Today we celebrate the birthday of a true master of mystery & suspense, Mary Downing Hahn!
With all of the hype surrounding the release of country duo Florida Georgia Line’s second album Anything Goes, I must admit that I was underwhelmed and disappointed after listening to it. There is only one song on the album that I like enough to listen to multiple times, and that is “Dirt”, which is already being played on country radio. Most of the other songs sounded very similar musically, and I had to fight the urge to skip tracks without hearing them all the way through because of the monotony. In my opinion they rely too much on lyrics that don’t make sense, as well as unnecessary clichés throughout (including the track titled “Angel” during which they actually sing the line “Did it hurt when you fell from the sky?”). It appears that with all of their recent success and popularity in the modern country music world, Florida Georgia Line may have been too rushed to release their next album, resulting in an overall boring and repetitive collection of songs that surely will not be as popular as their first album. Overall rating: D
Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson From Miss Heather at Butler and Lucas Branches
It is 1985, hip hop and boom boxes are the rage, and 13 year old Radical Miracle (Marcello Conte) and his state trooper father, housewife mother, and goth sister are at their annual summer beach habitat in Ocean City, Maryland. When he is not awkwardly beatboxing or break dancing, Radical spends most of his time at the beach arcade with his new 13 year old friend, Teddy, playing ping pong. Conflict comes in the form of two local rich teens who make it their job to constantly bully Radical and Teddy. Radical finds time to impress a local beauty and navigate around an eccentric neighbor before settling a score with the local bullies through a ping pong challenge. Ping Pong Summer wonderfully captures the Ocean City beach scene, and the nostalgia of the period, but, besides a couple of surprises, the storyline is boring and predictable. Overall Rating: C
This week marks Geography Awareness Week and we have a great map craft for you.
America Recycles Day is here; find out what you can do to participate today and every day!
On 747, the fifth album by country group Lady Antebellum, the trio debuts a different sound with bigger arrangements and more electric guitar-driven songs than on their earlier albums. Overall the sound leans more toward the pop/adult contemporary vibe of some of the band’s biggest crossover hits (like "Need You Now" and "Downtown") with new singles like "Bartender", "Freestyle", and "Just a Girl". For me, the best tracks on the album are the ones that show off the tight harmonies between Hillary, Dave, and Charles including "Down South", "Long Stretch of Love", "Lie with Me", and the title track. Loyal fans will enjoy this album even if country purists complain about the lack of a more traditional country sound, but Lady A is by no means the only country act that is focusing more on crossover hits these days. The band is clearly stretching its wings and experimenting with new ideas on this album, and I think it will be a successful new direction for them. Grade B+ The deluxe edition of this CD, including three extra songs, is also available on Hoopla, the library’s online streaming service for music, audiobooks, and movies.
Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet From Miss Heather at Butler Branch and Lucas Branch
Being a lover of all things food, I thought that the feature film Chef would be right up my alley, and I was absolutely right. In Chef, Carl Casper, played by Jon Favreau (who also wrote and produced the film), loses his job in a restaurant and tries to turn his life around by buying a food truck. As the film progresses, it is easy to relate to the various characters as they react to the storyline with realistic emotions: anger, hurt, despair, disappointment, loyalty and hope, among others. In addition, the film includes several valuable lessons for today’s world, such as the importance of using social media responsibly and appreciating those things that are so easily taken for granted, such as family and good friends. In the end, the film wraps up extremely neat and tidy – almost to the point of being outside believability – but because of all the other wonderful features of the film, it is one that I fully recommend. Overall Rating: B+
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry From Miss Devin at Lexington Branch
Paint or decorate a Book O'Lantern to look like a children's book character.
