Summary: In the last installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Jack Sparrow is being hunted by the ghostly Captain Salazar. The only way to save himself is to find the Trident of Poseidon.
My Thoughts: A fun romp through the paranormal Caribbean. Johnny Depp does not disappoint in his performance of Captain Jack Sparrow. His wild antics and swagger make him the lovable pirate we cannot get enough of. I will be sad to see this series end.
DVD Release Date: October 3, 2017
*Titles may not always be available on the release date due to item delivery and cataloging time.
Before Game of Thrones ignited our TVs with swords fights, dragons, and bloody battles, another television show was charming audiences across the globe. In 2010, Downton Abbey made everyone, including me, wish to be British. From sipping tea in the parlor to donning glamorous early 20th century dresses at parties to Maggie Smith’s snappy comebacks, the world of Downton inspired us with stories of lords and earls and the secret world of the servants below the stairs. When the show ended its sixth and final season in 2015, I definitely felt a Britain-sized hole in my daily life until I found the most wonderful book series that any BBC fanatic would enjoy.
The Secrets of the Manor series by Adele Whitby is best described as a Downton Abbey story told by the children of the era. The series, written for 4th – 7th graders but great for any age, starts with the Chatswood family at Chatswood Manor. The series spans across England, the United States, and France with each book revealing hidden family secrets about love, betrayal, and power.
Beth’s Story, the first in the series, follows the great-granddaughter of the family matriarch as she prepares for her twelfth birthday and the gifting of the coveted family heirloom, the sapphire Elizabeth Necklace. When Beth’s lady’s maid is accused of a terrible crime, Beth embarks on a quest through both the manor and her own family history to clear her name. The series continues on to tell the story of Beth’s cousin, Kate, their great-grandmothers Elizabeth and Katherine, and Beth and Kate’s children.
This series will delight any historical fiction lover or even a reluctant reader in search of some adventure, travel, and friendship. The series would be an excellent read-aloud story for the whole family or a great choice for school projects. Of course, the series is also excellent for adult readers seeking a quick but engaging read.
There are a few downsides to the series that I should point out. While each book could act as a stand-alone, it is best to read them in order. Many of the main characters traditionally have the same name, but use nicknames to distinguish them among each other. Despite the book including a family tree, the names of the characters and how they are related can get confusing. The series also ends abruptly at book 8 and the author Adele Whitby must be a pseudonym with no means of contacting her. I became so obsessed with the series that I actually tried contacting the publishers to ask if they’ll release more books, but I haven’t heard back from anyone. If I do, I’ll definitely let you know!
Despite these minor issues, the Secrets of the Manor series is a remarkable collection of stories set in an enchanting place and time. Laced with history, family drama, and warmth, the series is sure to delight you and make you crave a cup of tea.
I have an endless reading list. It continues to get bigger no matter how many books I read per year. I will never be able to read everything I want to read but I will try my hardest!
One way that I have found to be very helpful in reducing my to be read pile is audiobooks. There are many ways that audiobooks can be useful including digital downloads and books on CD or Playaway. Some books are great in audio form while others are not. It all depends on the reader and story. Moreover, when you find that one perfect story you will be hooked.
My favorite audiobooks are the Harry Potter series. Jim Dale, the reader, does a great job of creating new voices for the characters. He brings the stories of J.K. Rowling to life.
When I go on road trips, especially by myself, I like to have something to listen to in order to stay awake. I feel like I am traveling with someone rather than alone. When I bought my most recent car, the only thing I really cared about having was a CD player so that I can listen to audiobooks. It really surprised the car dealer that I did not want blue tooth or back up cameras. Very simple tastes for this librarian!
Another time I have learned is wasted and could be filled with reading is during my morning routine. Apps like RB Digital and Sunflower eLibrary (Overdrive) are perfect for this. I always have an audiobook downloaded on my iPhone that I can have playing while doing my hair and eating breakfast.
With the wide variety of audiobooks available it is never difficult to find something interesting. The last several years I have been able to read over 100 books due to audiobooks. It gives me much more freedom to work my way through my list of books.
First line: The steam rising off the backs of the cantering horses faded into the morning fog.
Summary: Fallon is the daughter of a king. She has trained her whole life in order to join her father’s war band and avenge the death of
her sister, who died at the hands of Julius Caesar. Instead, she is captured by slavers and taken from her home in Britannia to Rome to be sold as a gladiatrix, a female gladiator. Knowing that the only way to escape her life as a slave is to buy her freedom or death, she decides to become the greatest gladiator that Rome has ever seen.
Highlights: An exciting historical action book filled with fighting and bravery. I liked Fallon from the beginning. She is a strong female lead character that fights for herself rather than relying on men to help her. I am ready for the second book to be released already.
I have visited Rome and seen the Colosseum. It is breathtaking in how large the arena is and that it is still standing two millennia later. Gladiators and animals fought and died in the arena for the entertainment of thousands of Romans. It could be filled with water for sea battles. Many underground tunnels and rooms can be seen below the floor of the building. Even though this story takes place before the Colosseum was built, I can imagine that the spectacle was quite impressive.
Lowlights: I felt that a few plot points were a little predictable but the author did not seem to rely too much on these reveals. The relationship with Cai seemed to evolve a little quickly but in YA this seems to be a normal process especially when the story is not focused on this and the plot has to move along.
FYI: If you loved the movie Gladiator this is a great read.
There are many tools at the library that are helpful to parents. Working in circulation, we get many parents who ask for book suggestions for their children based on an AR (Accelerated Reader) or Lexile level. These numbers can be confusing if you do not know what you are looking for. Our youth services librarians have worked hard to fix this problem.
These levels are determined using special testing by the school districts. These numbers and levels are an easy way for young readers to find books that they are able to read but also help advance their comprehension. Student’s scores take into account the difficulty of the material and the ability to understand the text.
Chelsea recently updated our Lexile level book lists along with our reader’s advisory books in the children’s department. All the books on the lists are items that we have in our collection. Each of the levels are broken down into 100 point increments. She has even placed the AR level conversions on the lists to help find books for that category as well. Lexile levels can be searched on our catalog as well. Many books have them as part of their record.
There are several online tools that can be used to help parents find books that are appropriate for the their child as well. www.Lexile.com/findabook has book lists with their scores, descriptions, similar books and even vocabulary words. Plus you can narrow down options to specific topics of interest.
Or does your child need to take AR tests? Try visiting www.ARBookFind.com. This site has many books that have AR tests available. The site has the levels, points that can be earned, ratings, grade levels and quiz numbers. AR bookbags are locations where the child or parent can make a list of the books that they are interested and print it to take with them to the library. How neat is that?!
But everything does not have to be related to school scores or reading levels. What about if the book or movie is appropriate for your child? A resource that I have come to use often when parents ask about what age range certain items are targeted at is www.CommonSense.org. It has reviews on movies, books, TV shows and much more. There are ratings from parents and kids available as well as age ranges and scores based on things like violence, language and positive messages.
With school starting, things start to get a little hectic but one way to beat the stress of it is finding useful tools that make it easier. Check out these resources to help your kids achieve more in school and have fun doing it.
First line: The cat under the front porch was at it again.
Summary: Leah Stevens was once a reporter in Boston but when a story she wrote ruined her reputation she decided to pack up and move to a small town in the middle of the Pennsylvania wilderness with an old roommate. However, the sleepy town is anything but. First, a woman, who looks strikingly like Leah, is attacked and then her roommate, Emmy, disappears. Very little is known about either woman. Leah uses her skills as a journalist to help her find her friend and get the answers to who attacked the woman in the woods.
Highlights: Creepy. Stalkers and mysterious voices on the phone. Roommates with secrets. A lookalike attacked nearby. I was filled with many theories but each seemed to fall through as each new detail was revealed. Megan Miranda has once again delivered a great psychological thriller that is hard to put down.
Lowlights (or what could have been better): The last chapter was a little anti-climactic. It wrapped everything up which was good but at the same time disappointing. I wanted to be left with a “didn’t see that coming” feeling.
FYI: It is number two in the All the Missing Girls series but it does not have to be read in any order. The stories are completely unconnected.
If you have not heard, there is a solar eclipse happening on August 21, 2017!
This is the first full solar eclipse that will be visible here in the United States since the 1970s. People are being warned that you are not supposed to look directly into the sun while the eclipse is happening because of the possibility of loss of eyesight.
One way to experience the eclipse is with solar eclipse glasses! Many stores and businesses have completely sold out. Lines have formed outside stores when they open. Derby eye doctors have purchased some for students at all the Derby schools. However, there is still a shortage. People are scrambling to get their hands on the glasses before Monday’s big event.
Good news! On Monday, at 9:00 a.m., we will have a LIMITED amount of solar glasses available. They will be given out on a first come first serve basis and be limited to ONE per person (they must be present). We will also have donuts available for library patrons and eclipse viewers alike.
This is a very monumental event and we are happy to help our community. Remember to be safe when viewing the eclipse on Monday.
Summary: When Tom comes home late from work he finds the house empty. His wife, Karen, is missing but her phone and purse are still there. Where did she go? Shortly after he receives a visit from a police officer telling him that Karen has been in a car accident in a rough neighborhood. What was she doing there? When he visits her at the hospital, she cannot remember what happened in the previous hours. However, when a body is found murdered near the area of the car accident Karen becomes a suspect in the investigation.
Highlights: Lapena’s second novel is gripping and a fast read. I liked the ways that little facts and tidbits are revealed slowly throughout the story line. The end was not what I was expecting. I should have known to expect a surprise after the author’s previous book.
Lowlights: Several of the details and twists were easily predictable but it was still enjoyable to read and know that I was correct.
FYI: Perfect for fans of Girl on the Train and All the Missing Girls.
Man, it feels like we were just here talking about early August new releases, and now it’s time for late August new books already! The good news is we have THREE more Tuesdays in August for that much more good reading to be available!
Here are a few of the books we think will make an end-of-summer splash with their releases later this month. Which ones will make it onto your list of to-reads?
Aug. 15: Bonaparte Falls Apart by Margery Cuyler (picture book)
If you have a child who is anxious about starting school, check out this adorable picture book about Bonaparte, who has issues when playing catch (his arm flies off with the ball) and other minor mishaps. His good friends Franky Stein, Black Widow and Mummicula are there to help him out.
Aug. 15: How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas
Meet Isidore Mazal, an average 11-year-old who lives in France with his five exceptional older siblings. While his siblings are on track to have their doctorates by age 24, writing a novel or playing with a symphony, Isidore notices things and asks questions others are afraid to ask. When the Mazal family experiences a tragedy, Isidore is the one to notice how the rest of the family is handling their grief and he may be the only one who can save the family, if he doesn’t decide to run away from home first.
Aug. 15: A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor (young adult)
Emma and Henri are sisters who have always been best friends. Emma trusted Henri implicitly, and then something happens that wrecks them and they end up washed ashore. They are stranded with only Alex, a troubled boy who has secrets of his own.
Aug. 22: Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
In the second-to-last installment of Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, Kinsey Millhone finds herself in drawn into one of her most disturbing cases yet. In 1979, four boys sexually assaulted a teenage girl, videotaped it, and not long after the videotape went missing and one of the boys was killed. Fast forward to 1989 when one of the perpetrators is released from prison. A copy of the missing videotape shows up with a note demanding ransom, and the perpetrator’s family calls Kinsey in.
Aug. 22: The Half-True Lies of Cricket Cohen by Catherine Lloyd Burns (middle-grades novel)
From Goodreads: “Cricket Cohen isn’t a liar, but she doesn’t always tell the exact truth. She loves thinking about geology and astronomy and performing tricky brain surgery on her stuffed animals. She also loves conspiring with Dodo, her feisty grandmother who lives in the apartment right next door. And one Manhattan weekend when she’s in hot water with her teacher and her controlling parents over a fanciful memoir essay, Cricket goes along with Dodo’s questionable decision to hit the bricks. Imagining all sorts of escapades, Cricket is happy to leave home behind. But on a crosstown adventure with an elderly woman who has her own habit of mixing truth and fantasy, some hard realities may start to get in the way of all the fun.”
Aug. 22: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Aviva Grossman is a congressional intern in Florida. When she engages in an affair with her boss — a very married congressman — then blogs about it, she takes the fall when it goes public. She changes her name and moves to Maine to become a wedding planner. However, as events in her life unfold, she discovers that thanks to the power of the Internet, her past is never actually left behind.
Aug. 29:Glass Houses (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny
A mysterious figure appears on the village green in Three Pines. A body is discovered when it vanishes and it is up to Gamache to discover the ins and outs of the murder. The story takes the reader not just through the discovery of the body and the arrest of the suspect, but through the trial of the accused. All the while, Gamache wrestles with the actions he’s set in motion, and his conscience.
Aug. 29: Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy
A serial killer buries his victims on the banks of the Mississippi. Years later, the rains and floods unearth the bodies. While his victims were disappearing, Jaci Patterson was finding “gifts” on her porch — the first was a golden locket with a few strands of hair wrapped around a bloodstained ribbon inside. The deputy sheriff at the time was convinced that Jaci was just a publicity-seeking teen. Until Jaci comes home again, and the nightmare has started again.
Aug. 29: Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dav Pilkey
Dog Man is back in his third adventure from the author of the Captain Underpants series. Dog Man is on the police force, which hasn’t always been the best thing to happen. But now, Petey the cat has dragged in some trouble, in the form of a kitten, and Dog Man is going to have to work extra hard to stay top dog!
First line: I was very young when I was cracked open.
Summary: The Drowning Pool as it has been dubbed by the locals is where several women have been found dead. Julia has not been back to her hometown in many years and rarely spoken to her sister. However, when she gets the call that her sister, Nel, has been found in the water she has to travel back to take care of her fifteen-year-old niece, Lena. As the police look into the two most recent deaths of Nel and a young girl named Katie, they begin to discover that they might be connected.
Highlights: I listened to this as an audio book and was happy to find that many of the characters had different readers. When there are, multiple points of view listening can be very difficult. The story was suspenseful enough to keep it interesting. I liked that several different storylines were intertwined with the main plot. The chapters are nice and short which make the story move along quickly. This is a fast read and great for rainy day.
Lowlights: I felt like the ending was a little predictable. I was not 100% sure with who Nel’s killer was but it was not hard to figure out once several more pieces fell into place.
FYI: Perfect for readers of Gone Girl and The Couple Next Door.