Sci-Fi Favorites

Today’s guest post was written by Harold Kramer.

In this blog post, I’m going to discuss some of my favorite science fiction (sci-fi) books and authors.  If you are interested in sci-fi, a good place to find some of the best science fiction are the Hugo and Nebula Awards. These annual awards constitute a list of outstanding sci-fi literature and drama. They also provide an international platform that showcases both established and new sci-fi authors in a broad range of genres and sub-genres.

Contemporary sci-fi has split into many sub-genres, such as dystopia (think Red Rising), alien invasion  (like Ender’s Game),  cyberpunk (like Neuromancer), and sci-fi/fantasy (Dune, for example).  The common thread, that makes any literary or dramatic work science fiction, is that it deals with scientific topics such as life on other planets, space flight, time travel and life in the future.  In fact, the library has recently merged its sci-fi collection into the fiction collection since it is has become difficult to distinguish “regular” fiction from science fiction.

For starters, here are two of my favorite authors:

Jack McDevitt is a master writer of classic sci fi.  He has been compared to Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, two legendary sci-fi authors. He has been nominated for the Nebula Award sixteen times.  His two ongoing series of novels are the Alex Benedict series and the Academy or “Hutch” (Priscilla Hutchins) series.  Both series have definitive timelines, so you should really start at the beginning of each series. However, each novel can stand on its own.  My favorite Alex Benedict novels are Coming Home and Seeker. Seeker won the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novel.   Two of my other favorites are his first novel, The Hercules Text a story about mankind’s reaction to receiving an intelligent signal from space, and Omega, a Priscilla Hutchins novel about mysterious energy clouds in space. It was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2004.

Connie Willis is an American writer who has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other science fiction author ever.  My favorites books by her are her trilogy of time travel novels.  These include Doomsday Book that is an account of time travel to the 14th Century by a female heroine who is a historian from Oxford University sometime in the late 21st Century. It is moving story of human frailty and courage during a time of great devastation. It’s as much historical fiction as it is sci-fi.  Blackout and its sequel All Clear also feature female historians from Oxford University. These books are detailed, compelling novels about the courage of the British people during World War II.  These novels won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Let me know about some of your favorite sci-fi authors and novels and I will feature them in future blogs.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in November

Concerts, classes, crafts, and more are on the calendar in November at CPL. And don’t forget the big Fall Book Sale – check out the Event Calendar for all of our November offerings!

Chocolate for the Holidays

Saturday, November 3, 2018, 2:00 – 4:00PM

Long time chef, chocolate expert and former Cheshire Library Assistant Director Maria Brandriff will demonstrate how to make both decadent truffles and some healthier chocolate treats to give as holiday gifts.   Recipes and ample samples will be available. Registration is required.

Sunday Concert: Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem

Sunday, November 4, 2018, 2:00 – 3:00PM

This New England-based folk quartet is now in its15th year and features Rani Arbo (fiddle, guitar), Andrew Kinsey (bass, banjo, ukulele), Anand Nayak (electric and acoustic guitars) and Scott Kessel (percussion). This band’s steadfast brew of wit, camaraderie, and musicality leaves audiences everywhere humming and hopeful, spirits renewed. Join us for the first concert of CPL’s 2018-2019 Sunday concert series, made possible by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library! No registration required.

Family Zumba

Mondays: November 5, 19, and 26, 2018, 4:00 – 4:30PM

Perfect for younger Zumba fans and their grown-ups. Family Zumba features kid-friendly routines and up-beat music! Caregivers are encouraged to attend and participate. This class helps develop a healthy lifestyle and incorporate fitness as a natural part of children’s lives by making fitness fun. No registration required.

