Suicide Squad (DVD)

Move over Will Smith the ladies are claiming the throne in this action packed, edge of your seat, thrill ride!

suicide-squadViola Davis embodies the antihero and powerful foe Dr. Amanda Blake Waller. In her stunning performance, she creates a team of villains dubbed “Project X” in an effort to anticipate a war of meta-humans (e.g., Superman, Thor, Batman). Holding back no punches, she is ruthless, cunning, calculating, devious and will stop at nothing to execute her agendas. Loved her in this film!

Oh Harley Quinn! How fans such as myself have long awaited your arrival to the big screen! Margot Robbie channels the infamous and notorious Dr. Harleen Quinzel, partner-in-crime and soul mate to the Joker. Despite the disappointment of many deleted scenes of Jared Leto’s epic performance of the Joker (coming second to the portrayal by Heath Ledger), the film still captures the twisted, dysfunctional and abusive relationship between these two tortured sociopaths.

Enchantress! Cara Delevingne has be-spelled the audience with her intuitive portrayal of the Enchantress/June Moone. Although the writers have deviated from the comic-lore with this character, Delevingne is a powerful goddess to be reckoned with nonetheless!

Overall, it is the women who are the stars.

– Sabrina B.

The Making of Donald Trump

makingofdonaldMy work colleague recently contributed  a post about the upcoming presidential inauguration. Here are my thoughts.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how the American people elected Donald Trump as president. I am actively fearing and dreading his presidency.

For awhile I hoped there might be a kinder, gentler Donald underneath, but nothing he has said or done since the election has shown that to be the case.  Basically, I think we are up s*** creek without a paddle (don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but I am anyway). My way of coping, or trying anyway,  is to read and stay informed.

First up, there are some books out there written by Donald Trump himself. Let me just say I have zero interest in reading them.

A recently published, new addition at the library is The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston. The author is a Pulitzer- prize winning investigative journalist who has been writing about Donald Trump for 30 years. He says his credo as an investigative journalist is, if your mother tells you she loves you, check it and then double check it. So I think his credentials are solid.

So what does Johnston have to say about Trump?

Nothing good, I’m afraid.  A lot of it we have already seen for ourselves (his striking back, hard, at anyone who crosses him, his skill at exploiting the media, his mindset which seems more akin to dictator than democrat).

Here’s something I was unaware of. Trump has a long history of  close association with criminals. Johnston describes this association  as “a vast assortment of con artists, swindlers, mobsters and mob associates, a major drug trafficker he went to bat for, and other unsavory characters.”  Deeply troubling connections in a man who will shortly be the President of the United States, I would say.

The reader also gets a detailed account of Trump’s history of  flouting regulations– and often getting away with it. Johnston’s account of Trump University is a good case in point. After numerous complaints, government officials in various states, including Florida, began investigating Trump University. At which point Donald Trump made  a large donation to the Florida attorney-general’s re-election campaign (as did Ivanka Trump). Then, poof—as if by magic– the attorney-general’s investigation into Trump University ceased. Yeah, money talks alright (and silences, too).

I feel like I should end this post on a positive note. Well, reading and generally staying informed is a valuable thing, especially considering Trump’s repeated attacks on the news media.

But the truth is I fear we are in for a rough ride ahead. I hope I’m proved wrong.

Penny D.

The Boss (DVD)

Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a dog eat dog business woman who goes from supreme fame and fortune to losing it all to insider trading. This film has a host of actors from Peter Dthe-boss-2016inklage, Kristen Bell, Kristen Schaal, Cecily Strong, Margo Martindale, Tyler Labine, Parker Young, and Ella Anderson.

Sadly, not even the powerhouse herself, Kathy Bates could save the movie for this viewer. Featuring a lot of lewd and crass humour, many of the jokes fell flat. Not to say that profanity can’t be used in the right comedic context but in this film it seems to be there for the sake of being there resulting in taking away from the film’s humour rather than adding to it.

– Sabrina B.

