My Never Ending List

I am an outside person who loves to read and cook. Venturing into most genres my favorites are YA and fiction.

"" The devil is here.""
Last Harvest, The - Kim Liggett

Great! Now what? 

The Silence of Our Friends

The Silence of Our Friends - Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell

I loved the artwork in this graphic novel, detailed and realistically drawn illustrations embrace each page. The character’s faces: their all-knowing eyes, the deep creases on their foreheads, and the way that the eyebrows tell the story of what’s really transpiring, it’s as though you don’t need to read the words within each text box. I got caught up in just looking at the illustrations a few times, as they themselves relay the story of just how these characters feel about the situation that they are in. This graphic novel is about civil rights in the late 1960’s. It’s about the violence, the beliefs, the struggles and the spirit of the individuals who fought to be heard. What I liked best about this novel is the illustrations and how we get to read both sides of the story. In this novel, a white journalist becomes friends with a black activist as a murder has been committed and the real suspects need to be brought to justice. I found myself lost a times inside this story, the story confusing but as I pulled myself back, I found my footage and entered into the drama once again. It’s a powerful story and one that gains its strength from its wonderful illustrations.

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness - Reinhard Kleist

I know nothing about Johnny Cash except a few of his songs so when I saw this graphic novel at the library I thought I would pick it up. I learned a great deal about Johnny or J.R. as he was known as a young child and it wasn’t dry reading. When I finished reading this graphic novel, I had to wonder what kind of life Johnny could have lived, had he not lead such a dangerous lifestyle? I guess we see this a lot with famous individuals who decide to take the path with drugs and alcohol but reading this novel, it was as if Johnny lost temporary control of his life. Johnny was caught up in the moment, he was living his dream, he was high on life and he didn’t want to come down until one day it finally caught up to him and then it hit him, right in the face.

 

Told in hues of black and white, this was Johnny, he was the Man in Black. The graphic novel begins when he was young child working in the cotton fields with his family, his family in their new house part of Roosevelt’s New Deal Plan. The whole family was singing gospel, spiritual and hillbilly songs in the fields. J.R. wanted nothing more to be singer on the radio while his favorite brother, Jack wanted to be a preacher, like their grandfather. The frames tell the story of the family, the love, the hardships and the loss that they suffered. J.R. dreams big and nothing in this small town is big enough for him so he moves on and joins the service. Marriage, kids, a job, his life is moving fast and he wants it all and he wants it fast. He seizes every opportunity coming his way, putting together a band, pushing everyone to go…go…go. Then comes the drugs and the alcohol, there’s no slowing him down now. His wife and kids are cast by the wayside but the money is coming in and Johnny’s name is getting big and I think Johnny is getting too big for his britches. The drugs and alcohol, they can’t keep up with Johnny. I knew somewhere among these pages, something was going to crash. It’s amazing how far and how brutal people become. They push and they push, the illustrations showing the destruction but his determination to succeed and to keep moving forward flow through the words on the pages. He’s hit a wall, he sees it, Jonny is all black now. I highly recommend this graphic novel, even if you are not a Johnny Cash fan, I thought the graphics were great and the story behind this man was powerful.

The Wizard of Oz #4

All-Action Classics No. 4: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Ben Caldwell, L. Frank Baum

What a unique adaption of the Wizard of Oz and I have to say, that this graphic novel moves quickly. I thought that the frames were easy to follow and I liked the bright and bold colors that were used in the illustrations. I was disappointed that some of the classic features of the novel were left out but the author added some his own adaptions that I think younger children will enjoy. I found a few illustrations hard to decipher, the chaos inside them overlapping and the features hard to distinguish from one another, I decided that bedlam was taking place and I moved on to the next frame. Some of the characters had some interesting characteristics to make them stand out while other characters I wasn’t too fond of. This mix of characters created a fun and entertaining read.

 

The graphic novel opened up just like the classic novel that we all love with Dorothy and her beloved dog touching down in the Land of Oz. Finding out that she has just killed the Wicked Witch of the East, the munchkins inform her just how wicked the witch was including how the witch had cut the library funding. Dorothy doesn’t immediately find herself in the ruby slippers in this adaption, the munchkins tell Dorothy that she can remove the magical slippers from the witch and she then become the new Witch from the East. Dorothy is not sure if she wants to be a witch but the shoes are rather tempting and after explaining to them that she wants to go back home to Kansas, she puts on the sparkling shoes. The munchkins explain to Dorothy her best option to get back to Kansas and send her and her dog on her way with the golden bricks under her feet, the picnic basket swinging from her arm and her dog running beside her. With new adaptions to this classic, I found that this novel would be entertaining to younger children.

You're Welcome, Unviverse

You're Welcome, Universe - Whitney Gardner

Julia communicates to the world through her tags, they’re aren’t just split second decisions, she draws them out and sometimes makes templates for them. I loved the way that she orchestrates them, the time and effort that she put into them, they were definitely a part of her. Julia begins to lose that part of her when someone begins to deface them. Transferring to a new school, her daily commute becomes longer and Julia notices that the scenery before her is unmarked. No other artist has left a piece of them along the way and Julia decides that even though she has promised no more spray cans, the blank canvases that surround her are too much of a temptation. She is an artist and no one can take that away from her. The defacing of her artwork is immediate, shock and the anger consumes Julia.

Cast into a public school, Julia is having a hard. Julia attends school with an interpreter for she is deaf and not many at this public school know sign language. It’s a hard adjustment for Julia, for the staff and many of the students who attend there. There are so many eyes on Julia right now, watching her every move. I could feel her frustration, I could feel her desire but what actually could she do? I think what she needed, was someone to talk to her, someone to speak her language, someone to sign with her.

I enjoyed the diversity in this novel, the author did an excellent job portraying these characters. The relationships among these characters was realistic and I had to laugh a few times at the way these characters were behaving and conversing, I swear these were actual individuals. Their attitude and mindset, was remarkably accurate. I found myself starting to read this novel out loud, getting attitude as I read. As Julia becomes friends with YP, I felt that she had a chance of fitting in at her new school and as the two of them became closer, I liked how their relationship had tension. Julia’s relationship with Jordyn had tension too but at the end of the novel, Julia’s relationship with YP and Jordyn are different. I really enjoyed this novel, it was a great novel dealing with diversity, friendship, authority and independence.

We Are Okay

We Are Okay - Nina LaCour

This is how I felt about this novel, I loved the story but I didn’t care for Marin. Okay, I said it. It’s a weird combination because Marin really makes up the whole story but that is how I felt after reading it. The story flashes back and forth between the current time period and the end of her senior year. I enjoyed this small flip of the clock as I really got to see the full picture.

 

In the present time, Marin is living in her college dorm, alone, as everyone else has left for holiday break. Flashing back, we see Marin living with her Gramps before heading off to college. This novel is heavy with emotion, the words drawing themselves out slowly across the pages, and each relationship was vital and significant. I thought Marin’s relationship with her Gramps was strange: they got along great, he tried to instill life’s lessons on her, but their house seemed to be divided and there were issues that were never addressed. I had to wonder if Gramps was really okay, was there more problems that were not addressed. Marin felt like an island to me, she felt distinct and aloof, even with her own Gramps. As the novel became more emotional, it became all about Marin and nothing about the larger picture which I thought include many other individuals. I thought she was quick to blame others when she should have had been looking in the mirror. I also thought, she was running from herself on many levels. I did enjoy the relationship between Marin and Mable, it might have been too as Mable wanted her part in it but it takes two to make it work. Marin sees this relationship having many fronts but again I think Marin thought only of herself. Marin, Marin, Marin, the world is bigger than you.

Frail Human Heart

Frail Human Heart - Zoë Marriott

I was vested in this novel and I hadn’t even read the first two books in the series! The author pushed me headfirst into this story as she briefly summarized the first two novels in this series before taking off on Frail Human Heart. There were also bits and pieces throughout the novel where the author reflected back to the first two novels in this series so I felt connected and comfortable as I read. I felt the urgency and the intensity that this novel was intended to project in this novel. Destruction was upon them and something had to be done, the two Gods were in for a battle and the mortals were in their line of fire. It’s realistic and part magical, as this story is woven with swords that have magical powers, they’re cast into a realm of dreams and they’re lead by a noble young girl, as they try to save their friends and themselves from devastation.

 

I was nervous about starting this series on book three. I liked how the author got me up-to-speed in the first couple pages, I knew I wouldn’t know everything but knowing the major points was a huge plus for me. There were a lot of strange and bizarre words in this novel, words I guess only individuals in this realm would know so I quickly started to write them down so I would know them when I came upon them again in my reading. This book moved along quickly, I mean quickly! I liked the Hikaru in this novel, they were foxes and they had an important relationship with the humans in this novel. The swords or blades as they came to be known also had an interesting history. I would like to go back and read the first two books in this series this summer and actually get the full account of what happened, I think I would really enjoy it. I received a free copy of this novel, so I read it before reading the previous two novels. The cover on this novel is beautiful, the jellyfish and the contrasting colors, very cool. Yes, the jellyfish do have something to do with the novel.
I received a free copy of this novel from Candlewick Press. This review is my own opinion of this novel. Thank you Candlewick for sending me this novel, it was greatly appreciated.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life - Benjamin Alire Saenz

I was frustrated with the first half of this novel. I felt that it was going nowhere. Sal was pondering his life and his identity, only he was doing internally. If only he’d reached out, I’d felt better but Sal drifted, his voice silent while his mind filled with questions and unknowns. Sal had plenty of opportunities and he had a lot of individuals, of all ages, to help him, yet he kept quiet. Somehow as life starts to get complicated for himself and his friends, Sal’s questions don’t seem to be that important anymore, his mind seems to find the bigger picture.

 

The second half of the novel saved this novel for me as I was tired of Sal’s unending questions and his life’s pondering. Sal finally starts to show some heart, could it have been all the emotions and messages that his friends are sending out? Sal begins by recording his grandma’s voice as he knows her days are numbered, he then starts to open up a bit with his dad, just a few questions but I felt something happening in the relationships with all the characters. Sal seems relieved, he has finally opened up and after telling his friends this breakthrough, it’s as if they all are breathing lighter now. If only the beginning of the novel, they would have had some of this connection, I would have loved it.

 

This was not what I expected from this novel, it carried a terrific cover, a great synopsis but the beginning was a disappointment. I loved the secondary characters in the novel, and the ending made up the novel for me. I loved Benjamin Saenz other novels and I look forward to reading other novels by him. 3.5 stars

"" I recorded a part of the phone call, and Mima didn't know it. So her voice would never become extinct." "
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life - Benjamin Alire Saenz

Sal's Mima was like this mother when he was growing up and now, she is dying from cancer.  Sal keeps everything inside for Sal is a thinker, he ponders and the list of questions inside his head grows daily.  This quote stopped me dead in my tracks when I read it, thank you Sal for taking a positive stance.

Great Falls

Great Falls - Steve Watkins

Jeremy has returned after doing three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but he is not the same Jeremy that left. The town thinks of him as a hero but Jeremy doesn’t feel like a hero, he is haunted by the war and when he thinks about his fellow serviceman Atwell, Jeremy is overcome with emotion. Did he really do everything he could have done? There is a hardness to Jeremy, a wall that he brings with him and he not willing to remove this wall or share why this wall came home with him. Camped out in the basement of his childhood home, his wife and children live close by and he does stop to see them but he tries to keep his distance. Shane, his younger brother is on the football team at school and after getting hit hard in a game, makes a touchdown for the opposing team. Humiliated, Shane immediately walks off the field, where he finds Jeremy and the two boys decide to take off. Life is just too difficult for them both right now. It is a concussion that Shane has suffered which made him confused when he made the touchdown for the opposing team, but he had let his team down and he feels ashamed. It just feels right that the two of them get away for a while, perhaps Shane can help his brother with the issues that he has been having. It’s not an emotional time for the boys, it is more of an adventure as Jeremy takes Shane on a canoe trip that Shane feels lasts forever. Shane mind is elsewhere at first, as he is worried and scared concerned about where this trip will take them but as the trip continues the relationship between them changes.

 

I liked the relationship between the brothers. They each were trying to protect each other in their own way and they each had their own issues that were dealing with. Shane tried to look out for him yet, Jeremy was looking out for him also. The ending, I wasn’t expecting that, but it worked in its own way. Jeremy’s issue took center stage in this novel and I liked the way that the author drew attention to it without throwing it in your face: the way Jeremy was constantly taking apart and putting together his M16, the way he looked over his shoulder repetitively, the way that Shane looked at him, and the way that he never slept, etc. A great book about living with challenges, about war, and about family and relationships.
I received a copy of this novel from Candlewick Press, thank you for sending me a copy of this novel. This review is my own opinion.

Evicted

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City - Matthew Desmond

It used to be a rarity, for other individuals used to fight to protect each other as law enforcement attempted to throw someone out onto the street for failure to pay their rent but now, eviction has become a common sight. The implications of this normality have major implications and Matthew Desmond did an excellent job of showing how eviction has shaped our society and changed individuals in his new novel, Evicted. I had to read this novel over a couple days as I needed time to digest the information, for Desmond drove headfirst into this assignment as he followed eight families in Milwaukee and lived among his subjects for this novel. He lived with them, spoke directly with them, spoke with their landlords, and took thousands of pages of notes before even attempting to write this novel.

