Terese’s Thoughts: Between Two Kingdoms

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

First Line: It began with an itch.

Summary: When we first meet Suleika, she is finishing her final year of college. An aspiring international correspondent, Suleika is exceptionally talented, speaking several languages and having previously earned a scholarship to Juilliard for the double bass. Her future is bright and she’s looking forward to the adventure of figuring out who she will be and what she will contribute to the world. Although suffering from a maddening itch and debilitating exhaustion, Suleika chalks it up to hard work and hard partying. Before graduating, Suleika lines up a job in Paris, and falls in love. It isn’t long before her boyfriend follows her to Paris and they begin a life together.

But Suleika’s exhaustion only intensifies and she finds herself in the hospital again and again, with doctors assuming her frequent illness is the result of a young person’s lifestyle. Finally, a nurse urges Suleika to go home to her family and get the medical care she needs. The following morning Suleika flies to New York, at this point so run down she’s escorted by wheelchair.

Suleika is diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia, discovers she will need a bone marrow transplant, and is given a 35% chance of survival. The next chapters are devoted to her journey through cancer—the setbacks, the pain, and the changing relationships with her family, friends, and boyfriend. She suffers many losses, but also finds a creative outlet and is uplifted by the words of strangers who relate to her story.

The book concludes with Suleika struggling to return to normalcy post-sickness. She realizes she no longer knows who she is or what she wants her life to look like. Suleika decides to embark on a 100-day journey of self-discovery and adventure across the U.S., visiting some of the people who wrote to her while she was sick.

My thoughts: This is an emotional read. Suleika’s story is as much about love as it is about sickness. Her words served as a wakeup call, reminding me that we only have one shot at this–better to make it a life of my choosing rather than to settle. In my view, living is a continuous cycle of taking this whole beautiful mess of a world and the people in it for granted and then remembering how precious it all is. This book made me feel the latter in spades.

Mom and Me Reviews: My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World

Henley is given a homework assignment to bring his favorite book to class the next day to share with the class. He goes to the library and the bookstore but cannot find what he is looking for. Then, Mama makes a suggestion that helps him fix his problem.

First Line: Hi! I’m Henley. And this is a story about finding my very favorite book in the whole wide world.

Summary: Henley is given a homework assignment to bring his favorite book to class the next day to share with the class. He goes to the library and the bookstore but cannot find what he is looking for. Then, Mama makes a suggestion that helps him fix his problem.

Ratings:

               

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Maggie

               

🤔 - thinking face emoji - What does the thinking face emoji mean?
2 “hmm”s: Conor
3,143 BEST 4 5 Stars IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock
Mama Lala

Their Thoughts: Conor was screaming when we started reading this, so the fact that he quieted down enough to pay attention and copy what the boy in the book was doing (saying “hmm”), shows that he enjoyed it, or at least the illustrations. Maggie said she could relate to the book– “I don’t have a favorite book, maybe I could write my favorite book!”

My Thoughts: This was a cute story, with thought out reasons I hear often from kiddos struggling to find a good book they enjoy. I enjoyed the solution Henley (and his mother) found to his problem. I do wish the librarian had been able to find Henley something, but I suppose I understand that wasn’t the point of this story.

Happy Reading our friends,

Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

What’s Ashley Reading?: Dream Girl

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

First line: Gerry dreams.

Summary: After an accident that leaves author Gerry Anderson immobilized strange things begin to happen. He keeps getting calls from his fictional character, Audrey, from his bestselling book Dream Girl. Even though he knows he is talking to someone neither his nurse nor his personal assistant have heard the phone ring or heard the mysterious woman on the other end. Then one night he wakes up from his drug addled sleep to find a body on the floor by his bed. What is happening? Is he starting to lose touch with reality like his mother?

My Thoughts: I felt like this book had a lot of promise. Lippman has written some really great thrillers but this one was boring. It took nearly half the book to reach the point where the body appears. There is lots of time hops and characters. Everything seemed to drag on and on. I kept waiting for some crazy reveal or big shock but when something finally happened at the end I was underwhelmed. It was a big letdown for me. And none of the characters were likeable. I got really annoyed with the main character, Gerry. He was constantly trying to worry about how he is perceived in the new “woke” society and #MeToo movement. It got old.

FYI: Check out Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman. Much more fun.

