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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.  

Ha!

Foe - Iain Reid

That was brilliant!  I walked right into that one.  I will write more later but I could almost smack myself for getting caught up in this drama.  I finished it last night and I am still shaking my head this morning. Ha! 

 

Has anyone else read this short book?  I just curious what anyone else thought of it.  I'm really hoping I can get my 2-3 book-a-year husband to read it before it's due back to the library.  

Creepy (page 128)

Foe - Iain Reid

I’m not liking this Terrance.  He’s told Junior that he has made the list of the final individuals chosen and he keeps putting all these thoughts in his head so the poor guy can’t get them out.  Think about dreams, consciousness...  

 

Junior was happy when it was just his wife and him. Now, his head is going and Terrance is telling him how important he is, how valuable he is, that he’s vital to this plan. He’s creeping me out.  

 

Junior needs to kick him out, board up the doors and windows, and take his woman and hide in the basement.  Who is this dude? 

Broken Things

Broken Things - Lauren Oliver
Brynn, Mia and Owen are the Monsters of Brickhouse Lane and according to most of the citizens in town, they killed Summer five years ago. They were linked to the murder but why these three friends brutally murdered Summer, has not surfaced because they believe they are innocent. Individually innocent, as a whole….they’re not quite sure.
 
Written with two different time periods, we get the story from the current period and what happened five years ago. Five years ago, the relationships between these four was a bit shaky. It looked good on the outside but on the inside, individuals were harboring feelings they wouldn’t let out. Brynn, Mia, and Summer were writing a book, a sequel to a book they thought would be their own. It’s a fantasy novel and they kept this novel their secret, or so they thought.
 
Currently, everyone has returned home. Moving about, they notice the whispers and the stares from others as the citizens in town still label them as Summer’s murders. Wanting to investigate Summer’s death and put an end to it, they feel that Summer might have left some clues before her death but have no idea where they might be. As they search for the clues, they discover information about Summer they didn’t have before and they discover information about each other.
 
I liked the mystery and book aspect of the novel. The book that they were writing together, was a fantasy book where they wrote themselves in as characters. This book became a central part of the novel as they realized how important it was to Summer. I thought the ending was a bit rushed and Summer’s murderer (after all the investigating and such) was weak.

 

Don't Stop Believin' (audio)

Don't Stop Believin': The Man, the Band, and the Song that Inspired Generations - Jonathan Cain
I thought this was a great autobiography as it covers Cain’s life and his reflections during his lifetime, isn’t that what an autobiography is supposed to do? Some individuals are upset because this book talks too much about his childhood, it’s too religious and because it doesn’t cover enough of his life with the band Journey. Well, Cain had a life besides Journey. He had to begin his music career, get married, and experience a lot of hardships and failures along with some incredible successes and fun before he can join Journey.
 
I remember in the 80’s listening to Journey as I cleaned my house, cranking up the volume and forgetting about the task at hand. As I drove to work, I’d pop in some Journey along with some Def Leopard and sing, I didn’t care who saw me. It wasn’t until 2006 that I got to see them live, up-on-stage and I remember thinking, that it was just like Christmas! That summer, my daughter and I were “groupies” as we saw them four times as they toured with Def Leopard. I love that my daughter enjoys both these bands as she grew hearing their music from the speakers. Had I known the group would fall apart, I would have gone to more concerts that summer.
 
As Cain mentions in this book, there are individuals who have boycotted Journey as they adopt new band members when the original members drop out. I am one of these such individual. I tried the new Journey right after Steve Perry left and Arnel joined but to me, it just wasn’t the same. I cherish that summer my daughter and I spent going to concerts together, singing and dancing along with all the other fans. After reading this book, I now know more of the background information on his songs and I feel a deeper connection to the songs.
 
In this book, Cain begins by talking about his childhood. A fire ripped through one of the schools that he attended as a child, killing many students and teachers who were not able to escape. This tragedy haunted Cain for many years. Early one, Cain realized he had a musical talent which he took advantage of and he formed a small band with some of his classmates. I was shocked to hear that Cain’s first instrument was an accordion. Not an instrument I thought someone would WANT to take up.
 
What I enjoyed about this book was hearing how Cain plowed through when faced with another obstacle. It seemed that Cain was constantly being faced with one blow-after-another as he tried to start his career in music. His father’s encouragement kept him going too as his father believed that Cain had talent.
 
As Cain talks about the songs that he wrote or helped write, he talks about what they meant when he wrote them. They weren’t just thoughts that came into his head, these songs were based on events. Makes you want to listen to their songs and really think about them- the true feelings and meanings behind each and every last one.
 
