Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It? A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast

Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It? A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast

Is that the best book title or what? 

A book for all mothers - and sons and daughters of mothers - AND for fans of writer Patricia Marx and cartoonist Roz Chast, both longtime contributors to The New Yorker magazine, this is a small and wonderful book that will make you laugh at the crazy things mothers say to their children under the guise of giving advice and guidance.

Most of us have experienced moments of disbelief at what our mothers have passed on as sage advice or commentary on our lives and some of us have even experienced that (frightening) moment when we realize that those exact same words are coming out of our own mouths to our own children. 

Fortunately for some of us time and distance allows us to be less aghast and more amused by said comments and fortunately for all of us, Patricia Marx’ mother was in a league of her own and Roz Chast has the ability to perfectly illustrate the craziness with love and affection.

“When Daddy and I come up for Parents’ Weekend,” my mother wrote to me one summer I was at overnight camp (I was nine), “you are to stop whatever you ate doing and run up and hug us. Even if you are in the middle of a tennis match. It’s too embarrassing to be the only parents whose daughter doesn’t miss them.”

Happy Funny reading!

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct it? A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast  

 

Hannah Gough
Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl
 
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Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl

I started buying Gourmet Magazine in 1998 when I moved to New York; the perfect epicurean magazine to match my new life in the big city, I thought, and I have loved it ever since. My first issues turned into a beloved and probably unnecessarily large collection that survived right until a couple of months ago when Marie Kondo ‘moved in’ and enticed me to give away about half.

Gourmet Magazine was the premier food magazine for decades. First published in 1941 it gained notoriety and a huge following with the arrival of Ruth Reichl as its editor in 1996. Ms Reichl had at that point been the food critic of The Los Angeles Times as well as the New York Times but trying her hand at editing a magazine she had loved since she first came across an issue in a used bookstore at the age of eight, turned out to be a very different job, with more ups and downs, joys and sorrows than she could ever have anticipated.

In her latest memoir, Save me the Plums, Ruth Reichl takes the reader on the journey that turned out to be the rise and fall of Gourmet Magazine, a magazine that under her leadership became THE magazine not just for food lovers, but also for travellers, adventurers and lovers of literature. The Paris, Rome, New York etc issues of Gourmet are legendary, as was her genius idea to invite well known authors to contribute in long form to the magazine’s content pages. Writers like David Foster Wallace who set out to write about The Maine Lobster Festival and ended up writing a now epic piece on human beings’ relationship to killing animals, in this case throwing live lobsters into boiling water. A piece that the editors and publisher feared would drive subscribers, readers and advertisers away in droves, but turned out to bring in merely two complaints and hundreds more readers.

The David Foster Wallace example is just one of many great pioneering stories in the book; tales of courage and doubt, of an ever changing and expanding food scene; of bringing together New York restaurants to feed emergency workers in the wake of 9/11. But more than anything Save me the Plums is full of stories of people for whom food, travel and striving for excellence was their guiding light and what made them love going to work every day. 

Save me the Plums also offers a view into Ruth Reichl’s own family history, growing up with a bipolar mother who was the source of much uncertainty in a little girl’s life and who longed for a life of fame and luxury to which she felt she had been born and a doting, and a loving father who designed books for a living and encouraged his daughter to follow her passion wherever that might take her.

Well, it took her to Gourmet and for that we will be forever grateful. As the cashier at the sandwich shop at New York’s JFK airport said when Ruth Reichl tried to pay for a sandwich the day after the magazine was suddenly and shockingly closed down in October of 2009: “This ones on me,” she said. “I loved that magazine. I’m really going to miss it.”

I still do, and I am grateful for the wonderful issues I cherish - and still use.

Happy Reading!

Reviewed by Isabella

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Hannah Gough
A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen
 
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The book, “A Terrible Country” by Keith Gessen, is an impressive work of fiction that details the life of an immigrant Russian Andrei, whom moves back to Moscow to take care of his grandmother after almost 30 years in the US. The reader learns early on that the grandmother is struggling with dementia, a theme that runs through the entirety of the novel. The two main aspects of the book, are this [dementia] and the trials and tribulations of life in modern day Russia. 

