Helen Davis Featured Book: Viper Wine

viper wineHermione Eyre’s debut novel Viper Wine is an unusual treatment of the life of Venetia Stanley.  Venetia was an outstanding beauty, but with increasing age, her looks are declining.  Like any modern beautiful celebrity, she is willing to try almost anything to keep up her appearance.  Time and place are 17th century London and beauty treatments have no supervision by an agency similar to the FDA.  Venetia persuades an apothecary to secretly sell her “viper wine” for a stupendous price.  This viper wine is made of expressed snake venom and other even less attractive ingredients.  Venetia must hide her potion use from her husband because he is a competent enough scientist to understand how dangerous her treatment can be.  The novel makes use of actual writings by prominent people for authenticity.  Another technique used by the author is to imagine communication between the novel’s time period and present day.  Venetia’s home was used as a base by code breakers who worked there during WW II.  The atmosphere that is created is what sets this novel above an ordinary historical novel.

Want more information about Viper Wine?  Check out Hermione Eyre’s book talk on Book Zone TV


Early Literacy Just Got Easier

Here at DDL it’s safe to say that we are strong proponents of early childhood literacy.  Research has repeatedly early-literacy-activitiesshown us just how important consistent and meaningful interactions between parents and children are in the development of literacy skills.  We also know that the sooner these interactions occur the more prepared children are for reading success as they begin school.

So, in between work, dinner, chores, running errands, bath time and bed time what can parents do to help foster daily meaningful literacy interactions with their children?…Step one: don’t stress!

Pamela High, MD, professor of pediatrics at Brown University tells WebMD, “My perspective is that whatever parents do teach children [before kindergarten], they need to make it playful and fun. You don’t want children to turn off to [learning] because it’s too difficult for them.” She adds that “social and emotional skills are just as important [as reading prowess] for school success.”  The WebMD article, written by Jen Uscher, goes on to provide a wonderful list of ideas for how parents can work informal learning experiences into their daily routines.

It comes 7days7waysas no surprise to us that the activities suggested by WebMD include the seven early literacy principles that we promote at the DeWitt District Library in our Very Ready Reading 7 Days, 7 Ways infant story time program.  Each week, parents who attend our Baby Time program are able to spend 30 minutes interacting with their children through shared books, sounds, words, rhymes, songs, stories and playtime.  These seven principles remind parents that it’s about more than just learning to read, stimulating early literacy is also about language, learning and fun!

Here are a few more quick, fun, and easy ideas that you can try this week with your child.

SHARE SOUNDS Emphasize and exaggerate the syllables in the names of foods you and your child are eating.  For example, say “banana” slowly, exaggerating each syllable: ba-na-nah.  Encourage your child to repeat the word after you.  Don’t worry about sounding silly, that’s part of the fun.

SHARE WORDS When you are running errands in the car or at the store share the names of all the different things you are seeing.  If you are at the grocery store, share the names of all the different fruits and veggies you see including the unusual ones.

SHARE RHYMES Recite rhymes that you remember from your childhood or that you may have learned at a recent story time.  It doesn’t matter if you remember or recite the exact same words.  It can be fun to improvise, using anything your baby shows interest in as your subject.

SHARE SONGS Make up songs by using familiar tunes while doing everyday activities such as getting dressed.  Make up motions or dance with your child as you are singing.  The car is a great place to do some singing!

SHARE STORIES Make up a silly story about one of your child’s favorite toys ortell your child about a story from when you were a child.

SHARE PLAYTIME Get down on the floor with your child and act like different animals.  Play peekaboo and other hide and seek time of games.  Make musical instruments out of everyday objects you find around the house like a spoon and a box.

SHARE BOOKS If your child shows interest in books, go for it!  Even if your child only seems interested in the pictures or turning the pages.


LIBRARY STORY TIME INFORMATIONToddler-with-book-e1412188673734

DeWitt District Library offers families 3 different story time options:

Baby Time for infants 6 months to 24 months and their caregivers

Book & Boogie for toddles 2 yrs – 4 yrs and their caregivers

Family Story Time for children 3 yrs + and their families

Our next story time sessions will kick off with our Everybody Reads party during the week of September 7th.

More information and our events calendar will be available next month from our website:





Helen Davis Featured Book: The Russian Bride

kovacsThe Russian Bride by Ed Kovacs is an updated spy novel for the modern era.  Russia and the US are still adversaries, but instead of struggling over territories, control of electronic data is the ultimate goal.  Major Kit Bennings is in Moscow attempting to uncover a mole at the American Embassy.  Unfortunately, he is compromised by one of the new Russian Mafia figures, Victor Popov, and is forced to marry a Russian bride.  Popov wants something from Kit and the violent things that happen to Kit’s family members are all a part of that plot.  Character development isn’t a strong point in this novel, but the action level is constant.  Each side has cunning high tech ways to overcome the other.  The book reads like the action movie that if feels destined to become.


TECH TALK: Fanfic, Take It or Leave It

fan_ficFanfiction or Fanfic has become quite the internet sensation in the last decade and with it comes new technologies to make the reading and writing of this literary context even more accessible to the masses.  If you’re not familiar with fanfiction then let me direct you to this entry on WiseGEEK.  For those of you in the know, here are a couple of apps that have recently been made available to the world of online publishing and will allow all of you fanboys and fangirls to take your fanfic with you on the go.

If you’re a reader or even writer of fanfiction you’re probably not new to FanFiction.net.  However you may be excited to know that there is now a FanFiction.net app available for download to any of your mobile devices, making it even easier to get your fanfic fix in a flash.  The official app offers the following features:

* Stories – Browse and search for millions of stories.
* Forums – Join writing groups or converse with other readers and writers.
* Private Messaging – Enjoying private communication with other users.
* Community Archives – Start or browse story archives .
* Beta Readers – Browse and search for registered beta readers.
* User Management – Browse and manage your favorites, follows, and others.

Android Devices
iOS Devices

If the thought of reading continuation stories about Harry Potter or characters from My Little Pony doesn’t really interest you perhaps you might like access to a wealth of original online publications?  If so give the Wattpad app a try.  Wattpad is a FREE social platform for readers and writers alike to share and discover stories.  “With Wattpad, anyone can read or write on any device: phone, tablet, or computer.”

Tech Talk: Madefire App & Motion Books

madefireMadefire has created a FREE online reader and downloadable app to use in conjunction with their digital graphic novels called Motion Books.  Madefire is working closely with some of the worlds top graphic artists to create an interactive reading experience that incorporates sound and motion into their Motion Book stories, known as episodes. The app is currently available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Google TV devices with even more accessibility coming in the future.  This exciting new way to read digital comics and graphic novels has even caught the eye of IDW Publishing who recently switched over their 3500+ line of comics and GNs, which includes titles such at Transformers and Star Trek, to a series of apps created by Madefire and are now compatible with the Madefire app.  So check out the app and let us know what you think of Madefire’s Motion Book style. Be sure to follow the Madefire Facebook page for new release offers every Wednesday and Free downloads every Friday.


Helen Davis Featured Book: Postcards from the Past

Postcards from the PastPostcards From the Past by Marcia Willett seems to begin as a light, romantic novel about Tilly, a young woman attempting to find a good job and an enduring relationship.  The book develops into something much more.  Although the Cornwell setting is picturesque and comfortable, the family past of Ed and Billa had a character that is sending them unsettling postcards.  Their past had unusual and heartbreaking events that they were able to overcome, but is the man behind the postcards going to destroy their security and happiness?