Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Quarantining at home means lots of extra time for rewatches of movies! My husband and I just finished watching (for me) and rewatching (for him) all the original and new Star Trek movies. One of the most pleasant surprises was the rediscovery of this entry, Star Trek: Beyond. After the negative critical and fan reaction to the previous entry, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Star Trek: Beyond wasn’t given a fair shake, as the story itself is compelling–after being unexpectedly attacked and crashing on an alien planet, the crew of the USS Enterprise is scattered and alone. With the help of resident alien Jaylah, they will learn where they are and who they are up against. The action sequences are fun, the writing by the delightful Simon Pegg always snaps and the acting is sound. Definitely worth another look!

Located in DVDs (DVD STAR TREK)

The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Princess Magnolia loves frilly dresses and dainty hats, tea parties and unicorns. Today is her birthday and she can’t wait to celebrate with her other Princess friends! But where does Princess Magnolia keep going during her party?? Why, the Monster Alarm won’t give her a moment’s peace since she’s not only Princess Magnolia–she’s the Princess in Black! Fighting monsters and protecting goats are all in a day’s work for the Princess in Black but will Princess Magnolia be able to enjoy her special day? This delightful entry in the series is full of the same whimsical illustrations by LeUyen Pham and the story level is great for medium level chapter readers. Fun for kids and parents, too!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC HALE)

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

One of the joys in life is seeing your child discover the love of reading. My daughter began easy chapter books this year and has been flying through series as she tries to find her reading niche. One of her absolute favorite series she found was about Mercy Watson the pig, by award-winning author Kate DiCamillo. Mercy is the beloved porcine wonder “daughter” of Mr. and Mrs. Watson and certainly gets into shenanigans with some of her colorful neighbors: Baby and Eugenia Lincoln, Leroy Ninker and Francine Poulet. The flowing repetitive text made for easy reading for her and the beautiful illustrations by Chris Van Dusen brought to life each larger-than-life character. This last one in the series is a particular highlight and we didn’t want to see it end. Couldn’t recommend highly enough for the emerging reader in your life!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC DICAMILLO)

Cobra Kai

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

The unexpected hit of 2020 for me personally was Cobra Kai. Sure, I enjoyed the original Karate Kid movies from the ’80s (although each subsequent sequel dropped in quality) but I wasn’t a huge fan so I greeted the new show with some hesitancy. I’ve never been more happy to be wrong. The show is a joy from moment one–the soundtrack, the sights and dialogue already mimicking the original tone while also making room for the new characters as well. Yes, the show is steeped in nostalgia, but it doesn’t coast on that fact, making you care both about your original favorites (Daniel and Johnny!) while also caring about the next generation (their children). Highly recommend and so binge-able too!

Located in TV Series (TV SERIES COBRA KAI)

Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Series by Charles Soule

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Although I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan, I never got into the many diverse reading options that exist in the extended universe. After a recommendation from a podcast, I picked up the series “Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith” and was pleasantly surprised to find an amazing story. The series starts immediately after the events of the movie “Revenge of the Sith”–Anakin Skywalker has now become Darth Vader. But now what? What does one of the most fearsome villains in movie history do upon his creation? Turns out, numerous adventures abound. But in a twist, these graphic novels are not “adventure of the week” sort of fare. They also explore the nature of evil and the deeper meaning behind Vader’s fate. They also focus more on why Anakin chose to become Darth. For a Star Wars fan, these volumes can’t be beat.

Located in Adult Graphic Novels (GRAPHIC STAR WARS)

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (2019)

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Quentin Tarantino’s latest does not disappoint! I am a quasi-fan of the director, having enjoyed some of his films (Inglourious Basterds, Kill Bill, Django Unchained) while disliking others (Pulp Fiction) This film, though, set in the twilight hours of the 1960s in Los Angeles, probably is my most favorite to date. It follows two concurrent stories: the first–that of Rick Dalton, an alcoholic fading Hollywood star and his best friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth. The second story focuses on real-life actress and Charles Manson murder victim Sharon Tate. Since it is Tarantino at the helm, of course there is fantastical violence and a reimagined ending for our protagonists. The troupe of actors, however, are just phenomenal, particularly Brad Pitt. His relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton is the heart of the film and never wavers. The film’s success is due in large part to his quiet, steady presence. Highly recommend!

Located in DVDs (DVD ONCE)

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff )

This psychological drama will leave you rapidly reading but ultimately, the ending is a bit of a head scratcher. Our narrator Thursday is in a polygamist relationship with her husband, Seth. She knows nothing about his other wives “Monday” and “Tuesday,” their existence an enduring mystery. One day she stumbles upon a medical bill that lists Monday’s real name and address. Thursday’s decisions after this will leave you wondering until the last chapter who the real villain is. The first half of this book will have you wanting more but the second half becomes a bit muddled. Still, if breezy thrillers are your thing, look no further than this book with all its twists and turns.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC FISHER)

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Following up her smash hit, Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi’s writing still flows off the page. However, I prefer the original to the sequel. The book picks up right where the cliffhanger of the last one left off: Magic is back in the kingdom of Orisha, thanks to the herculean efforts of gifted Magi Zelie and disgraced princess Amari. Unfortunately, their efforts have not only given magic back to the Magi but also to the corrupted nobility as well. Although the story is magnetic and the pace relentless, I found myself lost in a swirl of plot points that I couldn’t figure a way out of. Although I devoured the first third and eagerly finished the book, the middle third of the book is a bit muddled. Regardless, I will be seeing the series through when the third and final book is released.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC ADEYEMI BK.2)

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

The female led “Terminator: Dark Fate” dives us back into the ongoing story of Sarah Connor, destined to be the mother of the savior of the world, John Connor, who led the resistance against mindless robotic overlords Skynet. This movie picks up where the best movie in the franchise, sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” left off and completely ignores the intervening movies (best that you should too. They are a big yikes.) Although the film slams you with some absolutely incredible action scenes (one particular scene on a bridge comes to mind), the rest of the film is your run of the mill action flick and somehow doesn’t reach the absolutely sky- high bar set by “T2”. Definitely worth a watch but not essential viewing unfortunately.

Located in DVDs (DVD TERMINATOR)

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

I have read everything Jane Green has ever wrote. Some are absolutely superb (Jemima J, To Have and to Hold, The Other Woman) while others are less so. Regardless, they are usually a fun beach-y type read. Her latest, however, The Friends We Keep completely misses the mark. It follows three life-long friends, Evvie, Topher, and Maggie as the navigate first through their college years and into adulthood. As so often happens with these stories, the author breaks these friends apart, only to bring them back together at the end. And of course there are secrets, drama, and intrigue along the way. But the contrived nature of these “secrets” (which a reader could see coming a mile away) is what really grates. I did finish the book but was dissatisfied that I did so.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC GREEN)