Cain does talk about God throughout this book. Cain wavers throughout his life in his relationship with him- looking for a connection and answers to his questions.
 
I need to buy this book now. I would like to keep it to remember some of the songs and their true meanings as some of their songs are my favorite.

 

A True Cowboy Christmas

A True Cowboy Christmas - Caitlin Crews
Gray has a lot on his mind now that his father is no longer in the picture. They have just finished with the last of the funeral proceeding and instead of mourning, Gray’s mind is on trying to keep his family’s homestead. With his brother’s back, Gray explains to them that the ranch has been and always will be his home. Being a single father, his sibling can’t understand why Gray would choose this lifestyle for himself or his teen daughter. Frustrated, Gray decides that perhaps it is time for him to find another wife.
 
It’s funny when Gray tackles this issue. Gray is not looking for love or an emotional bond with his new wife, he is looking for a partner to share the load. A woman who is used to the harsh conditions, someone who can handle farm life and someone who won’t ask much from him. He finds that someone just down the road, a girl he has known all his life but failed to actually “see her.” He immediately goes to her house and inquires about marriage. Abby, of course is shocked at what Gray is asking of her and she has lots of questions. Gray doesn’t know it yet, but Abby has been crushing on Gray for years so inside her heart is pounding. I’m cracking up as I read their conversation and finally it is decided, that she needs some time to think his question over.
 
Abby lives with grandma and this woman is a sweetheart. Grandma tells it like it is and gives Abby some great advice throughout the novel. Abby decides to marry Gray and their ceremony will be small. Gray’s daughter is delighted that her father is getting married again and she welcomes Abby into the ranch without reservations. Both of these adults come into this marriage with issues. Their parents have played an important role in their lives and how significant that is, impacts their marriage. I liked how Abby stuck to her true self and how they both did some soul-searching within themselves to help change the situation.
 
This novel stuck with me as I read it, I had a hard time putting it down once I started as I needed to know how things progressed. I liked how the characters got emotional and this novel got steamy at times as they got comfortable. 4.5 stars
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

Road trip

I decided to take the 2- hour road trip to one of my favorite book stores/gift shops up south before the weather got too bad.   I listened to a book on tape on the way so that helped pass the time since the trees are mostly bare and it was a cloudy, gloomy day.  Driving home another 2-hours was the hard part ,as I just wanted to look at my haul.

 

I love this bookshop as they have such great unique gifts and fun things plus the books she carries, she has them displayed so you want to just pull up a chair and read.  I almost bought a few books but then realized that they were just new covers on books I already owned. I did see a few books that I wanted but this was not a trip about me but about people on my shopping list.  This shop is located in a historical, small town and this business is in an old building with three floors with old wooden stairs and floors.  The nostalgia of the place just seeps out of the cracks of the wood.  She places things for sale on the walls leading up the staircase and on the stairs.  The checkout counter is loaded with small items, so much so that its hard to find a place to stack your items to buy them.  There is just so much to see in this place that I have to walk through it twice as I miss lots of things my first time through.  Here are a few of the things I bought today. I also got some bookmarks, greeting cards, some pens, and Swedish Dishcloths.  I am excited about the two magnets - the cat and alligator in the dresses, for those are mine!  

 

The Chronicles of Narnia Pop-up

The Chronicles of Narnia Pop-up: Based on the Books by C. S. Lewis - Robert Sabuda, C.S. Lewis, Matthew S. Armstrong, Matthew Armstrong

I had no idea what this book was when I picked it up as it was wrapped-up in plastic when I bought it.  I had found it at one of our thrift stores and for .88 cents, I thought I would take a chance and just buy it.  I thought my granddaughter or my daughter-in-law might like it (she's an high school language arts teacher).

 

This book was like new inside and the pop-outs are fantastic!  They truly pop-out and they are really detailed and big.  I don't know which one I like the best out of the seven that are in the book.  I have never read the Chronicles of Narnia so I have nothing to go on for these illustrations but I did enjoy the little stories that accompanied these pop-outs.  This is a seven double-page book where there is a pop-out in the middle of each of these pages.  There were even four smaller pop-outs on a few of these pages and some of them are in a foldout.  

 

Little Whale

Little Whale - Mary Jo Weaver
I think the illustrations in this novel are fantastic. With the different shades of blue and white blanketing the pages, they create this dreamy and whimsical feeling to this children’s book. The large text is then set-off in these same identical colors which adds to this tranquil setting. It’s a sweet book about the long journey that a mother gray whale undertakes to get her baby to the cool Northern waters in spring.
 
