Friday, March 29, 2013

A Bundle of Bunnies...

Got some time off and looking for entertainment? Try one of our many bunny flicks. Classic movies include Alice in Wonderland, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Watership Down. Funny, silly titles are The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, starring Wallace and Gromit and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? For those with a taste for history try Miss Potter, a story about beloved author Beatrix Potter’s life. An enjoyable short children’s film is Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby in which clever Brer Rabbit outsmarts the wily Brer Fox. The Ugly Duckling and Winnie-the-Pooh have bunny buddies too. Happy viewing and Happy Spring! DB

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Intouchables (French Film)

In general, I tend not to be an advocate for Foreign Films.  However, with that being said, I have watched my fair share of some good and some bad over the years.  A friend, who resides in the Netherlands, had recommended this film to me several months ago during her visit.  Ever since then, I have been anxiously awaiting its debut in the American market. 

The Intouchables is a remarkable French film that is based on a true story about an ex-con (Driss) from the projects, who is hired to take care of an eccentric French aristocrat (Philippe).  As this unlikely duo overcomes adversity of every flavor in  this story, they also shatter their preconceptions of love, life and each other.  Based on the #1 International best-selling book, You Changed My Life, this story is adventurous, humorous and emotionally enlightening all in one.  Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, I could easily recommend it to individuals who might be interested in Foreign Films, but who are intimidated by the language barrier.  This film's plot is very easy to follow even if you are not a master of the French language and is arguably one of the best Foreign Films I have ever watched.  I highly recommend it, but its 'R' rating (for language and some drug use) makes it not suitable for young children.  Otherwise, there is really nothing in it that I found to be offensive (in my opinion) at all.  BC-Library Director

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Life Well-Lived

A Simple Life is a spare and gorgeously filmed movie that explores the end of life and who we consider to be our "family" when it really comes down to it. Maid Ah Tao has served a single household for four generations, culminating with the last bachelor son, Roger.  After suffering a stroke, Ah Tao decides to retire to an assisted-living facility where she comes to terms with her own mortality and where she and Roger begin to realize that their bond goes much deeper than as merely servant and employer.  HM

Friday, March 22, 2013

A flock of secrets

Sheep are Mathieu Etcheberri’s life. What he wants most is to leave the family ranch in Arizona and go to the university. When his father dies in an accident, secrets are revealed.  Mathieu finds out he is not heir to the ranch and is forced to travel to France to meet a family he doesn’t know to claim his land. He is thrown into another culture where he learns about his ancestors and the traditions of his childhood. The French Pyrenees are stuck in time and Mathieu has to make sense out of decisions made by his grandfather years ago. He manages to find his place in the world and the answers he was seeking. The Last Shepherd by Martin Etchart is an interesting tale about growing up in a Basque-American family. The story is current and unpredictable.  DB    

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Movies for Grownups

One might ask, what is a grownup? I'm thinking it is a film lover who can't relate to the "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl and they get married and live happily ever after" syndrome.  A film that addresses different stages of life. So, in my own mind, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  definitely fits in the movies for grownups category.

When seven cash-strapped seniors decide to 'outsource' their retirement to a resort in far-off India, friendship and romance blossom in the most unexpected ways. Also larger themes are touched upon, old age, change and loneliness, with enough comedy to make it palatable!

After 25 years together, the members of a world-renowned string quartet learn that their beloved cellist may soon be forced to retire. But the news stirs up equally painful challenges when competing egos, harbored resentment, and  lust threaten to derail the group as they struggle to maintain harmony in their music, and their lives. This film just has it all, great music, wonderful acting and an intense story line. A Late Quartet is great!

Inspired by the bestselling book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery, The Hedgehog is a film about what lies beneath the facade we all project in public. Paloma is a young girl bent on suicide on her twelfth birthday, despairing of the world and it's hypocrisies. When she learns that the grumpy building concierge is much more than she seems (she reads Tolstoy to her cat and other eccentricities) and an interesting Japanese man moves into the building, she finds unexpected allies. Just lovely, and the art direction in the film is a terrific added attraction.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Must See Photo Books

What's not to love about photo books of kittens? Of puppies? Of dogs doing funny things under water?  If you get a chance to stop by the library take a glance at some of the cutest books I've ever seen. The first is Smitten: A Kitten's Guide to Happiness by Rachel Hale.  The photos of kittens in adorable poses and settings include little sayings sure to get you inspired and give you an all around good feeling.  Rachel Hale has won numerous awards for her animal portraits and we own another prime example - Snog, another book of photos but this time of puppies!  (Check out our previous blog about Snog, October 2012).  What really got me wanting to write about these cute photo books is Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel.  You will laugh out loud at this book...I have never seen anything so funny.  Casteel has taken photos of dogs underwater, usually as they chase balls.  What results from the dog leaping into the water are bubbles, bared teeth and popping eyes in adorable dog faces. They say visiting with animals alleviates depression and stress.  If you want a 'visit' without the fur you can get it from these books.  There are plenty of images of Hale's work online and check out this link to some photos of Casteel's underwater dogs. SG

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Photocraft: Creative Mixed-Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs by Susan Tuttle and Christy Hydeck covers everything from how to take a great picture to how to create a mixed media project. Digital techniques use Adobe Photoshop Elements and some iPhoneography apps which can help you sharpen up your digital print, remove unwanted pixels, fix exposures and much more. The best part is the creative arts part of the book which shows you how to alter a photo using not only digital techniques, of which there are many, but using good old fashioned ‘tools’ such as pastels, inks, wax and cheesecloth! Guest artists include Claudine Hellmuth and Samantha Harding.

My favorite project? Creating a realistic-looking watercolor painting in three easy steps. I will share this much: Digitally apply the charcoal filter to turn your photograph into a sketch. Print onto watercolor paper and then brush on washes of watercolor paint! Of course it sounds simple but the authors tips-prompts-variations section covers much more and the list of digital and actual materials and numbered instructions provide step by step I guess you will have to check the book out if you want to play with your photos! SG

Thursday, March 14, 2013


When I saw Lee Child give a recommendation for The Ghostman by Roger Hobbs I was thrilled to find a new author that not only has a similar style of writing as Child but has the same expertise in building a good story.  This book was everything I expected and more!  The Ghostman is the guy in a heist who makes people ‘disappear’ after a job and he’s an expert at disappearing himself.  When The Wolf finds him and tells him he has a job that he HAS to do because he ‘owes’ him the Ghostman is not too happy he was found.  The story within the story explains how the Ghostman came to owe The Wolf and while this type of writing is usually not something that works for me I found it very interesting and anxiously followed both storylines to see what would happen next.  Speaking of anxious - I am anxiously awaiting Hobbs next book! SG

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fantastic Songs

Songs of the Earth, The Wild Hunt Book One

Orphaned as a newborn, Gair was raised in the Holy City by the church.
Although he respects and believes the church's teachings, he hides a dark secret: he hears the music of the earth. There are those who believe the music of the earth is natural, intertwined with the fabric of creation, and others who believe those who hear the music must be burned at the stake as witches for the sake of creation. However, unknown to each side, the Veil between kingdoms is weakening and will soon undergo an assault by a very dangerous mage turned reiver. Gair's power is strong, and he stands positioned to either be humanity's savior or its condemnation. Will the respected mages judge him capable to work the power of earth, fire, air, and water, or will dark magic infiltrate his mind and tear him apart from the inside out? (Copyright 2010 Booklist )

Exiled from his home and from the Church he had vowed to serve as a Knight because of his ability to hear the songs of the earth and wield its magic, Gair finds that war clouds are gathering around him. The Speaker for one of the tribes of Nordmen seeks Gair's aid in summoning the Goddess and her Wild Hunt. Sensing the approaching conflict, the Church that exiled Gair has seen the necessity to make sweeping changes of its own, as it begins accepting women into its knighthood. VERDICT In this sequel to the acclaimed Songs of the Earth Cooper's voice remains strong and fresh, her characters are genuine and well-developed, and the world she has carefully built comes vividly to life. (Library Journals LLC)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thoughts for Travelers

If travelling makes you feel fearful or unsettled, Dr. Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler will be a great help. The book is divided into 46 concise sections that focus on one specific thought or practice. The author explains that there is a space between stimulus and response that can be used to make a choice. The response will depend on the choice. He offers suggestions about how to recognize this space and make beneficial choices. The book also includes a step-by-step story about boarding an airplane, for those who fear flying. Goldstein is the author of The Now Effect and the Mindful Solutions Program and is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. He has been a leader in mindfulness psychology and maintains a private practice in Los Angeles. DB   

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nordic Noir

Nordic Noir is a catchy name for mysteries from Nordic authors. The whole craze was started by the great popularity of Steig Larsson's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, although author Henning Mankell writing about detective Kurt Wallander, in books and on a television series, was popular before Dragon. Jo Nesbo is a fine example of Nordic Noir, with his series of  crime fiction books, including The Snowman and The Leopard. Quentin Bates writes about Officer Gunnhilder, who is trying to balance work and family in his books Frozen Assets and ColdComfort. Goteborg, Sweden, is the setting for a promising series starring Irene Huss, detective inspector in a police force not yet comfortable with women officers. The overview of Swedish society, its liberal foundation cracked by racism, drugs, and a new wave of vicious crime, forms a compelling backdrop for the series by author Helene Tursten. ML

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Secrets That Can't Stay Buried

I am a sucker for cold case mysteries, and this 2007 book from Harlan Coben did not disappoint.  The title The Woods refers to a forested summer camp where four teens were viciously murdered twenty years before, but two of the bodies were never found.  When one of those bodies finally shows up two decades later, the brother of the other missing victim is thrown into a twisted tale of deceit and family secrets.  HM