Teen Volunteer Book Reviews: One of Us is Lying and Dread Nation

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

One of Us is Lying by Karen A. McManus, reviewed by Julia F.

If you enjoy a mix of realistic fiction, mystery, high school drama, and social media intrigue, One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus, is for you.

Who murdered Bayview High School’s Simon Kelleher? Was it Bronwyn, the bright academic who wishes to attend Yale? Or could it have been the Cooper, the group’s “jock”? Maybe you will suspect Addy because she is popular and social? Or was it the troubled Nate who already has a checkered past? You may be wondering why someone would want to kill Simon in the first place. He ran the school’s widely followed juicy gossip app ABOUT THAT, which was set to reveal secrets about each of the suspects. All four had skeletons in their closets, but was someone’s secret devastating enough to warrant a murder?

We find out that Bronwyn has gone to interesting lengths to protect her academic future and her family’s legacy. Cooper has a baseball career in the balance, and his tangled web of lies threatens to take away his opportunity to be a star. Addy is not who she seems to those around her and now she stands to lose those closest to her. Nate doesn’t have as much to lose, but the post could land him in jail. Simon’s death causes new alliances to form between the suspects as they scramble to protect their secrets and prove their innocence. As you read this book you will find yourself suspecting each of the four students at one point or another.

This book will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. If you are looking for an exciting thriller and quick read, be sure you have a chunk of time available because you won’t want to put it down! Good news— there is a sequel (One of Us is Next) that follows Bronwyn’s younger sister Maeve and it is just as captivating.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, reviewed by Stephanie D.

Dread Nation is a historical fiction novel that takes place during the American Civil War… with one important twist. In this alternate history universe, the fighting stops halfway through, around the year 1863. Why? The answer is simple but terrifying: the soldiers don’t stay dead anymore. The Civil War is postponed as Northerners and Southerners alike grapple with a zombie apocalypse, and our story focuses in on a teenage girl named Jane. Jane is sent from her mother’s plantation to one of the recently opened combat schools. These have been springing up around the country as African and Native American teenagers are forced to learn to fight zombies (or “shamblers”, as they are called in the book). Dread Nation follows Jane and her classmate Katherine as they are sent to defend Summerland, a frontier town under the constant siege of shamblers. Once in Summerland, Katherine pretends to be a wealthy white woman and Jane her Attendant (someone who is responsible for their employer’s life in the event of a zombie attack). Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Summerland, the town is soon overrun by shamblers, and Jane and Katherine must flee to save their lives.

I gave this book a solid four stars. I really enjoyed the universe building and detailed description of historical events, because I could compare it to the version of history I had learned in history class and the fictional zombie version. It was fast-paced, which I enjoyed, but I also felt that the pacing was rather inconsistent. The first part of the book felt much slower than the second, even though the latter seemed like it was supposed to be the focus of the story, as it contained a majority of the action. In short, there was too much build up to the climax of the book, and in the wrong places. I would have liked to hear more about Jane’s life on the plantation and the story of her family, which was revealed piece by piece throughout the novel and provided an interesting side plot. Additionally, I would have preferred a more complete ending. I understand that this is the first of a series, but the conclusion did not feel nearly concluding enough to tie up all the loose ends left by the big zombie invasion and battle of the final chapters. One final criticism is that I found the character of Jane to be a very typical YA heroine: a rebellious tomboy, always the best at everything, and generally “different from everybody else”. These characters can certainly contribute a lot to a story, but they seem to be everywhere and therefore Jane did not earn this book any points in the protagonist department.

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in June

While much of our programming is still online, we’re excited to be able to offer some new outdoor programs at our local parks this summer!

June Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. June’s challenges include:

  • Art: It’s the month of Junebugs and Junicorns- draw your favorite bug, or a unicorn!
  • Writing: Write about your most memorable vacation.
  • Food: June has a bunch of ice cream/frozen yogurt-related holidays, so make something fun with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • Reading: June is Pride Month- read a story by or about someone from the LGBT+ community, fact or fiction.
  • More Reading: Read a graphic novel. When you’re done, continue the story with artwork in the style of the illustrator.
  • Even More Reading: For a week-long challenge, read a different book by the same author each day.

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages.

Book Buzz Teen Book Club: Shadow and Bone

All month long

This month we are going to read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Books will be provided and are yours to keep! To pick up your Book Buzz book, starting on June 1st, you must register for this event. Then you can either call the Children’s Desk (at 272-2245 x 33003) and schedule a Grab n Go pickup, or come into the library and pick up your book at the Children’s Desk.

River Cruising 101

Saturday, June 5, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Discover the world of European river cruising with Bella Europa Travel. In this informative program you will learn about the many options that exist as well as the differences between traditional and river cruising. The talk will be complimented by beautiful photography and bits of interesting information to help you decide whether this form of cruising is for you. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

America’s Scenic Drives

Monday, June 7, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Who has been thinking about a road trip? Join us we will introduce you to lesser-discovered gems along America’s byways. You’ll learn about stops along each drive, the best time to visit, what makes each area special and more all complimented by beautiful photography.  Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, June 14, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us virtually 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! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Ask Mike the Appraiser : What’s it Worth

Monday, June 21, 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

We’ll Discuss “10 Factors That Always Impact Value”

We’ll Perform 1-on-1 Appraisals of ZOOM attendees’ treasures.  (Limit first 25 who sign up)

We’ll Share Buying & Selling Tips & Strategies Throughout.

Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Christine’s Critters

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 3:00 – 4:00pm

Learn about birds of prey and reptiles with a virtual visit from live animal ambassadors!All ages are welcome to attend. Please register starting June 1 and you will receive a Zoom link 1 hour prior to the start of this virtual program.

U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band in concert at Mixville

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 6:30 – 8:00pm

The Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band performs classic jazz, blues, and rags with a “New Orleans” flavor. Admission to Mixville Park (1300 Notch Road in Cheshire) is free for concert attendees.  Just tell the staff at the entrance gate that you are there for the concert.  The concert will begin at 6:30, but you are welcome to come early and enjoy a picnic or a stroll at beautiful Mixville!  This summer concert series is funded by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library and co-sponsored by the library and Cheshire’s Park and Recreation Department. 

Tips for the First-Time Travelers on a Budget

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join us we will learn how to  find the cheapest flights, go over luggage limitations, how to research and plan your own trip.  Learn how to use Google tools to make pages of links and a personalized map for walking or driving. We will go over the options for finding an affordable place to stay, and cover some other basics like safety, language and money. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Trivia Night in the Park

Monday, June 28, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends. Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course literature! We will meet at Cheshire Park at the Pavilion. Masks must be worn over your nose and mouth during the entire program. Registration is required for this adult program.

Storytime @ the Park: Bartlem (Ages 3-5)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 10:00 – 10:30am

Enjoy an outdoor storytime at Bartlem Park full of books, music, and movement! You are welcome to bring your own blanket or towel to sit on. Best for ages 3-5.  Masks must be worn when you are not in your designated spot and social distancing will be observed. Space is limited and registration is required to attend. Please register each participant (caregivers and children). Registration begins 48 hours prior to each class. We will be meeting at the fields behind the playground.

Books Over Coffee: The Woman in the Window

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn .We will meet over Zoom, please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Food Explorers: Bread Workshop (Grades 3-8)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 3:00 – 5:00pm

Food Explorers will show you how to make your own focaccia bread masterpiece by decorating with fresh vegetables and herbs. You’ll also make dinner rolls from scratch in this two hour class. for kids in grades 3-8. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Teen Book Reviews: A Dog’s Purpose and Three Dark Crowns

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

A Dog’s Purpose reviewed by teen volunteer Madelyn:

W. Bruce Cameron’s novel, A Dog’s Purpose, highlights the love dogs have for their owners from the canine’s point of view. To start, the young dog is a puppy in a stray litter. He learns about his love for people, however he was soon euthanized. After this life, the young dog is reborn, becoming Bailey. He learns the satisfaction of being a “good dog” for his owner Ethan, while experiencing years of love and trust. Bailey would risk his life for Ethan, and after devoting years and years to his owner, he feels he has fulfilled his purpose. However, when he passes, he simply wakes up in another dog’s body! Here, Bailey finds that his journey is not yet finished, and he has a lot more to learn. As he continues to reincarnate, he strives to find his meaning in this crazed world.