“A Terrible Country” is saying that refers to how Andrei’s grandmother describes Russia, after having spent the entirety of her life there, starting with the years of Stalin and total oppression. The irony in the novel is that the oppressive state worked better for the grandmother than the new more “democratic” and “liberalistic” regimes that Russia has had since Stalin. This is something Andrei also finds to have a strong resonance through the people he ends up spending his time with. The novel gives an impressive insight in how the daily lives are affected by Putin and the stronghold he also has on the country. Furthermore, Gessen does well to touch upon how the scholars in the country all are able to see how money is what makes the country sick, but still are afraid to leave the world of work and money behind. Even Andrei, we learn, becomes more of an anti-hero in this regard.

The theme of dementia is also very well covered. Not only does Gessen manage to cover the sickness from both the perspective of Andrei as the family member, but in also in a very clear way from the perspective of the grandmother. The reader feels like Andrei’s experience in Moscow one big metaphor for how the early stages tend to affect the mind. Every time Andrei feels at home in Moscow, or as if the city is finally treating him well, an event occurs which will throw our main character back to square one. This draws clear parallels with the grandmother in the story. As Andrei begins to suspect that she is remembering him, his mother, the country, or in general improve her awareness, the next day will feel completely different. This allows for the reader to get lured into a sense of comfort, only to get shot back to reality, the same way the disease seems to affect the grandmother.

Overall, a great read. This is especially for other readers fascinated with the current affairs in Russia, and how the people of Russia feel, being called “the puppets of Putin” by the media in the west. Moreover, a very well written intricate story, that will guide you through the life of Andrei.


Review by Gustav Groot

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF A Terrible Country  by Keith Gessen

Hannah Gough
Becoming by Michelle Obama
 
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It’s easy to be cynical about memoirs in general and those of world leaders (and first ladies) in particular.  Did they write them themselves; how much can they truly reveal, how honest can they really be? I therefore embarked on Michelle Obama’s much hyped memoir Becoming with what I deemed to be a healthy dose of skepticism. 

After eight years in the White House we still knew little about Michelle Obama and reading Becoming makes it clear just how intentional that was. She was known to be a private person, a fierce protector of her family; there were rumors of her strong opinions and outspokenness. None of that was a surprise, really. Here was a strong, well-educated woman from the South Side of Chicago moving into the White House as the first African American first lady married to the first African American president. Nothing about that says quiet, shy and retiring.

Michelle Obama’s life is well known by now. How she and her brother grew up in a small upstairs apartment of a small house in Chicago with supportive, loving and, above all, hard working parents. How she arrived at Princeton where she experienced what it was like being the only black woman in the room; how she met Barack Obama at the law firm where she was working; how she soon realized the her husband’s destiny and drive were inevitable, and how he was meant for a different and inescapable kind of greatness that would soon dictate and change not only his but her life forever. 

Becoming feels like a very genuine book. It’s easy to hear Michelle Obama’s voice and to sense the struggles, doubts and major leaps of faith that at times are similar to those of any couple, such as work/life balance discussions, marriage counseling, infertility issues and at times are recognizable only to a very select group of people: those who get to inhabit the White House. While the problems facing Michelle Obama seem surreal at times, the solutions and her inner debate to solve them feels very real and relatable.

Reading Becoming confirmed everything I thought I knew about Michelle Obama. She is strong, she does have strong opinions, she will fight for what she believes in and she is fiercely protective of her family, especially her daughters. 

What I didn’t know and what was surprising was just how honest she was willing to be in her memoir. Also, how outgoing and social she is, how she loves hanging out with her friends and how it took some getting used to being married to a guy, whose idea of a fun Saturday night is to stay home and read a book!

Becoming is a fun, fascinating read about Michelle Obama’s journey from the South Side of Chicago to the White House - and beyond. Its full of fun facts and stories about the importance of family, the struggle to survive, the value of hard work, the beauty of sharing your life with a soul mate and the utter strangeness of being a first lady. 

More than anything the aptly named Becoming shows the strength of a value driven life; of how principles and moral standards instilled in you by your parents and your experiences - good and bad - growing up and making your way in the world shape you and help you become the person you were meant to be. And finally how those same values will guide you and serve as a touchstone when things don’t go as planned. Which as it turns out happens A LOT in politics.

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Becoming  by Michelle Obama  

 

Hannah Gough
Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson
 
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Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson

Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy is a truly emotional book, with pages and pages filled with intricate writing and detailed descriptions, all communicated through Adam Butters’ hilarious perspective on one particular period of his life. Adam Butters lives in Pegasus Park, is eleven years old, loves comics, and lives with his family, his dad, his mum and his two sisters, Minnie and Velvet, who has an invisible dog. Adam is adopted, and that's no secret for him. However he soon is curious to find out his true origins, his real mum. Somehow he finds out by reading his birth certificate. But that is not enough for Adam, so he sets on a quest to find his biological mother although during it, he is obstacles by many controversial thoughts and events. Adum is however helped by his best friend, Tiny Eric a polish kid who is massive in stature, but has a kind and upright caring heart, and a talent for drawing.  But before that he wants to be a superhero, to make everyone happy especially his mum which is in a very downright negative and sad mood. To become a superhero he has come up with five “easy steps to becoming a superhero”. Not all of them go exactly as planned, and finding his mother gets more and more impossible and challenging. But can Adam become a superhero - and find his mother?

My favourite character in this novel is Adam butters, the magical main character of this story. All due to his caring heart, a lovable family which is very affectionate to him. And his obvious open mind and flexibility to new environments. In second place is Tiny Eric, Adams best friend, his talent for drawing is a treat that I  immensely admired throughout the story , and his humongous heart which is naked to the human eye, however that heart of his does have a few twists and turns which are later revealed in the story. I recommend this book to readers of all family based books, for example The Parent Agency by David Baddiel and I Swapped My Brother On The Internet by Jo simmons which I also reviewed. You can check it out at Books & Company!

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 11)

Happy reading! 

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Hannah Gough
Lanny by Max Porter
 
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Lanny by Max Porter

A curious boy; tangled in the trees, wild and free.

Lanny is far from most children his age; playful yet profound, uttering the most deeply philosophical ramblings, through sweet childlike hums and innocent whispers. A boy who almost seems to slip through the fingers of anyone trying to grasp him, the mere idea of Lanny, one that is so incredibly abstract and celestial to even fathom.

Lanny by Max Porter, is one of those books where I have absolutely no idea how to begin to describe it, because of just how confusing, confounding and charming it is. A book that picks apart the inhabitants of a mysterious english village, soaking up its chatter and gossip. A village belonging to Mad Pete, the whimsical village artist, to ancient Peggy, forever prattling at her gate, to little Lanny, always on the move, for his soul craves new soil to taste, new trees to climb, new beginnings and endings.

One of the strangest yet most fascinating books I have read, Lanny by Max Porter is a perfect escape, to a place that seems so close to home yet still so far away.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Lanny by Max Porter  

 

Hannah Gough
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
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While we eagerly await the next season of ‘Big Little Lies’ why not pick up author Liane Moriarty’s latest novel, ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ for what promises to be another surprising rollercoaster ride of a story.

“If you are looking for a page turner then your search is over!

Each character is engaging with all their intricate personalities and of course their many flaws and it is interesting how the reader can so easily make presumptions on a character before knowing the complete back story.

Enjoy your journey to this idyllic health resort but be prepared for a slightly bizarre hiccup along the way. Thankfully Moriarty brings us back on track with a wonderful harmonious conclusion.”

Reviewed by Books & Company reader, Bobbie!

Happy reading!

Isabella Smith
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard
 
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Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard

This week’s ‘Book of the Week’ was suggested to us by a regular customer and we were immediately intrigued by its wonderful title: Tell them of Battles, Kings and Elephants. 

The book by Mathias Enard was first published in the writer’s native French in 2010 (Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d’éléphants) and has now been translated by Charlotte Mandell into English and published in a beautiful edition by Fitzcarraldo Editions.  

It is the story of how Michelangelo – in 1506 a young but already renowned sculptor – is invited by the sultan of Constantinople to design a bridge over the Golden Horn. The sultan has offered, alongside an enormous payment, the promise of immortality, since Leonardo da Vinci’s design was rejected. Based on real historical fragments, Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants is ‘a novella about why stories are told, why bridges are built, and how seemingly unmatched pieces, seen from the opposite sides of civilization, can mirror one another.’

And here is what our customer said of the book: 

 ’A really good, interesting and quick read. It is written in intricate details that transport you to the streets of Constantinople. A really good translation as well. The language used is beautiful throughout the entire book!’

Thanks Gustav for the suggestion and the feedback!

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Tell Them of the Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard

 

Hannah Gough
Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock
 
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Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock

Murder in Midwinter is a hugely entertaining crime novel, with a good dose of suspense, murder, friendship and loyalty added to the storyline and plot.  Maya’s life was quite normal until she took a photograph of a man with ginger curly hair and a lady - both holding guns. When she took the picture the man got a glimpse of her, before the bus drove away from the two, his face giving an emotion communicating the following message; I want to kill you... Then a body was found near where she took the picture at the bottom of the river Thames, the man whose body belonged to looked just like the man that was holding a gun in the picture that she took. That same night Maya's sister, Zahra disappears - leaving no trace from a school Christmas concert. Soon Maya starts to suspect that it could all fit together, the photo, her sister's disappearance - all of it. However the following day Zahra turns up, in front of the school safe and sound. Soon after the police get involved,  interrogating Zahra, seeking more information. When the police are finished they recommend Maya to go to a safe and remote place.

So Maya and her family decide to send Maya to her aunts remote and desolated home. When Maya arrives at the cottage she is welcomed by three dogs (whom she remembers of, from when she was a little girl) and her aunt. Maya soon starts to get anxious and worried about her family safety, and mostly her safety. As Mayas stay continues there is always a policeman on guard, however, she still feels anxious about the fact there is a man somewhere out there that is determined to kill her, Peter Romero. As Mayas worries grow in numbers she is constantly looking out of the window, checking that Peter Romero is not out there. But after a couple of break-ins and shootouts, crazy secrets and acts of friendship it all comes down to a fatal evening, a couple days before Christmas, when all is discovered and all secrets are revealed…

My favorite character in this marvelous crime novel is Maya, I chose her because she astute and sly, has a good sense of humor, but she easily gets things done. My opinion on this novel is that; it is well written, not with too much detail or intense vocabulary so it’s not a challenging read. However, the storyline and plot are quite fantastic.

I recommend this book to all fans or people who enjoy crime and mystery stories, and to people who have read some of Siobhan Dowds novels (I immensely enjoyed the two novels with Ted and his sister Kat as main characters, The London Eye Mystery and The Guggenheim Mystery). There is a new novel coming out by Fleur Hitchcock, Murder At Twilight. So keep tuned!

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 12)

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock 

 

Hannah Gough
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
 
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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Genre- Science fiction, fantasy, action, dystopian

“He’s so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they’re holding in their hand.”- Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds.

Written by Alexandra Bracken, an American New York Times bestselling author, “The Darkest Minds” is a unique book which will captivate you in a world brimming with fantasy, action and thrill. Alexandra Bracken has skillfully woven together words to create scenes of suspense and tension, where hurricanes of emotions are going to rip out of you.

The book takes place in a futuristic United States of America, where a disease known as IAAN - “Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration” - grows rampant in the bodies of ten-year-old children, killing them or leaving them with supernatural powers. Soon enough, ninety-eight percent of children are dead, while the remaining are sent off to rehabilitation camps, where they live under torture and terror, a place where every wrong action is punished. In the camps, the mutated are split  into categories and, among these, the most dangerous (the “oranges”, “reds” and “yellows”), are taken away and never seen again.

On her tenth birthday, Ruby - the main character - is taken away from her parents  by the government army, after she accidentally unleashes her powers of mind manipulation caused by the IAAN disease. However, due to some flaws in the government control system, Ruby escapes her fate of death as an “orange” and lives her life in a rehabilitation camp. When she turns sixteen,  an association of rebels called the “Children’s League” help Ruby escape from the camp. After their successful escape, she ends up with a group of runaway children, as they set off into the country in search for the “Slip Kid”, a child who is said to be able to help them find their parents. But is the “Slip Kid” really who they think he is…?

If you like action-packed dystopian novels where every page results in twists and turns, this is the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner and would recommend it to 12+’s in search for a book which will captivate them from the start to the finish. Furthermore, the story is well written and provides the reader with a strong moral on friendship: true friends stick together in times of need, true friends help each other, true friends allow each other to hope.