 

I saw this relationship as a game. The tenants are trying to find the cheapest places to live and the landlords are trying to give them cheap places and what they both found in the long run is not what they visualized. For tenants, other needs and wants cropped up as they lived their lives and they took priority over their rent causing their rent to fall behind. If something in the apartment is/got broken, they tried to withhold rent until it was fixed. Sometimes the tenants fell farther and farther behind on their rent, they were digging themselves into a hole. For landlords, the bills must get paid on the property and the tenant had promised to pay the rent when they moved in. Eviction was a way to get someone else in there to pay the rent. This was a vicious cycle for some tenants as they moved from place to place. The landlords seemed to know the loopholes in the system, they knew how to work around things and it burned me how they treated some of their tenants. Where were the tenants’ rights?

 

Sometimes landlords would tell the tenants what was wrong with the apartment before renting it out, leading the tenants to believe that it would be fixed but the landlord knew better. The amount of applications that individuals would fill out to try to find housing was absurd, sometimes even lying, showed just how desperate and awful this situation had become. The stories inside this novel broke my heart, the way the families were split apart because they didn’t have the means to support them. Children uprooted from schools, from their family and from their support system over and over again. Thinking about the mental, health and psychological welfare of these individuals was just overwhelming. Will history repeat itself? Desmond talks about his emotions while writing this novel, how it affected him and how it changed him. Desmond offers suggestions on how we can change this issue and the future of eviction as he sees it. I feel that everything is linked and you can definitely see this in this novel. This novel is powerful, I am thankful for Desmond’s work and I am thankful that wrote this novel. This is one amazing read, one that moved me and a novel that I will be opening up again. I highly recommend it.
I won a copy of this novel from Crown Publishing and Read It Forward in the Silent Book Club Sweepstakes.

I Found You

I Found You - Lisa Jewell

Ha! This was an amazing read. From the beginning, I was charmed by its innocence and then as the pages rolled along I was cast into a storyline filled with amazing characters that filled out this story. It was a story brilliantly told, a story where we had to peek back in time to see where the story originated to find the root of its evil and when it all came together, it was a masterpiece. I truly loved it! My first novel by Lisa Jewell but it will definitely not be my last.

 

He couldn’t remember his past but he was drawn to the ocean and this particular section of it. Alice, a single mother notices the man sitting on the beach, just staring out into the ocean. As it starts to rain, he continues to sit and stare, not moving, just staring out into the water. His name nor what he is doing, he cannot remember yet Alice decides to take him home where she lives with her three children. Lily had married Carl ten days ago, and he just started back to work after their honeymoon. It’s been twenty-four hours and Carl still is not home from work, Lily can file a missing person’s report but she realizes she doesn’t know much about Carl. Are these two stories even related? It’s 1993, (about 20 years earlier) the Rabbit Cottage is being rented by Tony and Pam and their two children Kristy and Gray. They do this every year but this year they will met Mark who is staying with his aunt. There is no turning back now as this story has me in its grips.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.

A Tragic Wreck

A Tragic Wreck - T.K. Leigh

She doesn’t want him, he doesn’t want her, she doesn’t want him, he doesn’t want her, yet they keep reaching out to each other and they can’t stop thinking of each other. If they both weren’t so good together I would have shut this book a long time ago! But see, they are so good together, I mean they are hot together, scorching hot. They cannot keep their hands off one another and the pages almost go up in flames when things get heated between the two of them.

There’s a past to this couple and we learned about this is book one. Through this novel, this secret is slowly coming to her in her dreams and Alexander is not letting her in on the secret. The secret is starting to come to the surface and I am beginning to wonder how Olivia is going to handle the truth when it is revealed. Alexander thinks he has her under control, but does he? Libby has left Alexander in book one and is now living secretly in a Florida beach home. She met a new man who is nothing like Alexander but maybe that is what she needs. When Libby goes to use her credit card, Alexander finds out where Libby is. In the meantime, Alexander is trying to put Libby out of his mind and Chelsea is stepping right in to fill that void. They are each trying to find someone else to fill the shoes of each other but their hearts are still filled with each other. Alexander goes to Florida, he needs to see Libby and what happens was a slap in the face but hey, it is just the beginning as they try to figure out what is their beautiful mess.

 

The relationship is off and on during this novel and it drove me crazy after a while, I mean come on, you either want one another or you don’t. Libby and Alexander think about each other all the time and their thoughts consume them, so why do they think they don’t want each other? Call it lust maybe. A warning too, the sensual scenes are very sensual so be careful if you are reading them out in the public. Don’t want your smile to get too big on your face. I cannot believe too that there is another cliffhanger in this one, darn it. I won a copy of this book from Back Off My Books.
For adult readers only as there is strong language, exploit scenes and mild violence.

