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Sandy

My Never Ending List

I read almost every genre & I enjoy venturing into unfamiliar territory. As a library volunteer, I'm constantly bringing home novels. Being a substitute teacher, I read lots of YA & children's books.  

A Tender Moment

I found this on Facebook and I thought I would share.  Neil Gaiman, a Holocaust survivor, a famous poet, and a few more components make this clip special. 

 

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/01/08/neil-gaiman-reads-ursula-k-le-guin/?fbclid=IwAR3QDpNXpB_5zC-V72rVbF3a5R9IC4sg0uJtIFU58dlXSWYKYU-hu7mJfrw

 

 

 

 

Renaissance Faire

Yesterday was our 5th annual Renaissance Faire at our library.  A day filled with talks, sword fighting, juggling, a tea with the Queen, a Knighting, acrobats, crafts, games, displays and lots of individuals walking around in their Renaissance attire.   The cafe served a roasted turkey leg lunch to help put you in mood.  

 

I talked to a few individuals and learned about fabric, leather, pockets, purses, and weapons.  It was very educational and I think every year,  I learn something different.

  

This year it was also the day that we also got our first snow but I don't think it put a damper on the individuals who showed up, they just seemed to come later in the day.  Everyone, children and adults alike had a great time.  

 

(pictures of the learning sword fighting, sword fighting, tea with the Queen, displays) 

 

Say What?

I just got a message from NetGalley pertaining to their End of the Year Survey that I filled out .........I won!  I actually wonder sometimes when I fill these surveys out why I do them as sometimes they take a lot of time but this one paid off.  I won a $50 gift certificate to the book store of my choice!  

 

 

 

I Owe You One

I Owe You One - Sophie Kinsella
I have read a few of Sophie’s novels before so I thought I knew what I was getting into, but this novel was different. When I read the main character’s nickname and figured out that we would be referring to that throughout the entire novel, that threw me for a loop, Fixie? Really? Sophie, I know you can do better. This novel had its highs and lows and all-in-all, I have to say that it was an OK read.
 
Let’s start with what I liked, I enjoyed the parts of the novel where Fixie started to realized her self-worth and she exerted herself. I believe this began when she visited a nearby coffee shop and begins a long exchange with Sebastian. Sebastian made Fixie feel alive again and she wasn’t just going through life. Sebastian helps her realize her potential which she needs, as she gets sucked into her daily life and the individuals who walk all over her. The more that she sees Sebastian, the more she is able to find her true voice. The problem lies with Sebastian. Briony waltzes into the picture, who is Sebastian’s girlfriend. I thought of Briony as a show pony and Fixie feels that she’s no competition against her.
 
Fixie must be exertive when it comes to the family business as it seems she takes the business more seriously than any of her siblings. When her mother takes a leave of absence, mother stated that Fixie was the glue that kept everyone together, so mother knew how important Fixie was. I liked the reference to the cup sleeve and I thought the storyline in general was really good. I thought some issues in the story were just really extreme and those are the things I didn’t care for.
 
Fixie, herself, was too extreme for me at times. She let too many people take advantage of her. She had great role models yet she let everyone take a piece of her. When mother was gone, I thought that what occurred while she was gone, was totally out of control. Those individuals had no business sense.
 
Sebastian saved the novel for me. Sebastian brought Fixie around which changed the whole story for me. Overall, it was an entertaining and engaging read and I look forward to more novels by Sophie in the future.
 
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

 

Little gifts

I hadn't started reading An Anonymous Girl when I received a small gift in the mail from the publisher.  This small gift peaked my curiosity as to how this trinket would relate to the novel as I wasn't going to reread the synopsis before diving headfirst into the novel.  As I read,  I had that aha moment, when it clicked and I have to say, these gifts are clever.  Oh, so clever!

 

 

Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World - Vicki Myron, Bret Witter
As I read about Dewey, I thought about the cats that I have had over the years. Dewey playfulness, his curiosity and the way he seemed to read the emotions of others, sounded like some of my own furry friends that I have had. He had somehow landed in the perfect spot many years ago, finding his forever home, loved by many, and was now etched in many individual’s hearts forever.
 
Abandoned in a library book drop-box, this small, cold, yellow tabby didn’t realize how lucky he was to have been dumped in the hands of the individuals in the town of Spencer, Iowa. Spencer is not one of the bigger cities in Iowa but to individuals around that rural area, they are. Going through the proper channels, the library finally gets the okay that the cat can remain in the library. A name contest was started with patrons entering their suggestions and Dewey was selected as the winning name for the yellow tabby.
 
As word about Dewey’s arrival spread, he became quite popular and attendance at the library increased. Some patrons came just to see Dewey, while others started to stay longer and Dewey enjoyed all the attention he received. Of course, there are some individuals who are against having Dewey in the library and I was glad that the author included their opinions in the book.
 
Dewey seems to be enjoying his life inside the library as individuals visit quite frequently to see him, some even travel quite a distance to visit him. He becomes quite famous with articles and shows presenting Dewey as the star.
 
I liked how Dewey was free to wander around the library and he wasn’t locked up all the time. He could be a cat and wander and be curious about his world. His ability to be affectionate to individuals who he felt needed it, warmed my heart and I can just imagine how it felt to the individuals he was sitting with.
 
Dewey had touched the lives of many individuals, many that he hadn’t even known about. This was a great story, a story that hits your heart and puts a smile on your face.

 

The No-Good Nine

The No-Good Nine - John Bemelmans Marciano
I had a hard time with this novel. I liked the original idea of the children pursuing Santa after they find the “naughty list” and finding their names on it, but some of their adventure, I wasn’t too keen about.
 
The novel takes place in 1931, the time of the Great Depression. Peter realizes again, that he has a piece of coal in his Christmas stocking and in desperation as to why, he discovers a piece of paper while hunting again for his Christmas presents from Santa. This paper, Peter discovers is The Naughty List and Peter’s name is on it, with “Know-It-All” right beside it. Peter decides to track down some of the other individuals on the list from the Brat, Rude, Know-It-All, Thief, Hooligan, Cruel, Goody-Two-Shoes, Liar, etc. , and they create a secret club and a mission.
 
Their first meeting was entertaining with shouting, arguing and it was basically, a total mess. Finally, they decide to go visit Santa and let him know exactly how they feel about being on this list (yeah, this will not go over very well). While there, they will play with some of the good kid’s toys, and give him a list that they have created on their own. Meanwhile, Ivan has been secretly listening to everything that has been transpiring inside the building. He is Peter’s archenemy, who is now the school’s truant officer that knows Peter all too well. Ivan was also once a Russian spy.
 
The kids begin making their trek and it’s quite entertaining to watch them navigate their way. Not everything goes as planned and that’s to be expected with this novel.
 
I’m concerned about the audience of this novel. Geared for the middle school reader, I was wondering what middle school child would read this holiday book? There were some acts of violence that didn’t sit too well with me. Their appearance just didn’t seem fitting for this entertaining read. As the story continued, there were other events that I felt were more YA, than middle school.
 
I liked how the story began and how the children banded together to try to solve the problem. There were moments as they gathered together that were funny and entertaining. I liked how the descriptions of each child was also seen as I read the book. I feel that you should know the reader before passing this book off to them.

 

Tales From the Inner City

Tales from the Inner City - Shaun Tan
The cover of this novel is what drew me in but as I thumbed my initial way through this novel, it was the illustrations and the short stories that made me pick this book. I liked the way the author connected us humans with animals and although sometimes, as I read the stories, my imagination was stretched, I felt like a child again.
 
As I read, I was free from reality: I could see the bands of ponies navigating the street, I saw the woman giving hope to the frogs as she placed them in her purse and I saw the multitude of sharks sparkling on the street for which the end would never come.
 
The passages range from a few paragraphs to around 5 pages but they all were different in nature. I found that reading them once was not enough for me. Each time that I read them, I felt like I understood something else in the passage. I really enjoyed the symbolism and the word choice that was in each piece.
 
