Blogs

The Veterans Home of California—Ventura

On March 7, 2014, Foster Library opened its Veterans Resource Center inside the library. Its purpose is to assist veterans in finding resources they may not be aware are available. The Veterans Home of California—Ventura, which opened in December 2010, is just one of the resources available to veterans who may need assisted-living accommodations. The Veterans Home provides California veterans with a living environment that protects their dignity and contributes to their sense of self-reliance as well as self-worth.


As part of its commitment to provide materials to educate and enlighten, E. P. Foster Library has many items available for veterans.


Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

Avenue Library Art Quilt Display

Ventura artist Sara Lee will exhibit her beautiful
embellished quilts at Avenue Library.

 

Each of Sara Lee's quilts require 40 to 60 hours of hand work. 

Inspired by books, magazines and even catalogs, Sara Lee devotes 4-5 hours each day to piecing each quilt, quilting, then artfully applying beads, tatted pieces and embroidery.

Sara Lee is a self-taught needlework artist who began by using quilting books from the library. 

These one of a kind quilts will be on display through April 25 at Avenue Library.

Novelties: “Sycamore Row,” by John Grisham

In 1989, John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, was released. Though it initially had a modest showing, the novel ultimately became a best-seller, even being made into a feature film in 1996. Twenty-four years later we have Sycamore Row (2013), Grisham’s latest offering, which reunites readers with the time, place, and familiar characters from his incredible debut.

A master of the legal thriller, Grisham is also returning to the subject of race relations in Sycamore Row. Jake Brigance is a Mississippi lawyer facing an interesting case. An elderly and extremely wealthy man has hanged himself after penning an alternate will that cuts off his immediate family and leaves the bulk of his estate to his African-American housekeeper. Brigance has been chosen to ensure that the will is faithfully executed—largely due to the reputation he earned in A Time to Kill—which proves difficult once the deceased’s next-of-kin learn they have been passed-over. In working the case he partners with several familiar faces, including Lucien Wilbanks and Harry Rex Vonner from A Time to KillSycamore Row’s place on the New York Times Best Seller List testifies to Grisham’s ability to write complex legal fiction in a way that is engaging and leaves the reader ready for more.
If you can’t get your hands on Sycamore Row right away, consider looking into The Reversal (2010), by Michael Connelly. Being a NoveList Plus read-alike for Grisham’s latest, the two have a lot in common: they are both legal thrillers, they both have fast-paced, suspenseful storylines, and they both revisit a recurring character from their author’s extended universe. Mickey Haller is a defense attorney, first introduced to readers in The Lincoln Lawyer (2005). In The Reversal, however, Haller is called upon to join the prosecution for a case involving a man whose conviction for killing a young girl has been recently overturned. Haller agrees to work on the retrial along with his ex-wife and half-brother, both characters fans of Connelly will be familiar with—Haller’s half-brother Harry Bosch is actually the subject of his own series of books by Connelly. Like Grisham, Connelly manages to write courtroom scenes in a way that turns even routine procedures into page-turning scenes.
Rounding out this legal suspense trio is I Heard That Song Before (2007), by Mary Higgins Clark. When she was a child, Kay Lansing—the daughter of a gardener who worked on an estate owned by the Carrington family—overheard a suspicious exchange involving desperation and blackmail. Now 28 years old, Kay returns to the estate to ask a favor of its present owner, Peter Carrington, and finds herself falling in love with him. But Peter has a shady past, having been suspected of involvement with the death of a teenage girl years before, not to mention the death of his pregnant wife some time later. As the accusations unfold, Kay struggles with the faith she has in her husband on the one hand and a gnawing sense of doubt on the other. Ultimately, she learns that finding the truth might mean putting herself in significant danger. While Clark’s formula may feel familiar to her avid fans, it will most likely keep you guessing until the very end.

Sycamore Row, The Reversal, and I Heard That Song Before are all available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library. You can also access NoveList Plus from our eLibrary’s Reading Suggestions section. If the book you are interested in is not currently on the shelf at your branch, you can always request a copy either in-person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.


Woven together by Ronald Martin.

It's your turn! Learn to use our 3D printer - Part 2

It's your turn to learn how to use our 3D printer - part 2
Tuesday, July 15 7-9 p.m.  E.P. Foster Topping Room, Ventura

California Young Reader Medal Nominees

The California Young Reader Medal program encourages recreational reading of popular literature among the young people of our state. Since its inception in 1974, millions of California children have nominated, read, and voted for the winners of the California Young Reader Medal.

Books are nominated for the medal in four categories: Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-6), Middle School/Junior High (6-9), and Young Adult (9-12). Students may read and vote for books in any and all categories, but they must read all the books nominated in a category to be eligible to vote.

This is a student program and books can only be nominated and voted upon by students. Students read the nominated books from July through March, vote for their favorite, and submit the results to the CYRM committee. All CYRM ballots are due by April 1 of each year.

The Ventura County Reading Association (VCRA), an affiliate of the California Reading Association (CRA) and the International Reading Association (IRA), is a professional organization of teachers, student teachers, administrators, librarians, instructional assistants, parents, and others committed to literacy efforts in Ventura County. Each year, VCRA members work to promote literacy through a variety of dynamic events and educational activities.

Participating in a contest is always exciting! In California, children have the chance each year to nominate, read, and vote for books to win the California Young Reader Medal (CYRM). You can have your children participate in the CYRM voting!  Find out more at www.californiayoungreadermedal.org. The website provides the titles of the 2013-14 CYRM nominees, ballot information, and nomination forms. All CYRM ballots submitted for 2013-14 must be postmarked by April 1.

Even better, bring your children to the CYRM event at E.P. Foster Library in Ventura to hear and vote for the five books nominated in the Primary category. This special event will take place on Wednesday, March 26 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Come in and vote for these nominees:

Can’t wait to see you there!

OLLI @ Foster: Women of the Vietnam Era

Stop by E.P. Foster Library on March 30, 2014, to hear OLLI presenter Roz McGrath give a free talk entitled “Women of the Vietnam Era.”

The talk will explore how women were able to gain experience with organizing protests and crafting effective antiwar rhetoric that would later serve to form the foundation of the Women's Movement.

2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Topping Room. We hope to see you there!

Get answers about Covered California at Oak View Library!

 

Clinicas is offering a presentation on Covered California at Oak View Library on Saturday, March 29th from 10:30 to 11:30am.

Do you have any of the following questions? Come on the 29th to get answers!

  • What is Covered California?
  • Do I have to purchase a health plan?
  • Who can use Covered California to access health care?
  • When can I purchase a health plan through Covered California?
  • What types of health plans are offered through Covered California?

For more information, please call Clinicas at (805)647-6353 or visit their website. 

English * * * Español

Opening the Golden Gate

On a recent weekend I was in San Francisco to do a presentation at the Disney Family Museum and, after months of drought, it rained all weekend. Still, it was atmospheric and there is one landmark that retains its glamour and grandeur in all winds and weathers: the Golden Gate Bridge.


 

Though that weekend I was not able to get close to it, there is a magnificent view of bridge and bay from the second level of the museum (which is in the Presidio), a thrilling panorama to which I kept returning each day.

And every time I marveled at how such a superstructure was constructed in the first place. When I was back in Ventura, in one of the coincidences that sometimes mysteriously happen, I came across a fascinating documentary among E.P. Foster’s varied collection of DVDs. The “American Moments” disc, The Golden Gate Bridge, covers the raising of the structure from the initial planning stages (and there were many) through construction and opening day.

The 30-minute DVD features a brief introduction which leads into the main section, a vintage (and mostly unrestored) film which condenses the years of labor on one of the most challenging construction projects of the 20th century into about 25 minutes.

The film was produced by Bethlehem Steel, who supplied most of the steel for the bridge, and I was amazed to discover that much of it was produced in Steelton, Pennsylvania, a steel town a little south of Harrisburg, where I grew up (I remember seeing the frightening slag heaps at night, like waves of glowing lava, in the steel mills of Harrisburg).


The steel mills of Harrisburg, PA, late 1940s. View from the State St. bridge, steel corporation sign in the background. The Steelton steel mills which produced steel for the Golden Gate were south of Harrisburg. KODACHROME photo by Ross J. Care.

 

The Steelton steel was then shipped through the Panama Canal to SF where construction slowly began.

Inch by inch the two huge towers were raised and work on the suspensions and roadway began. Dizzying shots of men on girders, towers, and suspension cables alternated with views down into the turbulent waters of the bay.

The grainy, sometimes fuzzy black-and-white archival footage is also a vivid reminder of the early days of cinema itself, and has a ghostly “You Are There” quality. It’s in stark contrast to the sleek, iconic lines of the finally realized project, a still-Golden Gate that retains its sense of wonder to this day, even when partially shrouded in fog.


 

-Text and recent photos by Ross  B. Care

Fables Encyclopedia

The library recently received a large shipment of graphic novel titles for the adult collection, many of which I had the good fortune to read.

One of these titles was Fables Encyclopedia. Fans of this series by Bill Willingham will enjoy this look at all the characters that live in the Fables universe. Each listing tells you where that character appears in the series, the original source material they come from, and a comparison of the two. Throughout the book are insights from Willingham himself and Mark Buckingham, the artist.

I loved reading this book, not just because I’m a fan of the series, but because of the many different sources Willingham gets his material from. He pulls characters from European folk tales, the well-known Grimm’s fairy tales, nursery rhymes, even the Jungle Book and Oz stories. Some characters are his original creations, but they fit so well with the other, more well-known ones, you don’t even notice the difference.

If you’re concerned the encyclopedia will reveal too much before you’ve actually read the series, don’t worry. It gives just enough information without revealing too many of the details. Now, to be fair, I haven’t yet read the entire series, so there were some entries that did give a hint of things to come, but I don’t think it will ruin my enjoyment of the series. Even the brief synopses of all the volumes at the end of the book didn’t spoil anything for me.

I only wish I could have the book with me while I read the series, if anything, just to see where these characters come from.  I have to give credit to Bill Willingham. He really does his homework and knows his stuff. There are characters from folk tales I’ve never even heard of before. This book is worth checking out for introducing new readers to the series, and discovering the original stories they came from.


Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Font to Film: "Water for Elephants"

Originally a draft created as part of National Novel Writing Month, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants was published in 2006, and has since been quite well-received. The novel’s setting is a traveling circus during the Great Depression, and it is essentially a love story steeped in rich historical detail. Gruen manages to make the Depression a significant presence in the novel, more a character in its own right than a mere backdrop. As a result the reader truly gets a sense of the oppressive, constant dread driving the actions of the working men and women of the period, and from the start we see how drastically economic forces can shape a person’s destiny.

The story is told in flashback by Jacob Jankowski, presently 93 years old and living a life all but estranged from a family that no longer has much time for him. He spends his empty, unfulfilling days in a nursing home, in danger of never having anything to look forward to again—until the circus comes to town. Its presence invigorates Jacob, and he begins to recount his life as a young man who, waylaid by tragedy, took his chances hopping a circus train during one of the darkest periods of American history.

Gruen uses Jacob’s experiences to showcase an incredible juxtaposition of the wondrous spectacle put on by the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and the often horrifying circumstances in which the laborers and performers—both human and animal—live. The Depression has fostered desperation and madness, encouraging opportunists who have managed to succeed only on the backs of those less fortunate, exploiting them when possible and discarding them otherwise. In the midst of all this, Jacob finds beauty—in the circus, the menagerie, and the animal trainer’s wife, Marlena. The development of this love triangle is the meat of the plot; at its heart,Water for Elephants is a very conventional—almost to the point of being predictable—romance that is elevated primarily by the care and detail put into its setting.

One might imagine that such a vibrant and compelling world would make the novel ripe for adaptation to film. However, the screen version of Water for Elephants—released in 2011—received mixed reviews. Of chief concern to many was the fact that Jacob and Marlena, played by Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, had little chemistry on screen. This led to their romance having a very told-not-shown feel, particularly when viewed alongside the passionate performance given by Christoph Waltz, who plays Marlena’s husband. Unfortunately, the film plays up the love triangle at the expense of many of the supporting elements that made the book feel unique. What results is a relatively shallow and not-entirely-convincing love story. Despite this shortcoming, the film does a fair job of visually representing the shoddy grandeur of the Most Spectacular Show on Earth; as is true with the novel, the richness of the setting ends up being the film’s saving grace.

Water for Elephants is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library in both book and audiobook form. The film is also available through the library; if it is not on the shelf at your local branch, you can request for it to be delivered to the branch of your choosing. In addition, you can borrow a digital copy of the novel from the Ventura County Library through OverDrive. OverDrive eBooks are available to download to a wide variety of devices, and will automatically be returned at the conclusion of your loan period. If you need assistance with setting up your device and account to borrow eBooks, check out the OverDrive help page, which links to a number of useful, device-specific articles and videos, or stop by the library.

 

Brought to life by Ronald Martin.

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