Book Recommendations Based on Your Favorite Marvel Superheroes

The Marvel Universe has never been more popular, with more movie and television adaptations being produced every year. But in between movies and TV seasons, what’s a superhero superfan to do? These YA books can help to fill the void your hero has left behind:

If you’re an Iron Man fan, try The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee. A tale set in a luxury tower 100 years in the future follows the experiences of an addicted perfectionist, a betrayed teen, a financially strapped girl, a socialite with an illegal A.I., and a genetically perfect girl. In this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall.

If The Incredible Hulk is your guy,  Monster by Michael Grant is also pretty incredible. When  meteorite strikes introduce an alien virus that gives humans unique superpowers, it triggers an epic battle between teen hero defenders and out-of-control supermonsters.

Need more like Thor? Try the Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan. After the death of his mother, Magnus finds out that he is the son of a Norse god and must track down a lost ancient sword to stop a war being waged by mythical monsters.

If you love Guardians of the Galaxy, give Invictus by Ryan Graudin a try. Born outside of time as the son of a time-traveler from the 24th century and a first-century gladiator, Farway takes a position commanding a ship that smuggles valuables from different eras before meeting a mysterious girl with knowledge that places his existence in question.

If you can’t wait for the next Black Panther movie,  try Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi in the meantime. Zâelie, her brother Tzain, and princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

 

 

 

What is an MP3-CD Audiobook, Part 2 – Why We Still Love Our LPs

My blog post about MP3-CDs several years ago generated an unexpected interest – what was different about an MP3-CD audiobook? Did I need a special player? And how did they get an entire book onto one single disk? I answered the questions, but it bugged me that I didn’t answer them enough. And when I dug just a little deeper, I realized the answer might be why there’s such a resurgence in old-fashioned vinyl LP records (kids, ask your grandparents).

Format Development

Back in the 1980’s, as CD and digital technology was taking off, committees were formed to create the format, so that the technology could be used anywhere. JPEG, that familiar photo tag, was formed first, the Joint Photographic Experts Group (1986), and they set the coding and standardization of digital transfer and storage of still photographs. MPEG-1 committee followed a year later, the Moving Picture Experts Group, Phase 1, which included both video and sound. It remains the most widely compatible audio-visual format in the world, and we all know the MPEG-1 Layer III by its short form of  .mp3.

When CDs hit the market, they took off like wildfire. You didn’t have to worry about compact discneedle and dust scratches ruining the fidelity of a record, and even better, you could carry that music with you wherever you went, just like a tape cassette but without all the mess and rewinding. Not all musicians jumped on it, though. Just as John Phillip Sousa hated the invention of the record, Neil Young was one of the earliest critics of CDs and delayed putting his music onto digital format, as is David Crosby, two men who know just a bit about music and the recording industry.

The Battle for Quality

high res vs. low res imagesAnd here’s why: MP3-CDs use what’s called lossy compression, a form of psychoacoustics (your gold-star word of the day). What it does is reduce or eliminate sounds that the system thinks the human ear can’t hear, either because they’re out of normal frequency or other sounds might be louder and keep you from hearing them. Once all that “useless” noise is gone, the audio files are a LOT smaller – enough to fit that whole audiobook onto one or two discs. Of course, in doing so, you lose a lot of sound quality, like when you send a low-resolution photo over the internet, or use a cell phone inside a tunnel.

The Return of the LP

And for all those people who said LP records were dead, here’s why more than 14 million of them were sold last year (14% of ALL album sales).  By the early 1900’s, when records became a thing, they were made of shellac (that bug resin), had a wide, noisy, grinding groove (think of those 1920’s recordings), and at 78 rpm (the speed they spun at), you could get no more than 5 minutes of play to a side – no American Pie, no Thriller, and forget In a Gadda Da Vida. That lasted until 1949, when Long-Playing (LP) records came out on vinyl (good ol’ PVC). At a speed of 33 rpm, with a finer groove that runs almost a third of a mile, they played more than 20 minutes of music per side, with a much higher sound quality. Stereo, which recorded two channels and put one on each side of the same groove, giving you that left and right sound, came in 1957. In a vinyl record, the sound waves from the microphone are transferred directly by needle to a core, which is transferred to a metal master, which is then pressed into vinyl. A needle then rides the groove, transferring those same exact soundwaves to the speakers. With proper speakers and tuning, the result is a rich, deep, acoustic sound much more like live music. Listen to enough LPs, and you really can hear the canned music effect on a CD recording. There is no comparison if you are a music purist.

Vinyl is Final

So, what’s playing on modern LPs? Ed Sheeran’s Divide was a top seller in 2017, and the old/new sound track to Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix No. 1, but so were the classics – Sgt. Pepper’s by the Beatles, Abbey Road, Thriller, and still, forty five years later, the champion of staying power, with more than 1,000 weeks on the top-200 best-selling albums, STILL selling more than 8500 albums a week, Pink Floyd’s 1973 Dark Side of the Moon.Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon album cover

For audiobooks, where one or two voices may recite a book in a calm, steady voice, you might not notice just how much sound is missing when you listen to it – enough to cut out six or seven discs worth. For music, I urge you to find a friend or a library that still has music LPs and players. Listen to the album (Dark Side of the Moon is amazing with serious headphones and a very dark room), and then listen to the digitally compressed MP3 files, missing highs and lows and the depth they provide. It might take a few tries, but you will start to hear the differences, and while MP3s are so fabulously convenient and almost foolproof, it just can’t compare to a good LP.

Fun fact: There is a gold-plated LP traveling the galaxy. Sent aboard the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 with recordings of Earth music, it is now more than 11 million miles away. MP3s only made it as far as the Space Station.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in June

Summer is our busiest time at Cheshire Library, as anyone who has circled our parking lot on a summer afternoon can attest! Despite being a bit short on staff and tall on construction chaos, we have managed to put together some terrific programming this summer. We’ve got a bit of a railroad theme this month, take a look at what’s on the calendar for June:

The Electrification of the New Haven Railroad

Monday Jun 4, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

This program will cover the development of the New Haven’s freight and passenger electric locomotives and what made them unique with their pioneering designs. The program will also cover the development of the New Haven’s industry setting AC power and its distribution system. Registration is required.

Scrabble Evenings

Wednesdays, Jun 6, 13, 20, 27, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Bring your friends, family and join your community in a game of scrabble.  Please bring your up to date library card to check out a scrabble board located at the checkout desk.  Please meet fellow players on the third floor area. No registration required.

New Movie Thursday ~ Black Panther

Thursday, June 7, 2018, 5:45pm – 8:00pm

Did you miss the screening of a film you wanted to see in theatres?  Join us for the first Thurday of the month for a screening of a recently released film.  At the conclusion of the movie vote for next months not to miss movie.  June’s movie is…..  Black Panther!    T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

Cat Tales- Writers Group

Thursday, June 14, 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? Interesting in being published, whether traditionally or self-published?  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.

Passport Event

Saturday Jun 16, 2018, 1:00  –  3:00 PM

Join us for your one stop shop to acquire* or renew your passport.

Please bring the following:

  • Passport Application
  • Evidence of Citizenship
  • Two Forms of ID
  • Payment (2 checks for renewals)

Payments:
–  Checks or money orders only. No credit cards.
–  First-time applicants must bring two checks or money orders:
–  One check or money order for the passport application fee made payable to “U.S. Department of State”
–   A second check or money order for the $25 execution fee – add $15 for a photo if applicable – made payable to “Postmaster”.

*Typical Processing Time for Passports is 4-6 Weeks.
For questions regarding Passports please contact The National Passport information line at 1-877-487-2778 or visit Travel.State.Gov

The Pennsylvania Station in New York City

Monday Jun 18, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

This presentation will cover the inception of Pennsylvania Station, its sub-aqueous tunnels and the challenges faced in the construction of this massive and impressive undertaking. The tragic demolition of this grand structure by the Pennsylvania RR will also be included. Registration is required.

Chalk Painting Furniture

Thursday Jun 21, 2018, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Do you have furniture you want to update with a fresh new look? Traci Selinske, the owner of the Posh Pear in Cheshire, will show you the techniques to get that naturally aged look using chalk paint, light & dark waxes, dusk of ages, and distressing techniques. Registration will begin on Monday, May 21, 2018 at 9:00 AM.

Friday After Hours: Lost Acres String Band

Friday Jun 22, 2018, 5:00  –  7:30 PM

Join us as we kick off summer reading with the Lost Acres String Band!  The concert will begin at 6:00 and there will be plenty of fun activities for children of all ages!  Pizza, snacks and drinks will be available for sale from the Friends of the Library. Please register so we know how many goodies to have on hand! There is no admission fee, but there is a suggested donation of $5 per family to help offset costs.  Please note that the Lower Level of the Library will not be open to the public. This concert is made possible by donations given to the Friends of the Library in loving memory of Jo Korten.

Streamlined Trains of the 1930s and Their Industrial Designers

Monday Jun 25, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

With the popularity of the private automobile and the effects of the Great Depression, passenger travel on the American railroads was in a steep decline. Something was needed to bring passengers back to the trains. This presentation will show how it was done and how the same steps were taken in the 1950s to once again bring passengers back to the trains. Registration is required.

Kids Spa Day

Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Start the summer off right!  Join us to make your own sugar lip scrub and a stress ball. You will learn relaxation techniques and enjoy snacks with friends!  Registration is required.

Trivia Night

Wednesday Jun 27, 2018, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Come by yourself or bring your friends. Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course literature! It’s all For Pride, Not Prize.  Registration for this adult program will begin on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 9:00 AM.

 

A Legacy of Spies

The other year, in preparation for a novel I hoped would have more intrigue and action than I was used to writing, I decided to break with my comfort zone and read a few spy novels to deconstruct the genre and see how the action was set up and paced. I’d read a James Bond novel once and was less than impressed; the movies I loved so much were horribly dull novels, and the book-Bond looked much more like Truman Capote than any pretty-boy actor.

I didn’t want to waste time, so I Googled “best spy novels”, and one of the top two on almost every list was John LeCarré’s 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, so that was the one I read first.

The lists were right. The book was brilliant, and I couldn’t put it down. After that I rushed out to watch the 2012 BBC film version, an incredible cast including Toby Jones, Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Tom Hardy, and more – which was still excellent, though some people prefer the 1979 mini-series adaption with Alec Guinness (that’s Obi Wan Kenobi to some of you). The strangest part was that, while reading the book, I had already cast Toby Jones in one of the roles in my head  –  but as Peter Guillam, though, not Percy Alleline as he was in the film.

Why so good? Well, see – like Ian Fleming, John LeCarré (real name: David Cornwell; spies aren’t allowed to use their real names to publish novels) was an actual British spy in World War II, so he knows the ins and outs and tiny little details of how the game is played, layers upon layers of secrets and trades and double-dealings. He’s lived it first hand, and that makes all the believable difference. He began writing novels in 1961 (Call for the Dead), but it wasn’t until his third novel in 1963, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, that he hit the best-seller list and wound up quitting MI6 (the British Secret Intelligence Service) to pursue writing full time.

While all of us sit here and think, why would you quit being an awesome spy to write books?

But LeCarré certainly is good at it, with more than 24 novels to his name, almost all of them best-sellers. Several have been made into successful film adaptions, including The Constant Gardener (2005), starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) starring Richard Burton, and the recent delicious adaption of The Night Manager (2016), starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, a book that reads more like a James Bond adaption than a Bond novel does.

Unable to sit still in retirement, LeCarré, now 86, has pumped out yet another novel last year, A Legacy of Spies, a conclusion of sorts for George Smiley’s people, his ex-agent who keeps coming back. Pulling his best-loved characters from so many of his novels, LeCarré manages to weave them together with new characters in present-day, finding new depths and bringing new truths to light, even after 50 years. LeCarré shows that time has not diminished him nor his characters, and if you think you know how it will end, like all of his works, it’s pretty well guaranteed you don’t.

Give le Carré a try. If you like mystery, espionage, intrigue, and unraveling puzzles with characters who won’t let you go, then you’ll love his work. If you haven’t tried him, he’s a wonderful place to begin to explore the genre. For modern novels, he’s rather clean, without a lot of graphic violence or sex or language, perhaps making the stories even more remarkable. Start with Legacy of Spies and work backward, or start at the beginning and work forward. If you prefer to watch rather than read, there are more than ten films, five television adaptions, and four radio plays to keep you entertained. You’ll be so glad you did.

10 Royal Reads

On May 19, Britain’s Prince Harry will marry his American love, Meghan Markle. The Royal Wedding will take place at 12pm (7am ET) at St. George’s Chapel,  Windsor Castle. If your invitation got lost in the mail, you can celebrate along with the rest of the world, as the royal festivities will be broadcast online and on several television stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and HBO will all have coverage, among others). We’re even having a Royal Tea Party here at CPL!

To help us all get into a regal mood, we’ve made a list of royal reads to set the proper tone:

The Royal WeThe Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Unexpectedly falling for the crown prince Nicholas while attending Oxford, practical-minded Bex endures ritzy society gatherings, fashionable outings and unwelcome publicity as well as jealous ex-girlfriends and dark royal family secrets.

The SelectionThe Selection by Kiera Cass by Kiera Cass.  An America Singer is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, who is a caste below her.

Royal WeddingRoyal Wedding by Meg Cabot by Meg Cabot. In the first adult installment of the Princess Diaries series, Princess Mia and longtime boyfriend Michael plan their wedding, while a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne because of a royal secret.

Romancing the ThroneRomancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney by Nadine Jolie. When a scandal at her all-girls school threatens her university prospects, Libby enrolls in her sister Charlotte’s posh boarding school, where they become rivals for the affection of their classmate–the heir to the throne of Britain.

Once Upon a PrinceOnce Upon a Prince by Rachel Kauck by Rachel Hauck. Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation. It’s the ultimate choice: His kingdom or her heart?

The White QueenThe White Queen by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory. A tale inspired by the War of the Roses follows the conflict from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, who ascends to royalty and fights for the well-being of her family, including two sons whose imprisonment in the Tower of London precedes a devastating unsolved mystery.

Anne Boleyn : a King’s ObsessionAnne Boleyn: a King's Obsession by Alison Weir by Alison Weir. Henry VIII risks his marriage and the political strategies of Cardinal Wolsey in his obsession with Anne Boleyn, who does not welcome the king’s advances and loathes the cardinal for breaking her betrothal to Harry Percy.

Victoria by Daisy GoodwinVictoria by Daisy Goodwin. Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.

Wolf Hall Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel by Hilary Mantel. Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter’s efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.

Elizabeth IElizabeth I by Margaret George by Margaret George. Growing up at the side of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys struggles to regain power and position for her family while competing against the queen for the love of Robert Dudley, a rivalry that is set against a backdrop of the flourishing Elizabethan age.