Castle Pines Book Lovers

Last week, Book Lovers met at Castle Pines to discuss their favorite books for fall. Special guest, Dedra Anderson, let us know what upcoming books she was most excited about. Our staff also shared some favorites that are out now.

Big Names in Fiction


Today Will Be Different by Maria SempleEleanor knows she’s a mess but she’s going to make changes (in one day).  (October release)

Paris For One by Jojo Moyes – Travel to Paris with Jojo in this short story collection. (October release)

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – From the author of Bel Canto, a story of an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changing two families’ lives. (September release)

Faithful by Alice Hoffman – A young woman from Long Island tries to cope with her survivor’s guilt. (November release)

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – A dedicated labor and deliver nurse is blamed for the death of an infant in her care. (October release)

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly – Harry Bosch is back and working as a private detective trying to track down the heir to a fortune. (November release)

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg – Strange things are happening in a sweet, kinda crazy small town in Missouri. (October release)

Moonglow by Michael Chabon – A grandfather’s deathbed confession is the inspiration for this new novel by the Pulitzer Prize winner. (November release)

Debut Novels

The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding – A single day in Henry Quatum’s life will change him forever. (October release)

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis – The Barbican Hotel in NYC is the setting for a story involving a dark secret. (August release)

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa – In 1939, a young Jewish girl and her friend hope to escape Europe on a transatlantic ocean liner. (October release)

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – In this suspense debut a young couple seems to have it all until…(August release)

Mischling by Affinity Konar – Twins Pearl and Sasha arrive at Auschwitz in 1944. (September release)

Great Expectations 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Oprah’s latest selection features a runaway slave on the Underground Railroad. (out now)

Hmmm Interesting

Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr –  A contemporary police thriller by the author of the classic thriller, The Alienist. (August release)

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – A former Nightingale nurse is brought to an Irish village to observe what is believed to be a miracle. (September release)
Crosstalk by Connie Willis – In the not too distant world, suddenly nothing is private. (October release)

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – A librarian loses her job and moves to a sleepy village with her own bookmobile. (September release)

The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey – Liddy James seems to have it all, but does she? (September release)

Maybe I’ll Learn Something

Sirius by Jonathan Crown – This little dog almost changed history. (November release)

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly –The untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. (September release; movie due out in January)

Truevine by Beth Macy – Two brothers, a kidnapping and a mother’s quest. (October release)

The Mannings by Lars Anderson – The fall and rise of a football family. (August release)

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz – Stories of women who fought for equality. Rad pix, too. (September release)

Dedra’s Recent Favs

Life or Death by Michael Robotham – Why would a man escape from prison the day before he’s due to be released?

The Assistants by Camille Perri – He’s a billionaire, she’s his loyal assistant, or is she?

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – Two sisters must reconnect after twenty years to find the truth about secrets that destroyed their family.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen – The perfect little black dress changes the lives of all the women who wear it.




We Recommend


Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed is a re-visiting of Shakespeare’s play of magic and illusion, The Tempest, and will be the fourth novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare series. In Margaret Atwood’s ‘novel take’ on Shakespeare’s original, theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself – and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. There’s a lot of Shakespearean swearing in this new Tempest adventure…but also a mischief, curiosity and vigour that’s entirely Atwood and is sure to delight her fans. The others in the series are: The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson which is a retelling of The Winter’s Tale; Shylock is my Name by Howard Jacobson which is a retelling of The Merchant of Venice; Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler which is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. (Recommended by Deidre V.)


City of Thieves by David Benioff

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible. By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men. Benioff is also the co-creator for the HBO series Game of Thrones based on the books by George R. R. Martin. (Recommended by Mikaley O.)



The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future by Alexandra Brodsky

In this groundbreaking collection, more than fifty cutting-edge voices, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Sheila Heti, and Mia McKenzie, invite us to imagine a truly feminist world. An abortion provider reinvents birth control, Sheila Bapat envisions an economy that values domestic work, a teenage rock band dreams up a new way to make music, Katherine Cross rewrites the Constitution, and Maya Dusenbery resets the standard for good sex. Combining essays, interviews, poetry, illustrations, and short stories, The Feminist Utopia Project challenges the status quo that accepts inequality and violence as a given—and inspires us to demand a radically better future. (Recommended by Deidre V.)




The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters. In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist. Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be. (Recommended by Lisa C.)



Sting by Sandra Brown

When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn’t belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her. As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother’s ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive. (Recommended by Lisa C.)



I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill

Laos, 1979: Retired coroner Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, have never been able to turn away a misfit. As a result, they share their small Vientiane house with an assortment of homeless people, mendicants, and oddballs. One of these oddballs is Noo, a Buddhist monk, who rides out on his bicycle one day and never comes back, leaving only a cryptic note in the refrigerator: a plea to help a fellow monk escape across the Mekhong River to Thailand. Naturally, Siri can’t turn down the adventure, and soon he and his friends find themselves running afoul of Lao secret service officers and famous spiritualists. Buddhism is a powerful influence on both morals and politics in Southeast Asia. In order to exonerate an innocent man, they will have to figure out who is cloaking terrible misdeeds in religiosity. If you’ve never read this series, you are in for a treat. Dr. Siri and his wonderful quirky acquaintances will keep you laughing and wondering who done it. I love this series! They are also a treat to listen to – the reader is GREAT! (Recommended by Lisa C.)


51wCNYSZVyLDark Matter by Blake Crouch 

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”  In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. (Recommended by Lisa C.)



The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood―one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives. (Recommended by Lisa C.)



To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey 

In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn’t return–once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there’s no telling what awaits him. The Wolverine River Valley is not only breathtaking and forbidding but also terrifying in ways that the colonel and his men never could have imagined. As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered. While the men knew they would face starvation and danger, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives. Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point. (Recommended by Lisa C.)


Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world. Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more. Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work. (Recommended by Deidre V.)



The Opposite of Everyone by Joshlyn Jackson 

A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this bittersweet, witty novel. Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with southern oral tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birth name Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding secrets of her own, the intense bond they once shared was fractured. These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. She hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years but gets a mysterious message. Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. (Recommended by Deidra V.)


Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all. But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world. The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest. There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her. (Recommended by Deidre V.)





Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass Series Book 5) by Sarah Mass The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t. With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear. (Recommended by Deidre V.)





91sDvEmtpELEvery Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children Book 1) by Seanan McGuire

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost. (Recommended by Deidre V.)



I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

At first, Jude and her twin brother are Noah-and-Jude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world. (Recommended by Mikaley O.)




51zN201RWHLGraduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale.

Fast friends since they met at Brown University during their freshman year, Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale vowed to keep in touch after their senior year through in-depth—and brutally honest—weekly e-mails. After graduation, Jess packs up everything she owns and moves to Beijing on a whim, while Rachel heads to New York to work for an art gallery and to figure out her love life. Each spends the next few years tumbling through adulthood and reinventing themselves in various countries, including France, China, and Australia. Through their messages from around the world, they swap tales of teaching classes of military men, running a magazine, and flirting in foreign languages, along with the hard stuff: from harrowing accidents to breakups and breakdowns. (Recommended by Mikaley O.)



Vicious by VE Schwab 

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. Victor and Eli started out as college roommates ―brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question. (Recommended by Mikaley O.)



Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything―instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. (Recommended by Mikaley O.)



51aDZ8TzhzLThe Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes, a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it. New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict. Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably. (Recommended by Deidre V.)


Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart 

After besting (and arresting) a ruthless silk factory owner and his gang of thugs in Girl Waits with Gun, Constance Kopp became one of the nation’s first deputy sheriffs. She’s proven that she can’t be deterred, evaded, or outrun. But when the wiles of a German-speaking con man threaten her position and her hopes for this new life, and endanger the honorable Sheriff Heath, Constance may not be able to make things right. Lady Cop Makes Trouble sets Constance loose on the streets of New York City and New Jersey–tracking down victims, trailing leads, and making friends with girl reporters and lawyers at a hotel for women. Cheering her on, and goading her, are her sisters Norma and Fleurette–that is, when they aren’t training pigeons for the war effort or fanning dreams of a life on the stage. (Recommended by Lisa C.)



American Heiress: The Wild Saga of Kidnapping, Crimes and the Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.”  The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing—the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon. (Recommended by Lisa C.)


51EwU-9SrILRadiance by Cathrynne M. Valente

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood-and solar system-very different from our own, from Catherynne M. Valente, the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe. (Recommended by Deidre V.)

10 Olympic Reads

The Summer Olympics are back again. They bring stories of triumph and soul-crushing defeat; there are inspirational accounts of overcoming the odds and heroic world-record breaking feats. These tales lend themselves well to books–both fictional and nonfictional accounts. Here are 10 Olympic reads that are guaranteed to keep you in the Olympic spirit.


61hGi12WEBLThe Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Set against the backdrop of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, this is an irresistible story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany. It’s the improbable, intimate account about how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world what true grit really meant.







51TNBZRvDMLThe Amateurs by David Halberstam

While other athletes are earning fortunes in salaries and-or endorsements, the oarsmen gain fame only with each other and strive without any hope of financial reward. What drives these men to endure a physical pain known to no other sport? The focus is the 1984 single sculls trials in Princeton. The man who wins will gain the right to represent the United States in the ’84 Olympics; the losers will then have to struggle further to gain a place in the two- or four-man boats.





41kqzQIBlZLYou Will Know Me by Megan Abbot 

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk. It’s a compulsively creeper thriller that you’ll find impossible to put down.






81-WA+dwAXLThe Flip Side by Shawn Johnson

This YA novel is inspired by gold medalist Shawn Johnson’s own experiences as an elite teenage gymnast. It’s a bubblegum sweet novel about chasing dreams and falling in love while trying for gold.








81WUE2-ZACLThe End of the Perfect 10 by Dvora Meyers

This exciting and insightful account of the controversial world of gymnastics explores the recent changes of the scoring system and why those changes will drive American gymnasts to the top of the sport in the twenty-first century.







51E72G+wfILThe Peerless Four by Victoria Patterson

Running so hard you think you’ll choke on your next breath. Lungs burning like they’re drenched in battery acid. Peripheral vision blurred by the same adrenaline that drowns out the cheers coming from the full stadium. And of course, the reporters. The men scribbling furiously on their notepads so they can publish every stumble, sprain, and sniffle.

This was the world of the female athletes in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the first games in which women were allowed to compete in track and field on a trial basis. Nicknamed “The Peerless Four,” the Canadian track team included some of the strongest, most diversely talented women on the scene. This fictional account of their underdog tale is a meditation on sacrifice, loyalty, and perseverance.






For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton

The untold and inspiring story of Eric Liddell, hero of Chariots of Fire , from his Olympic medal to his missionary work in China to his last, brave years in a Japanese work camp during WWII.









The Three-Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway 

In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians.

They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American, were malnourished and barefoot and had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. They transformed themselves into world-class swimmers.




51C3dpu5tmLGold by Chris Cleave

If your dreams pull you in one direction and your heart in another, which should you follow? This is the question that haunts Kate Meadows, a world champion athlete whose eight-year-old daughter Sophie is battling a recurrence of childhood leukemia just as Kate is about to compete for her last chance at an Olympic gold medal.

For years, Kate has sacrificed everything for her family and watched her best friend and closest rival, Zoe Castle, conquer the world stage. Kate has never won gold and will have to go through Zoe—who has everything to lose—to get it. Now her child is facing a life-threatening illness, and the stakes are higher than ever. How can she do what is right for her daughter without abandoning all of her dreams?






The Rider by Tim Krabbe

Originally published in Holland in 1978, The Rider became an instant cult classic, selling over 100,000 copies. Brilliantly conceived and written at a break-neck pace, it is a loving, imaginative, and, above all, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing. There has never been a book that completely immerses you into the mind of a competitive cyclist.

Happy Birthday, Suzanne Collins!

Author of the bestselling Hunger Games series turns 53 this week. Besides re-reading the series and re-watching the movies, you can celebrate by going to an archery course or recreating a Mellark’s bakery specialty. Or you can check out one of these great dystopian books:




Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

This is the first book in a new YA series about a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. One young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything. We’re excited to see where this series goes.







The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Described as The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, this richly imagined first novel is set 400 years in the future following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity. Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. One girl dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. The first two books are out in this series with the conclusion to the trilogy is scheduled to be published next year.




51bQ5bt8CILThe Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one. All three books in this trilogy are published.






The 100 by Kass Morgan

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission. All three books in this trilogy are published and it was made into a TV series, which is currently in its fourth season.







Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This series follows Juliette Ferrars, a 17-year-old girl with a lethal touch. She is jailed for this gift or curse which she cannot control. The government, The Reestablishment, has deided that she may be exactly the tool they need to control an unruly populace. She has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


DCL is Here for You During Back-to-School!


School is back in session this week. It’s back to the morning rush and afternoon homework grind. While we can’t help you get the kids out the door on time, we do have several resources to help with the return of the dreaded homework.


Can’t remember how many liters are in a gallon? You can give your child 24-hour live one-on-one homework help from highly qualified tutors with your library card. Simply log in to our Brainfuse database for tutoring, test prep and writing lab.


Get online access to Encyclopedia Britannica. This resource has three different levels of articles for students from pre-K through high school for those last-minute school reports.


Does your child need help in their foreign language class? Log in to Mango. Their language lessons are linguist-approved with gamification language-learning pedagogy that will have your kid ordering bifteck in a French bistro in no time.

Just for You

Is your kid at lost for what book to select for a book report? Fill out our Just for You form to get personalization suggestions from our staff.

Struggling Readers

If your child is having a challenge with reading, we have two programs that could be a great help.

  •  Bark for BooksYour kid may have great reading skills but lacks the confidence to read aloud in class. Reading to education assistance therapy dogs can help! Sign up for Bark for Books.
  • Reading Buddies: Struggling readers ages 6-9 can benefit from reading with a trained teen buddy. Together, they’ll play games, choose books appropriate for your child’s reading level, read, and review to increase reading comprehension. See a youth librarian for details.

Teen Volunteers

Does your teen need to fulfill their community service requirement for graduation? We have several opportunities for teen volunteers including event assistance, general library tasks, reading buddies and Teen Library Council.

13 Great Back-to-School Books!

Back-to-school jitters are normal–for parents and kids! Here are some great books to help your child get excited about starting a new school year.


Is your baby starting kindergarten? Here are some great books to read to ease the transition.

51SOeBtQyHLA Place Called Kindergarten

The farm animals are distraught. Tommy didn’t show up at his usual time! The dog informs them Tommy has gone to kindergarten. What will happen to him there? Will he ever come back? Tommy returns to tell them everything he learned during his first day.

Children will relate to the animals’ anxiety as they may feel the same about starting kindergarten. Tommy’s great experience will help them feel more at ease and excited about starting school.





51AzpIgWLaLIs Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? 

Buffalo is growing up: He plays with friends; he shares his toys. But is he ready for kindergarten? This book is a hilarious look at kindergarten. While giggling through the pages, your child will also learn about what to expect on the first day of school. It will help kids understand that they won’t need to know how to do everything before starting school, because they will learn new skills while they are there.






51nk7cBhEpLHow Do Dinosaurs Go to School?

Another great installment in the “How Do Dinosaurs…?” series. This time, everyone’s favorite dinosaurs go to class, creating prehistoric pupil antics.

It’s a great book to discuss the kinds of behavior that will be expected at school.








61xbtMj2CkLI Am Too Absolutely Small for School

Lola isn’t sure about school. It’s up to ever-patient big brother Charlie to persuade Lola that school is worthwhile.

Lola’s excuses for not wanting to attend school will resonate with anxious new kindergarteners. It’s a great book to reassure your child and let him or her know that it’s OK to feel nervous about starting school.






51EsH7vmlsLThe Kissing Hand

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.

Since its publication in 1993, this book has been used by kindergarten teachers across the nation to reassure kids on the first day of school. It’s a perfect way to combat the separation anxiety that your child may face next week.




New School

It may not be your child’s first time at school, but going to a new school creates similar fears. Here are some books to put your child’s mind at ease.

613CRfCGAbLFirst Day Jitters

Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. Her father convinces her that she has to go. When she arrives, she is greeted by the principal who escorts her to the class. At the end, children will be surprised to learn that Sarah is the teacher!

It’s a great way to show children that they may not be the only ones who are apprehensive about starting a new school.





81S7q3f+CxLThe Exceptionally Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School

On the first day back to school from summer vacation, John is the new kid. When the librarian asks him if the school is any different from his last one, he begins a wildly imaginative story about what it was like. His hilarious imagination wins him the attention and awe of his peers.

It’s fantastical and ridiculous. A great book for older kids (ages 7-10) transitioning to a new school.





51W0hiAJRGLMy Best Friend Is as Sharp as a Pencil

A girl describes her classmates and teachers with similes and object art. It’s a perfect book for inspiring creativity.

It’s also a great book to talk about the potential new friends your kid may meet at his or her new school and all the great traits these friends may possess.







51wiSJxxPJLIt’s the First Day of School–Forever

Artie repeats his first day of school continuously in this Groundhog Day-esque R.L. Stine nightmare. As is typical with Stine, there are plenty of moments of humor to offset the horror. The scary encounters will have kids tearing through the pages.

After reading this book, your child will realize there is no way his or her first day at the new school will be worse than Artie’s. It’s perfect for ages 9-12.






Every kid worries about making friends at a new school, but when 9-year-old Bud accidentally catches the wrong bus and finds himself launched into deep space, new friends are the least of his problems!

This fun graphic novel has great action and amazing illustrations. It will make your child feel like his or her new school will be a cakewalk compared to the Cosmos Academy. Great for ages 9-12.






Middle School

Transitioning to middle school is a huge leap! Here are some books that explore navigating the hormone-filled hallways.

71s+iL4wPaLStar Wars: Jedi Academy

This series captures all of the humor, awkwardness, fun and frustrations of middle school–all told through one boy’s comics, journal entries, letters, doodles and newspaper clippings. The setting? A galaxy far, far away … In Jedi Academy, Roan learns that he possesses more strength and potential than he could ever dream. Oh, and he learns other important things too–like how to make a baking soda volcano, fence with a lightsaber, slow dance with a girl, and lift boulders with the Force.

Your child will relate to the themes of awkwardness, peer pressure and bullying. There are currently three books in the series.



61RPrdRwx0LMiddle School: The Worst Years of My Life

It’s Rafe Khatchadorian’s first day at Hills Village Middle School, and it’s shaping up to be the worst year ever. He has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix, but luckily he’s got an ace plan for the best year ever–if only he can pull it off. With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct.

This hilarious series is filled with the events that make middle school so awkward: cranky bus drivers, tardy slips, and bathroom passes. There are currently seven books in the series.




91l3KR+gPPLCan You Get an F in Lunch?

After spending the night studying the Joyce Kilmer Middle School Handbook, Jenny McAfee feels totally prepared to start sixth grade. But Jenny has another reason to feel confident. She’ll have her best friend, Addie Wilson, right there by her side. When Jenny and Addie meet at their lockers the next morning, Jenny finds out that Addie has other plans–and they don’t include her. Could Addie really be ditching her for The Pops–the coolest seventh-graders in the school?

Middle schoolers will relate to the ever-changing social climate of junior high. There are 13 books in the series.


Happy 20th, Game of Thrones!

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of George R.R. Martin’s first book in the landmark “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, A Game of Thrones. This sweeping saga is set in a complex, medieval-inspired world where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime. Myriad characters, including the Stark and Lannister families, struggle to control the Iron Throne. The political intrigue and subterfuge is masterful.

Unfortunately, Martin is a notoriously slow writer. There are currently five published books in the series. Two more are forthcoming, but there is no known release date yet.

Fortunately, we have the HBO television series. The award-winning show just wrapped up its sixth season. This was the first season that went beyond the original books; however, Martin provided show producers with outlines of his upcoming books The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.

Whether you’re waiting on the next season or The Winds of Winter to be published, here are some great books to help you celebrate the 20th anniversary!

51YzNmrZ8ELAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

This is the first book in the Farseer trilogy. Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

George R.R. Martin says: “Fantasy as it ought to be written … Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.”


81+BNns7M7LAcacia: The War With the Mein by David Anthony Durham

This is the first book in the Acacia trilogy. Durham began as an acclaimed writer of historical fiction, so he brings rich historical detail to his fantasy world of Acacia.

Born into generations of prosperity, the four royal children of the Akaran dynasty know little of the world outside their opulent island paradise. But when an assassin strikes at the heart of their power, their lives are changed forever.

Forced to flee to distant corners and separated against their will, the children must navigate a web of hidden allegiances, ancient magic, foreign invaders, and illicit trade that will challenge their very notion of who they are. As they come to understand their true purpose in life, the fate of the world lies in their hands.

George R.R. Martin says: “David Anthony Durham has serious chops. I can’t wait to read whatever he writes next.”


51dBDh9vm0LThe Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

The first book in the Shadowmarch tetralogy follows a young kitchen boy turned magician’s apprentice who embarks on a journey that could save his world from the dark machinations of a king gone mad. It is classic fantasy fare, but Williams is a wizard at world building.

George R.R. Martin says: “[It’s] one of my favorite fantasy series.”






51b5YG6Y1rLThe Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell 

This is the exciting—yet little known—story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great and his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

George R.R. Martin says: “Bernard Cornwell does the best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present.”



81WmyLpandLThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This riveting first-person narrative tells the story of a young man, Kvothe, who grows to be the most notorious magician his world has ever seen. From Kvothe’s childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, this book transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard. This book is the first in the trilogy; the third book is yet to be published.

George R.R. Martin says: “[The Wise Man’s Fear (second book in the series)] was worth the wait. I gulped it down in a day, staying up almost to dawn reading, and I am already itching for the next one. He’s bloody good, this Rothfuss guy.”



71HyjujBW3LA Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major center of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. The Galts, a warring empire with a ferocious army, is set on destroying Seedless by disposing of Heshai.

George R.R. Martin says: “A thoroughly engrossing debut novel from a major new fantasist. A poignant human tale of power, heartbreak and betrayal.”





51kX4D-nWLLThe Iron King by Maurice Druon

The Iron King—Philip the Fair—is as cold and silent, as handsome and unblinking as a statue. He governs his realm with an iron hand, but he cannot rule his own family: His sons are weak and their wives adulterous, while his red-blooded daughter, Isabella, is unhappily married to an English king who prefers the company of men.

A web of scandal, murder and intrigue is weaving itself around the Iron King, but his downfall will come from an unexpected quarter. Bent on the persecution of the rich and powerful Knights Templar, Philip sentences Grand Master Jacques Molay to be burned at the stake, thus drawing down upon himself a curse that will destroy his entire dynasty.

George R.R. Martin says: “Iron kings and strangled queens, battles and betrayals, lies and lust, the curse of the Templars, the doom of a great dynasty—and all of it (well, most of it) straight from the pages of history, and believe me, the Starks and the Lannisters have nothing on the Capets and Plantagenets. Whether you are a history buff or a fantasy fan, Druon’s epic will keep you turning pages. This was the original game of thrones.”

It’s Time for the Douglas County Fair!

Are you planning to visit the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo this week? It’s a great outing for the family, complete with rodeo shows, livestock exhibits, mutton bustin’, tractor pulls and more! If you take pictures while you’re at the fair, we want to save them for our archives. Upload them on our Douglas County History Research Center website so they’ll be saved for posterity.

While you’re in Castle Rock, don’t forget to visit our Philip S. Miller branch. The library is planning some fun programs in conjunction with the fair.

Stick Horse Rodeo

Monday, August 1

1:30 PM

Yee-haw and howdy do! Cowboys and cowgirls, mosey on down to the Stick Horse Rodeo right here in the library. Registration required.

Campfire Cowboy Stories

Wednesday, August 3

7 PM

Join us around the (virtual) campfire for cowboy storytelling and singalongs. Dress up in your Western wear and bring the entire family for an evening out on the range! Snacks will be provided. Registration required.

We also have several fair-themed picture books you can check out to read with your entire family.

Every Cowgirl Loves a Rodeo

Nellie Sue takes her cowgirl flair to the county fair. She is most looking forward to the Bike Rodeo and the chance to compete against the reigning champion and her friend, AJ Pickett. When a nearby goat gets loose and threatens to ruin AJ’s ride, Nellie Sue steps in as an honest cowgirl.







County Fair

This adorable picture book is adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Farmer Boy. The Wilder family visits the county fair where there are contests, races and good things to eat.








Corgiville Fair

In Corgiville, the biggest event of the year is the fair. The most exciting thing at the Corgiville Fair is the goat race! It is a great old-fashioned country fair. The book has wonderful illustrations that you’ll want to linger over.







Cows to the Rescue

The county fair is here and it promises to bring lots of fun with three-legged races, a “Smartest Pig” contest, and the Ferris wheel. However, the Greenstalks’ car won’t start, so they’ll need some help getting there … barnyard friends to the rescue with hilarious results!






Fair Cow

Effie always dreamed of being a state-fair cow. Petunia the pig gives Effie advice on how to become the most beautiful cow and helps her undergo a makeover. However, things don’t go as planned. This book provides a great lesson about the importance of being yourself.







Emma at the Fair

The fair is in town. This year, Emma, the plucky hen, is accompanying her family. Much to her surprise, she is expected to bring home a ribbon! However, she isn’t sure how she can win it.

Reading Challenge: Strong Female Character

readingchallenge150How far along are you on the DCL 2016 Reading Challenge? One of the challenge items is to read a book with a strong female lead. If you are still looking for a book, our staff highly recommends these titles:






51I2zhJVSNLCircling the Sun by Paula McLain

Paula McLain transports readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa. Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit. Available in Book, Audio CD, eBook and eAudio formats.




51iJNmx01KLThe Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

A tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate. In Kabul, 2007, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother saved herself and built a new life the same way. Available in Book, eBook and eAudio formats.





Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy. Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her. Available in Book, AudioCD and eAudio.





51FopmhsJKLThe All Girls Filling Stations Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

The one and only Fannie Flagg is at her hilarious and superb best in this comic mystery novel about two women who are forced to reimagine who they are. Fabulous, fun-filled, spanning decades and generations, and centered on a little-known aspect of America’s twentieth-century story and the role of women aviators during World War II. Available in Book, Audio CD, Playaway, and Large Type.





51HqTkCELlLMonstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

Polly Perks joins the Discworld army to find her brother Paul. “Ozzer” cuts off blonde braids, dons male garb, belches, scratches, and masters macho habits aided by well-placed pair of socks. Legendary and seemingly ageless Sergeant Jackrum accepts her plus a vampire, troll, zombie, religious fanatic, and two close “friends”. The best man for the job may be a woman. Available in Book, eAudio and eBook formats.





51YxzOgf-5LFollow the River by James Alexander Thom

Mary Ingles was twenty-three, married, and pregnant, when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement, killed the men and women, then took her captive. For months, she lived with them, unbroken, until she escaped, and followed a thousand mile trail to freedom–an extraordinary story of a pioneer woman who risked her life to return to her people. Available in Book and eAudio formats. 






51eDT0KJwdLGlory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last–a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more. The female lead is contemplative, resilient and resourceful and while not sword wielding or archery experts, they conquer self doubt and fears with thoughtful aplomb. Available in Book, eBook and eAudio formats.




51yQ4QUWVbLNot A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Fans of classic frontier survival stories, as well as readers of dystopian literature, will enjoy this futuristic story where water is worth more than gold. With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a frontier-like world not so different from our own. Available in Book, eBook and eAudio formats.





51PR5E6NCDLCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

October 11, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun. A visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Available in Book, eBook, Playaway, Audio CD.





61t9JwdDgyLLegend by Marie Lu  
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Full of non-stop action, suspense, and romance. Available in Book, AudioCD and Playaway formats.

