The Magic of Movie Making

The library’s Moviecraft program started with a simple idea. Besides a degree in English, I have a degree in film production and screenwriting and a degree in social work. I knew how to film, and I knew how to work with young people. One of our staff members recommended that I could lead some kind of filming workshop with the teens if I wanted to. From that tiny suggestion, the fire was ignited and lightning struck. Moviecraft was born.

I’ve been hosting the Moviecraft program since the summer of 2014 with this season’s Diamond Starlight Productions project marking the sixth time we’ve dived into the impossible, and Moviecraft, on the surface, seems impossible. We bring 30 teens (6th-12th grade) or tweens (3rd – 8th grade) together, and in seven weeks, twelve weeks, 14 hours, or 24 hours, we produce from the very beginning, a short film.

We start with what our team name should be. We’ve had so many incredible (and incredibly crazy) production teams; Sock Studios, Imagination Pictures, Golden Pancake Productions, Fingerprint Films, and our most recent, Diamond Starlight Productions. The name is their first act of compromise, of collaboration, and Moviecraft, at it’s core, is all about collaboration. From writing the script to working in their specific jobs that mirror a Hollywood crew, our community’s young people learn how to talk to each other, how to work through big challenges, and how to tell a good story.

Diamond Starlight Productions was one of our most challenging sessions. With a demanding script, a grueling schedule, and a lot of energetic kids, we had so much to overcome, but oh how they did. They shared their work, dared to step out of their comfort zone, and when the sound on the audio cut out or set pieces fell a part, they tried and tried again. It’s remarkable to see our teens and tweens in action and even more remarkable to see the proud faces of their friends and family at the Red Carpet Premiere. We’ve seen that it’s not the awesome explosions or cool visual effects that make our movies magical. It’s our team, our young people, who are the real magic makers.

We’ve got so much in store for Moviecraft this summer and another huge challenge ahead of us; animation! If you or someone you know is going into 6th grade or higher next year, we’d love to have them join us on this magical ride that is movie making. Registration opens up on May 30th at 9AM!

SelectReads: A Reader’s Advisory

Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to read next.  As librarians we are asked all the time which books we would recommend or if we have a reader’s advisory tool.  We have recently added a new reference resource called SelectReads. You can find it by visiting our website,, and selecting Databases and clicking on SelectReads.

SelectReads is an affiliated website that offers book  recommendations, email newsletters and links to our catalog.  There are tabs on the top of the page that are helpful tools to easily navigate and find items.

By signing up for monthly newsletters you will receive a variety of titles from different genres or formats.  These are randomly generated using items from our collection.  

If you want to see what your local librarians like to read or books that they recommend check out their Book Lists.  We are always adding our new favorite titles.  What is Dawn reading?  Does Cecile have any new recommendations?  Take a look!

Did you enjoy the latest Bram Stoker Award winner?  If so you can find a list of the other winners that our library owns.  Many of the prestigious book awards are listed along with the titles that are in our collection.  Even book awards such as Library Reads which is a monthly award that is voted on and selected by librarians around the country.

Under the “My SelectReads” tab, you can choose your favorite genres (the search function is a little quirky, so try general searches to get more specific options, weird, but it works) and get a weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox featuring titles you might be interested in.

Or if you are just interested in seeing what is new to our catalog check out the New Titles tab. You can see a random list of new books or you can view them all! We are constantly adding new items to our library so make sure you check back often to see what is here. Or, if you prefer, you can sign up right on that page to receive new book alerts once a month.

But if you are like me you have favorite authors who you always read and are dying to read the next book as soon as it is released.  One of my favorite tools is getting notifications about new releases for certain authors.  By tracking an author you can see their latest books and get suggestions of other authors that are similar. 


There is so much that this site can do that it is hard to cover everything.  We are in the stages of updating and tweaking the ebook section of the site to get it to link to the Sunflower eLibrary.  Please take a look and sign up for a few newsletters.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


Book Review: A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

First Line: Vikram had spent enough time with bitterness that he knew how to twist and numb the feeling.

Summary: Gauri is a princess of Bharata. Vikram is the prince of Ujijain. Gauri is a prisoner of Ujijain and therefore a prisoner of Vikram. She has been banished from her kingdom and her throne by her evil brother. When Vikram enters her cell and proposes to free her in if she will travel with him to the Otherworld to enter the Tournament of Wishes she agrees in hopes of escaping and returning to her homeland. As they travel they encounter magical creatures and trials that will test them as they compete for a wish from the gods.

Highlights: The writing and imagery is beautiful. The detail is so colorful and enchanting. I love the cover.

Lowlights: With all the detail and characters it was easy to get lost. At times the story seemed to be shifting and didn’t seem to have a main climax. I expected more from the tournament. It was still fun but not nearly as good as the first book.

FYI: This is the second book in a series but I feel that it can be read as a standalone as well. People are mentioned and seen from the first but they do not alter it without knowing the previous book.


