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.

As Brave As You

As Brave As You - Jason Reynolds

They were sent to their grandparents as their parents were having problems and they had planned a trip without Ernie and Genie. As they settled in for the month, these two brothers were finding that they enjoyed county living and that Virginia wasn’t so bad. Genie was worried that without internet service he would not be able to find answers for all the questions that seemed to pop up in his mind, questions that needed answers that he would find on Google. Ernie was more social and he liked girls. What would the two of them do all month in North Hill, Virginia?

 

Enter Tess, from down the hill, who Ernie falls in love with. She is different than the girls Ernie usually likes, she’s a country girl and Ernie s a city boy. Tess’ house has internet service which Genie is able to take advantage of. He can look up all the answers to his questions and boy, does this child have the questions. Grandma sets the boys up with chores, first cleaning up the dog poop in the yard. They start flinging the poop into the forest and soon it becomes a game. Grandma gives them other daily chores and they take hold of these responsibilities. Ernie spends most of his time with Tess as he is in looovvveee. Genie spends time with his grandpop, his inquiring mind takes in his surrounding and he wants to know everything. I love how Genie questions his grandpop about his blindness. His grandpop’s honesty and the rapid-fire question and answer session between the two of them was priceless. Grandpop sure was adamant about grandma not taking care of him, he wanted to make sure that everyone knew that he is able to care for himself. The inside-outside room was interesting and I liked how Genie kept things to himself. Ernie’s birthday and his rite-of-passage was another highlight of this novel. I enjoyed how Ernie and Genie had different personalities and how they conversed with one another. This was a great novel to read as the pace was quick and I think both girls and boys would enjoy this novel.

He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly

It’s so creepy and so good! This novel is not about the act of rape so don’t worry about having to get caught up its illegalities, this novel is a thriller which might catch you off guard if you aren’t watching.

The novel opens with Laura pregnant with twins. Kit, her boyfriend, is off hunting down another eclipse. Laura knows that Kit must go on this trip but she knows that she will be worried the whole time that he is gone. The couple have been living in seclusion for years and they fear that one day, their lives will be turned upside down. Of course, I am confused at what is happening within Laura and Kit’s life and why they would live in seclusion so many year but now the novel has switched to the year 1999 and hopefully I will learn why.

 

Laura and Kit are at a festival. It’s crowded, it’s lively and the highlight of this festival will be an eclipse but for now, they are walking around. They have found their way into a secluded section, they see a couple having sex. Laura notices the look on the woman’s face. Is this couple having consensual sex or is it rape? The woman is not responding when Laura tries to talk to her so they call the police and set things in motion. This act will change their lives forever. In the trial, they are the witnesses but it does not end there as the author wants us to squirm some more as these individuals encounter each other again. It was beautiful, this novel was a great page turner, one which left me speechless and wanting more! I highly recommend it but be ready for the novel to consume you. I only wish I could erase my memory and I could read it again.


I received an advanced copy of this novel from Minotaur Books in exchange for an honest review- thanks Minotaur Books.
#HeSaidSheSaid #WhoDoYouBelieve

Survivor's Club: The True Story of Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz - Michael Bornstein, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat

He was born a Jew during the German invasion and Michael and his family lived in an open ghetto. Bribing a German officer, his father saved his family for many months with cash collected from their community. Eventually Michael’s family found themselves in Auschwitz, where they were the last prisoners to have their numbers etched in their arms. Michael, the youngest child in the camp is grouped with his mother (Mamishu) and grandmother (Babeshi) while his brother and father are placed in another group. Mamishu continues to care for Michael as best as she can, given the extreme conditions that they are in, hoping that one day the family will be reunited and that they will return to their home in Zarki. Meanwhile all around them, the horrors of Auschwitz descent upon them. Michael survived this ordeal as he was filmed in 1945 by the Soviets being “carried out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms.”

 

  1. I appreciate the author’s ability to reconstruct his family’s history and share it with others. I enjoyed reading this novel and I enjoyed the second half of this novel especially. I liked how some matters came full circle for Michael, for these matters became an emotional tie. This novel is great for individuals who like nonfiction, history, WWII, memoirs, or survival.

The Dead House

The Dead House - Dawn Kurtagich

She came out at night and I thought she was the fun one, the dark one. These two girls left each other notes to communicate, to let each other know exactly what was happening and what to expect should someone mention something that they didn’t understand. It seemed to me that Kaitlyn was more dependent on Carly than the other way around, for Kaitlyn talked about Carly continuously and she worried when she hadn’t heard from Carly even if it was just for a day or two. It wasn’t the perfect scenario but it worked for them until the day Carly vanished and the communication between the two of them was severed. What really happened to Carley? Did it have to do with the Dead House or was it Carly herself? Kaitlyn panicked, she was losing it when Carley didn’t respond to her: where did Carly go and why did she leave her? It wouldn’t be such a difficult question to answer if, Carly and Kaitlyn where not the same person. Carly is a girl, a girl who everyone sees during the day and Kaitlyn is the person who exists in the nighttime hours, taking over Carly’s body. Strange, yes, interesting, of course.

 

What I found most intriguing about this novel was all the different formats the author uses to get to the bottom of this mystery: letters, tapes, journal entries, diary entries, and interviews. These formats were recovered and now were being reconstructed to solve the unknown. There had been an accident where the lives of Carly and Kaitlyn’s parents were taken but the girls do not recall it. Between a facility where the doctors hope they can help them and their school, the girls meet a variety of individuals who help round out this novel. Each of these characters are instrumental to the case. Using a variety of formats, they try to piece together what happened and the story is relived. They are recreating history. I enjoyed listening to this novel as I thought the audio helped reinforce the different formats used in this novel, making the story more realistic. It was such a difference novel to listen to, not scary but mysterious and shadowy. I highly recommend listening to this novel on audio to get the full effect.

The Doll's House: The Sandman #2

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House - Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Jones III, Steve Parkhouse, Todd Klein, Chris Bachalo, Mike Dringenberg, Michael Zulli

I had a hard time with this graphic novel. Since this is the second book in the series, this novel takes right off where the first novel ended and I had no problem following the beginning of this story as Lucien is counting the arcana in the dreaming world for the Dream Lord. Lucien finds there are four major subjects missing and that there is a new vortex who happens to be girl. Dream is already aware of this new vortex as he has seen her watching them and her name is Rose. Rose has been in their dream world yet she is not aware of who these individuals are. Rose and her mom got free tickets to England and on their way, Rose has been napping, experiencing unique dreams that she cannot explain. When Rose arrives in England with her mother, they were whisked away to meet an elderly woman who is later revealed to be Rose’s grandmother. I am thinking something sinister is about to occur as Rose’s dreams are starting to become reality.

 

Then it happens…… the book becomes jumpy and I am not sure what really happened. Another storyline comes into play and I am thrown off. New characters come out of nowhere and I turn back the page to see if I missed something but there is nothing. I continue reading and again, I think I have stumbled into different characters and another storyline. Finally, I find Rose and she is somewhere different. She is in a hotel room, alone and she trying to locate her brother whom she hasn’t seen in years. New characters are added and I am following her story again but later, I am lost again. This was frustrating but I did continue reading, hoping it would all come together. In the end, it was hopeless for me. I did love some of the illustrations. These illustrations were bizarre, distorted and really unique. The characters looked lost to our world, dark and wanting out. What they meant I have no idea. I tried to picture walk this novel: trying to read the pictures to figure out the nature of the book but I got nothing. I’m throwing in the towel for this novel and the series. Why the stars? For the illustrations and the how the book came full circle.

I am addicted to this serries

Killer Whale Vs. Great White Shark - Jerry Pallotta, Rob Bolster

I must admit that I am addicted to this series right now. The ones that I don’t have in my possession, I have on hold at the library. I took four of them into a sixth-grade classroom I was subbing in the other day and they were an instant hit with the kids. I asked the question on the front of the book to the kids, I had them raise their hands to see which species got the most votes. I then gave them a picture walk of the information contained in the book and then I quickly walked them through how the fight went on at the end of this nonfiction children book. They were all ears, hoping that the species they choose won. Some decided to change their original hypothesis after I told them some of the facts inside the book but I loved how they all were listening and wanting to know the outcome. Afterwards, I had some of the kids wanting to read the books for their read-to-self books. Now, that is a testament to these books.

 

With bright, colorful, realistic, illustrations these books are a gem. Using a variety of font styles and sizes the information is scattered throughout the pages in an easy to read format. With one side of the page devoted to one species and the other species devoted to the other. I liked how the author compared and contrasted the information of the species inside the book, whether it be its habitat, it’s size, how fast it moves, it’s skeleton or what it eats, etc... Each book also has text boxes with Did You Know? Information and some other text boxes with Fun Facts, Bonus Facts, Important Facts that contain interesting information. At the end of the book, is the duel between the species. I find these duels rather comical as they are like watching a WWW match. Every move, every piece of action is written down so it feels as if you are actually there. In the end, there is only one winner. Will it be the one that you had chosen?

 

In Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear, I liked how the author talked about hair color, paw size, and about their skeleton. The story about their fight was not what I nor the students had hoped for and we had quite a discussion about this, which was good.

 

In Komodo Dragon vs. King Cobra, I learned a great deal as I knew nothing about Komodo Dragons. Everything about them was interesting and new to me. Some of the students also didn’t know much about them so I was happy about that. The information on both these species babies was interesting, the skeletons was cool, their venom was interesting and their teeth got some aahhs from the class. Again, they predicted the fight outcome although they didn’t want it to occur.

 

In Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark, this is the book I liked the most. I could have shown almost every page in this book as there were lots of interesting and informative pages in here. Their teeth sizes, the differences in sizes between the males and females plus the differences in their fin sizes, direction of their fins, how individuals look to these species, how they swim, and their brains. Such great information and boy, did this book spark the conversation. I am definitely picking up a copy of this one for myself.

 

So now I have to wait for the books at the library to come in, can’t wait to see what things I don’t know.

The Mother Promise

The Mother's Promise - Sally Hepworth

4,5 stars
They have never needed anyone else, Zoe and her mother have lived a secluded life and things were fine until Alice discovered she had cancer. They have no outside support, no one to help with transportation, no help with meals or just someone else to care. Alice claims they have no true friends and the only surviving family member they have is Paul, Alice’s brother who is a practicing alcoholic. I had to wonder if Alice had ever thought of this as she was raising Zoe. Did Alice ever think about Zoe’s future if something would ever happen to her? As Alice has surgery, Zoe is left at home alone. Implications arise when Kate, a nurse and Sonja, a social worker get involved in Alice’s case. I wanted someone to be with Zoe or to check on her while her mother was absent but I wasn’t sure if these women were the answer. Kate and Sonja each carry with them a secret that comes into play, a secret that they thought no one would see. As for Zoe, she cannot hide her social anxiety disorder as it affects almost everything she says and does.

 

After her surgery, Alice realizes that Zoe is not alone. Alice doesn’t like these new intruders in their life. Alice wants to go home and get on with life as if nothing has changed. Yet, life has changed for both Alice and Zoe. I had mixed feeling towards Alice as I read this novel. I wondered why she sheltered their lives and I wondered where their lives would be headed in the future. As the four women were introduced, I could see where their lives might intercept, the comfort and the distress that would await. They were meant to convene; these women were meant to touch each other’s lives and to make a difference.

 

I found myself cheering for Zoe in this novel for she is finally finding her way out. Zoe’s conversation with Harry sealed the deal with me, towards the end of the novel. The honesty and straightforward exchange that took place between them, how they exposed themselves to each other, they realized that they are not alone but are alike. I loved it! It’s the power of friendship and family, although these individuals might not be perfect, Alice finally sees that they are important and that they are needed. I really enjoyed this novel and although it was my first novel by Sally Hepworth, it will not be my last.
I won a copy of this novel in a Goodreads giveaways- thank you Goodreads. This review is my own opinion.

Who Would Win? Lion vs. TIger

Lion Vs. Tiger (Who Would Win?) - Jerry Pallotta

It’s the ultimate battle, lion and tiger, who will walk away the winner? That is the basis of this children’s nonfiction book. I made a prediction before opening the pages of this slim, colorful, paperback and by the time I finished reading I had learned a few things and I had found that my prediction was wrong according to this book.

 

Inside this book, the author compares the lion and the tiger side-by-side on each two-page spread. He compares their color, their size, their territory, how and what they like to hunt, the differences between the male and female of their species and their weight and length. Their skull, their teeth size and even their paws are examined. The author doesn’t stop there when comparing these two mammals for instance, did you know that a lion’s roar can be heard five miles away? Did you know that tigers purr between their roars and that a tiger’s roar is not as loud as the lions?

 

The illustrations inside this book are lifelike and each picture correspond to the information on the page. I found the Bonus Facts and the Did You Know? balloons on the pages full of fun and interesting information. The main text was bright and stood out on the pages and I thought it was fun how they used a variety of text fonts to highlight and to draw the reader’s attention to interesting facts on the pages. The pages weren’t overdramatic but catchy and appealing. In the final pages of the book, the fight is on. Lion and tiger have caught sight of each other and only one of them will walk away. I have made my original prediction and after reading this book, I have additional facts but I have kept my prediction. The author narrates this battle like a TV announcer: the tiger does this…., the lion did that……., the fight continues…..what will the outcome be? This is a fun and interesting children’s book that I think children and adults will enjoy. Easy to read and full of information, I think everyone will learn at least one thing by reading it.

You Don't Look Your Age: and Other Fairy Tales

You Don't Look Your Age: And Other Fairy Tales - Sheila Nevins

Last night after reading 40% of this novel, I just didn’t see what the excitement over this novel was. I have been seeing this novel pop up on different social media sites and I was excited to get my hands on it when it was released. I found myself reading a variety of short stories, all with different themes but there was nothing memorable about any of them. I have to call it quits, I am throwing in the towel, a DNF novel for me. Obviously, not a book for me.

He Said She Said

He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly

On page 307......well this is a total game changer! When did this happen? Well, what the hell!

Oh happy day!

its been a wonderful day! My youngest son graduated today from the College of Pharmacy-he was the Saluatorian from his class, from the University of Iowa.  I am so proud of him!  The future of healthcare is so unpredictable and changing now. Not sure how I feel about calling him Dr. Taylor

Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human - Jeff Garvin

I have mixed feeling about this novel. I liked that Riley gave others a way to express themselves by setting up a blog so that they could write in and talk about their own feeling and concerns but Riley never took ownership of this blog. I liked that Riley went to therapy where finally Riley could be honest about life and the personal feelings that Riley kept bottled up inside. But, what really upset me about this novel was that Riley’s own parents didn’t know who Riley really was. Riley claims that the gender topic came into question at a young age and now, while in high school, Riley’s parents still don’t know? How can they not notice the changes in Riley? How can they not notice Riley’s lack of identity?

 

The more that I read this novel, the more I begin to feel sorry for the individuals in Riley’s life. I didn’t feel that Riley respected them or that Riley was treating them fairly. I honestly don’t think Riley even realized that when Riley was not honest with them, she was hurting these individuals. When Riley was around Bee, I just about lost it. Where was this relationship supposed to go and who was to benefit? Riley talked privately about gender fluid, about being neutral, and Riley even dressed neutral yet some days that didn’t even help. Riley was bullied at school and even switched schools because lacking a gender identity drew the attention of others and made Riley a target. When was Riley really going to address the issue that he has been avoiding? When will Riley show others the real Riley? It will make his life less complicated and I believe the individuals in his life will understand him more.

Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman #1)

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, Vol. #1 - Mike Dringenberg, Neil Gaiman

He has finally escaped his imprisonment and now he needs to find his tools but who has them? He is the King of Dreams and without his tools, he is weak and powerless. In his weaken stage, he starts to gather what was once his so he can reign once again, in the world of dreams. I have to admit it took me a while to capture what was actually happening in this novel for I was lost by the chain of events and by the individuals in the panels. Why the events were happening and how these individuals were related are just a few of the questions that still puzzle my mind today, but knowing that this is a series, perhaps in the future, I will gain answers.

 

As a recent Neil Gaiman fan, I received this graphic novel from my son for Christmas. It was a surprise as I hadn’t come across this one yet. On a happy note, my library carries many of the next editions of this series, so I can borrow them. In this novel, I enjoyed all the references to music that were scattered throughout the text. Symbolic to the events transpiring on the page, there was music playing on the jukebox, characters singing or thinking about a specific tune. This novel was not tame, there were parts of this novel that many might find disgusting but I appreciate a good horror novel so I enjoyed these startling, dark illustrations with the disturbing characters with their fantastic facial expressions. Printed on glossy paper, the bright illustrations told the story of a King who was determined to get his power back. What will the King of Dreams accomplish when he has all his tools back, I have no idea but that is another question that I pondered? I wondered also if he is mad at the individual(s) who trapped him or if he is mad at his brother who was supposed to be the one trapped? Will he retaliate for all the years that he lost? There are so many questions that I have. I know that I am not a great reader of graphic novels as I feel that I am extremely slow. I feel as if I am analyzing each frame, afraid that I am missing something, perhaps a clue, before I continue on to the next frame. I picked up book two of this series today at the library, I hope there are some answers inside it and not more questions. Neil, give me some answers!

Bang

Bang - Barry Lyga

He was four when it happened. Sebastian doesn’t remember what happened that day and no one wants to talk about it to help him remember. He only knows that it was an accident, an accident that no one will forget and one that will haunt him forever. Sebastian has made plans. Occasionally, late at night, Sebastian rides his bike to an old abandon mobile home where he knows when the time is right, he will finally be able to put his mind at rest. For Sebastian feels guilty for killing his baby sister and in the end, he will again pull the trigger and this time, he will take his own life.

 

As I read knowing that Sebastian knew he was going to take his own life sometime in the future, there was this anticipation, this dread and yet this hope that something would come along for him. For Sebastian knew it needed to be done, he needed to take his life for the guilt was eating away at him. He thought everything would be okay when he was gone yet he claimed he didn’t remember what happened that day so I wanted to believe that somehow if he learned the truth, the guilt would vanish. I wanted to race through to the end of this novel to see, to hear, to witness how it turned out but shamefully I didn’t really want to know and I didn’t really want to be a witness to it. The more I read, I kept asking myself, can I stop reading this novel and not know the ending? Will I be okay not knowing if he succeeded in his ultimate goal?

 

Sebastian had one good friend Evan and Evan’s parents did not care for Sebastian. I was hoping that Evan might be his lifeline but the way the story was headed, this possibility was not looking good. With summer approaching, Sebastian’s mother informed him that his lazy days of summer were over and this summer marked the beginning of something new. He needed to be productive. With Sebastian’s state of mind, this set him off and they got into a heated argument. Always in the back of mind, I was wondering if today was “the day” that Sebastian would leave us but luckily Aneesa is moving in the neighborhood and she intrigued him. Aneesa gives Sebastian hope, she was innocent and they hit it off instantly. I couldn’t believe the direction this novel was headed in: the drama, the excitement and the ruckus for it was captivating but I kept asking myself is this really happening? Barry Lyga, you did it again, this novel was amazing. I love the way Barry plays with words, he commands them. There is power in words and he brilliantly uses words to stress a point whether that be five words on a page or the words the characters uses. His words, stop you in your tracks. I highly recommend this novel.

The Fire By Night

The Fire by Night - Teresa Messineo

I really enjoyed this novel. The excitement of two best friends experiencing the war from two different locations, made this novel one that I couldn’t put down and one that also frustrated me. Jo and Kay had been best friends back home and now the two friends found themselves far away from one another, taking the oath as nurses, in a war which sometimes did not make any sense. It was the Nurse’s Creed and these two women with the other nurses around them, lived by this oath, as they guarded their patients like soldiers and never left their side, even as bullets were raining down around them.

 

Told in diary format, the year is 1942 and Kay lives her life in a tunnel near Pearl Harbor. With other individuals sent over to care for the sick and dying, Kay cares for her patients inside this tunnel. They live like hermits; their patients are brought to them inside this tunnel and everyone lives in fear. To step outside this tunnel, would be to risk taking your own life as the Japanese patrol this area. Kay and her fellow nurses and doctors are allowed a few minutes outside the tunnel for fresh air but the view outside the tunnel is revolting. Casualties of the Japanese soldiers lay scattered about while small rodents rummage among them. After some time, Kay and her team must move out of the tunnel for they are being relocated. This move is hard for Kay, for she is leaving much more behind than just security and the tears are falling from my face as she leaves. War is hard and for Kay, this is only the beginning.

 

Jo, is as close to the front lines as a field hospital can get. I can feel the urgency and the desperation each time I read Jo’s entries. I feel as if I must be quiet as I read about Jo’s life, otherwise someone might hear me and they might start bombing Jo and her team. I seriously couldn’t get enough of Jo; this woman is amazing. She shows us that she is human, I can feel how scared she is yet this woman is devoted to the Nurse’s Creed 100% and while the war is hitting her unit hard, she’s standing. Jo somehow during all of this, she is finding the words to her childhood song to calm things down. I loved how these two best friends are still in each other thoughts as they are each experiencing their own little hell. This novel was great, I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it. It got my blood pumping and I was sad to see it end.

The Best of Adam Sharp

The Best of Adam Sharp - Graeme Simsion

He let her go, twenty years ago but inside she was never far away. For a few months, Adam and Angelina were in love. They were perfect together but the timing for this relationship was just not there. For Adam, this was his first love and it will forever pull at his heart strings.

 

One day out of the blue, he suddenly hears from Angelina and his mind races back to the past to what they once had. Adam begins to wonders why Angelina has unexpectedly called upon him after all these years and he begins to speculate where their future might be headed. I think that Adam has wishful thinking from that first message but it seems that Angelina is either vague with her words or something is up, as the two of them start corresponding quite regularly and I myself, was not too fond of where this was all headed. Adam was willing to give up his life with Claire to get back with Angelina and they hadn’t even see each other yet. After twenty years, he’s willing to waltz right back into Angelina’s life and reclaim her. It was as if he believed they could pick right back up from where they left off, like nothing has changed. I was questioning why possessed Angelina to contact Adam after all this time? Has she become a lonely housewife, is she acting on a sexual whim, these where just a few of the assumptions I gave to Angelina’s, this woman who I thought was up to no good. I am not unusually such a negative person but Angelina herself is married, both Adam and Angelina are successful people and the way she was corresponding with Adam, I just did not feel good about anything. As Adam makes his way to Angelia, their encounter only gets more interesting and surprising the more that I listened to this audio. Who would have thought it would amount to this? I just couldn’t understand why, it was amounting to this? People are funny sometimes.

 

I honestly got tired of listening to Adam’s voice throughout these tapes as he tells this story. I think it was the sound of his voice, the even tone of his speech as he narrated the journey his life but I had to know how things worked out with his first love. I think the novel was a bit long and wordy for what really happened but then again it might have been just listening to Adam's voice that made it seem that way.
I received a copy of this novel from Macmillan Audio in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for my copy.

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge