Teen Book Reviews: This is Our Story & The Inheritance Games

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/.

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston. Reviewed by Kathleen H.

If you like murder mysteries with some romance, this one’s for you. The book opens with five best friends who are on a hunting trip, yet only four of them are still alive. When the four alive boys look at their group’s leader, Grant Perkins, sprawled out dead with a rifle’s bullet hole in his chest, they are all in complete shock and panic, not sure which of their friends shot him, or if it was even an accident. With each boy about to turn on each other, all in fear of going to jail, our mystery narrator assures his three friends that they’ll all be fine if they stick together. He then tells them “their story”–what they’ll say to the police, lawyers, judges, the media, and even their families–in order to not accidentally rat out the killer or make themselves look guilty with inconsistent accounts of what happened.

The book then flashes to the main character’s perspective, Kate, who has a senior internship at the District Attorney’s office, and who’s boss has been handed the murder case. The more and more she digs into the evidence in the case file, the more is revealed about each boy’s personal stakes in Grant’s murder. Throughout her investigation, we also learn more about her personal ties to Grant’s murder, and the resulting guilt she holds. This novel is fast paced and easy to read in big chunks, with readers wanting to learn more about the case, and even the romance that arises. Plus, it deals with relevant issues such as how much the wealthy can get away with, and the sway that privileged people have on the justice system. Most importantly, the novel is one that genuinely keeps readers wondering “who did it?” until the bitter end, while still maintaining a sense of realism in its plot twists.

5 stars.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Reviewed by Ella K.

The Inheritance Games is a mystery book written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The book begins by introducing the reader to Avery Grambs, a witty and compassionate student who lives with her sister, Libby, and her sister’s abusive boyfriend. While Avery works to get out of that situation and go to college, she unexpectedly finds herself thrown into a familial battle after the passing of famous billionaire Tobias Hawthorne. Despite not knowing him or having anything to do with him, Avery has been left as almost the sole inheritor of his fortune. The catch? She has to live at the Hawthorne mansion for a year.

Tobias’s relatives, including his four grandsons, upset that a stranger robbed them of their inheritance, treat Avery with contempt throughout the duration of her stay, until one of them, Jameson Hawthorne approaches Avery with a proposition. He thinks that Tobias had something up his sleeve and enlists Avery to help him solve the puzzle. The book follows Avery as she deals with her newfound fame and wealth, while also avoiding the not so pure intentions of the other Hawthornes.

This book brought me back to the puzzle books of my childhood, reminding me specifically of The Mysterious Benedict Society. The book was much more complex than that series, but the riddles and puzzles that the author writes were just as enticing. The newfound fame aspect was also an interesting concept to read about. My problem with this book is its ending. All of the major twists of the plot felt like they were shoved into the end of the book. It was a little bit confusing at times and that confusion almost undermined the twist that the author was going for. Despite this, the book is well written and well worth the read for anyone who enjoys puzzles and mystery books.

4 stars.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in January

Welcome to 2023 at Cheshire Library! We’re bringing our popular Virtual Reality programs back this month, along with a new Tabletop Gaming group. We’ve got plenty of indoor activities for the cold weather months – check our Event Calendar for all the lastest happenings at CPL!

Movie Matinees

Join us in the Library Loft for a movie on the big screen! No registration is required and movies begin at 1pm.

Explore New Worlds: Virtual Reality

Experience virtual reality with the library’s Oculus headsets. Choose from a wide selection of tours adventures and games all in an interactive virtual world. 30 minute spots available from 6:00 to 7:30. Register for the date you want, you will be contacted prior to the program to select your spot.

Color Yourself Calm (With a Movie)

Monday, January 9, 2023, 6:00 – 8:00pm

De-Stress from this busy time of year and color. In addition to coloring we will be watching  The Lost City. All supplies will be provided, but feel free to bring your own. Registration required for this adult program.

Wellness Talk – Osteoporosis

Wednesday, January 11, 2023, 4:30 – 5:30pm

This talk will include different information about osteoporosis. Talked about will be prescribed exercises, reducing your risk, what does a physical therapy session look like, vitamins and minerals associated with bone health and methods to increase protein intake. Register to attend in-person or online.

Adult Loft Knitters

Wednesday, January 11, 2023, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Come socialize, learn, and share your techniques with other knitters.  Experience the relaxing and calming effect of knitting. All levels of adult knitters are welcome. Please bring your own yarn and knitting needles (crocheters are also welcome!). This group meets monthly, please register in advance.

Backyard Wildlife: All About Opossums

Thursday, January 12, 2023, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join Ferncroft Wildlife Rescue for an overview of wildlife rehabilitation and their rescue efforts with opossums. Adults and kids can learn what makes opossums awesome, and how you can give support to wildlife in your neighborhood. There will be time for questions and a meet-and-greet with the opossum ambassadors! Registration required. This program is made possible by the Al Sanders Memorial Fund.

Family Storytime

Saturday, January 14, 2022, 11:00 – 11:30am

Family Storytime is a drop-in, interactive storytime for children and family members! Learn through talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing! This storytime is for children of all ages. No registration is required.

Tabletop Gaming Group

1:00pm – 4:00pm

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Saturday, January 28, 2023

Join us for an afternoon of gaming featuring the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons! Try out D&D with a four-week campaign, or just enjoy a quick round of board games and card games that you can borrow from the library. No gaming experience necessary. Snacks will be provided. No snacking experience necessary. Registration required. This program is best for adults and teens. The Dungeons and Dragons campaign will run for four sessions: January 14, 21, 28, and February 4.

Houseplants are For Everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Do you want to fill your home with easy-care housplants ? Or learn to care for the ones you already have? Join us for a program with garden expert Karla Dalley who will discuss houseplants that work for all areas of the home. Karla will bring handouts and a selection of plants for “show and tell”. Bring your questions! Registration is required.

Concert–World Café!

Concert--World Café!

Saturday, January 21, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Experience an exuberant celebration of cultures with this exceptional program of music from around the world performed by Judy Handler and Mark Levesque on guitar and mandolin! No registration required.

Life Planning Series

Mondays at 6:30pm.

January 23: Downsizing Doesn’t Need to be Painful

January 30: Your Children Don’t Want It (online)

February 6: Leave your loved ones with answers…not questions (online)

Cat Tales Writers Group

Thursday, January 26, 2023, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a monthly 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. Registration is required.

Know Your News: Become a Media Expert

Thursday, January 26, 2023, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Not sure if a new source is fact or fake? Learn how to tell the difference in this hands-on workshop. You’ll learn tips and tricks for finding reliable and credible information in any format and get a chance to practice your new skills. Registration is required.

The Happy Place

The Happy Place

Tuesday, January 31, 2023, 10:30am – 12:00pm

Find your happy place with soothing music, hot drinks, socializing, crafting, and other self-care activities. We’ll provide a low-stress craft,66-=[`but feel free to bring your own crochet, scrapbook, cross stitch, or other projects from home that help you reach your happy place. Registration is required.

January Book Clubs:

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: Light on Bone

Books Over Cocoa: Wintering (January 24, 7pm)

Books Over Coffee: Wintering (January 25, 2:30pm)

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: Light on Bone (January 26, 1pm)

Teen Book Reviews: All the Bright Places and Thoughts & Prayers

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/.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Reviewed by Anja J.

This book had me in tears. If you ever have one of those feelings where you just want to read a book and cry, this is the book to pick off the shelf. I was able to finish this book within a week. The story starts off with Violet Markey standing on the ledge of the bell tower of her high school. It wasn’t until a boy, who goes by Finch showed up, did she stop thinking about what it would be like if she jumped. After this encounter, Finch takes an interest in why he found Violet on that ledge that day, and Violet wonders how it ended up being the school outcast and “freak” that basically saved her life. The two are then assigned together on a project that gives them a chance to answer their questions about one another and learn even more.