Embracing Change

sweetbabyessentialarethagodbless

You have to embrace change if you work in a public library.  We see change every day – new books on the shelves through weekly deliveries, daily updates to the magazine and newspaper shelves and wonderful new faces coming in to sign up for library cards.  It’s one of the best parts of working here.  I also like that we rely on routine and I do gravitate towards that.  I enjoy the observance of tradition as much as the next gal.  I so look forward to the reappearance of holidays like Canada Day, Oktoberfest and our neighbour’s festive Fourth of July – parades, I just love parades.   Somehow though, I just can’t seem to muster much enthusiasm for the upcoming U.S. inauguration day.  I am regretting this because they put on a great show with opera singers, fabulous musicians, that nice walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with cheering crowds and many waving flags.  So, to make up for what I will be missing this year I have put the Waterloo Public Library’s catalogue to work for me on a list of books and music.

So, first I thought of some inspiring tunes I would want to listen to.  I started with the classics.  I went with the original “JT” and found James Taylor’s 1970 album Sweet Baby James so that I could enjoy a little bit of “Carolina on my mind”, “Country road” and “Fire and rain”.  Nothing better really.  Knowing that I would be feeling a little low after those soulful tunes I decided to play myself something uplifting like Stevie Wonder or Aretha Franklin.  We have a fantastic CD called The essential Aretha Franklin which is a double disc with all of the most beautiful tracks, just clicking from one to the next is a treat, and it can really get you up out of your chair and dancing.

I also felt like I needed a bit of pomp and circumstance in planning my own inaugural music list and decided to step away from R&B and folk singers.  I went with Copland’s “Appalachian spring” and I hit search and found that we have so many lovely versions of this on our shelves.  In fact, we have a great recording by the Lincoln Centre’s own Chamber Music Society that they recorded in a historic site in Kentucky.  According to their web site they trek out to this barn every year at Memorial Day and play a few concerts there.  I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ exactly but this just might go on my list of things to attend someday.  How cool must that be to catch?  Seeing all of those world-class musicians in a Shaker barn?  Count me in.

All of the best celebrations in the U.S. capitol involve some military melodies and I was aching to hear a bit of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” or something like that so with a quick search on our faithful catalogue I found my best hit so far.  A CD called God bless America which has the Boston Pops with Arthur Fiedler conducting, Leontyne Price, Kate Smith, Harry Belafonte and Perry Como!  It’s just like diving into my mother’s record collection all at once and if you take a glance at the list of songs on this CD it is jam-packed with U.S. patriotic tunes perfect for my home-based inaugural celebration or any other day I just feel like singing along.

dreamsfromtokillwashington

I didn’t want to just listen to music with my personal inauguration celebration so I did a little poking around for something to read.  An easy pick for me was to re-read Barack Obama’s book Dreams from my father: a story of race and inheritance.  Following his farewell speech I felt like I wanted to remember the early years when he worked so hard as a community organizer.  When he asked people to “show up, dive in, stay at it” it made me think I should read those pages again for inspiration.  President Obama was a big fan of reading himself and was called the “Reader-in-Chief” for all that he did to support literacy during his eight years; he published his own reading lists, visited local bookstores, read to thousands of kids and quoted To kill a mockingbird in his farewell speech.  How cool is that?  I’ll definitely return to some favourite chapters while I listen to my music.

For one more reading choice it seemed like it might be worth it to return to the beginning of U.S. presidential history and check out Ron Chernow’s excellent biography of George Washington to get a feel for how the first president approached his time in office.  Surely in 904 pages there has to be more to learn than what I absorbed in my high school American history classes.  In Washington : a life he presents a portrait of a man who is a “celebrated horseman, elegant dancer and tireless hunter”.  I wonder if those words are on a plaque somewhere in Mount Veronn?   If nothing else reading this book will allow me to listen to some of my favourite songs from the Broadway musical Hamilton where they reference George Washington.  It might be hard to listen to a few of those songs right now, especially “One last time”.  If you haven’t heard Chris Jackson’s voice as he sings about his last moments as America’s first president it is so worth a listen.

I’m not sure what I will choose for the last song of my little inaugural party but I will definitely lift my teacup and wish our neighbours well.  After that I will click on the WPL catalogue and plan my next book celebration – maybe Valentine’s Day?  Groundhog day?  I know that the WPL catalogue will provide me with great options.  Maybe I will expand my search this time and include recipes.  Delicious.

– Penny M.

Voracious!

Food and storytelling go hand in hand. From The Very Hungry Caterpillar munching along to Winnie-the-Pooh and his beloved honey. Harry Potter’s shepherd’s pie with a foaming tankard of butter beer to the mouthwatering descriptions of chocolates in the aptly named Chocolat.  And judging by the number of “novels for foodies” lists online and the fact that culinary fiction is hugely popular, I’m obviously not the only one who noticed this.

Butcher and blogger, Cara Nicoletti, has always been a bookworm. In her world, from childhood forward, books and food have always been a focus. Whether the books were shared with her by a family member during a particularly challenging period in Nicoletti’s life and meant to give solace, or simply by a friend who couldn’t wait to share their latest favourite read, she was happily surrounded by books.

In her book, Voracious: a hungry reader cooks her way through great books, Nicoletti shares her favourite works of literature along with food memories connected to each book, and recipes which compliment the meals featured between the covers.

She kicks things off with her childhood favourites, which include breakfast sausage from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and salted chocolate caramels from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The middle section, which covers her university years, includes clam chowder (“Moby Dick”) and chocolate eclairs (“Mrs Dalloway”). Brown butter crepes inspired by Gone Girl help cap off the final “adulthood” chapters of Voracious.

I was intrigued by the concept of Voracious and had high expectations. Voracious was a quick, light read and I did enjoy Nicoletti’s memories however I was a little disappointed in the recipes. I’d hoped to find a few to try but in the end I wasn’t inspired enough to note more than one (chocolate-covered digestive biscuits…I love digestive biscuits and always stock up on Marks & Spencer’s brand when overseas).

Reading Voracious did get me thinking about some of my favourite books featuring food. Excluding food-focused memoirs written by Peter Mayle, Frances Mayes, MFK Fisher and others, there are still a number with memorable scenes…scenes which will send you hurrying to the kitchen for a snack or to get cooking.

One of my favourite classics is Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott. I have lost count of the number of times I have read it over the years. Oddly enough, I never progressed on to the others in the series. “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys” just didn’t not have the same magic as Little Women.

In Little Women, the pages overflow with mentions of fluffy popovers (which the March sisters long for during tough times), rich steak and kidney pies, asparagus fresh from the garden, homemade currant jelly on freshly baked bread, sugarplums, petit fours with lemonade, soothing blancmange, and more. Oh, and there are some fairly comical disasters in the kitchen as well, to which we all can relate.

Going along with the theme in Voracious, I will share my recipe for popovers, inspired by the Christmas breakfast shared by the March family in Little Women. I love these when served warm with blackcurrant sloe gin preserves, but any jam will do.

— Sandi H.

Popovers

2 eggs
1 c milk
3 tblsp oil (I use Becel)
1 c all purpose flour
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450F.

Beat eggs until frothy. Mix in milk and oil. Gradually add in flour and salt, gently stirring to combine.

Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin tins. Fill each cup ½ full. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Serve warm.

January 2017 Book Clubs

Join us at one (or both!) of our book club meetings in January.  Everyone is welcome!  Questions? Want to talk to someone first before attending a meeting?  Please contact Christine Brown at 519-886-1310 ext. 146 or via email at cbrown@wpl.ca

 

cuckooTitleThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Date: Monday, January 9th @ 7 p.m.

Location: Main Library – Auditorium

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

 

galoreTitle: Galore by Michael Crummey

Date: Monday, January 19th @ 1:30 p.m.

Location: Main Library – Board Room

 

When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects.