Lit Pairings – The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

Thirty-something Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of newly bustling Atlanta, Georgia. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they’d believed would always remain undeveloped. Disappointed by their diminished privacy, Colquitt and Walter soon realize something more is wrong with the house next door. Surely the house can’t be haunted, yet it seems to destroy the goodness of every person who comes to live in it, until the entire heart of this friendly neighborhood threatens to be torn apart.

Let me start by saying I absolutely LOVED this book. I stumbled upon it while obsessively scouring the interwebs for haunted house fiction, you know like one does around Halloween. This gem of a book was written in 1978 and is now one of my top 10 favorite books. But, before you run right out and find a copy of this to read, just know I’m an odd bird and this book isn’t for everyone.

My favorite things about this book besides the obvious scary bits was all the cocktail time Colquitt, Walter and their friends enjoyed! There weren’t cell phones, computers or a bazillion channels to watch so everyone did something almost foreign to us today – they got together and enjoyed each other’s company!! At the start of the book Colquitt invites a neighbor lady over for a pitcher of Bull Shots. Having never heard of this particular drink I immediately googled it and found out that like this book it might not be for everyone, but I plan to bring it back! I could go on and on about all the wonderful cocktails in this story but I should probably include a food one as well. After an abnormal cold spurt hits the south Coquitt makes Split Pea Soup for them both and then curls up on the couch with Walter in the den for a lazy, cozy day. How amazing does that sound?

If you do find a copy of The House Next Door please drop me a line and let me know what you thought.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

First line: It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came.

Summary: When Libby Jones turned twenty-five she receives and envelope telling her that she has inherited a house from the estate of her dead parents. She never knew who she was or where she came from but the answers are finally being revealed.

Twenty-four years before the police were summoned to a mansion along the Thames. Inside were the three dead bodies and a baby girl in a crib. It appears to be a suicide pact as part of a cult ritual. But neighbors reported seeing older children in the house but none are found on the night in question. What happened at 16 Cheyne Walk that fateful night?

My Thoughts: I love Lisa Jewell! Every book I have read by her has been a lot of fun. This one is no exception. I really considered giving it a 5 star rating. It flipped between three characters. Libby, the baby, who recently inherited the house. Henry, who is telling the story of what happened in the house. And Lucy, who is struggling to keep her family afloat while living abroad in France.

Henry was by far my favorite chapters because we got to see how life at 16 Cheyne Walk changed over time. His story is told chronologically from the beginning to the end. It fills in the gaps that Libby is trying to uncover. But his narrative is much darker and more sinister than the others.

I struggled to understand that point behind Lucy’s chapters. It seemed like they were filler or a separate story. She lives in France with her children and is trying to find a way to get back to England. It just did not seem to fit with everything else.

But the ending. It literally gave me goosebumps and sent a chill down my spine. What a way to close a book. Great job again Ms. Jewell!

FYI: Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena and Gillian Flynn.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week Four

Well the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is over! And I did it. I finished the challenge with 2 days to spare. I was getting a little nervous at the end but I finished in time. I really enjoyed having a set list of books to read. I was not sure how I would feel but it was almost freeing knowing exactly what was next on the list. How did your challenge come along?

In the last week I completed four books. First was I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings by Maya Angelou. I had previously read Mom & Me & Mom. I liked both and found them very interesting. Next I finished Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray. She is a wonderful writer for the Star Wars books. The writing is great and the story is always fun. Then I finally read Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory. I had read the first in the duology years ago but never finished it. I am glad I did. It spanned years of English history and two continents. I was constantly looking up plants mentioned in the book. And it was a perfect companion to our Big Read theme. But my favorite of the week was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

*Beware this may contain spoilers!*

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

First line: A busy and crowded station.

Summary: In the eighth book in the Harry Potter series we find out what happens years after the Battle of Hogwarts. The wizarding world is at peace. Voldemort is defeated. And Harry Potter is a father. His son Albus is heading to Hogwarts for his first year when he meets Scorpius Malfoy on the train. They become close friends to the chagrin of their fathers. When rumors begin to appear about a Time Turner that escaped the destruction at the Ministry, Albus tries to step out of the shadow of his legendary father by changing the past in hopes of saving someone his father could not.

My Thoughts: I had been putting this off for years. I have owned the book and loved the rest in the series. But knowing that it was not written by J.K. made it not a priority. It is written as a play for the stage in London. The format seemed a little intimidating and strange. Kind of like the first time I picked up a graphic novel. It does not feel comfortable at the beginning but as it progresses it becomes much easier. When Alyssa announced the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon I knew that I had to include this book on my list.

I can see how many other Potter fans are not happy with it but I really enjoyed it! A Potter and a Malfoy best friends?! Seriously. I loved their friendship. I felt that the playwright was able to capture the spirit of Harry Potter and bring the story further. The little twists and turns were fun. I loved going back into the past and seeing how someone’s actions can affect the present. And it was great to see how Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco changed after their years at Hogwarts. They each matured and learned some important lessons along the way.

I really hope that one day I can see this performed on stage! If you have been a little skeptical about picking this up then listen to me and give it a try. The story is good. It revisits everything that made the original so good while adding to it as well.

FYI: J.K. Rowling has accepted this as part of her canon. It is considered Harry Potter #8.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week Three

Week three of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is behind us and I still have 4 books to finish! Up until this week I was able to finish three books a week but this week had a really long book. It is taking me longer than anticipated. How is everyone else coming along?

Of the two books I finished I really enjoyed both of them. Below I attached my review for the new Elton John autobiography, Me. But I also read Carrie by Stephen King. I have never seen the movie but I had a basic understanding of the story line. I was shocked by how much I liked it. If you want to read my review sign up for our monthly newsletter. It will be in the November 2019 issue.

Me by Elton John

First line: I was onstage at the Latino club in South Shields when I realized I couldn’t take it anymore.

Summary: In his autobiography, Elton John takes us through his life from his childhood as Reginald Dwight to his life with his husband David. He gives us a look into the world of a rock star. He is very honest about his drug usage and other addictions. He discusses his friendships with other musical legends like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and even Lady Gaga. After years of pain and loneliness he decides that he has had enough of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and enters rehab and starts his own charities for AIDS relief.

My Thoughts: I loved this book! And look at that cover! Gorgeous. First of all I listened to the audio book version which is read by Taron Egerton, who played Elton in the biopic, Rocketman, released earlier this year .

I found Elton’s life to be unbelievable. He knows everyone. He has done so much. I loved how honest he was about his struggles. He took every drug known to man. He tried to commit suicide several times. I cannot imagine living his life and coming out of it okay. He does though. He survived stuff that would have ruined many others and did. But he is still standing. He has met the love of his life, has two beautiful boys and tries to help others around the world.

I learned a lot about him. And I found him even more interesting than I did before. He is currently doing his final tour and I wish that I could see him in concert. My parents did in 1984 in Tacoma, Washington. I am super jealous. Oh well I will just watch concerts on Youtube and rewatch Rocketman again.

FYI: I highly recommend the audio version but also grab a copy of the book so you can see the pictures!

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week Two

Alrighty. Week two is completed along with three more books. I was not sure that I was going to be half way done at the end of the second week but I accomplished it. Plus I finished two of the longer books this last week!

I greatly appreciate audio books. I know some people do not consider these “reading” but I certainly do. I get the story and I am engaged in the plot and its characters. Two of the books from last week were ones that I partially listened to thanks to our book on CD collection and Rb Digital.

This last week’s reads include The Loving Cup by Winston Graham, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Each one was a four star read. All of them had fantastic characters and stories. I am hoping to soon read the rest of the books in each series. However, my favorite book this week is by far Hatchet.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

First line: Brian Robeson stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below.

Summary: Brian’s parents split up recently and on his way to Canada to spend a few months with his father. He is flying in a small plane with only himself and a pilot. As they are flying over the forests of Canada the pilot suddenly has a heart attack. Brian is left alone in an airplane, thousands of feet in the air and no idea where he is or how he is going to land the plane.

For several hours he keeps the plane in the air until he decides to try and take it down on a lake. When he crashes he finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with only the clothes on his back, his wits and the hatchet his mother had given him. How long will it take for someone to rescue him? Will he be able to survive alone in the forest?

My Thoughts: I picked this book because it has been years since I heard the story. I remember having it read to my class while I was in school. It was a good story then but now that I am older I realize that it is a great story. I usually recommend this to young boys who ask for something to read. I am happy to see that it is still popular and has a hold list.

A thirteen year old boy is lost in the wilderness with nothing. He survives using what he knows from nature shows and his school science classes. Not many people would be able to do this. Paulsen does a splendid job of mixing the adventure with facts. Not many kids books can stand the test of time but I believe that this one can. It is still engaging and fun and perfect for all ages.

FYI: There are five books in Brian’s saga.

Lit Pairings – The Lady in the Lake

The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young black woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie—and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life—a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people—including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.

I REALLY enjoyed this book, and I gave it 5 starts on goodreads! A lot of reviews weren’t great saying the story had too many POV’s, but that’s what I ended up liking most about the story. I think the multiple POV’s might make it hard to listen to as an audio so make sure you read this one.

Since The Lake in the Lake takes place in 1966 I thought it would be fun to check out some of the popular and timeless recipes from the 60’s. One of my favorites is Chicken à la King. After looking at this recipe I think I’ll be adding it back into my rotation this fall! Another full on comfort food recipe that would be amazing to make this winter is Beef Bourguignon.This is of course Julia Child’s recipe because that should be the only one you ever use. After you enjoy either of these dinners you have to make this recipe, that won the Pillsbury Bake Off in 1966, Tunnel of Fudge Cake for desert.

I hope you enjoy The Lady in the Lake as much as I did. Hopefully the retro vibe will inspire you to make one of the recipes. If you do, drop me a line and let me know how it went.

New Catalog Tutorial

Have you noticed that we have a new catalog? We have recently started a consortium with Park City Public Library and Andover Public Library. With this change we are able to bring you a wider selection of items for your use. Items can be placed on hold, picked up or returned to any of these three libraries.

With the consortium we changed to a new catalog system. We are still learning how to use it but we will definitely try to help you find what you are looking for. Below I will show you how to search and see what new items have been added to the catalog.

Step One:

Visit our website, www.derbylibrary.com. Under the Books & Media tab look for Catalog. Click on this to take you to our online card catalog.

Step Two:

Click on Advanced search.

Step Three:

Select Collection. If you are looking for new items select New Book or New DVD. But there are many other categories if you want to narrow down your options to Juvenile Book on CD or Blu-ray. After you select the categories you want then click on Search.

Step Four:

To find the most recent additions find the drop down menu and select Acquisition date: Newest to oldest. This will show the items in the order they were added to the system.

Step Five:

You can (but it is not necessary) narrow this down to items that are only at the Derby Public Library or whichever library in the consortium you prefer.

Step Six:

If you would like to place the item on hold click on Place Hold. It will then have you login to your online account.

The login is your library card number and your password is the last four digits of your phone number.

Make sure that you confirm your hold. If the item is available here in Derby we should have it ready with 2-4 hours. However, if you place an item on hold from one of the other libraries it takes between 3-5 days for it to be delivered here. We will either email, text or call about holds that are ready to be picked up based on your account preference.

I hope this has helped but if you have any more questions or cannot find what you are looking for then feel free to call us at 316-788-0760 or visit our circulation desk for more assistance.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week One

It has been just over one week since the start of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon here at the library. And boy has it been one heck of a week. You do not realize the pressure you are under when you are given a set number of books to read in just a month! It is a little intimidating.

Going into the challenge I figured that this would be a piece of cake. I have already read over 100 books this year. Twelve books should be easy right?! I have finished three at this point which is a fairly good place to be but they were the shorter ones. Several on my list are hovering around five hundred pages. Yikes! Maybe I was overly ambitious but I am determined to finish this challenge.

So far I have finished reading A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (we own the movie but not the book) and The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way. Each has had their ups and downs but I would say my favorite so far has been The Umbrella Academy graphic novel. I have even read book two and have three on my desk for later.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way

First line: It was the same year “Tusslin’ Tom” Gurney knocked out the space-squid from Rigel X-9…

Summary: At the exact same moment forty-three babies were born to women who had previously not been pregnant. Of the forty-three newborns born, seven of them were adopted by the eccentrically wealthy Reginald Hargreeves. He knew that there was something special about these children. For years they lived quietly hidden away in his mansion until one day when they reappeared in order to save the world. They called themselves The Umbrella Academy.

My Thoughts: I am not one that is much interested in graphic novels but they are slowly growing on me. I have now read a handful and started to enjoy them. The Netflix show based on the graphic novels is why I chose this book for the reading challenge. There are many similarities between the two but lots of differences as well. Each stand well on their own. The art is very interesting to look at. It is not realistic but it is not too cartoonish.

I liked the story because it is dark and imaginative. The authors create such an interesting world that it is not hard to get sucked into it. One of the characters, Number One or Luther, is part man and part ape. He is gigantic and spends quite a bit of his youth on the moon. Who thinks this stuff up? It is different which makes it fun. I am looking forward to book three and on.

FYI: There is a lot of violence which did not affect me at all but it may be too much for younger readers. This is book one in the series.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Cilka’s Journey

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

First line: Cilka stares at the soldier standing in front of her, part of the army that has entered the camp.

Summary: Sixteen year old Cilka Klein was sent to Auschwitz along with her family. One of the head SS officers of the camp notices her and moves her away from the other women. Over the three years she is kept in barracks 25 until the day the camp is liberated by the Russian forces. Upon their arrival she is arrested and charged with collaborating with the enemy. She is sentenced to fifteen years in a Siberian gulag.

When she arrives at the prison she finds a world that she has unfortunately become very familiar with. The forced labor and brutal conditions of the camp are not new to her. She makes friends with several of her fellow inmates but when she catches the attention of the female doctor her luck begins to change. With her work in the hospital she finds a way to make amends for the guilt about her past and maybe even start to feel love again.

My Thoughts:The Tattooist of Auschwitz was such a heartbreaking story. But I was beyond shocked by the story of Cilka. She was forced into a Russian prison after suffering for years in a concentration camp because she was raped for three years. It makes no sense. The poor girl is stronger than I can imagine I could ever be. I really cared about what happened to Cilka while reading her story. She did so much good in a terrible place. If only there were more people like her.

I never even considered that things like this happened to some of the survivors. It is sad that the “liberators” were nearly as cruel as the Nazis. Her time in the gulag is unbelievable. I know that the author did lots of research and she does a great job of bringing it to life. People need to know these things in order to try and stop them from happening again.

I felt like this was much better put together than the first book. It was not nearly as choppy.

FYI: This is a sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Librarians in The Forbidden Forest

The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is in full swing and some of your librarians have decided to join you in the journey! Reading twelve books in one month is quite a feat even for librarians, but we’ve armed ourselves with pretty awesome to-be read lists in hopes of conquering every obstacle in the forest. Check out our read-a-thon plans below to get some ideas for your own challenge, and feel free to share your to-be-read list with us!

Hannah’s Forbidden Forest Challenge:

Hannah and her dog Merry!
  • Talking Trees – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Witch’s House – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Fiery Fire Pit – Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  • Cursed Pond – The Ruins by Scott Smith
  • Shadow’s Shortcut – Elevation by Stephen King
  • Wolf Den – Winterhouse by Ben Guterson or a book in the Johnny Dixon series by John Bellairs
  • Mushroom Isle – The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • Poison Berry Bush – Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
  • Unicorn Grove – Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
  • Will O the Wisps – Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
  • The Wish Well – The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
  • Carnivorous Plants – Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Ashley’s Forbidden Forest Challenge:

Check out Ashley’s reviews for other awesome book recommendations!
  • Talking Trees – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Witch’s House – A Curse So Dark and Lovely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Fiery Fire Pit – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Cursed Pond – Carrie by Stephen King
  • Shadow’s Shortcut – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Wolf Den – Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Mushroom Isle – Star Wars: Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
  • Poison Berry Bush – Me by Elton John
  • Unicorn Grove – Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way
  • Will O the Wisps – The Loving Cup by Winston Graham
  • The Wishing Well – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
  • Carnivorous Plants – Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory

Trisha’s Forbidden Forest Challenge

Barbara Kingsolver is one of Trisha’s favorite authors!
  • Talking Trees: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • The Witch’s House: A Discovery of Witches by Derborah Harkness
  • Fiery Fire Pit: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
  • Cursed Pond: We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  • Shadow’s Shortcut: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Wolf Den: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Mushroom Isle: The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
  • Poison Berry Bush: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Unicorn Grove: Lumberjanes by Mariko Tamaki
  • Will O the Wisps: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  • The Wishing Well: Educated by Tara Westover
  • Carnivorous Plants: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Rachel’s Forbidden Forest Challenge

Rachel is also an amazing photographer!
  • Talking Trees: Jaws by Peter Benchly
  • The Witch’s House: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Fiery Fire Pit: Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Cursed Pond: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
  • Shadow’s Shortcut: Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Wolf Den: George by Alex Gino
  • Mushroom Isle: Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • Poison Berry Bush: Between, Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
  • Unicorn Grove: Fragments of Horror by Junji Ifo
  • Will O the Wisps: Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  • The Wishing Well: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Carnivorous Plants: The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

Alyssa’s Forbidden Forest Challenge

I’m ready to face the challenges of The Forbidden Forest!
  • Talking Trees: Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
  • The Witch’s House: Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
  • Fiery Fire Pit: Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Cursed Pond: Rogue Angel: Labyrinth by Alex Archer
  • Shadow’s Shortcut: Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn
  • Wolf Den: Valkyrie by Kate O’Hearn
  • Mushroom Isle: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Poison Berry Bush: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
  • Unicorn Grove: Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.
  • Will O the Wisps: Cucumber Quest #2 The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G.
  • The Wishing Well: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
  • Carnivorous Plants: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The librarians even have our own little competition of sorts among the staff so we are ready to make it through this challenge! Feel free to share the books you plan on reading for this month, and let us know if you need any help!