The Dead Inside - a true memoir

The Dead Inside - Cyndy Drew Etler

Oh, to be “cool.” This novel was one of those books that after I read it, I stopped and reflected about what actually I had just read. I thought there were moments inside this novel that had excellent issues to ponder and the novel being a memoir made it hit home even harder. It wasn’t that Cyndy was a bad kid, she had just wanted to be with the cool kids and get away from her home life. She experimented with drugs just a few times to look “cool” and after reading the novel, I thought what could she had done differently because what she did now would change her life forever.

 

Cyndy thought she had finally become someone as she was now “cool” but this “coolness” came at a cost. No longer listening to her mother, her mother had her arrested and foster care became her new home. She loved it here, she had rules but no one touched her and she was accountable for herself. Her time was up and her mother found her a new place, Straight, Inc. To me, it felt it was like a cult, the children all behaving in automation. This drug rehab center for teens was in a warehouse, where it was worse than boot camp, where the teens lie just to get a ticket out. With honest accounts, Cyndy tells her story of being a straightling. I listened intently as she told her story, absorbed as she lives her days out in the straightling facility. She doesn’t feel she belongs there but she has no choice now, she crossed the line. I had a hard time sitting still at the meetings, her mother gathering the support of the others around her, she played the victim well. Her child, Cyndy carrying the weight of her childhood, feeling alone in the sea of others around her. Did it really need to come to this? When did it all go wrong? She was so desperate to fit it, the ramifications of her actions she didn’t see coming and what other choices could she had made? This was an excellent novel and a hard one to read thinking that this was a true story.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Sourcebook Fire in exchange for an honest review,

Shallow End

Shallow End: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery - Brenda Chapman

This novel was a huge disappointment for me. Perhaps it was because it was the fourth book in the series and I hadn’t read any of the previous novels leading up to this one so I wasn’t up-to-date with all the characters and their relationships but this novel was boring for me until the very end. With no clues to help the team after the initial case, they had nothing to focus on which lead them to reexam the same individuals over and over again, hoping that it would lead to something. I was introduced to members of the police department and the ghosts that lived there so I was finally getting to know the stories behind the individuals who were assigned to the case. Then, they finally got a break. Just what everyone including me had been waiting for on this case and things began moving rapidly on this case. It’s a crazy, twisted story in the end, one that had been well planned out.

 

My feelings on this novel is that there was nothing to entertain me with in the beginning besides the initial case. The ending was where everything occurred and in the middle, I was just waiting for something, anything to happen. I would like to start this series from the beginning in the future as I enjoyed the author’s writing but this novel by itself, I give it a 3.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Dundurn in exchange for an honest review.

My Last Lament

My Last Lament - James William Brown

What I loved about this novel was the journey that I took. Aliki was asked to talk about her life as a lamenter, recording her story on a tape recorder and some tapes for which a woman would later return and collect from her. As a lamenter, wearing the shoes of a deceased individual, Aliki would enter into a state, where she would compose a chant talking about the deceased individual and their life. It was usually the older individuals who called upon Aliki and then when her services were completed, the body was ready for burial. Aliki thought she should begin her story and these tapes at the beginning and so it is here in 1943, Aliki is 14 and the Germans are living in her homeland. This story is told to us as if it is spoken on audiotapes. It’s a story about Aliki when she grew up and about her current situation, simultaneously.

 

Her friend Stelios begins to make puppets and he asks Aliki to help him put on a show. The two of them become great puppeteers together and you can feel a closeness between them. Takis begins to act strangely but the two of them don’t pay much attention to him as I feel they are preoccupied with their own lives. The story becomes quite intense as the Germans hold nothing back as they attack the village, for it is time for them to leave and their exit is dramatic. This is a story of itself as their lives are no longer as they were. Stelios decides he will go to Athens. Aliki decides she will go with him and they will take Takis with them. With hearts that are heavy, promises that have been made, and troubles from within, these three individuals wander out into the world to find their place in it. I enjoyed their travels, their turmoil’s and their accomplishments. With lots of conflicts and drama, I liked the fight that Aliki fought all by herself. As we hear this story of her life we also hear how Aliki is dealing with her current situation. I liked this part of the story as Aliki was funny and she had a spark in her. Her life has been adventurous and now, one of her oldest friends is losing the battle of their life. This is not a real sad time in the novel but a time for reflection. Aliki reflects and talks with her friend and I like how the two of them chat and reminisce. This novel was better than what I had expected.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge