Friday, September 26, 2014

In the Stacks at The Windham Public Library - By Jen Alvino

Windham Public Library ended its Summer Reading Program and events this week and began focusing on the coming school year. Summer seems like, as usual, it went too fast! We are holding on to a few more days of that hot summer weather and then the cooler air of fall will set in. September brings Library Card Signup month to the library.
Legendary comic creator and honorary chair of Library Card Signup month, Stan Lee, asks “The smartest card in my wallet? It’s a library card!” As Windham’s students head back to school this September, WPL wants to make sure that all children have the most important school supply of all…a library card. Library Card Signup month is a nation-wide celebration held at the beginning of the new school year during which librarians across the country remind parents and caregivers of all that a public library card has to offer. Visit the Windham Public Library with your children and teens today to sign up for a library card. A library card is a key resource in achieving academic success!

Library Card Signup Month is not just for students. The staff at Windham Public Library encourages persons of all ages to become library members.

Not sure how to get a library card? Getting a WPL card is easy! Library cards are free to Windham residents, students attending Windham schools, Windham business owners and Windham town employees (including teachers). Bring photo identification with proof of residency to apply for membership. Those patrons not eligible for a free card may pay a non-resident fee to use the library. The non-resident borrower fee is $20 per individual or family annually. 

The Windham Public Library is located at 217 Windham Center Rd. For more information about our services you may call the library at 892-1908, or visit on the web at  

Our new library hours have begun. Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For the last nine years, Windham Public Library has been hosting a community tea every six weeks in our large meeting room. Two staff members, Reference and Technology Librarian Barbara and Children’s Librarian Mrs. Parker, coordinate tea and snacks for the guests in attendance. At last week’s tea I stood in for Barbara serving up hot tea and Mrs. Parker’s hermit cookies, along with veggies and cheese and crackers. One of the transitions libraries have made in recent years is to become much more of a community meeting spot. This was quite evident last week at tea. The teas are always well attended and you never know who you will run into or the conversations you may have. In attendance we had guests of every age sitting together and talking over tea. There were old friends and new attendees gathered together talking about community issues with two town councilors in attendance. It was wonderful to see such community spirit!

In addition to the teas, we have many opportunities for library visitors to expand their minds through educational programming. On October 8th at 6 p.m. we will host Amy Schram from the Better Business Bureau. Amy will share information on avoiding scams, fraud and identity theft. Later in the fall we will host another “Let’s Talk About It” Book Group series through the Maine Humanities Council with the theme “Detective Fiction in the 20th Century: A Notion of Evil”. These special book group series’ have been great conversation starters. For the younger library visitors we have Preschool Story Times Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and Books and Babies Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. We will also be starting another 8-week session of Bedtime Math-Crazy 8’s Club. 

Be sure to visit our website and Facebook page for more information about all our programs. I hope to see you in the library soon!

Book Review - From the Wreckage by Michele G. Miller - review by Emily Magoon

From The Wreckage is the first of a three book series written by the sensational author, Michele G. Miller. This book features Jules Blacklin, a happy, beautiful girl who resides in the small western town of Tyler, Texas. Jules is a typical socialite teenager. She has two crazy best friends named Katie and Tanya, a loving family who sticks by her side, a popular football star boyfriend, and a top spot on the cheer squad, the perfect life every girl dreams of living. You would think she had everything she could possibly want. But things aren’t always as it seems. Not even Jules realizes that things aren’t as perfect as they look. It only takes one monstrous storm for her to figure this reality out. 
Jules, being a normal teenager, is out partying with her friends when the sirens go off. When the storm hits, lives are lost, buildings are destroyed, and everything is turned upside down. One of the things that has been wrecked is Jules structured life. The only good thing to come out of this calamity? West Rutledge, the town’s mysterious bad boy. West is unlike the other boys Jules knows. For some reason, she just seems to be drawn him and he just seems to be drawn to her. Throughout the book you watch their bond grow stronger and stronger, tighter and tighter. You will fall deeply in love with both of these skillfully crafted characters. 

This novel is a beautifully written story about two young people who go through a tear-inducing, earth shattering tragedy and blossom from it. It will make your heart thump with anticipation. You’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering how this read will end. I have never read anything like this and I absolutely loved it. With Jules as the spunky narrator, you’ll feel her every emotion as if they were your own. 

Anybody who is craving young adult romance will not be able to put this book down. Miller portrays a young mystique between two very different people. I recommend this book to 12-through 18-year-olds who enjoy dramatic romance novels. This book is the perfect read for lazy days when you want something emotional yet romantic and alluring. This is one of my favorite books and I really hope people will give it a chance.