This story, however sad it may be, was beautifully written and explores the experiences of teenagers and mental health. The quick paced story had me smiling at many parts and borderline sobbing at others. As I teenager myself, reading this book significantly impacted me. It showcased the struggles of teenagers that know one really knows and how it can impact daily life. There are not many books written this spectacularly that focus on sensitive issues like these. Jennifer Niven worked wonders when she wrote this book as she intimately described these two characters and how they fit each other perfectly.

Reading this book gives an insight into how people can fall victim to their own minds. The feeling of being lonely in a crowded room or out of touch and control is perfectly demonstrated. The intrusive thoughts of death play a big role in this novel, and it is seen how Violet and Finch are each others tethers that keep each other going every day. Despite tragedy in the book, the writing is magnificent and the feelings that ignite in you while reading it will have you full of joy or borderline sobbing.

4 stars.

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss. Reviewed by Ima T.

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss, is an impactful novel of today’s world. It follows the perspectives of three teenagers — Claire, Eleanor and Brezzen, completely different people who seem to have nothing in common. Eleanor is a popular basketball player, Brezzen is a gamer, and Claire only has a few close friends. The one thing that unites them is that they all hid under the same set of stairs during a school shooting.

Every character deals with this issue in different ways, and this is what Bliss explores in the novel. Claire becomes a shell of her old self. While she was introverted before the incident, she turned into herself even more. Eleanor did her best to move on after the shooting, but she’s angry that none of the adults are doing anything to stop the jokes about the shootings. She experiences a lot of prejudice as well, since she is a feminist that none of the conservatives in town can relate to. Brezzen chooses to stay home, getting home schooled. He has to fight the battle of going back to school and feeling safe. The entire situation is very relevant nowadays, because of the constant barrage of news about school shootings.

I would highly recommend this book to kids in high school. It’s very impactful to read about kids who are the age of high schoolers, but struggling to understand the impact of the negative events that can destroy people’s lives. Claire, Eleanor, and Brezzen each provide different lessons that any reader can relate to, even if they are not a star athlete or avid gamer. This story gets even more relatable still because of the first hand perspective of each person. It’s interesting to see how differently they all view each other and the scenario since they all experienced the same thing at the same time. I would highly recommend Thoughts and Prayers to whichever reader wants to truly understand not only the horrors of school shootings, but the hope and resilience that can follow.

5 stars

The Living Daylight

The Earth turns at roughly 1,000 miles per hour, making one revolution toward the east every 24 hours. Obviously, the sun can’t be on both sides of the planet at once, and if you’re trapped in Vladivostok you’re not going to have the same amount of daylight as Denver, or even Moscow. Because of that, the Earth is divided into roughly 38 local time zones to account for it (those Pacific Islands don’t always fit neatly in a zone). Time is counted from Greenwich Mean Time, running through London. Connecticut is in the Eastern Time Zone, which is Greenwich time minus 5 hours (Midnight in London is 7 pm in Hartford – think back to all the TV shows of newsrooms with multiple clocks showing times in other countries.)

And just when you think it’s safe to call your friend in Italy, we get hit with Daylight Savings Time. DST is something everyone dreads, turning the clocks ahead one hour to somehow “gain” more daylight hours (the sun and Earth don’t actually change, and can’t give more light than they do). Everyone gets lost, from trying to remember when you’re supposed to turn your clocks forward or backward, to losing an hour’s sleep, to a sudden massive shift in your hours of light. This year, we turn our clocks back to Eastern Standard Time on November 6.

So why do we even bother? Some states don’t do it. The majority of the world doesn’t do it (only 70 countries do). Why do we torture ourselves? It wasn’t always this way. And no, it’s never been about farmers, or kids going to school.

The idea of stretching usable daylight hours (because people would rather stay up later than get up an hour earlier for the same amount of light) actually began in Prince Edward Isle, Canada in 1908. It lasted a few months, and then they were done.

The second try came in 1916 in Germany, trying to conserve fuel during the war (back then it was the only war). Other countries soon followed. The US didn’t jump on the bandwagon until 1918 – and even then we only did it for 7 months before repealing the act (i.e., the war was over). We tried it again in 1942-45 (war again), and then it was fairly random between states until the 1966 Uniform Time Act. In 1973, we stayed on Daylight Savings Time for a full year (I don’t remember this) due to the great Oil Embargo, when fuel was expensive and hard to get (I do remember the gas rationing. No, really. We did that, here in the US.) but then we went back to Eastern Standard Time. 

If we hate changing clocks, why do we still do it? There’s overwhelming public support for stopping it. Changing time – and all its demands – does a job on our bodies. Consider that in the week following the leap to Daylight Savings Time:

Fatal traffic accidents increase 6%.

Heart attacks increase 24%

Strokes increase 8%

Depression increases 11%

People with cancer are 20% more likely to have a stroke

There are increases in drug use, digestive and immune disorders, injuries, and complications in pregnancy and delivery. 

There is a very real effect on people when you mess with time – let alone the poor airlines trying to track their speed and landing times when Denver is on savings time but Phoenix isn’t, but tomorrow it changes. 

In 2018, Congress introduced The Sunshine Protection Act . It was slated to take place in spring of 2023. We’d go on to Daylight Savings in the spring and just never come off again, no more switching. It passed the Senate, but is still stuck in the House, and still hasn’t passed yet.

To minimize the effects of time changes:

  • Keep your regular sleep habits
  • Get outside in the morning to reset your inner clock
  • Reduce caffeine, alcohol, and blue light (phone use!) two hours before bed
  • Exercise in the morning
  • Call your representative to see what’s holding up the bill!

While you wait for Congress and figure out how to change your car’s clock yet again, check out these books on maximizing your sleep!

Eat Move Sleep

How to Sleep

Let’s Talk About Sleep

The Secret World of Sleep

The Sleep Fix

Sleep Smarter

The Sleep Solution

Why We Sleep

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in November

It’s Book Sale month! A lot of other great programs are coming your way in November, as well, here’s a sampling:

November Art Show: Gary Lohr photography

Gary Lohr is a local self-taught photographer with fifty years of experience.
The majority of his work falls into the category of personally inspired photography. Come see selections of his work on display in the Mary Baldwin room in November.

Write a Letter to a Veteran

Tuesday, November 1 – Saturday, November 5

Stop by the Children’s Room anytime Tuesday, Nov. 1st to Saturday, Nov. 5th to write a letter to or draw a picture for a veteran. We will provide the paper and drawing or writing materials; you provide the creativity! If you would like to write a letter at home, please drop it off at the library by 4:00PM on Saturday so it can be mailed in time for Veterans Day. Letters should not be sealed and should be signed with first names only (no last names, please).

Cheshire Art League: Frank Bruckmann Painting Demo

Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

The Cheshire Art League is hosting guest artist Frank Bruckmann for an oil painting demonstration.  Frank will use sketches from a recent European trip as the basis for his demonstration. No registration required.

TAB: Teen Advisory Board (Grades 6-12)

  • Thursday, November 3, 2022, 3:45 – 4:45pm
  • Thursday, November 17, 2022, 3:45 – 4:45pm

The Teen Advisory Board is a group of teens in grades 6-12 who want to take an active part in helping the library and the community. Giveaways and snacks will be provided. Register on our volunteer Signup page and you will receive community service credit. You will earn 1 hour of community service credit for attending this event and 1 hour for every additional hour spent working on projects outside of the event.

Tanzania Safari Talk

Thursday, November 3, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

A Tanzanian Safari tour talk with many photographs to 4 National parks highlighting the Great Migration in the Serengeti.  This will include all the big 5 animals (lions, leopards, cape buffalo, elephants and rhinoceros). Also, photographs of some of the most beautiful birds in the world along with many other species common to Africa.  Ron Kochman will narrate, explain, and answer any questions after completion of the show. Registration is required.


Preview night for Friends of the Library members: Wednesday November 9, 5:00-8:00pm

Book Sale hours:

  • Thursday November 10, 9:00am – 8:00pm
  • Friday November 11, 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Saturday November 12, 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Sunday November 13, 11:00am – 3:00pm

Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale! We have Fiction, Non-fiction, YA, Children’s books, Movies, CDs, and MORE! On Sunday, fill a bag with books for one special price: $10 for the first bag, $5 for each additional bag.  The Friends will provide the bags. Credit cards accepted.

Baby Playgroup (Ages 0-12 months)

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 10:00 – 10:30am

A playgroup for babies and their caregivers to socialize and connect. Babies can enjoy unstructured play with their peers and age appropriate toys provided by the library. In order to maintain a safe environment, we request no older siblings, please.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents may register beginning on November 1st.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on November 8th.

Ready to Read Book Club (Grades K-2)

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Get your children engaged in reading by participating in our newest book club! Designed to foster a love of reading, learning and connecting with others. We’ll discuss our book of the month (in November, it’s Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora), play some games and participate in some hands on crafts and/or activities to keep learning fun! Registration is required.

Good, Cheap, and Healthy Cooking Demo

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Chef Nadine Nelson will show us how to eat well on $4 a day in this interactive cooking demo, based on recipes from the cookbook Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown. Registration is required.

Caregiver Support Group

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00pm

A support group for caregivers to share tips, strategies, challenges, and successes. Caregivers of all types are welcome, including spouses and adult children caring for relatives, caregivers to children, and professional caregivers. This group will meet both in-person and online, please register for the group you want to attend.

Adult Loft Knitters

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Come socialize, learn, and share your techniques with other knitters.  Experience the relaxing and calming effect of knitting. All levels of adult knitters are welcome. Please bring your own yarn and knitting needles (crocheters are also welcome!). This group meets monthly, please register in advance.

Toddler Playgroup (Ages 12-36 months)

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 10:00 – 10:30am

A playgroup for toddlers and their caregivers to socialize and connect. Toddlers can enjoy unstructured play with their peers and age appropriate toys provided by the library.  Best for ages 12-36 months and their caregivers.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents may register beginning on November 3rd.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on November 10th.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Thursday, November 17 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a monthly 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. Registration is required.

Sensory Storytime (Ages 2-5)

Sensory storytime is designed to engage children through movement, music, stories and sensory activity play. This program is designed for children with special needs, including sensory challenges, social integration, and developmental delays. Best for children ages 2-5.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents may register beginning on November 4.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on November 11.

Coding Club: ProjectCSGIRLS (Grades 6-8)

  • Saturday, November 19, 2022, 10:00am – 12:00pm
  • Saturday, December 3, 2022, 10:00am – 12:00pm
  • Saturday, December 10, 2022, 10:00am – 12:00pm

ProjectCSGIRLS is a 501(c)(3) international nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in computing and technology. The program will focus on the basics of python and AI and will culminate in a “Choose-your-own-adventure” storybook for kids. All are welcome. Please register once to attend all three classes.

Concert for Violin and Piano: Emil Altschuler and Mana Tokuno

Saturday, November 19, 2022, 2:00 – 3:15pm

Acclaimed violinist Emil Altschuler and pianist Mana Tokuno are presenting a virtuoso violin recital programThe program will feature works by Vivaldi, Paganini, Franck and more, including Gershwin’s An American In Paris.  Please join us for this very special concert hall-worthy experience. No registration is required.

Pajama Storytime (Ages 2+)

Tuesday, November 22, 2022, 7:00 – 7:30pm

Put on your pajamas and fuzzy slippers and stop by for a fun-filled evening of stories, songs, and adventures! Best for ages 2 and up. Registration is not required.

Preschool Playgroup (Ages 3-5)

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 10:00 – 10:30am

A playgroup for preschoolers and their caregivers to socialize and connect. Preschoolers can enjoy unstructured play with their peers and age appropriate toys provided by the library. Best for ages 3-5 months and their caregivers.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents may register beginning on November 15th.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on November 22nd.

Register for a Book Club:

Mystery Book Club – Nov 17, 1:00pm (online)

Books Over Cocoa – Nov. 17, 7:00pm

Books Over Coffee – Nov. 30, 12:00pm