More Wine!

I’m a wine novice. Or whatever comes below novice on the scale. I have no concept of what constitutes a good wine or a bad wine, as I rarely drink it myself. But with the holiday season zooming in, a bottle of wine is often a go-to for party contributions and gift-giving.  Very challenging for a wine neophyte.

While I’ll never be an oenophile (vocabulary points!), I’ve decided that maybe it’s time to learn a little about the nectar of the gods, the venerable vintage, the glorious grape. With a literal library of information at my fingertips, heading over to 641.22 seemed like the smart way to begin. How pleasantly surprised I was to find that there were plenty of books (eBooks & audiobooks, too) for newbies like myself!  Maybe the next time I’m in the wine aisle of my local liquor store, I’ll be able to do more than stare vaguely at the bottles and count off “eenie-meenie-minie-moe”.

Wine : an introduction by Joanna Simon 

The Everything Wine Book by Barbara Nowak

Wine Isn’t Rocket Science : a quick & easy guide to understanding, buying, tasting, & pairing every type of wine by Ophélie Neiman

Winewise : your complete guide to understanding, selecting, and enjoying wine by Steven Kolpan, Brian Smith, and Michael Weiss, the Culinary Institute of America

Wine All the Time : the casual guide to confident drinking by Marissa A. Ross

10 Books for Kids Obsessed with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

They’re the books that got many reluctant readers turning pages, but what to do once they’ve finished them all? It’s a question I hear often when I work in the Children’s Room. Parents want to keep the interest going, and are keen to know which other books  will appeal to their DOAWK fans.

A couple of the attractions of this series for reluctant readers is that there are pictures, which provides a text break and makes reading feel more manageable, and humor, which makes them fun rather than work. Here are 10 suggestions for books that hit those sweet spots with middle grade readers.

 

Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. Meet Timmy Failure, the founder, president, and CEO of the best detective agency in town, probably the nation. And his lazy sidekick, Total, a 1,500-pound polar bear.

Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. Frightened by everything out in the world and completely quiet at school, Asian-American second-grader Alvin Ho becomes a force to be reckoned with at home when he transforms himself into the loud, talented, and fearless Firecracker Man!

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon.

Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. Tommy and his friends interact with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, to try and figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.

Tom Gates series by Liz Pinchon. Irritating his teachers with his lack of focus and creative excuses, Tom Gates spends his time drawing pictures and writing down observations about everything from his grumpy sister and annoying classmate to an unsatisfying camping trip.

 

The Odd Squad series by Michael Fry. When his school counselor insists that he needs better socialization skills after being stuffed into a locker by a bully, middle-schooler Nick finds himself, along with two other misfits, joining the school’s lamest club: Safety Patrol.

Clueless McGee series by Jeff Mack. Clueless McGee is just your average fifth-grader: snarky, awkward, and a magnet for trouble. The only difference: he’s also an amateur detective. Determined to make his absent father proud, he uses the skills he’s learned playing video games to solve mysteries.

The Terrible Two books by Mac Barnett and Jory John. Disgusted when he has to move from the oceanside community where he was infamous for his tricks to a sleepy, cow-filled town that already has a notable prankster, Miles plots mischief that culminates in a daring partnership.

Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton. Take a peek inside the diaries of middle schoolerJamie Kelly – she’s cool (sometimes), nice (mostly), and funny (always). She’s the nerd, the cute girl, the jealous girl, and the brainiac all wrapped up in one.

The Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renée Russell. Through journal entries, sketches, and drawings, the complicated life of eighth grader Nikki Maxwell is presented –  her relationship with her mother, secret crushes, dealings with her biggest rival at school, passion in pursuing art as a career, and overall views on the world in which she lives.

Turtles All the Way Down

It’s been almost six years since YA uber-author John Green has published a new book (something we wrote about a while back). That’s almost  generation’s worth of his target audience – many teen readers will have been too young for his last book, The Fault in Our Stars, when it was published in 2012. The rocket-like success of that book (and subsequent movie) was both a blessing and a curse for Green: his books were being read by millions more people, but that success resulted in a period of crippling anxiety for the author. The expectations for his next book felt so overwhelming, that for a while he could not write at all.

Green has not made a secret of the fact that he’s wrestled with Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder most of his life, and what it’s like to live with mental illness is the overriding theme of Turtles All the Way Down. Aza Holmes, the narrator of the book, struggles mightily to control the obsessive thoughts that often consume her, which she calls “thought spirals” that grow more and more tightly coiled until she is driven to a compulsive behavior to quiet them.

The ostensible plot of the book is a mystery: the famous father of a childhood acquaintance has has skipped town to avoid legal troubles, and Aza’s BFF Daisy is convinced the two of them can figure out where he is and collect the $100,000 reward.  TATWD has all the John Green-isms we’ve come to expect: the quirky best friend, the seemingly impossible task, the sweet love story, and everyone’s got a poem or literature quote ready to go at a moment’s notice, (John Green characters are a bit more well-read and well-spoken than the general teen-aged public). But the real journey the reader is taken on is what it’s like to live in a hijacked mind.

Aza has a dread of germs. One of the first compulsions we witness is Aza forcing open a wound on her fingertip, so that she can clean and sanitize it before covering it up with one of her constant supply of band-aids, a ritual she performs so often that the wound never completely heals. Hand sanitizer is used combatively –  at one point she even starts drinking it.  Aza’s helplessness in the face of these thoughts and compulsions can be painful to read, and there’s no “all better now” resolution at the end – the prevailing takeaway is it’s ok not to be ok sometimes. Green has managed to paint a picture of mental illness that is more matter-of-fact than sensational, and the writing is evocative and mature. It’s a thoughtful novel that will appeal to adults as well as teens, and well worth the six-year wait.

Five stars.

What Kind of e-Reader is Best for You?

So you’ve decided to get an ereader, yay!  Unfortunately, the decisions don’t end there.  Tablet or dedicated e-reader? Color or black & white? Kindle, Nook, iPad, or something else entirely?

There are a LOT of ways to read ebooks these days, and figuring out which device is best for your reading style can be confusing. Let’s try and break it down a little .

The first thing to figure out is whether you want to read on a multi-purpose device like an iPad or other tablet, or do you want a device that’s dedicated for books? A lot of that depends on the way you read. Here are some question to ask yourself before you decide to buy anything.

HOW much do you read?  If you read a lot of ebooks, you may want to keep them on a device that’s just for reading. If you’re only an occasional ebook reader, having a couple of books stored on your computer or tablet may be more convenient.

WHERE do you do most of your reading? Do you need a lighted screen because you like to read in bed when the lights are off? A tablet is best for this. Do you like to read outdoors in the daytime, where an LCD screen can be difficult to see clearly? A black & white e-ink reader is what you need.

WHAT are you going to read on your device? Will it be for text-only books, or will you be using it for magazines or children’s books, as well? Magazines and children’s books with pictures will look much better on a color tablet than a black & white e-reader, and many interactive children’s books will only work with a touch-screen tablet.

What about EYE STRAIN?  If you spend a lot of time staring at an LCD screen for work,  reading on another LCD screen like a tablet may may bother your eyes. The softer display of an e-ink reader may be more comfortable. Similarly, if you read for long stretches of time, you may find it more comfortable to read on an e-ink reader.

Once you’ve determined what type of display is best, you can determine which device is best for you. The simplest to use are most often the Amazon Kindles (like Paperwhite and Fire),  there’s even a Kindle app for iPad and Android tablet users. For those who might balk at being tethered to Amazon, there are other e-ink options like Nook Glowlight and Kobo. A good side-by-side comparison of many devices can be found here. Check out PC Magazine’s reviews of the most popular devices for 2017 here.

No matter what device you decide on, you can use it to download ebooks from Cheshire Library. Check out the DOWNLOADS page on our website to see all the different downloadable items you can access with your Cheshire Library Card.

Books-to-Movies : Fall 2017

I always anticipate movie adaptations of books I’ve read with equal measures of excitement and dread. Will the movie capture the spirit of the book, or bear little resemblance to the source material? Stephen King fans felt both ways this year with the well-received remake of the King classic It and the widely panned adaptation of  The Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series.

I usually like to read a book before I see the movie it’s based on, and there’s some kind of book-to-movie adaptation hitting theaters almost every week this fall. Here are the release dates for 10 of them – my reading list just got longer!

October 6

October 13

  • The Chinaman (movie title, The Foreigner) by Stephen Leather

October 20

October 27

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November 10

November 17

November 24