McMurtry, both born and raised in West Texas in the late 19th-early 20th century ranching tradition.  "The Good Old Boys" in its main character, Hewey Calloway, has a kind of Gus McRae prototype, a freedom-loving man of the range, who refuses to be hemmed in by the fences of modern life.

Unlike McMurtry's Gus, Hewey has a family of sorts--a younger brother, two young nephews, and a sharp tongued sister-in-law, Eve, who forces Hewey to face up to the kind of dead-end life he's living.  Then of course there's the single and pretty schoolteacher, Spring Renfro, who loves Hewey for who he is, but at the same time would like him to become someone he isn't.

This is, like "Lonesome Dove," the story of the passing of an era, and the loss not only of a time and place in the history of Texas and the West, but of the old-time, free-wheeling cowboy/cowhand, who did the work he did admirably but in the end was responsible to no one but himself.  It's about freedom at a price.

Kelton is a fine writer, one of the best Texas has produced, and "The Good Old Boys" is one of his best.  Go to San Angelo, Texas, where he spent the last decades of his life,(he was born and raised in Crane) and you will see a statue of him outside the Library, one of the few tributes of its sort that Texas has raised to its literary fathers.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Chance's Corner: Suicide Squad Review

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has slowly been growing over the years, starting with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and now we have Suicide Squad. The squad is actually an elite task force (Task Force X) charged with saving the world from a new surge in "metahumans". The problem is that the task force is comprised of comic book villains AKA the worst heroes ever.

Suicide Squad is an interesting little sidetrack in the DCEU. It's definitely the most radical in terms of style and substance. Stylistically, the editing is really janky. It almost feels like the lens is zipping through a series of comic book panels. As for the substance, it's just action and flair. These characters want to kick butt - not be developed!

The squad's still pretty cool, though. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (Will Smith) are the strongest of the group, but the others are memorable in their own little ways - be it Captain Boomerang's (Jai Courtney) humor, Diablo's (Jay Hernandez) hidden talent, or Killer Croc's (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) mere presence. However, the real winner here is actually Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). She's the director of Task Force X, and I'm pretty sure the devil himself wouldn't want to get on her bad side.

The weakest links were The Joker (Jared Leto) and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). Admittedly, there wasn't a whole lot of footage of Leto's Joker to judge by, so I can't commit to a love him or hate him stance. He was intriguing to say the least. Cara did the best she could do as the sashaying witch/goddess, but she was given pretty much zilch to work with.

Let's face it, DC is a little late to the game when it comes to the idea of building an entire cinematic universe, so they're experimenting with different little ways to distinguish themselves from the other guys. DC wants to break the mold instead of using the same mold repeatedly, and honestly, DC really does know how to make good superhero movies. In fact, it was Superman (1978) and Batman (1989) that breathed life into the genre. Suicide Squad is just one of their experiments, and while it has faults aplenty, and the story's lacking a clear direction, I still had fun watching it. That's what this film is - mindless fun.
Suicide Squad is coming soon to the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Julie's Journal : If I Live to Be 100 by Paul Mobley and Allison Milionis

Lisa put up a few pictures from If I Live to Be 100 by Paul Mobley and Allison Milionis on Facebook a few days ago, but after reading it, I wanted to try and express my thoughts about it.

Paul Mobley is an award-winning photographer.  He is known for portraits of celebrities and everyday Americans.  Also, the author of American Farmer, his black and white pictures capture the soul of his subjects.  Allison Milionis interviewed the subjects and wrote the short biographies that accompany each picture.

If I Live to Be 100 features centenarians from all 50 states.  There is a married couple, a set of twins, a brother-sister pair, a man who maintains his own Facebook page, and a woman who is still working in the store she started with her husband when they were newlyweds.  Several people endured the hardships of segregation in the American South. Others fled Europe ahead of WWII.  Almost all were affected by the Great Depression.

All the subjects have endured loss and hardship of some kind.  Joe Joly has outlived three wives and a son and yet he he says, "If I had to do it all over again it would be the same way.  Some of the things that happened I wish hadn't happened. But I'm happy - happy to be here and happy to have what I have."

All were asked what their secret to longevity is.  The answers were varied - "choose a good partner," "be happy and eat well," "never stop to think about dying," "work hard, play and laugh often, eat healthy (most of the time), keep busy, and be kind to others," and "I forgot to die."  However, about half-way through the book I noticed a theme that Mr. Mobley touches on in his afterward.  All the centenarians were still active and interested in the world around them.  Irving Olsen still experiments with photography techniques.  Lucy Hamm enjoys an active social life as well as a beer and an apple every day.  Clara Anderson plays the piano for residents of her care facility and advocates for improvements to the facility on behalf of her fellow residents.  Margaret Wachs rediscovered swimming at 90 years old and swims twenty laps most days.  Wilson Pierpont bought a BMW as a 100th birthday present to himself.  Margot Lerner took her first selfie at age 107!

I loved reading about these extraordinary individuals.  Their long lives are a window to a time in history that for me only lives in books and movies.  But their present is just as interesting.  They were, without exception, optimistic.  They looked to the past with fondness, but also were enjoying everyday.  Ellis Gusky says, "The best is yet to come."  I think the theme of the book is summed up with this poem, quoted by Anne Scott (born March 26, 1915):

Life is a book in volumes three
The past, the present, and the yet-to-be.
The past is written and laid away,
The present we're writing every day,
And the last and best of volumes three
Is locked from sight - God keeps the key.