Queen Bees (2021)

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Ellen Burstyn’s character is a widow who accidentally sets fire to her kitchen. She reluctantly moves into a senior housing facility while her home is being repaired.

She tries to join a bridge group, but finds that she has wandered into a senior citizen version of high school mean girls.
The story revolves around her adjustment to the facility, standing her ground, and slowly accepting that she may need to sell her house.
The supporting characters include Jane Curtain, Ann-Margret, James Caan, and Christopher Lloyd. They all are in their golden years and portray well the challenges that senior citizens face.

I enjoyed the sentiment of the movie. It was a gentle film, with laughter and tears along the way to the uplifting conclusion.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I loved the Disney Hayley Mills movies when I was growing up. Nothing better than Pollyanna, The Parent Trap (the original!), Moonspinners and That Darn Cat!

Hayley gives the background information on how she was selected by Walt Disney and what he was like. She had many wonderful co-stars and she mentions them favorably. She also did stage work and lists a lot of British actors that I have never heard of, that however, dragged the book down a bit.

She had the typical growing up insecurities; growing up in front of a camera was difficult. She attended Hollywood studio school while filming, child actor Kevin Corcoran (aka Moochie) enlightened her with the facts of life during her time there. Otherwise, her parents kept her very sheltered, and when she was not filming she attended a British boarding school and later a Swiss finishing school. She received her juvenile Oscar award via the mail, she was not allowed to attend the Hollywood ceremony.

She married a much older man when she was twenty. At twenty one she petitioned to get her movie earnings released to her, but due to poor financial advice she lost it all.

I enjoyed the insight into the 1960s actress’s life, it was a fun, fluff read.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (921 MILLS)

The Boys: A Memoir by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Ronny Beckenholdt? Famous child actor in the 1960s?
Does Ronny Howard ring a bell?

This is just one tidbit about the acting family that the brothers share – their father changed his name from Harold Beckenholdt to Rance Howard, and forever after the family surname became Howard.

Ron and Clint tell the story of their parents growing up in Kansas and Oklahoma and yearning to become successful actors. Ron’s mom suffered a tragic injury, gave up acting and then devoted herself to raising her children. Rance struggled to get his “breakout” role that would propel him to stardom, while his two sons became successful child actors under his guidance.

Ron and Clint take turns giving their recollections of their times on the Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben, Happy Days and various parts in movies. Their father was their acting coach and guardian on the sets and picked up parts for himself along the way, but never achieved his leading man goal.

Ron gave insight on how his acting experiences drove his desire to pursue directing films for a living. Clint aged out of child roles and dealt with drug addiction, but still managed to pursue a career as a character actor.

This memoir is a story of love and appreciation for Rance and Jean Howard, and how they kept the family grounded with Hollywood glamour all around them. It was a heartwarming read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you grew up with Opie and Richie Cunningham you’ll love it too!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 HOW)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Good things are worth waiting for. This book was very popular when it was published in 2013, the waitlist time was long, so I decided to check it out in the future and then promptly forgot about it. I just happened to pick it up now and am so happy that I finally got to read it.

The author chronicles the life of one of the rowers, Joe Rantz, on his difficult journey to his greatest triumph at the Olympics. With the back drop of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl summers, and Hitler’s rise to power, the story makes you cheer for the ragtag group of college men from the University of Washington.

If you liked the 2003 movie Seabiscuit and the 2005 movie Cinderella Man, this book will be page-turner for you. I loved the underdog story highlighting the effort made during the most challenging times of the 1930s.

I’m sure there are many bestsellers that I missed in previous years. My new goal is to look them up and start plugging away at these great books that are now readily available. I’m excited to start this new personal challenge!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (797.123 BRO)

Ocean Prey by John Sandford

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Two great characters in one book! Sandford’s latest novel features both Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers.

Federal Marshall Davenport is assigned to work with the Florida-based FBI to find the murderers of three Coast Guardsmen that were killed during a drug raid.

When it becomes apparent that organized crime is involved, Lucas brings in Virgil to go undercover as a deep sea diver for hire. Virgil needs to infiltrate the Mafia that are trying to retrieve the remaining heroin stashed off the coast, and then get the evidence to nail them for the murders.

This was a fast-paced page turner. I recommend this one as a good summer read. Enjoy!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC SANDFORD)

For Self and Country: for the wounded in Vietnam the journey home took more courage than going to battle by Rick Eilert

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is the memoir of the author’s journey back from Vietnam in 1967. It was a powerful story when I first read it in 1983. Reading it again in 2021 it still pulled me in, and also helped me understand why there are homeless, troubled Vietnam veterans to this day.

It was reprinted in 2010, with a note on the cover that said President Reagan was so moved by this book that he invited the author to the White House.

The book starts with Rick’s horrific combat injury and his long flight to Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. He is the oldest soldier on the hospital floor; he is 20 years old.

He endures dozens of surgeries and horrific dressing changes trying to save his legs. He worries that his girlfriend will dump him, the anti-war protests dishearten him, and if he will be a “gimp” forever.

There are light moments too: his blind bunkmate is the floor lookout, he plays chicken with another wheelchair bound patient and re-breaks his leg, and the young soldiers, of course, ogling the Navy nurses and female visitors.

This book was not in the Bridges Library System, Emily the DPL circulation manager found it using the State of Wisconsin (WISCAT) InterLibrary Loan system.

If you watched the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS, this book will add another dimension to the time period. I strongly recommend it.

Tisha: the story of a young teacher in the Alaska wilderness by Ann Hobbes as told to Robert Specht

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I read this book, published in 1976, for the first time over 25 years ago. I enjoyed it so much I lent it to my parents. They loved it and then shared it with my aunt, who had taught in a one-room schoolhouse like the author.

This book was well worth a re-read in 2021. The issue of racism that is weaved throughout her adventure still resonates today.

It is the memoir of 19 year-old Ann, who travels by mule train to the Village of Chicken to teach in 1927. She encounters hardship, poverty and racism between the settlers and the native population. When she takes in two orphaned Indian children and puts them in school, she receives strong backlash and threats of expulsion from her post. She stands up to the School Board for what she knows is the right thing to do.

There are light moments too – when her student does not return from the outhouse, she finds him frozen to the seat; she sleeps with her bag of potatoes so they don’t freeze solid; the beauty of the land; AND she meets the love of her life.

This easy-to-read book is just wonderful, please check it out.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Missing and Endangered by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is the latest book of the Bisbee, Arizona Police Chief Joanna Brady series. There are two storylines – an officer involved shooting during a domestic violence incident and a cybercrime involving Joanna’s daughter’s college roommate.

The book seamlessly goes back and forth between the two storylines. It was a fast read and the cybercrime was eye opening to me on how young people (or anyone) can get sucked in so quickly. However, I thought the ending wrapped up both storylines too easily and both on a positive note to boot.

I like the series in general, but this one just wasn’t as good as the previous ones. It rushed to the conclusion without the usual twists and turns that makes a book more interesting. I give it two and a half stars.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC JANCE)

Taste of Home Cooking for Two

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I’m always on the lookout for small serving-size recipes. This one is nicely illustrated and includes nutritional analysis, diabetic information and indicates healthy choices with an apple icon.

My family knows that bland food is my favorite kind of food. Stop by DPL sometime and I can tell you my horror story at a Thai restaurant in Hollywood. (The awesome Elvis impersonator however was worth the burn.) Bottom line: no crazy spices or ingredients for me ever again!

This cookbook uses common foods that I actually have at home. I look forward to making Nutty Green Salad, Turkey Spinach Salad with Maple Dressing, Tender Biscuits, Homemade Fish Sticks and Saucy Beef with Broccoli to name a few.

I think this cookbook is a keeper, I recommend giving it a try!

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

In the late 1930s a library horseback delivery system was created to serve residents in the rural areas of Kentucky. This book is a fictionalized story of one group of ladies that answered Eleanor Roosevelt’s call to action.

The story revolves around Alice, a young English woman who marries and moves to rural Kentucky. Her life is not what she hoped it to be, but joining the library gives her new friends and a purpose in life.

Overcoming bad home situations, widowhood, and disability, the women become strong , resourceful and a force in the community.

I enjoyed the time period and reading about women who made a difference. I read other reviews for this book and it was noted that author Kim Michele Richardson’s book, The Book Women of Troublesome Creek, published before this one, is very similar.

I recommend the book if you haven’t read the Richardson book. I now plan to look for nonfiction titles about the real women since this book piqued my interest.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC MOYES)