Linda’s Favorite Books: Sold on a Monday

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, SOLD ON A MONDAY is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home. (www.amazon.com)

This book was an emotional read with its ups and downs of what happened in the Great Depression especially to children. The historical events are sad but true and I have recommended this novel to several others to read.

Mom and Me Reviews: You are Enough

This book explains how people are different, and how being different doesn’t make you less. The book’s inspiration is Sofia Sanchez.

You Are Enough: A Book About Inclusion: O'Hair, Margaret, Sanchez, Sofia,  Cardoso, Sofia: 9781338630749: Amazon.com: Books

First Line: “No two people are exactly the same.”

Summary: This book explains how people are different, and how being different doesn’t make you less. The book’s inspiration is Sofia Sanchez.

Ratings:

               

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Maggie

               

animated shaking head yes gif - Clip Art Library
Conor: one head nod
3,131 BEST 4 5 Stars IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock
Mama Lala

Their Thoughts: Maggie liked this book because it was a “feel good” book. “It makes a point. You should feel good about yourself no matter what– no matter how you look or how you talk, as long as you are yourself. It shouldn’t matter what other people think about you, it should matter what you think about yourself.”

My Thoughts: This book was a great conversation starter. It covered many topics, or types of people who might feel excluded. We were able to talk about all of those, but we focused on the inspiration of this book (sofia sanchez) and what makes her different, and some times excluded. Sofia Sanchez is a child with Down syndrom. Like many people, my kiddos didn’t quite understand what that meant. Luckily for us, the book has some information in the back to help explain all the “big” questions.

Happy Reading our friends,

Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

What’s Ashley Reading?: Magazines on Libby

Magazines on Libby!

Recently I have been working my way through the collection of history magazines on the library’s Libby app. The three I mostly read are History Revealed, All About History and BBC History. Each one has a wide variety of topics, beautiful colored pictures and interesting articles from historians plus book recommendations! There is a backlog of several years of each of these magazines plus special editions.

But there is so much more on Libby if you are not interested in history. We have magazines that cover all ranges of topics. Recently, as I am trying to plan a trip, I found travel magazines (Britain and Discover Britain) with interesting insights into sights, hotels and tips for travelers.

And for all the Star Wars fans we have a wide collection of magazines covering the original trilogy to the newer additions. Or maybe some crafting inspiration? We have those magazines too. Check out Libby on your phone, tablet or computer to see everything available to you free from your Derby Public Library.

Courtney’s Book Chat: Eventown

Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu

First Line: Jenny Horowitz likes horses and the color pink and asking lots of questions about things I don’t want to talk about.

Summary: Eventown follows eleven-year-old Elodee as her family moves to Eventown to get away from the difficult year and memories they are trying to forget. While Eventown seems nearly perfect at first, Elodee soon discovers that this perfection could mean giving up more than she realized.

My Thoughts: Elodee is a great character. She is fun but flawed and has a rich internal conflict. I  also really enjoyed her voice. It encapsulated the dreamy and magical nature of Eventown, but being in first person, Elodee still sounded like a eleven-year-old, which closely showed her hopes and struggles.

This book was also layered, and I really enjoyed seeing the various threads come together, including the foreshadowing and intentional gaps that line up to reveal what Elodee’s family is trying to forget. And when they did, it makes for an emotional climax. This book sensitively shows kids that all emotions are important, even those that are difficult and easy to run away from.

Eventown is magical, heartwarming story that sensitively portrays grief and accepting your emotions all while weaving together an interesting plot and compelling protagonist.

Mom and Me Reviews: This is Not That Kind of Book

In this book, the characters discuss (and argue over) what kind of book this is, and what should be happening in the story.

This Is Not That Kind of Book: Healy, Christopher, Mantle, Ben:  9780525580294: Amazon.com: Books
This is Not That Kind of Book by Christopher Healy, Illustrated by Ben Mantle

First Line: “Hey! This is not an alphabet book!”

Summary: In this book, the characters discuss (and argue over) what kind of book this is, and what should be happening in the story.

Ratings:

                Maggie:

3,128 BEST 4 5 Stars IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock
Maggie

               

The One Word in Public Speaking That Conveys Uncertainty | Inc.com
Conor: Constant engaged chatter
3,128 BEST 4 5 Stars IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock
Mama Lala

Their Thoughts: Conor seemed to enjoy this book, or, at least, he had a lot to say. When asked what he thought about this book he nodded his head and said, “Yep!”. Maggie said this book reminded her of Elephant and Piggie. I’m guessing that it reminded her specifically of Elephant and Piggie’s We are In a Book, because it breaks the 4th wall. She also said that the book was fun to read, and that it’s funny the character “A” only said “a” words.