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

Harry Potter’s birthday is July 31! It also happens to be JK Rowling’s birthday. This year, there is an additional reason to celebrate with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This play revisits Harry Potter 19 years after the last book. The world premier of this first official Harry Potter stage production is on July 30 in London. For those of us on the other side of the pond, we will have to settle for the Special Rehearsal Edition of the script.

While you wait to get your hands on the script, we suggest you celebrate by rereading the old books or watch the movies with some homemade butterbeer. You could also try making some robes or wands with your family:

Butterbeer Recipe (from Bakingdom)


6 12 oz bottles cream soda

3 teaspoons imitation butter flavor

2 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ teaspoons imitation butter

Set out 6 16 oz glasses. Place ½ teaspoon of imitation butter in each. Pour 12 oz of cream soda over the butter. Lightly stir.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed for 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and continue whipping until very soft peaks begin to form, another 3-4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and imitation butter, then whip for another 30 seconds or so, until soft peaks form.

Spoon generous portion of foam on top of each glass of butterbeer. Serve immediately.

15 Minute DIY Wizard Robes (from Pieces by Polly)

Materials needed: oversize t-shirt, large black button, black thread, scissors, pins, iron-on Hogwarts patch

Wizarding Wands (from Doodle Craft Blog)

Materials needed: sticks and polymer/oven bake clay

Slick Science: Explosions

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 9.55.13 AM
Last week at Douglas County Libraries in Castle Pines, several little scientists attempted experiments involving explosions. Below are the experiments they tested.

To experience hands-on science experiments, sign up for a Slick Science near you. It’s ideal for ages 8-12. There are current openings at Lone Tree on July 21 at 6:00 PM (Register here) or July 22 at 1:00 PM (Register here):

Mad Scientist’s Oath

I pledge to use my scientific knowledge and really big brain for good rather than evil. I vow to not take over the world, scare my siblings with bubble bombs, create a soda geyser in the kitchen, or turn mom’s vases in to lava lamps without permission. This is the Mad Scientist’s Oath.

Bubble Snakes – Bubble Blower

What You Need:

  • 16oz bottles
  • Bowl of bubble solution
  • Fabric
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Rubber bands

Make the Snakes

  1. Find a clean, empty plastic bottle. While a 16 or 20oz bottle will work the best, feel free to try any size bottle you want. Maybe the results will be something crazy!
  2. Using a pair of box-cutters (and adult supervision), carefully cut the bottom off of the plastic bottle.
  3. Cover the freshly-cut hole with a piece of fabric that is similar to a washcloth or cotton sock. Use a rubber band to keep the fabric in place.
  4. Dip the fabric-covered end of the bottle into the bowl of bubble solution.
  5. Blow into the mouth of the plastic bottle and, before you know it, you’ll be creating Bubble Snakes like a pro!
  6. Let’s take it up a notch by adding some color! Find some liquid food coloring in your favorite color(s). Add a few drops of the food coloring to the fabric on the end of your bottle. Get creative!
  7. Dip the fabric in the bubble solution and give the bottle a blow… HOLY MOLY! You’re creating some super colorful Bubble Snakes!

How Does It Work?

Bubbles form because of the surface tension of water. Hydrogen atoms in one water molecule are attracted to oxygen atoms in other water molecules. They like each other so much, they cling together. So why are bubbles round? The physicists will tell you that bubbles enclose the maximum volume of air in the minimum amount of bubble solution, so that’s why they are always round.

When you blow air through your Bubble Snake maker, you are creating hundreds of tiny bubbles. As the air wiggles through the fabric, bubbles are continuously being made. The bubbles attach to each other when they come out of the fabric. It’s all thanks to the same hydrogen bonds that make bubbles possible!

Bubble Bomb’s

What You Need:

  • Measuring Cups
  • Zip Lock Bags
  • Paper Towels
  • Table Spoons
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar

What to Do:

  1. Figure out where you want to explode your Bubble Bomb. Sometimes the bags make a mess when they pop, so you may want to experiment outside. If it’s a rainy day, you can explode your Bubble Bombs in the bathtub or sink. It’s very important to use a bag without holes.
  2. Tear a paper towel into a square that measures about 5 inches by 5 inches. Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda in the center of the square, and then fold the square as shown in the picture, with the baking soda inside. This is your “time-release packet.”
  3. Pour into your plastic bag:
    1/2 cup of vinegar
    1/4 cup of warm water
  4. Now here’s the tricky part. You need to drop the time-release packet into the vinegar and zip the bag closed before the fizzing gets out of control.
  5. You can zip the bag halfway closed, and then stuff the packet in and zip the bag closed the rest of the way in a hurry. Or you can put the time-release packet into the mouth of the bag and hold it up out of the vinegar by pinching the sides of the bag. Zip the bag closed and then let the packet drop into the vinegar.

One way or another, get the packet in the vinegar and zip the bag closed.

  1. Shake the bag a little, put it in the sink or on the ground, and stand back! The bag will puff up dramatically and pop with a bang.

Why does the Bubble Bomb explode?

The bubbles in the Bubble Bomb are filled with carbon dioxide, a gas that forms when the vinegar (an acid) reacts with the baking soda (a base). If you’ve ever made a cake or baked a loaf of quick bread (the kind that doesn’t use yeast), you’ve already done some experimenting with the bubbles that come from an acid-base reaction. Most cakes and quick breads rise because of bubbles in their batter. Those bubbles, like the ones in your Bubble Bomb, are created by the chemical reaction of an acid and a base.


Bubbling Lava Lamp

What You Need:

  • Big glass or plastic jar or bottle
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Food Coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets
  • Flashlight
  • Water 

What to Do:

  1. Fill the bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with water (almost to the top but not overflowing).
  3. Add about 10 drops of food coloring. Be sure to make the water fairly dark in color. Notice that the food coloring only colors the water and not the oil. Hmmm…
  4. Divide the Alka-Seltzer tablet into 8 pieces.
  5. Drop one of the tiny pieces of Alka-Seltzer into the oil and water mixture. Watch what happens. When the bubbling stops, add another chunk of Alka-Seltzer. It’s just like a lava lamp!
  6. If you want to make it even more “lave-like,” put your bottle on a flashlight and turn the room lights off.
  7. When you have used up all of the Alka-Seltzer and the bubbling has completely stopped, screw on the soda bottle cap. Tip the bottle back and forth and watch a wave appear. The tiny droplets of liquid join together to make one big lava-like blob.

How Does This Work

First of all, you confirmed what you already knew… oil and water do not mix. The molecules of water do not like to mix with the molecules of oil. Even if you try to shake up the bottle, the oil breaks up into small little drops, but the oil doesn’t mix with the water. Also, food coloring only mixes with water. It does not color the oil.

When you pour the water into the bottle with the oil, the water sinks to the bottom and the oil floats to the top. This is the same as when oil from a ship spills in the ocean. The oil floats on top of the water. Oil floats on the surface because water is heavier than oil. Scientists say that the water is denser than the oil.

Here’s the surprising part… The Alka-Seltzer tablet reacts with the water to make tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. These bubbles attach themselves to the blobs of colored water and cause them to float to the surface. When the bubbles pop, the color blobs sink back to the bottom of the bottle. Now that’s a burst of color! Your own homemade lava lamp… groovy baby!

Elephant’s Tooth Paste

What You Need:

  • 16oz plastic bottle
  • ½ cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (found at beauty supply stores)
  • 1 Tbsp (1 packet) dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp warm water
  • Liquid dish washing soap
  • Food coloring
  • Small cup
  • Funnel

What to Do:

NOTE: As you can see from the picture, foam will overflow from the bottle, so be sure to do this experiment on a washable surface, or place the bottle on a tray.

  1. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes, so put on those safety goggles and ask an adult to carefully pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.
  2. Add 8 drops of your favorite food coloring into the bottle.
  3. Add about 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap into the bottle and swish the bottle around a bit to mix it.
  4. In a separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for about 30 seconds.
  5. Now the adventure starts! Pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle (a funnel helps here) and watch the foaminess begin! 

How Does This Work

Foam is awesome! The foam you made is special because each tiny foam bubble is filled with oxygen. The yeast acted as a catalyst (a helper) to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since it did this very fast, it created lots and lots of bubbles. Did you notice the bottle got warm? Your experiment created a reaction called an Exothermic Reaction – that means it not only created foam, it created heat! The foam produced is just water, soap, and oxygen so you can clean it up with a sponge and pour any extra liquid left in the bottle down the drain. This experiment is sometimes called “Elephant’s Toothpaste” because it looks like toothpaste coming out of a tube, but don’t get the foam in your mouth!  


Mentos in Coke

The science behind the magic:

Carbon dioxide is what makes soda bubble and fizz, but carbon dioxide is a gas and wants to escape into the air. Mentos have tiny pits in their surface that the CO2 bubbles collect on. Plus, since they’re heavy enough to sink to the bottom, the Mentos collide with many CO2 bubbles, releasing them into the air and causing a geyser of soda.


Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

What to Do:

  • Ice cubes (enough to fill each gallon-size bag about half full)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup salt (The bigger the granules, the better. Kosher or rock salt works best, but table salt is fine.)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint-size ziplock bag
  • 1 gallon-size ziplock bag
  • Your favorite mixins such as chocolate chips, cereal pieces, or fresh fruit.

Notes: Serves 1

How to make it

  1. Combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in the pint-size bag and seal it tightly.
  2. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-size bag, then place the sealed smaller bag inside as well. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the small bag to determine when it’s done.
  3. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add mix-ins, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Easy cleanup too!