Bailey is reborn as a female German Shepherd, who grew into a police dog named Ellie. Ellie is sadly shot while trying to save a kidnapped girl from drowning. Next, reborn as a corgi named Tino, he strives to help his owner find happiness while he watched as she grew from a college student to a mom of three. Bailey reincarnates again as a St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd named Waffles. Here, Waffles is neglected and is abandoned after years of being tortured. Waffles soon then makes his way back to his old master, Ethan, where they reunite. Bailey narrates his triumphs and how life is all about having fun, saving others, finding someone to be with, not getting upset over the past and future, and most importantly living for today. Overall, I found this book to be incredibly impactful and it helped me gain a new point of view while reflecting on my past pets as well as my current ones.

5 Stars.

Three Dark Crowns reviewed by teen volunteer Claire:

Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake displays the hardship of sisters to a new level. Out of three sisters the same age, only one can become queen of Fenbirn. Each sister is blessed with a gift from the goddess, and until the age of sixteen, live among others with the same gift. However, in the year they turn sixteen, they must kill each other until only one remains for the crown. Arsinoe, the naturalist queen is shown to be the weakest and seemingly giftless. Naturalists are supposed to be capable of blooming plants and taming animals, but Arsinoe can’t even grow a mere daisy. Katherine, the poisoner queen, also has a weak gift. Poisoners are capable of ingesting deadly poisons and skillfully poisoning others. Finally, Mirabella is the elemental and strongest sister. Elementals are able to control elements of the Earth, although Mirabella is only shown to be using lightning, water, and fire.

My favorite queen was Arsinoe, due to her carefree attitude and interesting attempts to gain power. When she dabbled with low magic throughout the entire book, it was generally looked down on, especially for a queen. However, she did not care about the stigma, and just wanted to focus on surviving. She was not like either of her sisters. While Mirabella displayed love for her sisters and did not want to kill them, Arsinoe was willing to do what was necessary to win. Katherine was not focusing on strengthening her gift and was only focusing on gaining the attention of suitors. My favorite part was near the ending, when a poisoning attempt had failed to poison Arsinoe, and instead hurt her best friend Jules. However, the poisoned chocolates were actually also eaten by Arsinoe, making her realize that she is not a naturalist, but a poisoner queen.

4 stars.

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in May

May we tempt you with our upcoming programs? We’re excited to have a return visit from local author Kathleen Marple Kalb, to do some virtual traveling to the Outer Banks, to dig deep into the subject of vegetable gardens, and much more. Sign up for as many virtual programs as you want and participate from the comfort of home!

May Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. May’s challenges include:

  • Art: It’s the month of Monster MAY-hem! Draw your favorite monster, creature, or beast.
  • Writing: Write a bucket list for summer- what do you hope to do this year?
  • Food: May 6th is National Beverage Day, so make something fun to drink- it can be hot or cold.
  • Reading: On May 4, celebrate “May the Fourth Be with You” by reading a Star Wars-inspired story!
  • More Reading: Listen to an audiobook of a story you’ve read and loved.
  • Even More Reading: Take a book vacation! Read a book set somewhere you would love to visit.

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages.

How to Have a Successful Vegetable Garden

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Have you found yourself wanting to start growing food in your backyard, or apartment patio, but have no idea where to begin? Cut through the intimidation by attending this step-by-step workshop all about how to have a successful vegetable garden with CT garden expert, Jillian Shea of PlantHer Garden Coaching. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Take + Make Kits for kids & teens

Make something at your own pace this week with a Take + Make kit! We have kits for kids in every age group this month, and registration is required to pick up a kit in the Children’s Room each week. We have a limited number of materials and the kits get reserved very quickly, so please register early and limit to one kit per child.

Birdscaping: Home Sweet Habitat

Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

This beautifully illustrated program explores the importance of creating welcoming habitats for birds through thoughtful landscape choices, including native plants vital for food and nesting sites. Learn about the benefits and joys of creating beautiful layered gardens designed for avian – and human – habitat. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Virtual Trivia Night

Monday, May 10, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends! ! Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Spaceship Harmony: A Musical Journey through the Universe

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

Experience new and familiar music with a cosmic twist! Blast off in a rocket ship, walk on the moon, shake your moon rocks and defy gravity! Best for children ages 2-7. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cartooning Workshop: Animals

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Award winning cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Rick Stromoski, will teach you how to create your own cartoon animals! All you will need is a stack of paper and something to draw with. Please note this is an early dismissal day for Cheshire Public Schools. For children and teens in grades 3-8. Please register once per family and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Cheshire Author Talk: A Fatal First Night

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Calling all cozy mystery lovers!  Join us for a conversation with local author Kathleen Marple Kalb on A Fatal First Night, her second Ella Shane mystery. While Ella’s opera company’s latest premier manages to attract adoring crowds and rave reviews, it also attracts a killer who’s a real showstopper. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Lighthouses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Thursday, May 13, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of their centuries of shipwrecks and disasters. This Illustrated Lecture will share not just the history, but also the beauty of the lighthouses that guard the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, May 17, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us virtually 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! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Pajama Storytime

Monday, May 17, 2021, 7:00 – 7:30pm

Put on your pajamas and fuzzy slippers and tune in for a fun-filled evening of stories, songs, and adventures! Best for ages 2-5. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Genealogy: Where to Find Cemetery Data Online

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

While most people are familiar with Find-A-Grave, there are actually several other sites and sources that contain cemetery images and information, which Carol Ansel, Godfrey Memorial Library Director, will share with you. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Author Talk: Arlington National Cemetery

Saturday, May 22, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join Us as author Cindy Parych presents the backstory of Arlington National Cemetery and highlights some of the stories of the interesting people who lived and were buried there. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

New Haven’s First Pizzerias

Monday, May 24, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us, as Colin M. Caplan the pizza guru will discuss how pizza in New Haven came to be, from the Italian immigrants bringing their special recipes. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Sing Me a Fairy Tale: Not so Nimble Jack

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

A musical retelling of the classic tale about a boy named Jack who uses his quick wits to outsmart a giant and make a fortune for himself and his mother. Best for ages 2-5. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Books Over Coffee: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. We will meet over Zoom, please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Teen Book Reviews: “Concrete Rose” and “If I Tell You the Truth”

Today’s book reviews are by volunteer Ima T.

 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose serves as a prequel to the much loved story of The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. However, it’s not necessary to have read The Hate You Give, because the Concrete Rose has its own complete, separate storyline.

The story follows Maverick Carter, who is a 17 year old living in Garden Heights. He has been involved with the King Lords gang since his father had previously been a pivotal part of it beforehand. His role is to sell small amounts of weed and recruit new members. He made a nice sum of money from this role and could help pay the bills with his mother. Yet his life turns upside down when he realizes he has a son, which leads him to attempt to leave the gang. The reason he does this since he knows that the environment he is in with a gang would not be good for his son. But things start to change once he finds it harder and harder to scrape money together for his family and the people who support him. Maverick needs to find a way to break the cycle of involvement with gangs. One heart-stopping event occurs when a close friend of Maverick’s is murdered, and once this happens, he truly has to learn how to deal with grief and trauma with people who are still relying on him.

Concrete Rose is a fierce novel with important themes that can be applied to everyday life. For example, in the novel, Maverick struggles with the fact that he is being constantly compared to his powerful father, who was previously part of the gang but is now in jail. Nicknamed ‘Li’l Don’, he has big shoes to fill and constantly feels as though he should be more of a man. His emotional development throughout the book gives an inside look to readers who want to learn more about the father described in The Hate You Give. Concrete Rose is an amazing read, and truly lives up to its name of describing a boy who is struggling to flourish and realize his full potential.

 

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur follows the story of Kiran and her daughter Sahaara, and it is told from both of their alternating perspectives. A compelling part of the novel is the fact that some of the story is told in verse, while the rest of it reads like a normal novel. When the novel is in verse, it is often to display emotions like sadness or anger. This allows for the distressed thoughts that the characters feel to be expressed deeper. Kiran is Punjabi, and comes to Canada on an educational visa. She leaves her strict family to go to university else where, but the reader soon discovers that she has a child on the way as a result of sexual assault. Her decision to keep her future daughter strains her relationship with her family, and leaves her isolated in a foreign country. Kiran struggles with letting her daughter grow up without much money and familial support, and there is an added fear of getting deported. Kiran had to overstay her visa in Canada for her daughter since she didn’t want to go back to her home country out of fear of finding her rapist.

The first half of the book is told from Kiran’s point of view, and the rest is from Sahaara. Sahaara wants to find her own identity since she doesn’t know about Kiran’s background. When she learns about what happened to her mother, she fights to help take down the rapist and stand by her mother, while struggling with her own self identity in the process. If I Tell You the Truth is very well written, and it expands on the important theme of community and loyalty while displaying the growing relationship between mother and daughter. Kiran’s and Sahaara’s story will strike a chord in many hearts. This is an exceptional novel, and I couldn’t recommend it more.