“Maybe nothing will ever change us,” he said. “But don’t you want to be around just in case it does?” Alexandra Bracken- Darkest Minds

Reviewed by Marta

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Hannah Gough
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault
 
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The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

Mesmerised by every loop and every curve; every word, of the letters stacked up high on his desk every night. Letters that didn't really belong to him, but words that felt so close to home he could hardly tell what reality was anymore. Stolen during his morning routine of sorting through the post, saved for his bedtime story, only to be steamed shut and delivered as though nothing had happened, during the next round of morning post.

Trapped in the thoughts of people he would never meet, Bilodo becomes entangled and dangerously fascinated with the conversation between one long distance couple, spoken through the beautiful art of haiku. He lives through their lyrics, feasts on their words. Curiosity churns to chaos, boredom bordering on obsession.

This unsettling yet charming story about love and loneliness, is quite unlike anything I have read before, and whose unusual characters and brilliantly addictive plot still continue to reside in the rooms of my mind.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF The Peculair Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault 

 

Hannah Gough
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney
 
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

This book is the 13th book in the magnificent Wimpy Kid series about Greg Heffley and his family. It is about when it snows so much that there is no school and there is a war with snowball fights and big battles between the lower part of Surrey Street and the top of the hill where Greg lives.  

It is super strange that at the beginning of the book it is scorching hot and it is in winter. Later during the war there is a lot of snow. I couldn't believe that Gary the weather forecast guy still kept his job because every single time he got the forecast wrong. Crazily once he said it was going to be sunny weather and it actually snowed three inches.

What was quite cool is they described the goat man who lived in the woods. He was scary but we never saw him. 

I liked the bit when Greg and his two brothers got a blanket for Christmas. They all wanted it at once, so they had to make a blanket schedule to say when everyone could have the blanket. At first I thought it meant Manny, Greg's younger brother would get the blanket the whole time.

At the start of the book it was so hot they were told at school not to wear shoes inside and then they started playing with their socks. It was funny that every one was playing around with their socks so the socks got put in a box.

It is a really good book and I have already read it two times.

Reviewed by Isaac (Aged 8)

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

 

Hannah Gough
From the Corner of the Oval Office by Beck Dorey-Stein
 
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From the Corner of the Oval Office by Beck Dorey-Stein

You know when you tell yourself you're only going to read one last chapter, yeah... let's just say that didn't quite end up happening. One turned to two turned to four turned to the end turned to what on earth do I do know? From the Corner of the Oval Office, is an incredibly compulsive and fascinating story about one women's accidental career in the Obama White House. Time zones, heartbreak, friendships, glamour and gossip, stuffed into suitcases and unpacked across the world in countless hotel rooms, world leader summits, and bars.

Beck Dorey-Stein offers an intriguing and sometimes painfully embarrassing account of what it was like to work as a stenographer for the Obama administration, all thanks to one suspiciously vague craigslist ad that she randomly stumbled upon in her slumber of unemployment. The West Wing, Oval Office and Air Force One become more than just a fancy name she's heard and turn into a jetlagged, luxurious, crazy chaotic reality, where running alongside president Obama on a treadmill, in various hotel gyms around the world is apparently a thing.

This captivating, hilarious and dangerously addictive memoir, will have you screaming yes we can at the top of your lungs, and will be one you simply cannot put down.  

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF From the Corner of the Oval Office by Becky Dorey-Stein 

 

Hannah Gough
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
 
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Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Maya Aziz is a teen you wish you had met sooner. A voice and a story that desperately deserves to be heard and deeply matters.

Love, Hate & Other Filters, follows the life of a 17 year old Muslim American girl, lost and trapped in the many intersections of her life. On one hand she is expected to be a “good Indian daughter”, a life comprising of college close to home and a suitable Muslim boy, given the golden stamp of approval by her mother of course. But then there's the life she's always wanted, a life of living in New York and pursuing her dreams of film school. Oh and perhaps also, just maybe having a chance with a boy she's always known and liked from afar. But then again these are all nothing but dreams, and dream all she like, for her life is about to turn into just the opposite.

Maya's world is shattered and upturned when a terrorist attack strikes a nearby city, the main suspect sharing not only her religion but her last name too. Her community and the people around her become distorted and blurred, her family living in an unwakeable nightmare of hate, discrimination and islamophobia.