Book Review: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

I don’t know about you but I am beyond excited for the new season of Game of Thrones (and the last 2 books)!  I have re-watched the show multiple times and read all the books plus some of the novellas but one I hadn’t picked up till recently was A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.  I was looking for a good audio book to listen to and I saw this as a way to fill the void. 😉 

As I was listening I started to recognize the voice as one of the characters from season 1, Viserys Targaryen.  The actor Harry Lloyd who portrayed him is the narrator and did a great job of bringing the story to life.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

First Line: The spring rains had softened the ground, so Dunk had no trouble digging the grave.

Summary: The story takes place 100 years before the events of Game of Thrones.  We meet Dunk, a new hedge knight and recent squire to Ser Arlan of Pennytree.  His master has died and left him with his horse, armor and sword.  Dunk decides that as a new knight and one in need of money needs to enter a local tournament in order to earn some coin and prestige.  He was always told that he was good with a sword and at 7 feet tall he was an impressive figure.  When he stumbles upon a stable boy named Egg, this unlikely pair travel across Westeros getting into trouble and creating tales of their own.

Highlights: It’s George R. R. Martin so therefore it is very detailed with lots of characters.  There are 3 short stories but they all connect bringing it full circle in the end.  There are little surprises and lots of history of the Seven Kingdoms during the time of the Targaryens.  The illustrations throughout the book are fun to look at and give more life to the story.  This is a fun little side story that is perfect for the readers that are waiting for season 7.

Lowlights: The names. There are so many characters with names that are so similar that it is hard to keep track of who is who (especially when listening to the audio).  But the imagination that goes into these names is spectacular.

FYI: Violence but that is par for the course with life in the Seven Kingdoms.

Book Review: Unblemished

Unblemished by Sara Ella

First Line: It can’t be true.

Summary: Eliyana is a girl who likes to hide because of a birth mark that spreads across her face. But when her mother dies her world turns upside down. Her guardian tries to protect her but things keep happening that lead her to a new world she never knew existed. As she learns more about this alternate world she finds that she has to find strength in herself to save it and its people.

Highlights: I don’t know what it is but I love YA covers! This one is beautiful and draws the reader to it. I loved that the main character wasn’t the go-to beautiful girl with amazing skills. Eliyana is normal with insecurities just like everyone else. The other main characters are developed to the point where you are cheering or booing them. You get invested in the story.

Lowlights: The problem I had was the plot got a little too complex at times. I was lost for a while until it all started to come to climax of the story. There are a lot of characters as well, with many different abilities to keep track of.

FYI: Violence but not more than most YA novels.

Ingrid Bergman

Have you ever read a book about a historical figure and then had to jump on Wikipedia to learn more about the person? I have. All the time. My most recent historical obsession is Ingrid Bergman.   

I have been reading the newest book by Kate Alcott, The Hollywood Daughter, which is about a young girl who lives in L.A. and idolizes Ingrid.  She meets the famous actress and follows her career through its ups and downs.

The movie, Anastasia, with Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner was my first introduction to this iconic actress.  She was beautiful and talented.  As I am reading the main character talks about the movies that Ingrid has starred in and I immediately started adding them to my library hold list.

This week I have delved into The Bells of St. Mary’s and Notorious.  Both were great but I was particularly taken with the chemistry between Bing Crosby and Ingrid in the Bells of St. Mary’s.  I searched for trivia on the movie Notorious and found that Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock became lifelong friends with Ingrid after filming ended.

I still have For Whom the Bell Tolls and Murder on the Orient Express to watch and I am greatly looking forward to them. This enchanting Swedish actress that took America by storm in the 1940s has put me under her spell.

Check back soon for my review of The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott.


Late April new releases

The sun is shining a little bit more lately and the temperatures are warming up as well. We are getting those April showers that are supposed to bring us flowers in May. And April is giving us a great shower of new books to read as well. Here are some of the most anticipated titles that will be released in the second half of April.

“The Stars are Fire” by Anita Shreve will be released April 18, 2017.

April 18: The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve
The latest novel by acclaimed author Anita Shreve is based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history. It’s October 1947 and fires break out along the Maine coast. Before long, the fires are burning from village to village. Grace and Rosie are left to care for their small children when their husbands join the volunteer to fight the fires. As fire sweeps through their village, burning their homes to the ground, the women retreat to the sea, their only refuge, watching as their homes are burned to the ground and frantically protecting their children. As morning dawns, they are penniless, homeless and left to await news of their husbands’ fate.

April 18: The Fix (Amos Decker #3) by David Baldacci
Amos Decker watches as a man kills a woman, then turns the gun on himself, right outside FBI headquarters. Despite Decker’s powers of observation, he is baffled by the murder. He and his team can find no connection between the man and woman whatsoever. Then Decker is ordered off the case by an agent from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“Blade Bound” is the final installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill.