Transcend Physical Reality for Your Healing and Empowerment

Monday, November 5, 2018, 6:3- – 8:00PM

Would you like to be able to raise above your everyday consciousness and create a new reality in your mind, so real that it shifts physical reality? You have all the power you need within you, but first you need to be able to transcend physical reality and look deeper into the essence. Your ability to transcend physical reality has tremendous healing power. You are not a victim but a director of your life.  Author and healer and former Cheshire resident Sue Maisano will help you understand how to transcend physical reality to heal/empower yourself and achieve your true heart’s desires with least resistance. Registration is required.

South Asian Festival

Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 3:00 – 4:00PM

Join us for an afternoon filled with exciting activities for children of all ages! Create your own Rangoli artwork, apply henna skin art, learn the origins of henna, create fun crafts, and more! Registration is not required for this event. (Please note public schools are not in session this day.)

Finish That Book

Tuesdays: November 6, 13, 20, 27, 2018, 5:00 – 8:00PM

National Novel Writing Month, is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.  Join other writers for a quiet and relaxing space to write. Drop in, no registration required.

Trivia Night @ The Waverly Inn

Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

Join us for a special Trivia Night at The Waverly Inn (286 Maple Ave, Cheshire). Come by yourself or bring friends, test your knowledge of pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature! It’s all for Pride, not for Prize. Don’t forget to bring your appetite, as the Waverly Inn has tasty eats to purchase. Registration begins October 24, and is required for this adult program.

Friends of Cheshire Public Library Fall Book Sale

Thursday November 15 – Sunday November 18, 2018

Thousands of gently used books, cds, and dvds. All proceeds benefit the Friends of Cheshire Public Library, who make all of our fantastic programming possible! Members of the Friends get a sneak peek on Wednesday night, and memberships will be available for purchase at the door. Support the Friends!

  • Wednesday, November 14, 6:30 – 8:00PM: Preview Night (members only)
  • Thursday, November 15, 9:00AM – 8:00PM
  • Friday, November 16, 9:00AM – 4:30PM
  • Saturday, November 17, 9:00 AM – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, November 18, 12:00 – 3:00PM: “Bag of Books” Sale

Create Holiday Cards

Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

One of the many joys of the Holiday season is sending cheerful cards to the ones you love. Join Sue Bernier and create 3 Holiday cards using “Stampin Up” rubber stamps and paper. Attendees 15 years old and up. Registration is required, starting November 14.

This Year’s Best Crime Novels So Far

Today we are featuring a guest post by Cassie Peters:

Crime novels offer glimpses into the minds of those who choose to either take the law into their own hands or ignore it entirely. Through the author’s words, we are able to contemplate, observe, and judge the motivations that make the criminals tick. If learning about the underworld is within your literary interests, here are some of the best crime novels of 2018. Following a long tradition of crime-based literature, many of these novels are brilliant subversions of the well-known and popular genre. Get ready to take a harrowing leap into the minds of 2018’s fictional criminals.

The Outsider by Stephen King

Terry Maitland is a Little League coach, family man, and all-around beloved pillar of the community who was arrested for the mutilation and murder of a young boy. Honest cop Detective Ralph Anderson struggles with deciphering all available evidence for fear of convicting the wrong suspect, until his wife Jeannie asks all the right questions that leads the investigation to the truth. Meanwhile, time-warping details both obscure and provide glimpses into hidden, deeper truths. Stephen King’s The Outsider is a masterful twist on the classic crime genre. A smooth and effortless tale of modern day crime with just the right amount of noir, politics, and psychedelics. Not a lot of writers can so pleasurably disorient readers like King.


Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz

An orphan who at 12 was enrolled in a top-secret government training program for assassins escapes to become an unlikely vigilante in Hellbent. The novel is the latest in author Gregg Hurwitz’s international bestselling series of books in the Orphan X series. It’s a sordid look into the all-too-fragile lives that evolve on their own amid government motives and conspiracies. Crime and conspiracy take on a humanitarian form via bullet train-paced prose. 