This heartbreakingly honest account of what it means to grow up Muslim in modern America, is much needed and incredibly raw yet beautiful.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed 

 

Hannah Gough
Escape From Aleppo by N. H. Senzai
 
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The book Escape From Aleppo by N.H Senzai is about a girl named Nadia who is escaping from the war in Aleppo. On the way she looses her family and has to find them. During this time she meets new people that help her on her journey.        

I give the book Escape From Aleppo, a 10 out of 10. I think this is because whenever I was reading the story I was always engaged. The reasons why I felt engaged was because the writing in the book was so colourful. For example the vocabulary that the author used, like the clatter of running feet, or, she held a sputtering candle. This word choice was very descriptive and really made the story come alive for me.

Another thing I liked about the story is the characters. I liked the characters because they were all different in their own way but at the same time they were all similar.

For instance Nadia is a tough cookie, what I mean by that is that no matter how hard things get for her she always has a positive attitude. Another character is Basel. The thing I liked about Basel was that he would always face the facts. For example he faced the fact that he knew that it was not going to get better Aleppo and moved on from that.

I hope that reading my review will make you want to read the adventurous book called Escape from Aleppo.

Reviewed by Nina (Aged 11)

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Escape From Aleppo by N. H. Senzai 

 

Hannah Gough
The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury
 
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The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury

The Epic City is a winding twisting rickshaw ride through the heart and soul of Calcutta. A city of 15 million dreamers and filmmakers and poets and musicians and of course by far the most important; chaiwallas, for how would the city ever fully function without their steaming hot cups of cardamom and ginger spiced milky chai? A city fuelled on endless cups of tea, street food stalls, roadside sweet shops, and neverending adda: the Bengali word for chats.

In this confusing, chaotic and cheerful love letter, Kushanava Choudhury reconnects with his roots and moves back to the city his immigrant parents long since left behind, uncovering the drowned out voices and stories that never quite make the paper. You will find yourself squeezing through hidden allies, to breathing in bustling bazaars. Each as full of life and laughter. Tram rides and lazy afternoon strides, powered on contempt bellies of fish curry and rice, will lead you to the concealed corners and crooks that make everyday Calcutta life.

The Epic City is a book that will leave you with an electric urge to travel and explore. Whether that means getting lost in a brand new city, or simply absorbing the nuances of your neighbourhood.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury 

Hannah Gough
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
 
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Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Stunning, lyrical, haunting. Characters that will tangle into your thoughts and mingle with your mind for days. Sing, Unburied, Sing is a searingly honest and devastating road novel, that centres around an African American family living in rural Mississippi. This story is guaranteed to make your heart speed way over the limit, and run a few redlights too while you're at it, because honestly I could not bring myself to pull the brakes and put this book down.

In this powerful tale of family, love, poverty, grief, and race, Wards chilling writing trembles with pain for the characters we wish to save and pull right off the pages straight into our arms. Jojo, a thirteen year old, learning what it means to be a man from his grandfather, and parenting his three year old sister Kayla, because if not him then who? Surely not his mother Leonie, absent and selfish and unable to put her children above her own needs. Not his father Michael, locked up in prison, and whose family are disgusted by his black girlfriend and biracial kids. The only two people Jojo can fully rely on his being his loving grandparents, Mam and Pop, everyone else, ghosts to him, sometimes there, sometimes not, always haunting.

When Leonie packs the two kids and a friend into the car, and sets off on a journey to retrieve the one thing that hasn't entirely slipped out from her hands; Michael, Jojo begins to understand the racism and hatred of the south, and comes to terms with everything his mother is, isn't and never  will be.

Profound, poetic, and an important reminder that the shadows and skeletons of slavery are still very much alive and present in twenty-first-century America.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward  

Hannah Gough
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
 
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Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

Stories of lives in exile - voluntary or not - are many and varied and Negar Djavadi’s Disoriental is a worthy, interesting and enjoyable addition to those written primarily by Iranian women many of whom fled their home country as young children in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution and who have now reached an age and maturity that allows for reflective consideration.

Kimia Sadr has fled Iran with her mother and sisters to join their father, an intellectual who opposed the western backed regime of the Shah, welcomed (cautiously) the promise of the new regime of Ayatollah Khomeini only to find his dreams of freedom, equality and prosperity crushed by the heavy handed despotic rule of the mullahs.

Disoriental moves back and forth between Kimia’s life as a young gay woman in France and her family’s history in Iran. The main (and most compelling part) of the book takes place in the northern Iran of her grandparents and the Tehran of her politically active parents. The book not only describes the unravelling of a country with a strong heritage, an ancient culture and a proud people. It also describes the pain of leaving a country you fought for and the challenges of fitting into a new life.

“That’s the tragedy of exile. Things, as well as people, still exist, but you have to pretend to think of them as dead.”

Highly readable, by turns heartbreaking and humorous, the book weaves and layers the history of a country with the struggles of a young woman trying to find her own identity without the aid of the scaffolding afforded by her own culture, heritage and childhood. It’s the story of a young Iranian in Europe with a loving, acute, precise and at times funny sense of the cultural differences.

“Here’s what I learned about the Dutch: each person is free to be who they are, to want what they want, to live how they choose, on the condition that it doesn’t harm the well-being of anyone else, or the general equilibrium. It’s a philosophy of life that’s the exact opposite of Persian culture, where erecting barriers, getting involved in other people’s lives, and breaking the law is as natural as breathing. But it’s also unlike the Judeo-Christian rigidity of French culture, where actions are endlessly hindered by words.”

Disoriental is perceptive and personal, a book about freedom to live, to choose and to love.

Happy reading!

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Hannah Gough
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
 
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The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon

The Doldrums is a widly immaginative tale greatly packed with adventourous quests, polar bears, stuffed animals (and glass eyes). Archer Helmsleys life was somewhat of a straight line wich rarely vibrated. Everything went as planned at least according  to his Archers mother who rarely let him out of the the Helmsleys enourmous mansion full of peculiar objects retrieved from his grandparents travels around the world. Archers grandparents are world renowned explorers who travel around world 24\7, Archer never laid his eyes on them in his whole life, due to his mother's unnecessary overprotectiveness. But his straight-line life was completely turned around when his grandparents float away in an iceberg in the north pole. Two years pass from the incident and his grandparents still haven't returned from the iceberg and now are presumed surely dead. But Archer still has hope and with the necessary help of his intrepid and courageous friends, Oliver and Adelaide Archer is determined to finally prove all the rumors of his grandparents death wrong, and  once and for all rescue his beloved grandparents. So with that Archer, Oliver and Adelaide set off on an intrepid, courageous and deadly quest to rescue Archers grandparents…

My favourite character in this gripping novel is and will always be Archer Helmsley, I can compare many attributes and skills to him, for example love for reading, animals and most of all family. My opinion on this novel is that it is a very gripping novel, full of highly imagined content, greatly caring characters, and most of all a wonderfully thought out storyline. I recommend this book to fans of adventure, fiction and kid power novels. Mostly to fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy by Trenton Lee Stewart. The adventure continues with The Doldrums And The Helmsley Curse, the second book in The Doldrums trilogy, so stay tuned for The Doldrums And The Helmsley Curse book review, COMING SOON!  

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 11)

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon 

 

Hannah Gough
City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
 
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City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

City Of Saints & Thieves is a fast paced roller coaster ride where young adult twists and turns into a thriller. This harrowing murder mystery will keep you breathless on the edge of your seat, tearing through the pages and wolfing down every word, a ravenous appetite of curiosity and suspense grumbling and aching deep within your stomach.

I was hooked and intrigued right from the very first sentence, “If you're going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don't exist.” These are the words of teenage refugee Tina, who together with her mother escaped Congo and fled to Kenya. Her mother is fortunate enough to become a maid, serving one of the wealthiest families in the city; the Greyhills. A family built of power and money and blood. A family fortune glistening with corruption and fraud and who knows what else? So when Tina discovers her mother shot dead in Mr Greyhill’s private study, she knows without a doubt that he did it.

In this gripping tale of revenge and justice, Tina will stop at nothing to execute her three part plan: Dirt.Money.Blood. Spiralling down a dangerous path of secrets and tracking down her congolese past, uncovering more than she ever wanted to. Everything she thought she knew about her mother, everything she thought she knew about herself, everything built on lies.

City Of Saints & Thieves is the type of book that will force you to put it down for just a moment, so that you can collect your thoughts and catch your breath.

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson  

Hannah Gough