The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is an adult fiction novel. 

Nora Seed lives a solitary life in the town where she grew up. She could have been anything growing up. An Olympic swimmer, a rock star, a glaciologist, a wife and pub owner, a philosopher and more. Instead she is depressed, anxious and filled with regret. 

When the only creature, her beloved cat, who has ever needed her dies, Nora decides to die. But when she chugs a bottle of pills instead of dying she is transported to The Midnight Library. A library filled with all the possible lives she might have lived and a familiar librarian asking her to choose another. 

Will Nora find her perfect life before time runs out? 

I got a very Christmas Carol vibe from this book, except Nora is a depressed loner instead of a Scrooge. This isn’t a bad thing but made the book feel sort of “done” before. I did like that Nora could only change a regret for a path or a decision not taken, instead of just picking a new life. She can choose which regret to change but she can’t choose where that will lead her. 

I minored in philosophy, so for me all of the philosophical references and this whole idea of the multiverse appealed to me. It gave the storyline a little more depth in my opinion,  rather than just being a book about life’s decisions influencing ones path. 

Overall, this was a good read. Maybe not the most memorable down the road but in the moment a good one to pass the time. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now! 

-M-

The Silvered Serpents

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi is the second book in The Gilded Wolves series. 

Severin and his fellows are back after their disastrous first run in with the Fallen House but things are definitely not the same. Severin is distant and cold and his desperation to make amends by harnessing the power of the Gods has become all consuming. 

Severin and his crew follow the clues from Paris to Russia in the hopes of finding the Fallen House’s treasure before the Winter Conclave. But things aren’t as they seem and soon everything will change. 

Overall, I enjoyed this second book in the trilogy but I will admit, I was much more invested in the first book. 

Second book syndrome at its best. The first, introduces the characters and plot, the second builds more on the plot/world building and the third is the action and wrap up. And often, I find the second book lacking the draw of the first and third. 

One thing I did like about this one is the development of the relationships in this book. We see a different side of each of the characters and it is darker and less hopeful than the first book. 

We still get that steampunk, magic, Victorian mix that I liked in the first book and it looks like we are going to get a chase to the finish in the final. This one gets 3.5 stars from me. 

That’s all for now!

-M-

4-6th Grade Book Discussion: Arcade and the Triple T Token

Arcade And The Triple T Token by Rashad Jennings

Eleven-year-old Arcade Livingston has some typical kid problems–he’s moved to a new city and is the new kid at school, some bullies have him in their sights and having to take the subway everywhere makes it difficult to check out all the library books he wants. But he also has one very unusual problem… a mysterious token that seems to be transporting him on some pretty crazy adventures.

Together with his older sister, Zoe, Arcade will learn to navigate his new home, while trying to uncover the secrets of this magical token that appeared out of no where.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?
  2. Arcade leaves his home in Virginia and is now living in a new city and going to a new school halfway through the year. How would you feel to be the new kid? Have you ever been the new kid?
  3. What do you think the T.T.T on Arcade’s token stands for?
  4. Which of Arcade’s token adventures would you most like to go on and why?
  5. If you had Arcade’s token and could ride an elevator into any adventurous career, where would you go?
  6. When discussing how many sides there are on a stop sign, Zoe tells Arcade that there are eight sides and “Don’t go thinking any other way.” What is Zoe trying to say here? Is she wrong, right, a bit of both?
  7. Arcade’s dad leaves him a note that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” What do you think this means? Does Arcade “sharpen” and of his friends?
  8. What does Mr. Dooley think a guidance counselor is a perfect career choice for Arcade?
  9. What do you think you want to be when you grow up? What career would you present for the career expo?
  10. This is the first book in a series, three others have already been published. Where do you think the story is heading? Can you make any predictions?

STEM Activity: Dusting for Fingerprints

Supplies:  Honey, light or dark powder (coco powder or baking soda/powder sugar); black or white paper (coco powder=white paper, baking soda/powder sugar=black paper); a make-up or medium sized paint brush; clear packing tape;

How To:

In Arcade and the Triple T Token, Amber is interested in being a K9 trainer and we get a glimpse into one of the sides of being a police officer. Arcade also interacts with police when his suitcase is stolen. Let’s look at another side of being a police officer—the forensics and dusting for fingerprints.

  1. Take a small dab of honey and cover the tip of one finger, wiping off any excess. Your fingertip should be covered but not globbed on.
  2. Press your finger firmly onto a smooth surface—table top, glass, vase, ceramic cup.
  3. Next take your powder and sprinkle it over the fingerprint area until covered.
  4. Take the brush and gently brush away any excess powder. If done correctly, the finger print should appear.
  5. Take a piece of tape and carefully stick it on the print.
  6. Peel it up carefully and put the tape on your paper. Remember, if you used white powder you need a dark color paper, if you used a darker powder you can use white paper.
  7. You have just dusted for finger prints and successfully gathered a print!

The Science:

A fingerprint is the trace a human finger leaves on a surface. Fingerprints are made up of ridges and in between these ridges are pores. Pores are attached to sweat glands under the skin and the excretion of oil from these glands is what leaves prints behind. Any oils, food, lotion, etc. on the hands, get caught in these ridges and can also contribute to the leaving of fingerprints.

Did you know that there are three types of fingerprints? They are loop, a whirl and an arch but the patterns they come in are unique to each person. Each person has their own set of fingerprints that are unique to them. This why fingerprinting is an important part of forensic science.

Sources:

https://thatafterschoollife.com/prints.html

How’d it go: This is another one run by my colleagues while I am out on maternity leave. This was a really fun read and I hope everyone enjoyed it!

-M-

Book of the Little Axe

Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma is an adult fiction novel that spans from Trinidad to the American West during the time of colonialism and westward expansion.

In 1796 Trinidad, Rosa Rendón feels out of place in her body. She longs to take over the family farm and idolizes her father. But her place is with the home and hearth and Rosa rebels from this life of domesticity. Meanwhile, Trinidad has moved from Spanish to British rule and it is unclear whether Rosa and her family, free black property owners, will be left alone in peace.

Speed ahead to 1830 and Rose is living with her husband and children in the Crow Nation in Bighorn, Montana. Her son, Victor, is about to become a man but is blocked from receiving his vision quest by secrets from Rosa’s past. Rosa must take him on a journey that will reveal his truth and her painful past.

A journey to truth and a history explained. Book of the Little Axe covers a tumultuous time in history.

This book was highlighted in the e-platform I used, so I figured I’d give it a try. Not my usual genera but I thought it might make a good one for my local adult book club. And it was one that kept my attention and kept me reading.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the narrative set up. I thought the jumps from past, to present, to the diary was really well done and contributes to the story. The story itself is arresting and captivating. And Rosa, as a character, is dynamic and witnessing the way she changes between 1796 and 1830 is really quite amazing.

I did have a problem with the language at times because there were a few spots where significant, traumatic events were happening where I didn’t really “get” what was happening until after the fact. I don’t know if this was on purpose but I felt like I was missing something.

Overall, this is a moving, well crafted novel that will appeal to a wide audience. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a feel good fantasy for a wide range of readers.

Linus Baker works hard and follows the rules. He is forty, lives alone with his cat and is comfortable in his routine. As a Case Worker for The Department of Magical Youth, Linus is often sent out to various orphanages to assess and judge the well-being of the children. When “extremely upper management” send him on a “classified level 4” assignment, Linus isn’t sure they picked the right man for the job.

Marsyas Island Orphanage, is home to six dangerous children: “a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist.” Never one for bravery, Linus must put aside his fear and judge for himself if the children and the orphanage they call home is safe.

But there is more to the island than these children, a charming and enigmatic caregiver/teacher and a surprising caretaker may just baffle Linus more than the children. Can Linus stay objection? Should he?

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story about magical orphans and an unsuspecting savior. But now that I am reviewing this book, I honestly do not know who is the intended audience. It was an electronic book, so I didn’t really look at what “shelf” I got it off of; I just assumed by the color and description it was juvenile or tween. When I was listening to it, I was like “wow a juvenile book narrated by an adult, that’s unique.” Although, is it a juvenile fiction book? Now I am not really sure. I do, however, think it would be a wonderful audio book for a car ride or as a read aloud for younger readers and, content-wise, appropriate for a wide range of readers.

I love Linus’ relationship with each of the children and caregivers. It is really neat to see how he grows throughout the book; he becomes more colorful–gray and dull in the beginning but brighter and more openminded by the end.

There’s also a political commentary going on in this book about “second class citizenship” and equal rights, as well as the state of government run facilities. Whether intended or not, it would make for an interesting discussion.

Overall, I was enchanted by this book and immediately thought of it for a friend of mine who likes to read aloud to her two boys. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-