Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

5 stars Fiction

I highly recommend you listen to this audio as its wonderful.  Words can’t express how I felt as I listened to Gifty walk through her days.  The burden that she carried on her shoulder was heavy and at times, I wondered how she was going to make it through her day.  I felt as if she was just waiting for something miraculous to happen, for something to rip the baggage from her shoulders and set her free!   

Every day, Gifty works with her mice, trying to understand their behavior.  This is her constant, the thing that keeps her moving.  Nana, her talented, gifted brother, is partly responsible for Gifty’s desire to become a neuroscientist. Their mother is the other reason Gifty is going to school.  It all started when her star-athlete brother got injured while at practice.  The pain killers that he took, eventually led to his death.  Now, with her favorite child gone, their mother slips into depression and Gifty is left trying to pick up the pieces. 

It was a difficult move and the family struggles as they tried to adjust to life in Alabama.  Mother wanted the Chin Chin Man to come and when he finally did, I don’t think he really wanted to live in Alabama. I think he struggled to fit in and when he returned to Ghana to visit, I knew he wasn’t planning on returning to the States. Mother’s grief had consumed her after Nana’s death and it was now consuming Gifty as well. Gifty didn’t know what to do, so she went to work, watching her mice.  I liked the honesty that Gifty showed, her frustration felt real.  A great emotional read. 5 stars

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

4 stars Mystery

This book really wasn’t a thriller to me. I would classify it as a dramatic mystery.  I picked it up based on the thriller genre and that the fantastic cover and although, the genre didn’t fit for me, I really enjoyed the book.  I listened it on audio and it kept me engaged and I couldn’t wait to get back to it when I had to shut it off.  The relationships, a few unknowns, and a few twists, had me talking to myself, as I went about my day.

The story centers around identical twins, El and Cat, who grew up in an older house in Scotland with their mother and their grandfather.  It is now 10+ years later and Cat has moved to California and El is now married to Ross, residing in the girl’s childhood home. I thought at first that the idea of them buying this house was sweet but the more that I read, I quickly changed my mind.  El has now vanished and they feel that she has died but Cat thinks otherwise.  Although, it has been years since the girls have talked, they are twins and Cat returns to Scotland to help find her.   

There is a lot of time shifting as you read this book, from when the girls were younger to the current time period, especially in the beginning of this book.  I found at times it was confusing at the beginning of the book and I didn’t understand where it would come into play or if it really mattered but in the second half of the book, I was consumed by the book. I really enjoyed the twists and the breakthrough moments that the author spread throughout the book. When they were children, the girls had created a world in the house called Mirrorland.  This fantasy world consisted of bizarre and absurd things that children could envision and it is in this world, that El tries to find her sister. 

There were times as I read this book that I didn’t know what was the truth and what wasn’t. I liked the idea of Mirrorland and how the girls used it to escape their current life when they were children.  Cat was so certain that she knew her sister even though, they hadn’t spoken to each other in years.  Coming back to Scotland was hard for Cat.  She had left her childhood behind and now, she has to face it again and also see what El’s life has been like.  Although it was confusing at times for me, I thought it was a great book.  

Playaways

I’ve been listening to Playaways lately. I like them as they’re small and I can use my own headphones. My library has been getting more titles lately so that helps too.

Many individuals don’t know what a Playaway is, so I’m going to explain them. Our library carries them like they carry books on CD. Most of the time, a battery comes in the box, if not you’ll need a battery to put inside the unit. I usually just leave the battery rolling around in the case or in the clip for the next person.

Opening the box, you get a little rectangle box which is the book. You’ll need to put the battery in it. Plug in your headphones and you’re ready. You can also plug this into your cars audio system with a $10 cord, I found at Target.

This little system has volume control, speed control for the voice, fast forward, reverse, pause, a lock button and other timers to show you were you are in the book. I like how small they are. You can slip them into a coat pocket while taking a walk, into a shorts pocket, into jeans pockets, etc. they’re very versatile.

Front

Back

Inside – with battery
Inside the box with Playaway at the bottom
Backside of the Playaway. Control buttons
Where you plug in headphones and box info about your car
What the device screens tell you
All the Playaways I have checked out, my headphones and a Playaway