orphan blackOrphan Black is an action thriller television series that debuted in 2013 on BBC America. The fourth season is set to begin in April 2016.

Orphan Black begins by introducing viewers to Sarah Manning, a woman back in the states and on the run from an abusive relationship who is trying to get in contact with her young daughter whom she hasn’t seen in over 10 months. She’s getting ready to take the train when she sees a woman commit suicide right in front of her. Interesting twist: this woman looks exactly like Sarah. She decides to assume the dead woman’s identity and lets herself into the woman’s apartment.

Everything seems to be working out perfectly when she realizes the woman has $75,000 in the bank. She decides to drain the woman’s bank account and then skip town with her daughter and her foster brother. Her plans are cut short when unfinished business from both the dead woman’s past and her own past come barreling into her life, leading Sarah down a deadly trail of thrilling mystery that all lead her to the stunning conclusion: she is a clone, there are more of her out there, and that someone is trying to kill all of them. Sarah has no choice but to continue to live a double life as herself and the dead woman, as she meets other clones and realizes that they are all entangled in a complicated plot as genetically identical individuals who all grew up in very different circumstances.

Highlighted by a tour de force performance by Tatiana Maslany (she plays all of the clones, giving each of them distinct personalities, speech patterns and behaviors), this is compulsive television viewing.

Washington 2I am a lover of American History, but I must admit that my presidential knowledge is limited. Somehow, I don’t think I’m alone in needing to brush up on my presidential repertoire. To start, we have to see what you already know. There were two different quizzes I plucked from the internet that will test your knowledge of the 43 presidents. The first one gives you five minutes to input as many president’s names as you can remember. Thankfully you do not have to know when they served, but you do need a first and last named, spelled correctly. I found that it took me about three minutes to input all the names I knew for sure, which was little more than half. Then I just sat there willing my brain to dig a little deeper, feeling oh so tempted to steal a hint from the internet. Seem a little tough? Well the second quiz tests your knowledge of what the presidents looked like when they were in office. As an added bonus, it is a multiple choice. Unfortunately I somehow did a little worse on this one. Sound like fun? Give them a try.

Can You Name the Presidents Quiz 1

Can You Name the Presidents Quiz 2

How did you do? Well if you find that naming presidents is your expertise then I congratulate you! If you are interested on how to get your score up, check out these resources.

Book Resources

 

The History Buff’s Guide to the Presidents by Thomas Flagel

The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents by William A. DeGregorio

U.S. Presidents for Dummies by Marcus A. Stadelmann

 

On DVD

the ultimate guide to the presidents

The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents by The History Channel

 

Websites

Tips and Tricks for Memorizing the Presidents of the United States

Order the Presidents

4 Fun Ways to Memorize the U.S. Presidents

 

Apps

Memorize U.S. Presidents for iPhone

U.S. Presidents for Android

ant-man movieAnt-Man is a Marvel creation that most recently came out as a movie starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym. Dr. Pym was the original Ant-Man, the one who discovered the Pym Particle, a substance that had the ability to shrink items, most importantly a suit. He became Ant-Man and his wife became the Wasp. After a devastating accident, Dr. Pym hid away the formula and the process to find the Pym Particle, locking the suit away.

Flash forward to the present and viewers are introduced to Scott Lang, a burglar who has just been released from jail and is trying to turn his life around so that he can be in his daughter’s life. His roommate and a few friends approach him with the chance of a lifetime: they heard about a rich man who has a safe in his basement and if Scott can crack it, then they will be set financially for a long time. This heist changes Scott’s life and puts him in the sightline of a very powerful man, former Ant-Man Dr. Pym. Giving Scott a chance to reform his life and atone for his past crimes, Dr. Pym presents him with the opportunity to protect the Ant-Man suit and the formula from a group of scientists who wish to harness the power for dubious reasons. Dr. Pym mentors Scott in the ways to use the suit and how to harness all of its powers, while Scott works to change his life for the better. This movie is an excellent introduction to the background of Ant-Man and provides viewers with some pretty spectacular effects, while also keeping the mood light yet fill of action and adventure.


ant-man bookMoving further down the timeline is Nick Spencer’s Ant-Man. In this volume, Ant-Man is older, somewhat more mature, and has worked with a variety of other superheroes. Just because he’s older doesn’t mean he has become a better superhero though. Throughout this graphic novel, it’s pointed out to Scott that he isn’t even the best Ant-Man and that some people still think he’s dead.

Scott is still trying to better his life and provide for his daughter, something that this graphic novel shows has not been without some significant difficulty. Scott thinks he has it made when Iron Man calls and offers him a job, but quickly realizes that he’s only one of many candidates and just because he’s worked with Iron Man before doesn’t mean he is going to get the job. The realization that his ex-wife is moving with his daughter to Florida and a rumble with an old foe throws Scott off-balance, leaving him to try a new business venture that takes Scott and his family down a dangerous path where he is forced to see that what he thinks is right for his family and what is actually right for his family are two very different things.

What I liked best about this graphic novel is that if you are confused about something that is happening, the writers have written in explanations and have also provided you with the issue numbers of the different graphic novels that will help you to fill in the holes. Plus Scott does a lot of reflective thinking, so that helps. It’s brilliant! Check out this graphic novel for a more sarcastic and humanized approach to a superhero who is just trying to get his life together.

the age of adalineHave you ever seen a preview and told yourself you would never watch the movie? That’s how I felt with The Age of Adaline. The premise seemed unbelievable and the whole idea far-fetched. One day, however, someone told me I should really check it out because the movie was better than what the preview presented. Thus begins my falling in adoration of The Age of Adaline.

The Age of Adaline follows the life of young Adaline Bowman and her decades long endeavor to keep her real identity hidden from everyone. This necessitates having to move every decade and to change her identity. Adaline Bowman was in a near-death car crash when she was 29 that left her unable to age. Having remained 29 for almost eighty decades, Adaline has managed to keep her identity a secret by following a set of rules she has written for herself. She steers away from love, chooses friends wisely, and never tells anyone her real name – well except for one person, but that was years in the past.

In present day, Adaline manages to keep all of her promises until she meets Ellis Jones, a philanthropist who works his way fully into her life. Adaline soon finds herself having to deal with the clashing of her past and her present when a weekend trip to his parents’ house brings up memories that she would like to leave behind. This trip changes her life forever and forces her to come face-to-face with her destiny, whatever she chooses it to be.

 

 

Oscar BlogThe Academy Award nominations were announced early on January 14, and the ceremony will take place on February 28. The Academy Awards are widely known as the ultimate acknowledgement in the film industry. Unlike most film awards, the Academy Awards focus on every aspect of film making from Best Production Design to Best Supporting Actor to Best Film of the Year. While it may be the most coveted of all film awards, the actual event is probably the least exciting of any movie award show. Usually they open up with some fun awards, but the middle has a bunch of awards the general public doesn’t really care about that are won by a bunch of people we’ve never heard of. I LOVE this award show, but when the award for Best Sound Editing comes up I take a bathroom break. This is where I stop and thank my DVR for all of the wonderful things it does! 

Coincidentally my favorite Oscar moment occurred during the longest ever Oscar ceremony. Of course this particular year I was watching it live and remember it well. In 2002 Whoopi Goldberg hosted the ceremony that would last 263 minutes. That is 1 hour and 23 minutes over the 3 hour allotted time slot. But it was well worth the wait as my second favorite actor of all time finally took home the Best Actor Oscar for his roll in Training Day. Fourteen years later Denzel Washington continues to be a standard in acting as he was awarded the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement award at the Golden Globes on January 10.

This year is a big year for me as a fan, probably the biggest year in my 20 years of watching the Oscars. Despite everything I just said about the award shows being a bit boring in the middle, I am definitely watching it live this year! My favorite actor of all time is up for Best Actor and he is a shoe in to win. He is one of the few Hollywood acting elite that have yet to take home an Oscar. To earn the nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio was the lead actor for the film The RevenantFor those of you that have not heard by now, the cast and crew had to endure excruciating filming conditions. The weather was was often far below zero and there were multiple set backs and difficulties. Only when temperatures reached -40 degrees did production halt for five weeks. DiCaprio pulls out all the stops for this film, including eating a raw bison liver. Leo is not the only cast member being honored, the film leads the Oscar pack with a total of 12 nominations.

Another highlight of this year’s Academy Awards will be host Chris Rock. Chris Rock previously hosted the award ceremony in 2005. There has been some push for the actor to drop out of hosting the awards due to the lack of diversity of the nominees this year. But as of right now, the actor is standing by the Academy. Rock leaves me laughing every time and I think this show will be no exception.

For more Oscar fun, see below.

Complete List of Nominees

33 Fascinating Academy Awards Statistics

Academy Awards Trivia Quiz

50 Greatest Oscar Moments

the knickCinemax has put together a splendid fictional drama based on the medical field and goings on at the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York. In this show called The Knick,  surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff and benefactors, deal with the ins and outs of running a hospital in downtown New York in 1900. The star of this show is the new chief of surgery, Dr. Thackeray, having just inherited this position after the suicide of his predecessor.

Dr. Thackeray and the rest of his team are forced to deal with changes due to poor finances and increased competition between the other hospitals when all of their wealthy patients leave. In order to keep the place afloat, viewers will see the administrators wheedling for money, extorting patients, selling bodies, all the while telling people things are going okay.

The Knick is a fairly bloody and graphic show, which one must expect considering it is a medical drama. This show deals with complicated subject matter, like drug addiction amongst the doctors, racial and gender prejudice when Dr. Thackeray is forced to work with his new Deputy Chief of Surgery who just happens to be a black doctor, while all the while dealing with a typhoid outbreak (HELLO Typhoid Mary!) and trying to come up with and perform new surgeries to save their patient’s lives.

I found this show to be riveting and personally can’t wait for the second season to come to DVD, so I can check up on Dr. Thackeray and friends to see how they are all fairing!

The-Martian-2015-movie-posterThe Martian

Just looking at the title, one would assume that this movie is just about space, presumably Mars.  But you would be wrong.  The Martian is a story of survival that just happens to take place on Mars.

Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon, is accidentally left behind on Mars after his crew mates erroneously presumed that he was dead.  Watney must figure out how he is going to survive with some meager supplies.  Surviving in the wilderness on Earth can be quite challenging in itself.  One must find food and clean water as well as have shelter from predators and the elements.  Imagine having all of these problems plus needing to have a supply of oxygen and protect one self from the hostile environment on Mars.

“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab beaches, I’ll just kind of implode. If none of those things happen. I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah.” – Mark Watney

And yet, Mark Watney manages to find a way to stay alive.  And he does so with a sense of humor.  Even in  a tense situation, while you are sitting on the edge of your seat, Watney will figure out a way to make you laugh as he himself laughs at danger.  He makes contact with NASA and finds out that it will take a very long time for them to rescue him.  The question becomes, will Mark Watney be able to stay alive long enough so that he can be rescued?

Nominated for Best Picture and for Best Actor, Matt Damon.  The Martian won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical and for Best Actor, Matt Damon, in a Comedy of Musical.  Do not let the Golden Globe Awards fool you.  Even though The Martian has funny moments, it is not a comedy.

martian bookThe Martian is based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir which is also available at the Davenport Public Library.

 

 

 

Box Office BlogAs 2015 came to a close, I found myself curious about how the box office turn out was for 2015. Box office refers to the grand total a particular movie made while it was in the theaters. Sales are counted for United States and world wide. What I was most interested in was the United States totals. 2015 was a great year, grossing more money than ever with a grand total of 11,125 million dollars. The big push to put 2015 over the top came at the very end of the year, when the highest grossing film of all time was released to theaters.

Box office numbers are taken from Box Office Mojo. The top ten highest grossing films of the year are as follows:

10. Spectre with $198,579,382 – Spectre is the most recent release in the James Bond movie franchise. DVD release in early February.

9. Cinderella with $201,151,353 – Cinderella  is the remake of the classic fairy tale starring Lily James as Cinderella.

8. The Martian with $226,579,382 – The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars.

7. The Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2 with $277,901,047 – Final installment in the Hunger Games series. DVD release late winter/early spring.

6. Minions with $336,045,770 – Minions is the prequel to Despicable Me that centers on the history of the minions.

5. Furious 7 with $353,007,020 – Furious 7 is the most recent release in the Fast and Furious movie franchise.

4. Inside Out with $356,461,711 – Inside Out is a Disney Pixar animation film that gives personalities to emotions.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron with $459,005,868  – Age of Ultron is the second film in the Avengers series and part of the even larger scale Marvel franchise movies.

2. Jurassic World with $652,270,625 – Jurassic World is the next installment to the popular 90’s Jurassic Park trilogy. Fourteen years later the park is bigger, better, and more dangerous than ever.

1.Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a whopping $819,687,937 in only 14 days! – The Force Awakens is the long awaited 7th installment in the Star Wars movie franchise. It takes place about 30 years after episode VI.

For a complete list of 2015 box office movies go to Box Office Mojo.

the flashI’ve been on a superhero kick lately, as evidenced by all of my recent blog posts featuring superhero graphic novels. I decided to branch out on my last library check-out and snagged the first season of The Flash.

The Flash is a television series that began in 2014 and is currently running its second season on the CW. This show is based on the DC Comics run of the Flash and is actually of spinoff of Arrow, another show that is running its 4th season on the CW right now (the library has the first three seasons!). Don’t worry! It’s not necessary to watch all of Arrow in order to understand the story of The Flash. When the characters cross over, they do a good job of explaining their back stories.

In The Flash, Barry Allen is a crime scene investigator for the Central City police department. He’s an incredibly smart young man, one who is endearingly awkward and geekishly handsome. Barry moved in with his best friend, Iris, and her father, Joe, after his mother was murdered and his father was sent to jail for having killed her. Despite having to grow up with only Joe has a parental figure, Barry chose a career path that would help him learn all he can about the science behind his mother’s murder, something that would help him free his father from prison, and find the mysterious “man in yellow,” the man Barry believes to have killed his mother. After an explosion at Star Labs, Barry wakes up and realizes that he has become the fastest man alive. Every superhero has to have partners in crime and Barry found his in a group of scientists operating out of Star Labs since it was shut down. Realizing that he has an opportunity to help people, Barry and friends help to fine tune his abilities and he uses his new power to race through the streets of Central City to fight crime. Check out this first season to watch Barry test the limits of his speed, figure out ways to fight the other metahumans(what they call the people who were also affected by the explosion at Star Labs), and cheer for Barry as he struggles to find a way to free his father from prison.

izombiebook2What would you do if you couldn’t remember who you are? If when you tried to remember your past experiences, you froze and realized you couldn’t remember anything? This problem happens to Gwen on a daily basis, but luckily she’s found a way to sort of fix this problem: she eats the brains of the recently deceased. Did I forget to mention Gwen is a zombie? She is…

In iZombie: Dead to the World, readers are introduced to the undead life of Gwen Dylan, a zombie who works as a gravedigger at an eco-friendly cemetery and who also lives in one of the vaults at said cemetery. Gwen keeps company with a were-terrier that she’s nicknamed Spot and a ghost best friend who has been dead since the 1960s. If her life sounds weird already, Gwen has to eat a human brain about once a month, so she doesn’t turn full zombie and also so she can keep her memories intact. Interesting little tidbit about that brain eating: Gwen is flooded by the dead person’s memories and thoughts right after she eats their brains and as a result, she feels the urge to help them fill their last requests: be it through finding their killer or delivering a message to their mourning families. Gwen has a lot on her plate, but she soon discovers that there are visitors to her town who are there to kill any paranormal creature who is existing when they should really be dead. Throw in Halloween, a full moon, a pack of blood-thirsty female vampires, and a mysterious mummy man who wants Gwen to join him in his killing of not-so-innocent people, and Gwen soon realizes her peaceful life is about to go crazy.

If this first volume sounds interesting to you, keep your eyes on our shelves for the release of the next three volumes. You can also check out the television show, iZombie, whose first season is available for check out at all three Davenport Public Library locations.