Vicky Berdecio

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Gods of Jade and Shadow

Summary: 
This novel tells the story of a young woman named Casiopea from Yucatan, Mexico in the 1930's, who lives with her extended family in the house of her wealthy grandfather, but is confined to doing housework while she dreams of a life of freedom. Then one day she finds the key to the wooden chest in her grandfather's room which she opens, magically releasing the soul of Hun-Kame the deposed Lord of the Underworld, who has been locked in the chest for over five decades. Casiopea and the god Hun-Kame then travel together on a journey across Mexico, trying to locate the missing elements which will allow the god to regain his place on the throne of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. Weaving together pre-Columbian mythology with her own vivid imagination, the author tells an absorbing tale of the rivalry between two twin brothers and a young woman's quest for adventure and self-realization.

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The Book of Joy

Summary: 
In April 2015 these two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates spent a week at the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate his eightieth birthday. The most pressing theme of their dialogue was how to find joy in the face of life's inevitable suffering. Through stories, tears and laughter, these two venerable souls share their wisdom and knowledge about such topics as the importance of gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. This is a marvelous little jewel of a book that illuminates the basic teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and Western Christianity in a simple and down-to-earth language.

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A Single Thread

Summary: 
NY Times bestselling writer (author of "Girl with a Pearl Earring") has written a new novel. Set in the town of Winchester, England in 1932, it tells the story of a thirty-eight-year-old woman, Violet Speedwell. Having lost her fiance during the first world war, she is now considered a "spinster" by the current social mores. She works for an insurance company as a typist and then learns to create needlepoint designs for kneelers and cushions to be used in the grand Winchester Cathedral. Violet befriends two women who also do needlepoint, as well as an older married man in his sixties who introduces her to the art of ringing the bells at the cathedral. The narrative unfolds at a fast clip and includes a very surprising and heartfelt ending. It is a very engaging read.

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The Book of Dreams

Summary: 
This novel tells the story of Sam, a thirteen-year-old boy in London, whose father Henri, a former war correspondent, lies in a coma at a medical clinic. Told from the point of view of various characters, the narrative weaves through time in a period of forty-six days, as Henri's spirit floats within dreams somewhere between life and death. Through his father's voice we learn that Sam is a synesthete - he has more sensory receptors than other people and experiences a constant barrage of impressions that exists only on the edge of others' perceptions. Sam's senses have a thousand more eyes and ears than most humans and he assigns colors to sounds and numbers, as well as emotions. This novel features other characters as well - Sam's mother Marie-France, his pal and best friend Scott, Henri's lover Edwina, and a young girl named Madelyn who is also in intensive care. All in all this wise story takes the reader on a wild journey through space and time, exploring some of life's intriguing mysteries.

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Perfectly You : Embracing the Power of Being Real

Summary: 
This book - part autobiography and part self-help- tells the true story of a thirty-something young woman from Venezuela, who realizes her dream of becoming a journalist. Graduating from Columbia University School of Journalism, she first finds a job working for a Spanish language network in Miami and eventually becomes a bi-lingual news correspondent for national TV. Covering such stories as a devastating earthquake in Mexico City to the migrant crisis at the Mexico/US border, to the papal visit, Mariana shares her unique perspective of our world. The premise she teaches is that we must each embrace what makes us unique; our flaws as well as our strengths, and in celebrating our differences, we can paradoxically find the common ground that makes us all human.

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Raven, Tell a Story

Summary: 
Local author Anne Donaghy tells the story of Tessa Ravenwing, a young woman who lives in a village in the mountains of Alaska. Raised by her grandmother, she learns the role of healer and storyteller at a very young age. The story begins in the year 2091 when a military weapons manufacturer controls the US government for its own profit. At seventeen Tessa decides to become an underground resistance fighter. Can she and other kindred spirits with unusual psychic gifts overthrow violent tyranny without using violence? This book weaves together indigenous mythology and exquisite descriptions of nature with a riveting story line and much suspense. It will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page.

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Clock Dance : a novel

Summary: 
The prolific writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler has come up with a new novel. The story of a woman named Willa begins in 1967 when she is a young schoolgirl, then fast-forwards to 1977 when she is in college. Then the narrative moves to 1997 when she is a young widow coping with the loss of her husband in a car accident. Then in 2017, at the age of sixty, she is longing to become a grandmother. How she finds a new family in Baltimore is the kind of story Anne Tyler tells best.

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Check Me Out

Summary: 
This novel features a twenty-something young woman named Greta who works as a library assistant in the small town of Franklin, Ohio. When the library is threatened with closure Greta leaps into action. She arranges a fund-raising musical contest and a visit from a beloved children's book author. She also stages a controversial protest which gets the whole town talking. In addition to her work at the library, the story covers Greta's important relationships: her best friend Will, his cousin Mac, and a university student named Marigold. If you are looking for an easy-going, humorous summer read, this book might be for you!

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Alternate Side : a novel

Summary: 
New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen has come up with another fabulous novel - this one about a young couple, Nora and Charlie Nolan, living on the upper west side of Manhattan. The well-to-do block they live on is like a very small insular village unto itself, where everyone knows and cares for one another. Then one terrible morning an incident occurs which threatens the very foundation of the small neighborhood, as well as all their relationships, including the Nolans' marriage. Written with many insightful observations about class, race, family and work; this novel is a very enjoyable and eye-opening read. Anna Quindlen at her best.

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Beastly Brains : Exploring how animals think, talk and feel

Summary: 
Did you know that dolphins are able to recognize themselves when they look in a mirror? And bonobos share 98.5 % of our DNA and have been observed to use paintbrushes, make music and cook? Also, some crows are notorious problem solvers and tool users. This beautiful book written for children is illustrated with lovely color photographs of owls, dolphins, parrots, monkeys, elephants and chimps. Castaldo's premise is that "animals know more than we think and think a great deal more than we know" to quote Irene Pepperberg , an animal cognition scientist who worked for many years with an African grey parrot named Alex. Covering such topics as communication, self-awareness, making decisions and emotions and empathy, the author sheds light on the amazing capabilities of other sentient beings so that we might understand and reevaluate our relationship to them. This book makes a good case for the treatment of respect and loving-kindness for all living beings.

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