Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chance's Corner: Finding Dory Review

Finding Dory isn't Pixar's first attempt at turning a bumbling sidekick into the main attraction, but where they once failed (Cars 2), they have now succeeded.

Finding Dory covers some of the same territory as Finding Nemo, but this flaw is easy to overlook because Finding Dory is full of charm, genuine laughs, and it's really just a fun, fast-paced romp. 

This time around, our hero, a blue tang with short-term memory loss named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), bounces from point to point inside the Marine Life Institute trying to find her long-lost family. Along the way she meets a slew of new and funny characters such as a septopus named Hank (Ed O'Neill), a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), and... Sigourney Weaver??? Dory may find herself in several perilous positions, but she is certainly no damsel in distress. She overcomes all her obstacles by using her knowledge and experience (the bits that she can remember).

Speaking of which, Dory's struggle with short-term memory loss is treated more seriously this time around. Sure, it's still used for comic relief, and it's as funny as ever, but when the reality of its effects on her entire life sink in, it's pure waterworks. Yes, I cried.

Finding Dory is now available at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas in the Library

Today has been all about decorating for Christmas here at Franklin County Library.  Every new employee we hire shows an aptitude for different things.  Our newest employee, Taylor Wafford, seems to be quite the pro at Christmas decorating.  Lisa asked her to make a few ornaments out of the pages of an old book, and she went wild.

I think the tree turned out great!

Come by and see all our decorations!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Movies With Friends : Mr. Church

The Friends of the Franklin County Library will be showing Mr. Church on Thursday, December 1st at 1:30. Reserve your seat now.
"Mr. Church" tells the story of a unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook - Henry Joseph Church. What begins as a six month arrangement instead spans into fifteen years and creates a family bond that lasts forever.
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson, Natascha McElhone

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chance's Corner: The Shallows Review

Well, it's still warm and humid out there. I could go for a dip at an exotic beach somewhere to cool down, but The Shallows reminds me that it's probably safer to just sit in the air conditioning.

The Shallows is about Nancy (Blake Lively) who goes off to a secret beach that the locals refuse to tell her the name of. Once she gets there she understands why. I mean, the secret beach doesn't have a name that exactly spells out #1 tourist attraction... Great White Gonnagetu Bay.

In all seriousness, The Shallows is one slick shark flick. The premise is simple. Nancy is attacked by a great white shark while surfing and ends up stranded on a piece of rock that will eventually be submerged during high tide. The shore is in sight - just about 200 yards away. She's so close and yet so far away.

Steven Seagull
Nancy spends most of her plight on top of this rock, along with an injured bird called Steven Seagull (seriously). The film could have easily devolved into a boring mess at this point, but it doesn't. The tension carries through, and we're treated to a nice make-shift surgery scene that had my toes curling.

The overall visuals are gorgeous, and they are the main highlight of this film. The secret beach is initially bright and tropical, but it quickly becomes tainted with blood and fear. The vibrant, warm sand becomes cold and grey. The crystal blue water turns murky. Paradise lost.

The Shallows doesn't break any new ground, and Jaws beats it in emotional impact and drama, but it's still a pretty fun movie to watch... and it made me care about the fate of a seagull.
The Shallows is available at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Julie's Journal : On Cataloging J, Y, and YA Fiction

We have been inundated lately by many, many new good books written for young people.  We house these books in the vault and have them broken up into three main categories, J, Y, and YA.  It can sometimes be difficult to decide where to put the books, and parents are sometimes unclear on what each category means, so I thought I would go over the basic requirements for placing a book in each level.

Juvenile (J) Fiction - Juvenile Fiction is where we put beginning level chapter books.  These books are for kids anywhere from 2nd to 6th grade, (ages 8-12).  They have short chapters, an occasional picture, mildly adventurous story lines, and no bad language or sexual situations.  Titles included in this section are the Junie B. Jones series, the Magic Tree House series, the Boxcar Children series, and the Bailey School Kids series.

Youth (Y) Fiction - Youth Fiction is for grades 7-9, (ages 13-15).  Y books have longer chapters with more advanced vocabulary.  They may tackle tougher subjects, such as parental divorce or loss of a loved one.  Characters may have more intense adventures and become involved in perilous situations.  These books may contain an occasional curse word.    Romantic scenes at this level may include kissing, but will generally be considered PG.  Titles in this section include the Percy Jackson series, the Harry Potter series, the Maximum Ride series, and the Fablehaven series.

Young Adult (YA) Fiction - Young Adult books are for grades 10-12, (ages 16-18).  Young Adult books include difficult story lines, intense adventures, some graphic violence, and implied sexual situations.  There will be more instances of curse words, with occasional "very bad" words included.  Romantic situations will be more intense, and while graphic descriptions are not included, the reader will know that the characters have engaged in sexual behavior.  Titles in this section include the Hunger Games series, the Divergent series, the Beautiful Creatures series, and the Gone series.

Recently, we have had to add a fourth section as an off-shoot of the YA section.  New Adult (NA) books are written at a YA level and contain story lines similar to the YA books, but also contain very bad language and graphic sexual scenes.  We have labeled these books as 17+, but they are still housed in the Vault.  Many of the authors of these books have books in both the YA and NA sections.  I recently added Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses series to this section.

Now, we don't worry about who checks out what.  The categories are so that patrons will have an idea of content before choosing a book.  If a 10 year old brings up a YA book to check out we will let them have it.  And if a 90 year old brings up a J book to check out, we'll be glad to let them have it as well.  We depend on parents to help their children choose books that are appropriate for their reading level and maturity.  We want everyone to find books that they will enjoy!  Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chance's Corner: Ghostbusters Review

Boy, oh boy. Girl, oh girl. The new, gender-bending Ghostbusters really started off rough. A mansion tour guide spouts off several lame lines, and I'm as stone-faced as his tour group. One EVP fart and a gallon of ghost vomit later, and I'm still struggling to smile. All that hate circling the internet before the movie even came out seemed to have some merit.

Leslie Jones
However, somewhere along the way, Ghostbusters started to have a few moments - moments where I cracked a smile and some charm oozed. These moments were all mostly in the second act when the crew was assembled. Leslie Jones was probably my favorite of the crew, despite the tokenism of her character. Director Paul Feig wants to make a movie that promotes representation, but he stumbles into the very same pitfall he's trying to cover up. Why couldn't Leslie Jones be a scientist and Melissa McCarthy be a subway worker?

Also, Chris Hemsworth is a handsome, solidly-built devil (the movie beats you over the head with this fact), but his dumb blonde shtick was... dumb. Sure, Feig was using Hemsworth to lash out at a dumb blonde female stereotype, but he's lashing out in the wrong movie. Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver represented strong, independent women in the original Ghostbusters, not women reduced to lame my cat/Mike Hat jokes.

Good grief, I started off complimenting the movie and ended up ranting. I might as well keep going. The villain is lame and underdeveloped, the obvious ad-libbing is truly dreadful, the Fall Out Boy version of the Ghostbusters theme is an abomination, and the climatic battle during the third act feels like it was just thrown together.

Whew, it sounds like I'm completely trashing it. Look, it's an okay movie, alright? Like I said, it has moments. That's all I can give it. 

Ghostbusters is now available at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Poet's Perch : New Friends and Old Friends by Joseph Parry

New Friends and Old Friends

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test - 
Time and change - are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.
For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast - 
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold

Joseph Parry

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tom's Two Cents : Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett's new novel, "Commonwealth," is the story of two modern families in crisis--the result of a divorce in each family that affects six children.  Franny, the younger in one family, has just been christened when the novel begins, and Albee, the youngest of four in the other family, is yet to be born.  A stolen kiss and immediate electric shock (a bit dorky, it seems to me) between Franny's beautiful mother, Beverly, and Bert Cousins, an uninvited guest at the christening party, starts the whole ball rolling, but the story is much less about them or their respective spouses than it is about Cal, Holly, Jeanette, and Albee; Caroline and Franny.  In the best modern tradition, the story of the developing lives of these six children hops, skips, and jumps all over the place, as this old reader, anyway, tries desperately to keep them straight.

Actually Franny Keating carries the greater part of the story.  An engaging, yet perplexing law school dropout, she is a cocktail waitress in Chicago at the famous Palmer House, when she accidentally meets Leonard Posen, a famous author, and later begins an affair with him that more or less dominates the middle part of the book.  I say "more or less," because it seems to me that Patchett is quite determined not to linger too long over any one story line.  Just when one thinks she is finally focusing on one of her many possible protagonists, she is off to another, and usually somewhere in the confusing middle of their story.  Things get really complicated when some of the children marry and have children of their own, while others simply go off the beam, or, in one case, mysteriously die.

Patchett is too facile a writer to induce such a wandering plot accidentally, so I will conclude that it's her deliberate intention to do so, to express her dismay over how six children's lives are so affected by what appears to be a random, romantic moment in the lives of the father of one set and the mother of the other set.  At times both sets of children "hate" their parents, but not each other.  They are too caught up in the dynamics of trying to become one of those increasingly modern things: a "blended" family. 

This book is nothing like Patchett's "Bel Canto" or the more recent "State of Wonder."  We are forever in the less than exotic settings of the modern states of Virginia and California, where one can literally pick the oranges off the trees.  Oranges are, in fact, a predominant motif in the book, and a very prominent part of the dust jacket.  A symbol, you ask?  Certainly!  But I will leave it to you to figure that one out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Chance's Corner: Hunt for the Wilderpeople Review

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a bad egg. We're talking disobedience, stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, loitering and graffiti. No one seems to want to deal with him anymore, until Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her rugged husband, Hec (Sam Neill), take him in.

At first, Ricky is put off by Bella's eagerness and Hec's "reserved" nature, but with a little care and understanding it all seems to work out. However, as fate would have it, tragedy strikes, and Ricky's future with his new family is put in jeopardy. So Ricky does what he does best. He runs away. Okay, maybe he's not so good at it, especially in the New Zealand bush, but he just might make it back home with a little help from Uncle Hec.

Unfortunately, Paula (Rachel House) of child services is on their tail under the assumption that Hec has kidnapped Ricky. In her mind, she is the Terminator, and Ricky is Sarah Connor... from the first movie... before she could do chin-ups. Interesting outlook, but Paula fails to stop and ask herself if she is the Terminator sent to kill or save Sarah Connor.

Okay, that may sound a little kooky, but there is a genuine sense of style, substance and soul in Hunt for the Wilderpeople that I haven't seen in awhile. Director Taika Waititi pulls off perfect direction, characters, humor, quirkiness and emotional resonance. Although Sam Neill and Julian Dennison seem like an unlikely duo, they are truly phenomenal together. The generation gap between them collides and congeals in the New Zealand bush and creates a real gangsta's paradise.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is now available at the Franklin County Library!

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