The enjoyed looking at the illustrations as I felt that they provided enough detail to get the gist of the piece while allowing the reader to fill in their own particulars.
 
Tan’s view on life and how he used the elements of humans and animals was interesting and enlightening. Inventive and clever, Tan presented this information in a fun and enjoyable novel that I really enjoyed. I feel that this novel addressed some deeper issues that some YA readers might not fully understand. They’ll still enjoy the novel but I think this novel is also for readers beyond the YA crowd, so don’t look at the YA label and walk away, it addresses issues beyond YA readers. There is a depth to this book.
 
This is my first novel by Shaun Tan but I feel that I need to look further into other novels that Tan has created.

 

The Prophet Calls

The Prophet Calls - Melanie Sumrow
Gentry lives in Watchful, a community in New Mexico, with her 3 moms, 21 brothers/sisters and 80 cousins while the Prophet is in Texas, in prison. There are other families living in this compound, all of them are one of God’s Chosen according to the Prophet. They have been warned about the individuals living outside their walls. At the age of 13, children are not allowed to play anymore and for Gentry, that also means she couldn’t play her most prized possession, her violin.
 
Gentry has just turned 13 and she knows that she shouldn’t be playing her most prized possession anymore. Gathering now for services, the congregation waits for the Prophet’s phone call. Asking to stall the crowd, Gentry and her brother are asked to play their instruments. It is a honor to play yet she is shocked since her violin is supposed to be off limits now that she turned 13. As she plays her cherished instrument, her brother thinks about the upcoming festival.
 
The Prophet’s son Dirk makes some harassing remarks to Gentry’s sister, a girl with special needs, who has shown her enjoyment of her siblings’ music. Gentry can’t hold back her tongue as she unleashes her own remarks back to the young man. Talking back to any male and then, talking back to the Prophet’s son are the Prophet’s rules that Gentry has just broken. This is just the beginning of trouble that Gentry finds herself in with her family and the congregation for her behavior and her views.
 
The love of music finds Gentry and her sibling in trouble as they go again the teaching of the Prophet in this novel. I felt that after a while, anything that Gentry did or touched was wrong in the eyes of the Prophet and ended in disaster for her. It wasn’t like I wanted her to stop what she was doing, as I understood her position, I just cringed as she continued on her journey. She was a strong, determined character, a character who wanted more out of life.
 
I recommend this novel as I really enjoyed it.

 

Illegal

Illegal - Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano
It was exhausting but it showed their reality. The journey that immigrants travel to find hope, to find their new life.
 
Months ago, Ebo’s sister left for a better life and now, his brother has left without him. Hoping to catch up with him, little Ebo leaves and finds that this journey is long and exhausting. With no money and no papers, he must first cross the Sahara Desert and then find passage across the Mediterranean Sea. Each of these stretches is dangerous and carries its own risks as Ebo comes to understand.
 
This was an excellent graphic novel to present this information to young readers. Easy to follow frames with detailed illustrations bring Ebo’s story to life. Presented with “now” and “then” stories that alternate in this graphic novel, we “now” begin Ebo’s story as he makes his journey across the Mediterranean Sea and “then” the story begins when Ebo realizes that his older brother has left him. This is a graphic novel that readers will be talking about.

 

No Fixed Address

No Fixed Address - Susin Nielsen
Felix has finally arrived at the school of his dreams. With a great French immersion program, his mother’s lies and their home on wheels, Felix can now take advantage of this opportunity. Reconnecting with Dylan, a previous great friend who now attends the school, the two boys are quite the team. An opportunity to join the school newspaper has the boys joining up with Winnie, to add some French to the tabloid.
 
Winnie’s serious mannerism changes slowly as she spends more time with the boys. I liked the friendship the three of them created and how they supported each other. Besides working on the newspaper together, they also helped each other study for the new game show which has some great prizes.
 