Movie review of This is Where I Leave You (R) - review by Stephen Signor

This is Where I Leave You will leave you with a smile, a few watery moments and a warm and fuzzy feeling. Is this a chick flick? Perhaps. It depends on your own definition. I did not think so. But it is definitely a feel good film. Based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Tropper it is a collage of characters depicting the lives of family members, significant others past and present and childhood friends who at some point discover something new about themselves. Making the rare successful transition from the pages to the screen was catapulted by the author who also wrote the screenplay.

Casting was chosen by award winning Cindy Tolan known for among other films, Blue Valentine and It's Kind of A Funny Story and she doesn't disappoint with notables Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey.  In my mind however, there were no co-stars in this film. Aside from a few extras sprinkled here and there and a couple of bit parts, every cast member played an intricate role in making this a memorable experience. Essentially everyone potentially played as the protagonist.

For 93 minutes you witness the trials and tribulations of four Foxman siblings forced to live under the same roof of their childhood home for seven days as a request prior to their father’s death. It is here their self-inflicted dramas will inhabit your innermost senses. The effects of their patriarchs death is subliminal and often referred to while examining their own existence and question of purpose, which always seems undermined by each other. Secrets are revealed and desires awakened. These twists and turns provide for an interesting ending and are amusing to negotiate and flow well within the plot.

Films that move, inspire and reach out to you are few and far between. It was as if I was watching a candid documentary or a real life interview accompanied by unedited improvisational commentary. This menagerie of dysfunctional characters were believable, uncomplicated despite the chaos and emotional without missing a beat. It is no surprise it is number three on the list for best movies of the month voted by En-TV.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Movie Review: As Abover So Below (R) - Review by Stephen Signor

Run time 1h 40m

I must say As Above So Below is a very catchy title for a film. And that is where the novelty ends. This is a horror-able movie that takes you from the heights of 2013s Devil’s Pass to the middle ground of 2005s The Descent and thrust you into a labyrinth of catacombs deep beneath the streets of present day Paris. It is here that you will find yourself lost in a plot that is just as difficult to negotiate. While the action is fast paced and consistent it can leave you with a sense of being dazed and confused. As for the scare factor they are few and far between and provided primarily by sounds. If you’ve seen The Blair Witch Project, you know what I mean.

Written, produced and directed by the Dowdle brothers, John and Drew, a premise materializes warning you that the cast’s journey becomes more nightmarish with the demons of their past striking back with a vengeance. If not for the lack of visual aids this might have worked and even been believable. Even with the collaboration of Producer Jon Jashni, whose credits include being associated with The Dark Night and Pacific Rim, this film falls short in providing a plot with substance.

The roles played by the characters are far from complex right down to the way they were dressed. Who goes exploring catacombs wearing clothes normally reserved for visiting a friend’s house for lunch? I suppose that was the plan for the plot and the actors certainly pulled it off. Speaking of actors, you will not see household names however you may recognize them from other films. In particular Ben Feldman, who plays George, also appeared in the film Cloverfield as Travis. 

Found footage films are a genre within a genre. But in order to survive they have to provide the viewer with non-stop entertainment. Dowdle’s previous work on Quarantine is a good example. Why he deviated from this is another mystery. One thing I do know is that as is this rating and the escape from the catacombs, the only way out is down.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Movie Review - The Expendables 3 (PG-13) - Review by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 126 min

The Expendables 3 is a new action movie directed by Patrick Hughes, marking the third installment in the popular series. The movie features an ensemble of aging action stars highlighted by returning cast members: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Arnold Schwarenegger. There are also quite a few new additions this time around including: Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford. To many fans’ disappointment (myself included), this movie was dropped down to a PG-13 rating in an ultimately failed attempt to earn more money at the box office. I thought the R rating brought a much needed grittiness to the first two movies in the series, so for that reason alone, I was not that excited for this third chapter. In all honestly, The Expendables 3 is the weakest installment in the series, but at the same time it was not nearly as bad as I anticipated. 

For those of you who don’t know, The Expendables films follow an elite mercenary group known as “The Expendables”, led by Barney Ross (Stallone). Early on in the film, Ross, his sidekick Lee Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the crew encounter ruthless arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson) while attempting to intercept a bomb shipment. Years ago, Stonebanks co-founded The Expendables with Ross, but betrayed the group and became an arms dealer instead. Furthermore, Ross and the rest of The Expendables believed him to be dead prior to this meeting. Now, Stonebanks is determined to get his revenge and destroy his former team. In order to prevent this from happening and save his team, Ross must recruit some new, younger members who are more technologically advanced and physically capable of the mission. 

Although I missed the presence of a few big names from the first two movies, particularly Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris, it was still great to see the old crew and new additions in action all at once. That being said, I think that the PG-13 rating really hurt this film and as I mentioned earlier, lost the gritty feeling of the first two movies. Luckily, Mel Gibson stepped up to the plate to save this movie as he was totally awesome as the villain, providing the series’ best antagonist yet. Overall, The Expendables 3 is an extremely entertaining summer action flick powered by its star-studded cast and explosive action sequences.