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Read It!

Read It! Review of "The Kitchen House" by Kathleen Grissom 
by Nicole

Hello! Thanks to my awesome friends in Wisconsin I have been reading more and more books this year and books I normally wouldn’t read outside my scope of fantasy, and suspenseful thriller. This is why I love book clubs, I get to experience other genres outside my comfort zones, and get to know my friends more by the books they choose and through our discussions of what they enjoyed and didn’t. Our next book club pick was “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House

“The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom is not only a New York Times Bestseller, but it has also been deemed a “Book Club Favorite”, and was nominated as both the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Historical Fiction and Goodreads Choice Awards Best Debut Goodreads Author. This book was first published in 2010 and is categorized as a Historical Fiction novel.  

The story starts with Lavinia, a young white girl orphaned during her passage from Ireland, who finds herself as an indentured servant on a thriving plantation in Virginia. She is cared for by Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter, where Lavinia learns to cook, clean and serve food in the kitchen house. Growing up, Lavinia sees Belle and the rest of her family as her one true family where she belongs. But as she starts to get accepted into the big house with the master’s opium addicted wife and their dangerous yet protective son, she begins to learn that because of her skin color she is not like Belle and the other slaves. The narrative follows both Lavinia and Belle as we see the differences that unfold in class, race and family secrets.  

This book was highly regarded among the group in our discussion. In similar fashion to the book “The Help”, we saw how differently people viewed color and status in the eyes of both Lavinia and Belle. Lavinia grew up thinking she was just like any of the other slaves, but because of her white skin she was given advantages as she grew up. Belle, on the other hand, was forced to keep the dark secret of her true identity and thus was treated just as unfair as the other slaves by the master’s family. There were some characters that treated the slaves like people, and then there were other’s whose hatred blinded their actions and made it sometimes hard to keep reading. We all agreed that it was eye-opening and an incredibly powerful story. We also noticed how different characters influenced others which affected them later in life when it came to how they treated slaves.  
 
If you read this book and enjoyed it so much, Kathleen Grissom wrote a sequel to this story called “Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House” in 2016. 

Glory Over Everything

Other books to read if you enjoyed “The Kitchen House” would be “The Healing” by Jonathan Odell, “The House Girl” by Tara Conklin and “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd.  

Check back for my book review of our next book club pick which was “The Little Shop of Found Things” by Paula Brackston
Posted by [email protected]  On Oct 03, 2020 at 9:10 AM 1 Comment
  
Read It!

Family Book Club


Winterhouse

"Winterhouse" by Ben Guterson will be reviewed TONIGHT via Zoom LIVE with the author at 5 p.m.! Join us for a special one-hour Book Talk. If you haven't finished reading the book, that's okay! Mr. Guterson will be accepting questions and also will talk about puzzles, codes and more! It is not too late to register! Register here.


October Family Book Club
"Song For a Whale" by Lynne Kelly is our Family Book Club pick for October and we will have another LIVE Book Talk with the author! Register here and get your hands on a copy (available in hardback and as an audiobook). Call the Tallyn's Reach Library at 303.627.3050 to put a copy on hold today!
 
Song For a Whale Suggested Reading Schedule
Monday, Sept. 28 - Sunday, Oct. 4: Chapters 1-12
Monday, Oct. 5 - Sunday, Oct. 11: Chapters 13-25
Monday, Oct. 12 - Sunday, Oct. 18: Chapters 26-38
Monday, Oct. 19 - Sunday, Oct. 25: Chapters 39-48
Monday, Oct. 26 - Book Talk With Award-Winning Author Lynne Kelly!

Song for a Whale
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 28, 2020 at 12:01 PM
  
Read It!

Review of "Nothing to See Here" by Kevin Wilson
by Nicole S.

Hello again! As promised I will be giving my review from our latest book club pick which was "Nothing To See Here" by Kevin Wilson. One of my awesome friends from Wisconsin suggested this book! 