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

What if Mary Poppins was a sociological suspense-thriller that didn’t hold anything back? There’s nothing mystical or magical about Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny, but she manages to masterfully subvert expectations via her sublime prose. It’s no secret that the lives of the characters in the story are in danger, including young children.  The mystery is whether or not you’ll be able to make it through the slow simmer of how a wholly trustworthy figure can transition into a rationally irrational monster. Library Journal says, “What initially feels like routine, unremarkable women’s fiction morphs into a darkly propulsive nail-biter overlain with a vivid and piercing study of class tensions”.  Peppered with social realist truths amid subtle but constant mounting dread, The Perfect Nanny submits a poverty-stricken view of Paris that culminates in one of the most satisfyingly horrible endings yet.

Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner

FBI rookie Caitlin Hendrix is assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit to find a serial killer who leaves behind grisly clues. In this  dark, disturbing portrait of murder from the perspective of a career forensic psychologist, Agent Hendrix works with the FBI’s serial crime unit and a legendary FBI profiler to dissect the motivations behind a killer based on the available evidence. Into the Black Nowhere is a gripping novel that doubles as a crash course in sociology, critical thinking, crime research methodology, psychological testing, and criminal theory. Based on the exploits of the infamous Ted Bundy, Gardiner’s novel succeeds at a creating a realistic depiction of how serial killers function that is horrendous and unflinchingly educational at the same time. Don’t worry – you won’t need an actual degree in forensic psychology to enjoy this book. However, you should be prepared to learn a thing or two about the criminal mind – insights that might be too dark or true to be forgotten. Watch your step.

This feature post written for Cheshire Library Blog by Cassie Peters.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in October

Welcome to October at Cheshire Library! We’ve got a lot of science coming your way this month, in addition to some spooky fun. And don’t forget our 4th Annual Scavenger Hunt! Here’s a sample of what’s in store for October:

Terrific Tweens – Make a Spectroscope!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 4:00 – 4:45PM

A spectroscope is an instrument used for breaking down light into its component wavelengths for visual observation. We’ll make a spectroscope and separate light into all its component colors! For grades 5 – 8, no registration required.

4th Annual Town-Wide Instagram Scavenger Hunt

Saturday, October 6, 2018, 9:30AM – 3:00PM

Charge your phone and fill your gas tank for the fourth annual Town-Wide Scavenger Hunt! Form a team with members of any age and travel around town solving clues and posting your solutions to Instagram. When time is up, come back to the Library for celebratory snacks and a raffle drawing. Participants of all ages are encouraged to join the hunt. Each team needs a vehicle, a smartphone or network-enabled device, and an Instagram account set to public for the duration of the hunt. Technology help will be available when you pick up your clues.

  • 9:30-10:00  Pick up clues at the Library
  • 9:30-1:00  The scavenger hunt is on!
  • 2:00-3:00  Post-hunt party

Pre-registration is required for all teams, starting September 1.

Makeup 101: How to accentuate your best features

Thursday, October 11, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

Cheshire’s own Dana Bartone of Co. Salon and Spa will demonstrate on how to apply makeup.  Not just any makeup routine but one that will accentuate your best features. Our two models that will be demonstrated on are a millennial and baby boomer. Registration is required.

DNA Testing: Get Into Your Hand-Me Down Genes

Saturday, October 13, 2018, 2:00 – 4:00PM

Thinking about doing a DNA test for your genealogy research or have done one already?  Genealogist Janeen Bjork will talk about the three major companies offering DNA testing. Registration is required.

Cat Tales – Writers Group

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 6:00 – 8:00PM

Do you write in secret, or do you publish your own blog? Are you working on your dream novel, a memoir, or poetry? Join us at the library for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month!  Registration required for this adult program.

The Ever Changing Connecticut Forest

Monday, October 22, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

The resilient Connecticut forest has undergone dramatic changes over the past 400 years and earlier. This talk by  Dr. Jeffrey Ward will cover the changes in our forests since the ice age, and what the future forest may look like. Registration is required.

