Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New E-books!

Our e-book collection is getting more use everyday!  Powered by Overdrive, we are part of a consortium with almost 70 other East Texas libraries.  Each library is required to purchase books at least once a year and we purchased 46 new titles last week.  We try to order a mix of books, so that we add things that will appeal to everybody.

This year we added several Goosebumps books for young readers including:

We also purchased a few Nora Roberts books for our romance lovers, including her most recent release:

We have been asked several times for cozy mysteries, so we added the Merry Muffin Mystery series.

We also look at what our patrons have on hold and try to order a few of those books, to reduce wait times.

And finally, we added a few non-fiction books to the collection.

If you have a request for a specific e-book that is not available in our collection, please let us know.  We will try to honor your request, if at all possible, the next time we purchase e-books.  Overdrive is a great resource for finding the books you most want to read, or listen to (the audiobook collection is huge).  FCL houses a physical collection of about 17,000 books, but our e-book collection numbers nearly 60,000 items!  Come in today and let us set up your device for checking out e-books!


Monday, September 26, 2016

Tom's Two Cents : Woman in Gold

The Franklin County Friends of the Library began its Fall Film Fest this past Thursday with the presentation of a BBC 2015 film, "Woman in Gold," starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds as Maria Altmann, an older California Jewish woman originally from Austria, and her family friend, Randy Schoenberg, an aspiring young lawyer with Austrian roots.  The film focuses on a Nazi art theft in 1939 during Hitler's occupation of Austria (the "Anschluss ") and its subsequent persecution of the Jews in Vienna in particular.  A poignant series of flashbacks tells both the early story of Maria's growing up years in a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna and her later story as its last surviving member in Pasadena, California, where she owns a ladies' shop.

Ostensibly this is a tale of Maria's attempts to retrieve her stolen art property, in particular a portrait of her Aunt Adele by the famous Austrian artist, Gustave Klimpt, hanging in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna.  She is aided and supported by a young American lawyer, whose grandfather was none other than the famous atonal composer, Arnold Schoenberg.  On a much deeper level, this is a story about family, loss, justice and retribution, all of these threads woven together into a series of legal suspense episodes of the "will-she," "won't-she" obtain justice type.  Like any good legal-suspense story, the movie keeps the viewer guessing almost to the end.  But it is also a true story.

With settings like Pasadena and Vienna, the film has a lot going for it from the beginning, but it is the authenticity of the flashback episodes, especially the intimate scenes of this cultured family in Vienna before the War, that make it work most successfully.  Helen Mirren is, as always, supremely in command of her role, and the interaction between her and Reynolds, both as friend, supporter and sometimes even antagonist, makes for a convincing personal conflict.  Also, among the seemingly endless films about World War II, and the Holocaust in particular, this is a different and more personal perspective.  Quality films of this type rarely make it to the Provinces, and we are especially lucky to have our local Library Friends sponsor such events.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chance's Corner: The Conjuring 2 Review

It's nearly October, and I've got the itch for cooler weather and to be scared senseless. The weather keeps failing me, but we do have a few horror flicks here at the Franklin County Library - classics such as The Shining and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and even contemporary films like The Babadook and The Conjuring.

The Conjuring is based off one of the case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens are mainly known for their research into the house in Amityville. What house? Maybe you heard of The Amityville Horror? The Conjuring takes place before the Warrens went to Amityville, and revolves around a family being terrorized by the spirit of a witch in their new farmhouse. The events are said to be true. True or not, The Conjuring is one spooky and unnerving movie.

The Conjuring 2 recently came out on DVD, and knowing how good the original movie was, I was very excited to see what comes next. This time the Warrens are investigating another famous case, the Enfield Poltergeist, which is claimed to be one of the most well-documented hauntings in history. 

Amityville House
In the prologue, the movie opens with the camera pulling back from a seemingly peaceful view, through a pane of glass, to reveal a pair of infamous quarter-moon windows. Nothing happens, but an instant chill sets in. I just knew this was going to be good... and then it wasn't.

Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) roams the haunted halls of 112 Ocean Drive, Amityville, and claims to have seen Hell (more of a personal hell, as it turns out), but all I saw was lackluster scares. Something's wrong when you can't make the house in Amityville scary.

Then the movie moves on to the Enfield case. The ball really doesn't start rolling until much later when the poltergeist starts to verbalize in his signature growl. The plot hits all the highlights of the  Enfield case - the policewoman witnessing the chair move, the possession shown on television, the photos of the girls being tossed about in their rooms, Janet bending spoons, and so on and so forth. This all actually happened, whether real or conjured up.

Is she jumping? Or is she being tossed around? 

That's what I really like about The Conjuring 2. The Warrens don't march into the house and immediately start to cleanse it. They are skeptical throughout, pointing out that the girls were probably just jumping off their beds in the photos. I also enjoy the human aspect of the story, like Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) just strumming the guitar and singing Elvis for the kids to alleviate their terror. Moments like that really set this series apart from other horror films.

What did I not like about this film? The Crooked Man, whether claymation or not, is absurd. I laughed! Every time he showed up I was completely taken out of the experience. The Demon Nun is very scary, but uh... the purpose was? There was just too many manifestations that really had nothing to do with the "true" haunting.

I think the real problem is that this film had too big of a budget - it's actually double the budget of The Conjuring. The simple scares of the original are amplified to dizzying (and unscary) heights. I've seen a crucifix turn upside down many times, maybe on not such a large scale, but still... The whole final confrontation is just overblown and uninspired (and never happened).

I was very disappointed by this film, so I guess I'm missing out on the cooler weather and being scared senseless. Tragic.

The Conjuring 2 is now available at the Franklin County Library.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Poet's Perch : Loyalty by Berton Braley


He may be six kinds of a liar,
He may be ten kinds of a fool,
He may be a wicked highflyer
Beyond any reason or rule;
There may be a shadow above him
Of ruin and woes to impend,
And I may not respect, but I love him,
Because - well, because he's my friend.

I know he has faults by the billion,
But his faults are a portion of him;
I know that his record's vermilion,
And he's far from the sweet Seraphim;
But he's always been square with yours truly,
Ready to give or to lend,
And if he is wild and unruly,
I like him - because he's my friend.

I criticize him but I do it
In just a frank, comradely key,
And back-biting gossips will rue it
If ever they knock him to me!
I never make diagrams of him,
No maps of his soul have I penned;
I don't analyze - I just love him,
Because - well, because he's my friend.

Berton Braley

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Marvelous Monday Returns!

After a hiatus for Summer Reading, we resumed Marvelous Monday this week.  We kicked things off by making a hoop glider.  Similar to a paper airplane, a hoop glider is made from a straw, an index card, and some tape.

Come next Monday at 4:15 and see what new project we get into!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Chance's Corner: The Birds Review

Flocks of birds swarmed Capitola, California in 1961 and hurled themselves into people's homes (puked a bit, too), which caused quite a panic. Alfred Hitchcock caught wind of their plight, read Daphne du Maurier's shocking novelette, and was inspired to create The Birds.

The Birds starts with shrill squawks and caws - the only soundtrack composer Bernard Herrmann helped curate for this film. Other than a little ditty on the piano and a haunting a cappella children's melody, there are no violins to punctuate the horror. Just the sounds of ravenous birds.

Most of The Birds is filled with build-up and character development. Hitchcock doesn't just toss Tippi Hedren & Company into the fray - he eases them into it - until the tension is almost palpable. The crows slowly converging at the school playground is one of the most iconic and frightening scenes in film history. The last act plays out a little like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead - birds pecking away at boarded windows and doors - Tippi & Co sitting in the darkness, and seeking comfort in tight corners.

The only drawback to The Birds is its resolution - or lack thereof. What lies beyond the bend in the road? Why did the birds go cuckoo? Hitchcock didn't know the answer. And no one in Capitola, California knew, either, until decades later. The birds had ingested domoic acid, which is produced by red algae. The birds just simply lost their minds and died.

The Birds is available at the Franklin County Library!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Square Triangle Circle Squiggle

Here's a quick quiz:  From the following shapes, pick the one that you like best.

Picked your shape?  Good.  You've just taken a personality test!  

The library staff took this quiz yesterday.  I won't tell you who's who - you'll have to figure that out for yourself - but we have on staff one square, one triangle, one squiggle, and one circle-y squiggle.
So what does it mean?

A square is someone data driven and structure oriented.  They like routines, rules, and stability.  They prefer to work alone and need expectations to be clearly spelled out.  They are very organized.
A triangle is someone who is focused on the bottom line.  They don't need to know all the details, but do want to know the "why."  They are impatient, confident, and decisive.  They hate meetings. 
A circle is fun-loving, social, and good at communication.  They are caregivers and peacemakers.  They can over commit and have a hard time saying no.  They like people.
A squiggle is a creative visionary.  They are enthusiastic and like to try new things.  They are easily bored and have difficulty with completion.  They are spontaneous.   

Why is this important?  In an office as small as ours, personality conflicts can become a big deal.  Understanding why our coworkers' minds work the way they do can go a long way to keeping irritations at a minimum.   Each of us bring different strengths to the job, too, and we can learn to use all the different assets we have at our disposal.

I took this quiz and the analysis from  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Julie's Journal : Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I was in college when I first discovered Harry Potter, or rather when my dad handed me the first two books and told me to read them.  I, like most of the rest of the world, was immediately hooked.  Over the next few years I read each new book on the day it was released, watched the movies, and introduced my friends to Harry Potter.  When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released it marked the end of a marvelous adventure.

However, in the last year or so, Harry Potter fans were excited to learn that a play, set in the world of Harry Potter, was going to be produced in London.  On July 31st, Harry's birthday, the script was released to the public.  Reviews of the script were mixed, and because of that I began reading it with a little trepidation.

Harry Potter is now middle-aged and struggling with the demands of parenthood and a career in the Ministry of Magic as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement.  The play begins with Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Draco seeing their kids off on the Hogwart's Express for the beginning of another school year.  Harry's middle son, Albus Severus, is nervous about which house he will be sorted into.  We get to see Albus sorted, (I'm not going to tell you which house he ends up in!) and then we quickly skip ahead to the beginning of his fourth year.  

Albus overhears Amos Diggory begging Harry to use a recently confiscated time-turner to return to the Tri-Wizard tournament and save Cedric.  (See Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the story of the Tri-Wizard tournament.)  Harry refuses the request, of course, but Albus, eavesdropping on the conversation, decides to try and right this wrong.  Albus and his friend Scorpious set off on a series of adventures, and in the process very nearly doom the entire wizarding world.

I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  The script formatting took some getting used to, but made for a quick read.  I enjoyed seeing Harry as an adult, just trying to live a normal life.  Due to the limitations of the play format, Albus and Scorpious are the only kids whose characters were fully developed.  I would love to see the personalities of Harry and Ginny and Hermione and Ron's other children in the future.  I hope J.K. Rowling is not done with the Harry Potter world just yet.

Should Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ever come to a stage near here, I would love to see it!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chance's Corner: Apocalypse Now Review

On August 15, 1979, Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece Apocalypse Now hit theaters and has remained on the world's conscience ever since.

Adapted from Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now is an odyssey into Hell - a journey to the darkest recesses of the human psyche. Army Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) takes this journey with a ragtag crew deep into the Vietnamese jungle, along the river, with the goal of killing Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) - an all-star military man who has gone off the grid and set himself up as a god amongst the Montagnard tribe.

And what's Hell without its colorful inhabitants? Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) is a surfing maniac who loves the smell of napalm in the morning (I'm sure at anytime, honestly). A photojournalist (Dennis Hopper) is a little spaced out in the jungle. The devil himself, Kurtz, is a domineering figure who hides in the shadows and mutters bone-chilling ideals and beliefs (most, if not all, improvised by Brando).

After all these years, I finally sat down and watched this film (on it's 37th anniversary). I've been avoiding it because war films are not usually my cup of tea, and I also believe some films are better appreciated (and understood) at certain ages. I'm glad I finally gave Apocalypse Now a chance. It is an experience. Within its filmstrips is the greatest (and darkest) magic cinema has ever produced (and it was a hell of a production). Director Francis Ford Coppola once said that his film isn't about Vietnam. It is Vietnam. I'll take it one step further. This isn't a war film. This is war. And this is the closest glimpse of war I ever want to see.

Apocalypse Now Redux is now available to rent at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tom's Two Cents : Florence Foster Jenkins: The Tyranny of Ambition and the Ecstasy of Delusion

Florence Foster Jenkins was a wealthy New York socialite with a passion, rather than an innate talent, for classical music.  In the New York City of the 1940's she was a mover and a shaker, a founder of the Verdi Club, patron of Toscanini, and unfulfilled singer. Her amusing and often poignant climb to the pinnacle of music--a debut at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall--is the subject of Meryl Streep's new film, "Florence Foster Jenkins."

For those Streep fans who are now legion, one can only look forward to what the Miraculous Meryl will pull off next.  As usual she doesn't disappoint, but wrings both the poignancy and the delightful kookiness out of the Jenkins character.  But the biggest surprise and delight of all is Hugh Grant, who plays her slightly scandalous, but oh so devoted husband, determined to protect Florence from the slings and barbs of the New York critics.  Why?  Well the simple truth is, she not only can't sing, she sings so badly that she can't even carry a tune--yet she appears on stage, blissfully unaware that her butchering of great operatic arias is hysterically funny.

Streep sings all the songs and arias herself and does them live.  Not since the recitals of Anna Russell, a great satirist of opera in the 1950s, have I been so entertained, and at the same time moved by the sincere love of this deeply odd couple.  Grant emerges as a mature comic/dramatic talent worthy of the late Cary Grant.  And Simon Helberg, one of the fabulous four in "Big Bang Theory," makes a gem out of a secondary role, Mme. Florence's accompanist, Cosme McMoon.  Sets and costumes evoke a marvelous sense of New York society during the late days of WWII.  And when you next make potato salad, you will immediately evoke the infamous bathtub scene--enough said!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Anybody who has ever worked in retail knows the joys of inventory.  I (Julie) have never had that pleasure, but I learned all about inventory when I came to the library.  For the first several years of my employment, we were pretty random about inventory, but four years ago we decided to do it all at one time, in the summer.  It's a BIG job and it has been mostly the responsibility of our summer help, but this year, the bulk of it fell to Christian.

Today she is finishing up the last section, the children's area.  We saved the kids' area for last so we would be done with summer reading before we started.  It's not the easiest section to inventory, but so far Christian isn't complaining!  She claims to even enjoy it!  Finishing the children's section will mean that Christian, (with a little help), has inventoried over 16,000 items this summer.  I consider that a job well done!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Julie's Journal : What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Those of you who know Jason and I, know that we rarely venture too far from home.  Most of the time we both enjoy spending our breaks around the house and working on improving our home.  Occasionally, we will take a short trip that usually includes taking in a Texas Ranger's baseball game, but that's about as exciting as we get.  This year, though, we both wanted to do something different - something that would get us out of our routine.

Early last Thursday morning we started driving north and east and by the end of the day (actually late that night), and after driving curving mountain roads in a thunderstorm after dark, we were in Gatlinburg, TN.  Friday, we spent the whole day exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was spectacular!

It was also wonderfully cool.  Our truck thermometer read 66 degrees and there was a very pleasant cool breeze blowing!  We did not miss the Texas heat!


We stopped at Newfound Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line and ventured a very short way down the Appalachian Trail.

Now, during those ice-breaker, get-to-know-you type games, I can say that I have hiked the Appalachian Trail!

Coming down the other side into North Carolina, we stopped at Mingus Mill.  Mingus Mill is an 1886 grist mill powered by a flue that diverts water from a mountain stream.  We found the design to be ingenious, and a friendly park ranger demonstrated the mill in action.  Cornmeal was a main staple for most households and families from miles around would bring their corn and wheat to be ground at the mill.

 After lunch, we drove through Cade's Cove and enjoyed a different view of the mountains.  I felt small and insignificant standing surrounded by the mountains.  The pictures really do not do justice to how magnificent the scenery was.

Cade's Cove is also home to several historic cabins, churches, and cemeteries.  One gravestone was inscribed "murdered by rebels", which we found interesting.

Jason did not want to go back to Gatlinburg, so we took a different exit from Cade's Cove and found ourselves on a 12-mile 1-way "unimproved" road out of the mountains (Rich Mountain Road).  It was a narrow gravel road with no guard rails, and for the entire 12 mile trip, we saw only one other person, a man on a motorcycle.  Jason says that this was his favorite drive of the trip, but I was pretty  nervous and only took one picture.  The picture doesn't show it, but some parts of the road had steep drop offs on one side or the other.  It was crazy!

The next day we ventured into Georgia, to Atlanta, to visit the Georgia Aquarium.  It was interesting, but very crowded.  Our favorite part of the trip by far was the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  We look forward to a return visit, as there are several things we didn't have time to see!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Reading : The Finale

Tuesday was the last day of Summer Reading and we celebrated with a water party!

We had a total of 692 kids attend Summer Reading and together they read 7426 books!

Our top readers were:

4-6 years old:      Trinity Woods with 280 books read
7-9 years old:      Samantha Edge with 485 books read
10-12 years old:  Sawyer Burns with 392 books read

Winners received a Kindle Fire and an Amazon gift card, courtesy of the Friends of the Library!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Reading : Chalk Day

Chalk day is always fun and this year Mrs. August added to it by drawing this cool weight-lifting bar on the wall.  The kids have had a ball posing with it!  

If you happen to be passing by today, don't worry about the drawings on the side of the building!  It's not graffiti, just chalk!