Blizzard by John Rocco From Miss Melia at Main Library
Having thoroughly enjoyed Dolphin Tale (the true story of Winter, a rescued dolphin who receives a prosthetic tail), I was excited to watch her continuing story in Dolphin Tale 2, which starred the original cast members Nathan Gamble as Sawyer (the boy who bonded with Winter) and Harry Connick Jr. as Dr. Clay Haskett (who heads the rescue and rehab team at Clearwater Marina). In this adventure, we find the marina thriving as a tourist attraction and animal rehab facility with Winter as the main exhibit, but sadly when Winter loses her pool companion, she becomes depressed and refuses to interact with others or even wear her prosthetic tail. USDA regulations state that a dolphin must have a companion, which means she will be moved to another marina if one cannot be found for her, and this is very troubling to Sawyer, who is also facing personal issues of his own. While I found the sequel to be as enjoyable as the original with its wholesome, inspiring storyline, and lessons about determination after set-back and doing the right thing, the film spends a lot of time showing the minute details of the job of a marine biologist and I think this causes the movie to move a little slowly. The animal antics are really fun to watch though and I especially enjoyed the pelican named Rufus. Overall Rating: A-
Based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl is a thriller centered around a seemingly perfect love between Nick and Amy Dunne (played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) that turned hostile, toxic, and possibly murderous. On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears from their home in Missouri, leaving behind a suspicious looking “crime scene” and enough bizarre clues to paint her husband Nick as the prime suspect in her disappearance and possible murder. Nick insists he is innocent, but as the days pass with no sign of Amy, information surfaces that Nick has been unfaithful and short-tempered in their marriage, adding to the appearance of his guilt. Just when you think you have it figured out, the plot takes another turn, adding to the suspense, and keeping you engaged all the way to the end. While I feel that the book provided more details about the story and the relationships between the characters than the movie did, the cast and the acting brought the story to life for me and had me hooked from the beginning. Overall Rating: A
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Being a die-hard Denzel Washington fan, I was anticipating seeing him star in this 2014 film version of The Equalizer, which is a re-vamp of the T.V. series from the late 1980’s. The movie starts out a little slow showing McCall (Denzel Washington) as a mysterious man living a normal quiet life until he meets Teri, a teenage girl that is being mishandled by Russian gangsters, and he decides that he cannot sit by any longer. With his set of formidable skills, McCall’s desire for justice is awakened. I really enjoyed the movie for the action, but beware: there are quite a few violent, bloody, and gory parts in this film. Although I did like the movie, I can say there were also a few corny, predictable parts that they could have left out of an action-packed, thriller movie. I would recommend this to anyone who loves action-thriller films, and, even though it was not one of the best movies of Denzel Washington’s career, it still gets my thumbs up. Overall Rating: B+
Nature lovers, bird lovers and bird watchers across the country annually celebrate National Bird Day on January 5th.
Dylan O'Brien stars as Thomas, an amnesiac youth who awakens in a green valley surrounded by a band of boys. An impenetrable, menacing, immense, towering, maze encircles the youth who live in a dystopian society, a way of life that Thomas soon rebels against. The film, although based on a teen novel, appeals to all ages, due to its intriguing developments. The pace of the story and the audio effects were very good, while the special effects were okay. The Maze Runner’s closing needed an overhaul; however, the rest of the film was flawless. Overall Rating: B+
Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root From Miss Carole at Main Library
Cuban Fury is the story of Bruce Garrett, a mild-mannered engineer who was once a salsa-dancing child prodigy until a run-in with a group of bullies convinced him to burn his dancing shoes. When Bruce discovers the fact that his beautiful new boss, Julia, loves salsa dancing, he decides to slip on his dancing heels and sequined shirts once again in an effort to win her affections and defeat his slimy co-worker who has also set his sights on Julia. Some of the highlights of this film are the actors involved – Nick Frost, Chris O’Dowd, and Kayvan Novak are real standouts, while Rashida Jones, Ian McShane, and Olivia Colman are wonderful but sadly under-utilized. The dance sequences are flashy and fun and the dance-off between Bruce and his rival, played by O’Dowd, which takes place in the office parking garage is downright hilarious. This is a feel-good story about an overweight underdog who finds his “corazon” or heart, gets the girl, and sets the dance floor on fire in the process. Overall Rating: B
'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
When I sat down to watch The Guardians of the Galaxy, I had high expectations for the film considering all of the great reviews I had heard, but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with my level of enjoyment. The movie did have some humorous parts, I admit, and there were a few moments that were especially touching, but I never got as engaged in the storyline as I hoped I would, possibly because I wasn’t familiar with any of the Marvel characters in the film or because I typically don’t watch science fiction. However, I did appreciate the repeated theme of what true friendship is and means. One of my very favorite parts of the film, though, was the inclusion of music in the actual storyline: Unlike many films that use their soundtracks as merely background music, Guardians of the Galaxy allows its soundtrack (“Awesome Mix Vol. 1”) to weave in and out of the storyline, adding another layer of interest to the film, especially for those who enjoy music from the 1960s and 70s. In the end, I will probably watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2 when it is released in 2017, but I’m not sure if I will need a repeat of Guardians until that time. Overall Rating: B-
It's December, which means our annual Gingerbread Houses program is back!
Book Review: Baking Day at Grandma's by Anika Denise
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+