In this interesting PBS documentary, a group of experts theorize about the mystery behind Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and whether or not he actually painted his most famous work twice. In the early 1900’s, a second portrait surfaced – the so-called “Isleworth Mona Lisa” – that was strikingly similar to the Mona Lisa which hangs in the Louvre in Paris. Scientists and historians were able to use modern techniques to analyze both works of art in an attempt to determine if they were both created by da Vinci himself or if perhaps the Isleworth painting is nothing more than an excellent forgery. The narrative in this documentary goes back and forth, examining all theories, and by the end many questions are still left up to each individual’s own interpretation. While I learned a great deal from this film regarding the overall history of the famous painting, for me the mystery behind it all still remains a total mystery – but that just adds to the iconic charm of Mona Lisa herself. Overall rating: B+
Pete the Cat and the New Guy by Kimberly and James Dean
Bee People: Get Stung is a documentary from director David Knappe that shadows the daily exploits of American rural and urban beekeepers. The Bee Guru, Bee Angel, Bee Medic, Bee Cop and others give attitude and flair when they interact with other beekeepers, whether they retrieve swarms from a barn or extract honey from a city backyard hive. Hilarious, educational, short film clips quiz people on the street to test their bee knowledge. Yes, beekeepers get stung in this film, just as I have, when I visit my own hive. This is one of the best films I’ve seen on beekeeping; the actors entertain, and teach their craft expertly. Overall Raing: A+
True Detective is the story of the partnership of two Louisiana State detectives named Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. The story ranges between 1995, when the newly partnered detectives begin to investigate a ritualistic and gruesome murder, and 2012 when the two are being questioned separately by two officers who are investigating a new crime with ties to the old case. Together the writer and director of this HBO series create a haunting story shot in a surrealistic Louisiana landscape with a leisurely pace that examines not only the crimes in question but the evolving relationship between the two main characters. The show won several Emmy awards, and I cannot express how perfect the casting, directing, and cinematography are in this series. My one complaint is the fact that, as in most HBO and pay-cable series, there is too much use of gratuitous female nudity and a lack of strong female characters to balance the two male leads. Overall Rating: B+
This month's craft ideas come from Miss Melanie, who hosted a Leafy Family Fun program.
The Fault in Our Stars – based on the young adult novel of the same name – focuses on two teenagers named Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus (Ansel Elgort) who form a relationship after meeting in a cancer support group. Throughout the movie, Hazel is very frank about her diagnosis and doesn’t revert to the woe-is-me view point, which is refreshing for a film with such a solemn topic. The acting is superb and the storyline stays (mostly) true to the book itself. My only true complaint is that, at several points, text bubbles representing text messages appear on the screen, and they are written in a font that was difficult for me to read. Overall, it was a great film and one that I may have to go out and purchase. Overall Rating: A-
Arrrrrrrrgh, Mateys! Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day!
The newest offering for the long running Godzilla movie series stars Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston. The movie certainly has spectacular special effects, and I like the way the creators made Godzilla both menacing and powerful and yet almost endearing in their nod to the original rotund monster. This rendition of Godzilla also resurrects some of the earlier films' portrayals of Godzilla as hero and protector of humanity as it battles against impressive creatures who threaten to destroy civilization. The overall acting is fine, but time after time the absurd coincidences in which characters happen to be in the right place at the right time make believing in the enormous creatures seem easy. Still, it is great to see the iconic monster hit the big screen once again, and if you like great action and superb special effects, you may enjoy this movie. Overall Rating: B-
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite in this romantic comedy to play single parents Jim and Lauren who meet on a terrible blind date. Although they have no intentions of seeing each other again, they manage (by total coincidence) to end up at the same African safari resort for a spring break vacation with their kids. Their families are forced to interact during activities at the resort – some hilarious, and others kind of heart-warming – which of course leads Jim and Lauren to fall in love and their kids to get along like a real “blended” family. Like most Adam Sandler movies that I’ve seen, this film has its quirky and corny moments throughout, but the on-screen chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore is unmistakable, and almost magical. If you enjoyed their previous movie together (“50 First Dates”) like I did, then I believe you will be entertained by this film as well. Overall rating B+