Nothing to See Here

As you can see from the cover, it looks to be an interesting book. It was published this past year in October and became a New York Times Bestseller and A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick. This story revolves around two women, Lillian and Madison who in their teenage years became inseparable friends despite their vastly different backgrounds. Lillian, in the midst of a scandal, is forced to leave her school unexpectedly and the two friends drift apart. Then out of the blue Madison writes a letter to Lillian begging for her help. Madison’s stepkids are moving into her house and she has asked Lillian to be their caretaker. These stepkids, twins - a boy and a girl, are incredibly unique. Whenever they get agitated or deeply upset, they spontaneously combust, with flames that ignite from their skin. Yes, you read that right. They burst into flames! With Lillian’s life already a disappointment, she figures she has nothing to lose and agrees to care for these fiery children. The more she learns about these children, the more she realizes she needs them as much as they need her. What could go wrong? 

This book was available as both formats, book and audiobook, and being partial to listening to books, I opted for the audiobook version. My friends in my virtual book club opted for the print format and all of us genuinely enjoyed this book. It is categorized in fiction as magical realism, for the elements of fire that ignite from the children’s bodies that does no harm to them whatsoever. The premise is what peaked our interest - we wanted to find out why and how these children could burst into flame! But then as we continued in this story we all agreed that there were also elements of what being a family truly means, and that not all families are created, some can be chosen too. The main character, Lillian, is a down-to-earth and relatable character. She grew up with an awful home life and has been searching for something – anything - that will give her true happiness. Madison, on the other hand, has had her life handed to her on a silver platter, and doesn’t understand what hardship is truly like; until she meets her husband’s kids. We understood the love and respect Lillian has shown Madison throughout her life, but had a hard time viewing it reciprocated. We knew that Madison trusted Lillian to know her family’s “flaming” secret so to speak, but it was hard for us to gauge whether Madison truly valued what Lillian was willing to do for her.  

A couple of my friends in the book club have families of their own so it made this discussion interesting especially when we asked them how they would handle having children spontaneously combust. Obviously it would be hard and they would need the proper safety measures to ensure their house and everything will still be standing if one of their kids happened to have a meltdown. But they said it would also take a lot of patience to try to learn and understand how and why their kids would get agitated and the best ways to calm them down. This seemed to be very similar to Lillian’s approach with the kids. Madison’s was the opposite. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. But then again, these were only her stepkids.  

All in all this was a real page turner and you wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to these children, and if Lillian ever finds true happiness and meaning in her life. This book has characters you will grow to love and others you like to complain about. If you read this book and enjoyed it, you will enjoy other books that Kevin Wilson has read such as, “The Family Fang” and “Perfect Little World”. 
 
For books similar to “Nothing to See Here,” check out “Dear Edward” by Ann Napolitano, “Ask Again, Yes” by Mary Beth Keane, and “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett. 

Check back for my next review for our book club pick, “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom.  
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 25, 2020 at 1:52 PM
  
Read It!

It's time for our September Family Book Club! 

We are very excited to host award-winning children's author Ben Guterson at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28 to discuss his book "Winterhouse" via Zoom. Register for our Zoom meeting with Ben Guterson here!

Winterhouse

Need a copy of "Winterhouse"? Pick up a copy at Tallyn's Reach Library or call 303.627.3050. You can also listen to the audiobook for free from hoopla digital with your library card!

"Winterhouse" - Part 3 (Chapters 24-30)
1. Do you suspect that Norbridge is not telling Elizabeth the full truth about his sister, Gracella?
2. Elizabeth recognizes that she was bossy to Freddy. Norbridge suggests that she can work to change it. Have you ever recognized an unpleasant characteristic in yourself and worked to change it?
3. What do you think the Hiems's are hiding in their room?
4. Elizabeth goes into the cabin but Freddy does not. Would you be brave enough to go in there alone?
5. What happened at the cabin? What do you think the red light means?
6. Who do you think stole Elizabeth's magical library book?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 21, 2020 at 1:55 PM 1 Comment
  
Read It!
APL Reader's Corner
with Nicole & Tessy

We're reading dystopians this month with "Moon of the Crusted Snow" by Waubgeshig Rice. Let us know what you think about the book as you read along in this online book club, and then join us for our live discussion on Friday, September 25 at 1 p.m. on Facebook!

Moon of the Crusted Snow

"Moon Of The Crusted Snow" by Waubgeshig Rice
Available instantly as a eBook and digital audiobook via hoopla digital

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark.  Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.

Discussion Questions
- In dystopian scenarios, the loss of individualism is a reoccurring theme. How important is it for people to have choice?
- What do you think happened to the world outside of the Anishinaabe community? Do you think you would be able to survive an event like this?Who is your community? What stories would you fight to keep alive?
- What was your favorite part about this book?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and join us on Facebook at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 for our live discussion!


Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 15, 2020 at 1:25 PM
  
Read It!

It's time for our September Family Book Club! 

We are very excited to host award-winning children's author Ben Guterson at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28 to discuss his book "Winterhouse". Register for our Zoom meeting with Ben Guterson here!

Winterhouse

Need a copy of "Winterhouse"? Pick up a copy at Tallyn's Reach Library or call 303.627.3050. You can also listen to the audiobook for free from hoopla digital with your library card!

"Winterhouse" - Part 2 (Chapters 16 - 23)
- Do you like codes and secret messages? When I was a kid, I would make up symbols for each letter of the alphabet and write secret messages to my brother!
- Have you ever done a scavenger hunt? That chapter was pretty fun! What was your favorite clue that Freddy made for Elizabeth?
- Hiems and his wife have "found the girl" and Norbridge is also curious about her. What do you think that means?
- Do you think Elizabeth has The Book?
- Do you think Elizabeth will accept the Hiems' invitation to tea?
- What happened in the library on Christmas Eve?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Posted by sv[email protected]  On Sep 14, 2020 at 2:35 PM 2 Comments
  
Read It! "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" by Suzanne Collins
by Sara

It’s been a long while since I visited Panem, but I recently took a trip back when reading “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

When I first heard Collins was releasing a prequel to her bestselling series "The Hunger Games", I wasn't sure what to think. I absolutely loved "The Hunger Games". When I first read it, I remember devouring it (pun intended), reading non-stop until I finished the trilogy. While I was excited for more from Collins, I had mixed feelings about the story. I wanted to know more about the revolution and the start of the games in Panem – how did they get to the dystopian world where Katniss, Peeta and Gale had to fight to survive. But I didn't think I'd enjoy reading about a young Coriolanus Snow - who would later become the villainous President Snow in Katniss' world. After the first few chapters, I was proven wrong. 

"The Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds" was just as enthralling as the original trilogy; I could not put it down. I've read many books before the Hunger Games and after, but there is something about this series that makes it hard to not consume all in one sitting. From a dystopian future to a unique cast of characters, from the (sometimes terrifying) biological inventions that come from the Capitol and the underlying commentary of human nature – it all make this series so good!  

Coriolanus, the heir to the once-prominent Snow family, is a student at the Academy. His family has fallen on hard times like many did after the war, but he finds a potential way to land on top when he is selected as a mentor in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. This mentorship is harder than he anticipated once he realizes the tributes are like him – a young person, not animals – and he sparks a connection with his tribute, Lucy Gray of District 12 – making him question everything he has known.

Collins did a great job incorporating pieces of Snow and Panem’s history that fans already knew from the original series into this prequel, tying them together seamlessly. Aside from getting an early look at Snow’s slow corruption and eventual rise to power, fans will appreciate the subtle explanation of Snow’s ever-present rose on his lapel, his relation to an future rebel and his deep-rooted connection to the Games, both from its inception to making them into what Katniss would face 64 years later. Other not-so-subtle connections are the mockingjays in District 12 and the origin of “The Hanging Tree” song. This story finds a way to weave itself into the series and set the grand stage for what was to come decades later in the Panem timeline.

One of the best parts of this book are the characters. Having read “The Hunger Games”, I thought I would have a hard time rooting for Coriolanus Snow. But for most of this book, he isn’t quite yet the Snow that you know (though there are definitely glimmers of his maniacal mind throughout). I actually found myself rooting for him, wanting him to the get “happily ever after” he thought he wanted – at least until his slow and steady corruption becomes evident. His tribute, Lucy Gray of District 12, is a likable character from the start, especially once the reader gets to know her – in many ways like Katniss, but softer. I found myself rooting for her, wishing she got a different ending.

His classmates gave more insight into the youth of the Capitol and the disparity of life in the Capitol versus the Districts, which made it easier to see how Katniss’ world came to be. One in particular, Sejanus, a boy from the Districts whose family rose to prominence during the war, is very interesting to watch. He struggles with his new identity as Capitol while not wanting to let go of his true identity as District, leading him to make hard decisions that affect more than just himself. Sejanus shows that maybe there aren’t as many differences between people as there appear, but instead people put up the barriers to divide. 

Head Gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul gives even possibly the greatest insight into how Panem becomes the world we see in the original trilogy as she alters creatures of all kinds – even humans – in her lab. Her pushing of Coriolanus – both in his studies and even life after the Academy – gives insight into the views of the Capitol and how their desire for power is derived from chaos versus control. Her constant presence in Coriolanus’ life and mind seem to be a driving factor that takes him from Coriolanus, a young man trying to find a place in the world, to Snow, the man that would become a tyrannical president through less than respectable means. 

Overall, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is an engaging read and a truly great addition to “The Hunger Games” series. From beginning to end, there were twists and surprises that kept me guessing and immersed in the world of Panem as Snow worked his way through challenges to discover his ultimate fate and future. Without giving too much away, the ending left me absolutely shocked…but, as Tigris and Coriolanus both say – “Snow lands on top”.

Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 11, 2020 at 2:27 PM
  
Read It!

It's time for our September Family Book Club!

We are very excited to host award-winning children's author Ben Guterson at the end of the month to discuss his book "Winterhouse". Register for our Zoom meeting with Ben Guterson here!

Winterhouse

Below is the suggested reading schedule for September. Every Monday afternoon, discussion questions will be posted here on our blog.
"Winterhouse" - Part 1 (Chapters 1-15)
- What do you think of Elizabeth so far? Do you like her as the heroine of this story?
- Have you ever taken such a long trip somewhere? It takes her nearly two days to reach Winterhouse! Have you ever traveled alone?
- Before Elizabeth got to the hotel, did you think it would be boring (like she thought it would be) or fun? We can make guesses based on the teaser written on the inside jacket or on the back of the book as to what the story will be about.
- What mysterious things are already happening?
- Do you like word games like Elizabeth and Freddy do? Have you tried to make a word ladder?
- It seems that everyone is hiding something - even Norbridge, the owner of the hotel. Why do you think he wants Elizabeth to check in with him twice a day? What do you think about what Elizabeth overhears him saying to Leona in the library in the last chapter of Part 1? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Posted by [email protected]  On Sep 08, 2020 at 11:09 AM
  


Read It!

Family Book Club
with Tess 

Chapters 26-34 (Wish We Had a Camera - Afua)
We've finished "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia! Tell us what you thought of the book in the comments below! 

One Crazy Summer

Below are links to several activities related to our book!

Crossword Puzzle
Word Search 

Write your own poetry and share it in the comments below!
Posted by [email protected]  On Aug 28, 2020 at 2:10 PM 1 Comment
  
Read It!

Family Book Club
with Tess 

August's Book: "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy Summer

Chapters 18- 25: "China Who" to "San Francisco Treat"


- Why do you think the girls liked to count the words that African American performers said in movies and TV shows? I think it could be because they didn't see may people who looked like them on TV, which made it very special when they did see Black actors and artists. 
- Why do you think Pa did not tell Big Ma about the police encounter?
- Rally for Bobby was a difficult chapter. How did you feel after reading it?
- How would you feel about the Black Panthers and the rally - more like Delphine or more like Vonetta and Fern?
- Cecile is starting to change, at least toward Delphine. What are some things she has done to show she is changing?

Join us next Monday, August 31 at 5 p.m. for our Family Book Club meeting on Zoom! We'll discuss "One Crazy Summer" live!
REGISTER HERE
Posted by [email protected]  On Aug 24, 2020 at 12:24 PM 1 Comment
  
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