Cathy’s Book Chat

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is about a sixteen year old girl named Shirin. Shirin wears a hijab and is treated extremely unkindly by her classmates, teachers, and complete strangers. This story takes place in 2002 in a town obsessed with basketball. Shirin has become quite good at suppressing her emotions and blocking out the world with music and a tough exterior. The only solace in her day is breakdance practice with her brother, Navid and his friends. Then she meets a classmate by the name of Ocean who makes her think that maybe there are people worth talking to. Ocean is the star basketball player at school and he desperately wants to get to know Shirin. When their interactions make others angry and cruel, the two must decide whether the connection they have is worth protecting.

At the beginning of the novel I felt like Shirin was a bit harsh to those around her. She didn’t have the best attitude and seemed really passive about life. Then I learned more about her experiences with racism and how she felt like she couldn’t confide in her parents about her personal life. When her breakdancing partners and brother confronted her about how she comes off to other people, I could see Shirin start to grow and reconsider her approach. When you are sixteen it’s easy to be angry with the old, on top of normal teenage emotions Shirin was going through both verbal and physical abuse all because of her religion. I began to feel her frustration and wanted to scream at her peers, too. This book may be fictional, but there are enough bigoted people out there that it is easy to be up in arms about the treatment minorities face in this country. Surprisingly Shirin was able to block that ugly side of people out and focus on what made her happy. That was what made her story inspiring and brave.

Happy Reading!

Cathy–Youth Services

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What’s Ashley Reading?: The Wives

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

First line: He comes over on Thursday every week.

Summary: One husband. Three wives. Sounds strange right? Well it is my life. I am Thursday. They are Monday and Tuesday. One is the wife before me. The other came after. But we have worked out a schedule. Until one day I see that he has the receipt from a doctor’s office with a woman’s name on it. Could this be one of them? I must find out.

My Thoughts: This book. Such a roller coaster! First off, I cannot even imagine living this woman’s life and being okay with the family situation. I would definitely be her trying to find out everything I could about these other women. How would it not eat at you and drive a person crazy?! When I got to the half way point it seemed like the book had hit its climax but I was wrong. Everything just got crazier from there.

I jumped back and forth between reading and listening but when it got to the last 50 pages I had to read it because I NEEDED to know how it was going to end. It was a book that I had to set down and breathe a little bit after. It took me on a crazy ride. I highly recommend this!

FYI: Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

First line: I bear ad deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.

Summary: Ismae is forced into an arranged marriage. However, when her new husband sees the scars on her body, he knows that she has been cursed. She escapes before he can kill her and flees to the convent of St. Mortain. Upon arrival she learns that she has a special gift. If she wants to stay they will train her to use that gift and become an assassin for the god of death.

My Thoughts: Medieval. Assassin. Nuns. Yes please! I have been meaning to read this book for years. Recently I bought a copy of it and finally decided it was time to dive in. I enjoyed it from the very first page. It was a fast story with great characters and an intriguing plot. I like that the author wove actual historical events into the story making it almost seem believable.

It is always fun seeing girls kick butt and take names. This story does just that. Ismae has a gift that allows her to survive poisons but she is also skilled in weaponry and deception. Several other girls from the convent are mentioned but not much is done with their stories. I hope that the next books dive into their stories. I cannot wait to see what happens next!

FYI: This is book one in a trilogy.

Kristen Recommends: Guardians of the Cross

Guardians of the Cross by Kristen VonBradshaw

“We need to keep them safe until the time is right.” said the woman.

Summary: Frank and Phoebe’s mom is missing and their father has been killed. Brad is nervous about protecting someone while in a wheelchair. Ella is whisked away from her family by a stranger. Jinx is a misfit that nobody wants. Together they will have to learn to work together as a team to save everyone they love.

Kristen’s Thoughts: It was a great book, the author was great at bringing the characters to life.Lots of adventure and comedy tying in with an exciting mystery. It’s a book I would read again and again and is great for all ages as my grandfather couldn’t put it down. The book comes to life with every turn of the page and leaves you wanting more. If you like giant robots, super powers and random socks you’ll love this book.

FYI: Contains mild violence.

Youth Services Summer Reading Program @Home

Since we can’t be together as we normally would we have a developed a fabulous and innovative Summer Reading Program!  Derby Public Library’s Youth Services Department has created ways to bring those programs you love into your home, while coming up with new programs to keep them busy and entertained.  Whether you have a newborn or an 18 year old at your house, we have planned programs that will tickle their funny bones and engage their imaginations.

Beanstack and Prizes

This will be our first summer using Beanstack, a free app that patrons will use to track their reading and earn prizes!  May 26 is the first day of SRP and the final day for submitting reading times and picking up prizes is July 26. Every child who finishes the reading challenge will win the following prizes:      

  • New Book!     
  •  Derby Bowling Alley for 2 free games
  • Other prizes as available due to Covid-19

Finishers will also be entered into their age groups Grand Prize Drawing:

  • Tiny Tales:  Baby’s first library: $200 gift card to Watermark Books and personal bookshelf
  • School Age: Nintendo Switch Bundle
  • Teen: Beats Headphones and Wireless Speaker

Facebook Events

We will be doing most of the digital programming from a Facebook Event so make sure to click “Interested” to stay up to date. However, you do not need a Facebook account in order to participate in these events. They are available for all the public to see.

New Programs

School Age and Teen kids will be able to pick up a craft kit at the drive thru or the front of the library, roughly once a week throughout the program. We also have put together art supply kits featuring crayons, scissors, four Sharpies, and a glue stick for those families in need just ask for an Art Supply Kit at the drive thru. A special Moviecraft program for teens has been morphed into one that can be done on your couch! We’ve even created a StoryWalk @ the Library has been created to exist on the sidewalk surrounding the library to help our littlest patrons enjoy some library time outside.

Links to the Fun

Check out the links below for our website and the Facebook Events.  Please let us know if you have any questions or would like more details.  We can’t wait to see you this summer!

Thank you for your patience during this time of adjustment. At this time our drive-thru is open to help get you the materials you may want or need. Including any materials available for the Summer Reading Program. We will keep you posted as things change. We miss you and can’t wait to hear from you this summer!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Follow Me

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

First line: Everyone on the internet is a liar.

Summary: Audrey is an influencer. She has over a million followers on Instagram. When she decides to take her dream job at an art museum in Washington D.C. she is excited but she does not know that someone waits for her in her new city.

Cat is Audrey’s friend from college. A young lawyer looking to make a name for herself in her law firm. Her best friend arrives from New York. It seems like things are going right for her but maybe everything isn’t as bright as it seems.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the first 80% of this book. I could not wait to find out who the mysterious “him” was. I loved how the stories interweaved and the hints about Cat’s secret. I was creeped out by the stalker and his methods. This book makes you realize how dangerous social media and the internet can be. It lets someone into your life that you do not know or cannot trust. I kept hoping for some big reveal that would blow my mind but I figured out the stalker fairly early. I hoped that I was wrong and the author was trying to psych the reader out. However, the story fell flat at the end. It was pretty obvious how it was going to end up. It was a four star book until the last 8% of the book. Oh well. It was a still a fun read.

But my favorite part was the art exhibit! The dioramas sound so cool. I would love to see something like this.

FYI: Beware of who you let follow you on social media!

Anni’s Book Pick: The War That Saved My Life

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Summary: Born with a clubfoot nine-year-old Ada Smith suffers not only the frustration and pain to the physical condition but the sting of her mother’s abuse and shame as well.

This book is about a young girl and her brother who live with their mother. The mother is abusive and ashamed of her daughter due to a club foot. The book starts before the war where we get a glimpse at the horrible life that Ada and Jamie are living. Ada being born with a clubfoot has received her mother’s shame for her whole life sitting at a window to see the world and not allowed to leave the apartment, which is where they live.

As the story goes on Ada and her brother, Jamie, see other young children their age going to the country where they will be safe from bombs. Ada and her brother sneak out one night and go to live in the country. Life in the country was good, almost perfect until their mother arrived.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book not only because it was historically accurate, but because it brought the story to real life. When reading this book I felt that I knew Ada and Jamie personally, I think the author did an excellent job relating to the characters in the story. I think this book would be a good book for the whole family because it is friendly and there is no profanity or gruesome scenes.

This story really brought the life of children during the war to life. The story shows the struggles of children and the struggles of parents during these hard times. Ada had to leave her home and even though she really wanted to go out and see the world once she was in the country she really missed being home. Overall this story is a great story for all ages, and it can really help children and parents understand life during World War II.

Reading Narnia in 24 Hours

I did something a little crazy…I attempted to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis in 24 hours, and I filmed it! Did I succeed? Did I fail? Did I pass out from too much coffee? Check out the vlog below, and let me know if you would ever tackle a 24 hour read-a-thon like this!

Spoilers for the Chronicles of Narnia series are present in the vlog so check the time stamps in the YouTube description of the video if there are certain books you’d like to keep spoiler-free.

Also, sorry for the blurry shots in many places. The camera I used doesn’t auto-focus anymore, and I struggled to see if I was in focus or not. Oh, sleep deprivation!

Cathy’s Book Chat

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy is a book filled with spirit, loyalty, and self-discovery. Our story begins with the last few days of summer before Ramona’s senior year of high school begins. Ramona lives in Eulogy, Mississippi where she works two jobs and lives in a trailer with her sister and father. Ramona’s older sister, Hattie is pregnant with her first child and Ramona feels a certain responsibility to stick around and help her sister when the baby comes. Over the summer Ramona has been spending time with a tourist named Grace. Ramona has come out as a lesbian, but Grace is still in the closet. On top of this, Ramona’s childhood friend, Freddie has moved back to Eulogy. Once school starts, Ramona’s relationship with Grace dwindles and Freddie fills the gap. Freddie introduces Ramona to swimming at the YMCA, it’s there that she meets a retired swim coach who encourages her to pursue collegiate swimming. Will Ramona choose to leave her family and try something new? Will Ramona find herself in this year of change? Take a dive and find out!

A lot is happening in Ramona’s world. I think this story does a good job of showing the chaos that is your senior year of high school, all of a sudden you are having to make major decisions about your future. This time can make a person feel lost and insecure. Luckily, Ramona has her friends, Saul and Ruth in addition to her loving family and Freddie. She is able to discover new things about herself when she thought she knew what path she was going to take. I remember the uncertainty of being a high school senior, it was not easy to figure out the “best” direction for myself. I relied a lot on my loved ones during this time as well. I think this novel is perfect for people who feel a bit lost when they want to have everything planned out. Ramona Blue, in typical Julie Murphy fashion, presents the reader with a wide range of characters, humor, and a lot of heart.

Love, Cathy from Youth Services

What’s Ashley Reading?: Code Name Helene

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

First line: I have gone by many names.

Summary: World War II has arrived in France. A spy named Helene has dropped into France. She has money and the means of getting arms to the struggling resistance. Told through interweaving code names and timelines we get the story of Nancy Wake, an Australian woman who uses her wits to help undermine the Nazis.

My Thoughts: This was a fairly average WWII novel. It reminded me of The Alice Network in many ways. I liked Nancy and her husband Henri. I loved their interactions. The suspense and writing were well done. The history of this woman is written very well. I think people that love anything during this time period will really enjoy it. I used to read WWII books exclusively but it has slowly become one of the topics I rarely read about anymore.

FYI: Lawhon is an excellent author. I loved her book I Was Anastasia. It was told in such a unique way and on a subject I love to read.