What’s Ashley Reading?: The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

First line: Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford.

Summary: Nora Seed has decided to die. Everything is falling apart around her. She is single, her cat died, she lost her job, her parents are dead and her brother won’t talk to her. What’s the point anymore? As she dies she finds that there is a library filled with possible other lives that would have existed had she made different choices. The librarian directs her to the books of these alternate lives where she can decide if she would rather live in those instead. Which one will she choose?

“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. At the beginning it can be depressing as Nora keeps having her world fall apart around her. It almost seems like an It’s a Wonderful Life situation. But this is more inventive and adds another dimension to story. Rather than seeing the world without her, it looks at the world if she had made different choices.

I liked how different each life was because of one small choice. It’s the Butterfly Effect. One decision can change so much for you and every person you come into contact with. But we also see that what may appear to be perfect can still have its challenges. Nothing is perfect.

Everyone has things that they regret. I know I do. I wish I had spent a year abroad in college. But if I did that I would never have gotten my dog, Winston. I regret not staying at K-State in order to save money on college but if I hadn’t I would not have traveled around Europe with a group from Tabor College. There is always something that could be different but with every regret there is something good you would lose too.

Even though this sounds like a depressing book, it is really uplifting. It has a great message to anyone who is struggling with life choices and how to make the best of what we are given. Find joy in the small things.

FYI: Trigger warnings: suicide, drug overdose, language.

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?: Sadie

Did you know that we have a podcast?!  It is called Novel Ideas: The Library Podcast. You can find it on Sound Cloud, iTunes and Google Play.

It has been a lot of fun being able to sit down with Alyssa and several of our staff and talk about books.  I have learned a lot about my fellow librarians through our chats and listening to the podcasts.  Each of us have a wide range of interests and thoughts.  We have chatted about things ranging from cookbooks, re-reading and David Sedaris.  We always bring along a nice hot beverage and some snack to enjoy while we are talking.  So grab yourself a cup of tea and listen with us!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

First line: It’s a beautiful day in the city.

Summary: Sadie has had a tough life. Her mother abandoned her at a young age. She took care of her younger sister, Mattie, until the day that she was found dead. Sadie is determined to seek revenge for her sister’s murder. She leaves town in search of the man she believes to be the culprit. When word of Sadie’s disappearance reaches the ears of West McCray, a radio personality doing a serial podcast, he starts to look into what happened to Sadie.

Highlights: I loved the way this story was constructed. It is very different than any other book I have read. It alternates between Sadie’s story and point of view to a podcast detailing the search for Sadie. It was a great book to listen to which is how I would recommend it. There is a full cast for all the characters. This brought the story to life and gave it a more realistic feel.

The story is heartbreaking. Sadie had a hard life with a mother who was not very involved. She brings home men including Keith. Listening to Sadie’s determination to find him is fascinating. With every little twist and turn I was continually nervous and cheering her on. The ending is hard. Be warned you will feel all the feelings with this book.

Lowlights: I struggled in the beginning while the story is building. It was a little slow moving until the story reached the halfway point it picked up and took off.

FYI: Trigger warning: child abuse and language.

Traveling librarian: Apache Junction, AZ

I don’t know about you, but when I am traveling, I love to visit libraries in the area where I am traveling. I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with my parents who live in the Phoenix-Mesa area of Arizona, in Apache Junction. We made time to head over to their pretty fantastic library. I snapped a few photos to share with our readers.

Exterior signage for Apache Junction, Arizona, library
I know I’ve arrived at the library!

From the outside the library looks like your average library, then you walk inside. Eh, still nothing spectacular, except the Friends of the library book sale right in the lobby! However, once I entered the library proper, it was so much fun!

The entrance to the children's area is between sculptures of books.
Entrance to the children’s area of the library, where you get to walk right through some stacks of books.

There are some fun titles on these books!

And once you’re inside the children’s area, there is more fun waiting. Want to read in a castle? You can! Watch out, or the dragon may catch you from above. Find a huge book to sit on or tuck yourself away in a rock cave to enjoy your book.

This castle has lots of little spaces for someone to tuck themselves into and read.

I even found a house elf in the castle. Has anyone given him a sock yet?

This dragon is pretty sneaky, watching the goings on in its library from up above.

Or you can tuck yourself into the little cave in the corner, or sit on a book-shaped seat.

Do you visit other libraries in your travels? Share a picture in the comments!