Living in the van with his mother was supposed to be a temporary solution but the days are stretching into months. As housing solutions become available, they quickly fall away and frustration settles in. I can feel the embarrassment and the frustration as Felix’s “house” is moved from street to street and as he secretly, washes up in public places.
 
Felix went through a host of emotions as he dealt with his homelessness. Trying to live a normal life as much as possible, Felix did an excellent job navigating his way.
 
I really enjoyed this novel. Addressing homelessness, depression, family and friends, this novel covers a variety of subject matters. I enjoyed the layers and rules of the lies that Felix’s mom created.

 

The sparkle in her eye

We had our granddaughter over last night for a sleepover.  She grabbed her handful of books before bed- 3 for papa and 3 for me and one that we do together.  Papa and I each read our longer book first, then we started in on the shorter ones.  Papa began reading and she was commenting that he was reading some of her sight words from Kindergarten (she just turned 6).  He then told her that maybe she could read the book.  He started pointing out each word as he read and she started chiming in as he read and he soon, faded away.  Soon, she was reading the book sounding out with Papa, the words that she didn't know.  The look on her face was priceless :)

 

When it was my turn to read, she noticed that my book was a level 2 book but she was ready to read again.  As I pointed out each word, she read them  and the ones that she didn't know she tried to sound them out with me.  We were high-fiving all through the book.  She was beaming when we made it to the end.  That sparkle in her eye was amazing!!

 

Today, when my son and his wife came to pick her up, she grabbed the book and she read it to them.  With a smile on her face, she kept looking up at them as she read, she so proud of herself.  I think there were some misty eyes among us as she finished the last page.  With that book under her arm, she's taking it home to practice on the words, that she didn't know.  

 

World, we got another reader!!

Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel - Steven Levenson, Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, Val Emmich
I was glued to this book. The lies just kept rolling off Evan’s lips and I just had to know how he was going to find his way out of them. I cringed every time someone spoke to Evan, as I wasn’t sure whether he was going to speak the truth or lie. Evan knew exactly what he was doing and that that eventually, his lies were going to catch up with him sooner or later. Evan’s lies were giving him exactly what he wanted and he felt externally that, life was good. Internally, it was a different story. I was a nervous wreck. When were individuals going to catch on to what was exactly happening and what were the ramifications going to be?
 
Evan’s a loner. Evan would like to be a part of something but when you feel invisible, live with anxiety and low self-esteem, that’s hard to do. When Connor gets ahold of a letter that Evan wrote as part of his therapy, Evan worries what might happen to this message but what actually occurs is much bigger than he imaged.
 
The two had talked, yet not enough to validate Evan’s remarks after Connor commits suicide. As Connor’s parents approach Evan with his letter, Evan can’t tell them the truth. With Evan’s letter in their possession, Connor and Evan look like best friends but that piece of paper is the only thing that ties them together. The lies start, they flow freely, Evan can’t seem to stop, even when he knows what he is doing is wrong.
 
Evan begins to become a different person but beneath all the layers, he’s still the same person. If he stops now, I think he could become the person he created over time. Is this what he wants? What exactly does he want, now that he has finally become a part of something? He’s living the dream.
 
It was an good read. I cringed to read what was going to happen yet I needed to know. I read that this book was based on a musical which I haven’t seen yet. I’m going to see if I can find this musical and see if it’s anything like this book.

 

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals - Ben Hoare
What a beautiful book this is! From the outside cover to the inside pages, this book is one that will be used over and over again. If you’re an animal lover or know of one, this book should be on your radar. With amazing pictures and a condensed, educational summary of over 100 species of animals, this book is sure to capture your attention.
 
I love the way this book is presented beginning with its cover. The teal cover with the gold lettering, the design takes center-stage. The gold continues along the top, bottom and fore edges of the book. When closed, the book is teal or gold (pages included) with a silky green ribbon attached to be used as a bookmark. Such a beautiful book!
 
From ocean life to land animals to birds, the book is springing with life. Each animal has a two-page spread with a realistic photo and facts about that animal. Some of these photos are big and very detailed. Bats, viper fish, raccoon, moles, geckos, and pheasants, are some of the animals. The animals presented are not exotic but I found the information presented is fun and informational.
 
Fact: If we could drink like a camel, we would have to drink a glass of water every two seconds for 10 minutes.
 
Fact: Kangaroos lick spit onto their arms to help them cool down.
 
I really enjoyed this non-fiction book for kids. DK did it again and I have to commend them for another fantastic book for children. My six-year old granddaughter would love this book. She has decided that she is going to be a scientist when she grows up and I can see her carrying this book to bed with her at night and studying up on her animals.

 

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid - Dylan Thuras
The information inside this non-fiction children’s book was very interesting and it made me want to pack my bags and hop on an airplane. I would love to go see the Capuchin Catacombs in Italy and Ho Thuy Tien Water Park in Vietnam, they both sound like great destinations. The book provides just enough information to intrigue my interest in each of the destinations as I travel around the globe. This was such a fun and educational read.
 
Each two-page spread features a region where two unique, places are highlighted. With 50 regions, you get 100 different places to explore that are described in a few paragraphs. There is Kolmanskop, The Odyssey Shipwreck and Skeleton Lake, just to name a few, there is bound to be a destination for everyone. I was intrigued with all these unique places around the globe. With a terrific index and glossary, it’s easy to find what you are looking for.
 
This book is filled with 50 different destinations across the globe. Since this is a children’s book, I can’t see children using this to plan a trip unless they live close to the destination that they chose. So, the “100 extraordinary places to visit” that was written on the front of the cover was hard to believe for this children’s book. I also was disappointed in the illustrations. After all the work the author did to find such great locations, I would have thought the illustrations would have been more life-like. They would have added more to the excitement of the destination than the illustrations that did make its way to the book’s pages.
 
This book provided entertaining and fun information that I really enjoyed but the illustrations were a disappointment for me. I think older children will enjoy reading about these destinations, as will adults but to plan a trip, children will have to “dream” while adults might actually be able to pack their bags. It’s a book worth looking into.

 

The Skies Above My Eyes

The Skies Above My Eyes - Charlotte Guillain
This large book folds out so that all the pages in the book make one big long piece of paper. While that is a cool way to design this book, it’s hard to read it that way, so I read this book accordion-style which is how this book is folded to fit nicely inside the cover pages. I then, stretched the huge page out to fully grasp the whole concept of this monster-sized page.
 
This book is a journey into the sky above our heads. There is writing and colorful illustrations on both sides of the cardstock paper which covers everything from skyscrapers, clouds, birds, planets, astronauts, and the different layers of the atmosphere.
 
The two pages are different somewhat. They both start off by showing you things that you can see right above your eyes, at the bottom of the page. As you look up the page, it’s like looking up into the sky. The book places items according to how many miles above Earth they occur and in which atmosphere they occur.
 
Looking further up on one of the pages, you see items in the Stratosphere, the Mesosphere, the Thermosphere, and then we cross over the imaginary line that marks the beginning of space which, I didn’t even know had a name! This is known as the Karman Line. Now the page is sectioned off only by how many miles above Earth they are, so the further you look up the page, the farther from Earth you are. At the very top of the page, you are out of the Solar System beyond Kuiper Belt.
 
On the other side of this huge pull-out page, again we start off by looking at the items right above our head but the increments above our head are not so vast. It’s a slower incline: 1 mile, 3 miles, and it take a bit of time to get to 9 miles. We only hit the Mesosphere and the Exosphere on this side of the pull-out because there are more illustrations and more information in these atmospheres.
 
I learned a few things as I read through this colorful book and I think kids will like the pull-out concept, although I wasn’t a big fan. I liked how the book was arranged and I really enjoyed the colorful illustrations. I liked how they didn’t get crazy with the font in this book. They stayed with black and white and they used large enough fonts so you could read it as you enjoyed the illustrations. This is a fun, educational book that I feel kids will love to look at and read.