Crazy Colorful Chemistry (Ages 6+)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 4:00 – 5:00PM

To celebrate National Chemistry week, Jane Snell Copes from Science Outside the Box will be presenting a hands-on chemistry class for children ages 6 and up.  Space is limited, so please register starting October 1.

Library After Hours: Halloween Spooktacular

Friday, October 26, 2018, 5:00 – 7:00PM

Join us for a spooky bubble dance party and face painting.  Pizza and drinks will be available for sale by the Friends of the Library. There is no admission fee, but there is a suggested donation of $5 per family to help offset costs.  Please note that the Lower and Upper Levels of the Library will not be open to the public. Please register so that we know how many goodies to have! Sponsored by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library.

Culinary Chemistry

Saturday, October 27, 2018, 2:30 – 4:00PM

Through discussion and hand-on demonstrations, participants will gain an appreciation of chemical transformations in a culinary context.  This seminar will explore cooking through the four ancient elements of fire, air, earth and water.  Each of these ancestral elements will be paired with a contemporary cooking method (roasting, baking, fermentation, sous vide) and applied through a featured food.  The session concludes with light tastings of the featured foods. Registration is required for this adult program.

Paranormal Investigations in CT

Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

The truth behind investigating the unknown will be presented by the Eastern CT Paranormal Society. This program focuses on educating the public about how paranormal investigations are actually done, as opposed to what is seen on TV. We stress the importance of education as an asset to researching paranormal claims. We will showcase evidence that we have caught and explain the process of debunking paranormal activity, such orbs, light anomalies, and apparitions. Registration is required.

Spooky Storytime (Ages 2-5)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018, 10:00 – 11:00AM

Spooktacular stories, ghoulish goodies, and decorate your own mini pumpkin!  Costumes are encouraged!  Supplies are limited so please register starting on October 1.

Boom! Pow! The Benefits of Reading Graphic Novels

Today’s post comes to us from Ali, our Head of Children and Teen Services.

You bring your child into the library to find a book for them to read. They don’t seem interested in any chapter books you suggest.  They find the graphic novel section and seem really intrigued by a few titles.  You don’t allow them to choose one of those books because you want them to read a “real book”.  Sound familiar? I see this scenario often in the Children’s Room.  A child finally finds something they want but are told that, “those books don’t count”.

Graphic novels and comic books have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Parents and educators often dismiss these books as “junk” however, it is important to see the benefits of reading graphic novels. They are great resources for teaching important literacy skills, especially with unenthusiastic readers.  They serve as an initial gateway to reading because they often have more visual appeal than traditional novels.

Graphic novels are great for visual learners because they force readers to decipher differences in the text format to determine narration, tone, or mood.  The illustrations also help to decode difficult vocabulary. Graphic novels can serve as an introduction to non-linear storytelling. Each chapter may present a different time period or flashback to a past event forcing the reader to stop and contemplate the story.

I think it is important to start viewing graphic novels as “real books” because they truly offer so many literacy aids. They offer the same benefits as traditional chapter books, plus some.  If you’re looking for a good starting place, here are a few of my favorite new graphic novels:

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.  A hilarious memoir of a middle school student who tries to fit in. It’s not easy for Vera, being a Russian girl surrounded by friends who live in fancy houses and go to expensive summer camps.  Her mother can only afford to send her to a Russian summer camp.  Vera is sure she will fit in, but the camp is not exactly what she expected.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson. Thirteen-year-old Bina and her best friend Austin do everything together.  Austin is off to soccer camp for a month, so it’s up to Bina to find something to do this summer.  When Austin returns, he isn’t the same as when he left.  Can they reestablish their friendship?

Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss.  Grace decides to help her classroom’s pet guinea pig, Gus, because she knows what being lonely feels like.  She is determined to do something special for her four-legged friend.

 Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson.  Izzy loves acting in skits and making up funny stories. Bri is the smart one. But she wants people to see there’s more to her than just her good grades. This books captures the angst, drama, and humor of middle school life.