My Thoughts: This is a fun and different book. The apple reminded me of Groot from Guardiands of the Galaxy (it only says one phrase). This is an engaging story, and a fun mix-up from the usual, especially if your kiddos have come to expect certain stories.

Happy Reading our friends,

Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

Teen Volunteer Book Review: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Book Review by Rachel Johnson

Rachel is fifteen years old and currently a 2021 Summer Teen Volunteer

    When I picked up The Ruins of Gorlan, I did it to escape the constant heckling of my school librarian. According to her, the book was infinite in virtue and would never be praised enough.

    Right off the start, the author caught my attention with his – shall we say interesting – writing. Take the first line for example:

“Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, former Baron of Gorlan in the Kingdom of Araluen, looked out over his bleak, rain-swept domain and, for perhaps the thousandth time, cursed,” – Flanagan pg 1.

That quote gives you a pretty good idea of what the rest of the book is written like. The dialect is interesting and is not unrealistic. Even though the book is set in feudal times, the book is never hard to read and is easy to follow. 

    The Ruins of Gorlan is an exciting adventure that I couldn’t put down. The book starts with an orphan named Will, hoping he is chosen to be a knight, like his father. Though that wish is not fulfilled, he does find happiness being trained to become a ranger by Halt,the mysterious man who lives in the forest. Then Morgarath, lord of a whole bunch of depressing stuff – as was shown in the quote – hatches an evil plot and Will and Halt team up with a few side characters to take care of it. The ending was riveting and plausible. Let’s just say Will got his chance to save the day and prove himself, and leave it at that. 

    Not only is the book interesting, it also encourages hard work. Will starts out with nothing and no one, but through working hard to become a Ranger, he gains skills, admiration, and a few close friends. Will doesn’t get all that stuff for free – he has to study and practice with his bow and knives to earn his triumph. 

    In The Ruins of Gorlan even the side characters are interesting. Firstly there is Alyss, who trains to become prominent in the diplomatic service. She is interesting, strong, and witty. Horace takes Will’s dream and makes it become a reality for himself. He struggles through Battleschool, and truly has a hero’s journey as surely as Will does. He starts out bullying Will, then after joining Battleschool and working harder than ever before, he has a few adventures with Will and they end up as best friends. Halt is perhaps the most interesting of the side characters. He starts out as grumpy and enigmatic. Then through Will’s young and cheerful influence, he becomes cheerful and begins to love Will like a son. One of the most interesting plot lines in the story is Will discovering Halt’s mysterious past.

    I enjoyed this book a lot and owe a big thank you to my school librarian. Even though I might not have enjoyed it quite as much as she did, I still liked it a lot. Since reading the first book, I read the whole series and found each of the books to be just as – if not more interesting than the first. I would recommend this book to anyone who can read and is older than ten.

FYI: There was a little action and violence, but no more than one might expect in a fantasy adventure.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Ariadne

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

First line: Let me tell you a story of a righteous man.

Summary: Ariadne is a princess of Crete. She is the daughter of the mighty king Minos. She is the half-sister to the fearsome Minotaur. As she grew up in the palace she learned from a young age how women can suffer because of the men in their lives. But she sees her savior in the hero, Theseus of Athens. He has been sent to Crete as an offering to the Minotaur. Ariadne takes pity on him and helps him navigate the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur. With Theseus’ victory they escape the island but will this be Ariadne’s happy ending or will the legends repeat themselves?

My Thoughts: This book was so much better than Circe. I struggled through that one so I was a little hesitant reading another Greek myth retelling. I know that it isn’t the same author but it was still something I thought of as I picked up Ariadne.

I loved the cover. It is eye catching but simple. I remember seeing it many times before it was released. The marketing was really well done for this book. I felt like the story moved along at a perfect speed, the characters were likeable. It stuck to story lines of the original myths while also giving the sisters their own personalities.

I was not familiar with Phaedra and Ariadne’s stories. I knew of the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus and Theseus but not all the details. Greek mythology is filled with shocking tales, death, and tragic love stories. I liked how the author intertwined the story lines. The love and devotion of the sisters was a strong theme but also how women are ruled by the men in their lives. I think it was a great read and a fun retelling.

FYI: Death, gore and disturbing events.