April 25: Blade Bound (Chicagoland
Vampires #13) 
by Chloe Neill

This is the final installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series (cue my tears here). Cadogan House is infiltrated and Merritt is attacked by a vampire apparently under the power of dark magic. Chicago is again under supernatural attack as a wicked sorcery spreads through the city. It’s up to Merritt, with her Liege, love and master of Cadogan House — Ethan, at her side to save her city and all those she loves.


April 25: Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
From Pulitzer Prize winner Strout comes a piece of fiction that is reminiscent of Olive Kitteridge in its complexity and richness. During the writing of My Name is Lucy Barton, Strout realized that the characters that Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories. You’ll learn more about the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” Tommy, and Lucy Barton’s sister Vicky.

Lisa Unger’s latest novel, “The Red Hunter,” puts two wronged women on a collision course.

April 25: The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
Two wronged women on wildly different paths are on a collision course that ends at one old house. Zoey Drake’s parents were murdered in a home invasion when she was a child. Claudia Bishop is trying to put her shattered life back together after a brutal assault. Claudia hopes to find a fresh start in restoring an old house. Zoey has embraced the rage within her and excels in martial arts. Zoey seeks justice and Claudia seeks peace, in the one place they have in common.



April 25: Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
Eva’s father is an inventor, and has possession of blueprints for a fantastic invention by Thomas Edison, one that will allow people to speak with those who have passed. Her father builds the machine and one night it whirrs to life on its own with a warning of danger. Eva wakes, and her father and brother are dead, and she and her mother need to hide from an evil man who is searching from them. Eva changes her name to her Necco—her favorite candy, but as she searches for the truth, she meets two more women who are on journeys of their own.

“The Girl Who was Taken” is the latest from Charlie Donlea.

April 25: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
Megan and Nicole are high school seniors in Emerson Bay, North Carolina. One summer night, they disappear from a beach party, and the police can’t find a single clue. Everyone has nearly lost hope when Megan suddenly reappears, having escaped from a bunker in the woods. Fast forward a year and Megan is a national celebrity after writing a bestselling book about her ordeal, but Nicole is still missing. Megan knows more than she shared in her book, but where will that knowledge get her?

Click on the title of any book to find it in our catalog.

Book Review: Girl in Disguise

Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister


First Line: Like any Chicago tavern in deep summer, Joe Mulligan’s stank.

Summary: Kate Warne is a widow looking for her place in the world. She doesn’t fit into the conventional occupations of women during the 1850s in Chicago but when she walks into the Pinkerton Detective Agency she finds her calling. Based on the real-life first female detective in the US. Kate goes undercover to find thieves and murderers. No one believes a woman can do this job but she proves them wrong.

Highlights: I love the history. I have never heard about Kate Warne but she sounds fascinating even though we don’t know much about her. I loved Greer Macallister’s first book and was excited to read this one too! She writes a gripping story with amazing leading characters. I liked that the cases were all short so that the story doesn’t drag on and get slow.

Lowlights: I felt like the end was a little flat. I wanted a little more but it needed to be summed up and it did that. But still a great book!

FYI: Some violence. Great for lovers of historical fiction and books about strong women who defy the times.

Book Review: Queen of the Tearling trilogy

Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen

  First Line: Kelsea Glynn sat very still, watching the troop approach her homestead.

Summary: Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. She was raised away from her mother, the capital city and the life of a queen. When she returns to New London she knows that she has the right to rule but it comes with more challenges than she expects. There are enemies everywhere plotting her downfall. The neighboring Red Queen who has been taking Tear slaves for years, the ministers in her cabinet and even the church leaders have expectations from the new queen but Kelsea is not an ordinary queen. The magical Tear jewel gives Kelsea new powers that she has no idea how to harness. Visions of the Crossing, the exodus from a distant land of advanced technology, begin to invade her mind and show her the vision of what the Tearling was meant to be. As she learns more about the past, the present is creeping in from all sides as the enemies advance on her and her kingdom.

Highlights: The detail is fabulous. Everything is beautifully written and the characters are complex and filled with secrets. You think you know what is going to happen but then it is turned upside down. There are little twists that keeps the reader guessing. I loved the flashbacks. All the books were amazing and highly recommended.

Lowlights: The one problem I had was the time in between reading each book led to me forgetting facts or confusing events and names. There is so much detail that it is hard to remember it all but each book does a good job of summarizing the last and ties it up at the end.

FYI: There is violence, sex, magic and language but it doesn’t deter from the story but only enriches it.

Book Review: The Widow’s House

The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

First Line: When I picture the house I see it in the late afternoon, the golden river light filling the windows and gilding the two-hundred-year-old brick.

Summary: When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career. They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration. But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

 Highlights: I LOVE Gothic Fiction, and Carol Goodman writes it so well! Big old house ✓ Rich old money ✓ Ghosts ✓ Great twist at the end ✓.

Lowlights: I really can’t think of any. It was a great read that I didn’t want to put down.

FYI: This book is for anyone who wants to read a great Gothic novel.