Baby gray whales make this journey alone with their mothers every year and the gray whales in this book, show us how difficult and long this journey actually is. As Little Whale leaves the warm waters of the south, he questions his mother where they are headed. She tells him that they are beginning a long journey home. It truly is a long journey for Little Whale but Gray Whale is there, right beside her baby. Along the way, we see/read about how difficult the journey is for Little Whale.
 
What bothered me a bit about this book was that the mother was called Gray Whale in this book and not mother or Mother, Gray Whale. I knew she was the mother because of a note in the back of the book about migration and mother and calves. Also, in the text it states, “Gray Whale led her baby…” I just thought that was different and it bothered me a bit.
 
I thought this was a cute book, a marvelous story of the bond between a mother and her child. I really enjoyed Jo Weaver’s Little One children book also.

 

Heart Land

Heart Land - Kimberly Stuart
This was a cute, romance story that was a light read for me. Touching a bit on the religion side, I thought the novel main emphasis was that even though Grace wished to move on, her childhood home would always be a part of her.
 
Living in Iowa my entire life, there were parts of this story I could totally relate to and then, there were parts of this story which didn’t make sense. I didn’t realize this was a religious novel until I started reading it. The religious aspect wasn’t a major component of this novel as they were subtle.
 
On a positive note, I liked how Grace went after her dream and went to New York to be a designer. From Iowa to New York is a huge step and although, she was still climbing the ladder, she was trying. I liked how she reconnected with Tucker once she returned to Iowa and how she opened up to him. I also loved how she used the resources she had to remake herself in Iowa. I loved the encouragement that she gave to the Club Ladies; how she valued them and showed them this.
 
I really loved Gigi. She was a fantastic lady and her attitude was amazing. I loved it when she was at the flea market with her dresses.
 
Her comment about selling the dresses was so cute. As I read, I wondered about Grace’s relationship with Gigi. It seemed that Gigi was making all the effort except when it came to Grace’s dresses. When Grace graduated and headed off to NY, she didn’t stay in contact with individuals from Iowa, that puzzled me. She doesn’t seem like the type to cut ties so drastically. Then, when she returns back home, she comes with open arms. This just didn’t make sense.
 
A light romance where there’s not much drama getting in the way. 3.5 stars

 

Dry

Dry - Neal Shusterman, jarrod shusterman
I really got into this novel. The more I read, the more I could visualize this novel actually transpiring. As the water shortage flung individuals into a state of despair, they each fought for survival and would do anything to live through another day. As the book came to the close, I was disappointed in the ending. I felt it was a bit drawn out and the closure was just not what I expected from this novel. The novel did make me appreciate water more.
 
I brought this novel to work with me as I wanted needed to finish it. I read a bit before walking into work and I had hoped, there would be some time during the day, to slip in a chapter or two. Students saw the book by my bag and as I was explaining the novel, I had a few students look up and you should have seen their faces. Concern, shock and bewilderedness was plastered upon them. I had to laugh as I listened to them, as they actually thought what I was talking about was a news story. They didn’t realize I was talking about a book and they were worried about the individuals in California. I thought this was a priceless moment as I had them engrossed in this novel and in the author.
 
I liked that the novel begins immediately with the issue at hand, they have run out of water. Unable to fill up their dog’s water bowl, the family begins to inquire why their house is suddenly out of water. This issue begins small and then multiples. We also have the preppers in this novel, the individuals who has been stocking and preparing for the worse-case scenario to hit. Some individuals think of these people as strange or even over-the-top but they are the individuals who have everything that they need. I always thought I wanted to be a prepper but now, I’m not really sure.
 
In a crisis, most people will behave erratically, so when this emergency occurs, individuals start to look out for themselves. They begin looting, they begin searching for any available source and soon, their searches go deeper and are more creative. It started to make me think about how creative I would be in such a crisis. You really need to look outside the box as some of these citizens did to stay alive.
 
This was an entertaining and a compelling novel. This is my first novel that I have read by Neal Shusterman, although I have many other novels on my TBR list by him. I highly recommend this one. 4.5 stars

 

Friends Book Sale

I’ve been volunteering at our Friends of the Library Book Sale the past few days.  Great to be with other readers and yet such a tempting time. Found some of my books on my TBR pile and a few others I thought,  I needed to buy. Staying away tomorrow as it’s box day and that just sounds like trouble. As a floater, I stacked some piles with books that I enjoyed, so other will notice them and hopefully grab them

American Road Trip

American Road Trip - Patrick Flores-Scott
I absolutely loved this book. I woke up this morning at 3:30 so I could finish it. This novel is about sacrifices, family, war, about giving of yourself and yes, there is some romance. I loved the cover of this novel but I don’t think the synopsis gives the book the justice, that it deserves.
 
T’s brother is returning home from the war but in reality, the war is coming home with Manny. Manny has PTSD. T’s family is trying to reverse time and make things like they were before Manny went off to war. It sounds easy as they paint and refurnish their home with items from years past but the calendar has been flipping and times have changed and individuals have changed, all the while he was gone.
 
T is trying to turn his grades around so he can attend college, not an easy task when he was one of the low ones on the totem pole. His determined to change is Wendy. Wendy, the girl he grew up, the girl who thinks she knows T. Xochitl is determined to bring her family together. She wants her family to be the people they were before Maddy left and she will give up everything she has to achieve this.
 
Xochitl realizes the world that she wants is not coming into focus, so she plans a trip with just her two brothers. I’m not saying anymore about this novel except that I really loved it. It’s an emotional book, a book that gets to the heart of the matter. As I finished reading this book, tears where falling down my face. This story feels real. It’s definitely one that I highly recommend- it’s a keeper!

 

The Halloween Tree - audio

The Halloween Tree - Bronson Pinchot, Ray Bradbury
That was an interesting story. With an assortment of monsters, I thought their night would never end. They had only set out to go trick-or-treating but the Halloween pumpkin tree provided them a magical experience.
 
It was Halloween night and as they gathered, they noticed that Pipkin was not amongst them. They needed Pipkin, for he was like their ringleader. They waited and when he finally arrived, Pipkin looked sick. He tells the rest of the group to head out and he will join up with them in a bit.
 
The group heads out and they arrive at a mansion where there is a huge tree nearby. Hanging from this tree are jack-o-lanterns that begin to glow, randomly. This excites the group. At the door, a man tells them he has no treats, but he has a trick and the door shuts. Bewildered, the boys start to walk away when the man jumps out at them from beside the glowing tree. This begins their journey with Mr. Moundshroud, as they track down Pipkin.
 
I didn’t feel that this novel was frightening but it was an entertaining and adventurous tale. It had Halloween characters in it and it talked about death, so you should know your audience before sharing this novel with anyone.

 

Grim Lovelies

Grim Lovelies - Megan Shepherd
Megan Shepherd is one of my favorite authors and I knew I had to read this novel. Fantasy is not one of my favorite genres but I really enjoyed this novel, once I got into it. With beasties, witches, pretty’s, royals and goblins, I really got myself in deep with the magic in this novel.
 
Anouk watched the world from the windows of the townhouse she was imprisoned in. Anouk was a beastie, enchanted by witch Mada Vittora, preventing her to leave, making her a servant, along with many other beasties who were under Mada Vittora powers. Then, one day it happens, the beasties discover the body of Mada Vittora and they realize they need to escape. They all claimed their innocence yet someone killed her.
 
The beasties know that individuals will be others hunting them down, for they need to find those responsible for her death. As the beasties run, they also know that they are under a time-constraint. With Mada Vittora’s death, her enchantment on them will end in three days. The beasties which are now in human form will return to their beast state unless they receive a new spell. They can’t hide for they need someone to cast a new spell on them. Another witch? Yet, that witch might be looking for them. Who can they turn to?
 
The more I read this story, the more I couldn’t put it down. The imagination and other fantasy aspect of this novel were entertaining and captivating. Again, I’m not one for fantasy but I couldn’t stop thinking about this novel. The fights, the battle, Anouk’s love for her friends and those who helped, it became a whirlwind of action at times and other times, we caught our breath and mapped out the next plan of action. I feel that the novel showed a commitment, a responsibility that Anouk felt. I can’t believe that Ms. Shepherd left me hanging in the end, just left me hanging……
 
Now, I can’t wait for the next book in this series to be released. Wait, me excited for a fantasy book to be released, this is a first!

 

Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie - Joanna  Cannon
As Florence lies waiting on the floor for someone to notice that she has fallen, she recalls key moments in her life. I found this moment, sad. Florence is supposedly being taken care of in an assistant living center and the longer I read, I had to wonder how long it was going to be before someone actually found her. This notion stayed with me as I read the rest of the novel.
 
Florence lives at Cherry Tree homes for the elderly with her best friend Elsie. They enjoy watching the world from Florence’s window. When an elderly residence passes away, Florence comments about how quickly life and possessions are taken away and disappear. It isn’t long before a new resident moves in to fill the vacancy. Florence believes this man is someone from their past but yet, the man’s name is not the same.
 
It becomes a mystery as Florence and Elsie investigate this new residence’s identity. This man who looks and talks like a man from their past yet his name does not match the man they used to know.
 
I enjoyed the author’s writings, some of her sentences were fantastic and worth highlighting (but not in a library’s copy). I still had this concern about Florence as she laid on the floor while telling this story, which was troubling to me. I enjoyed the story, just not as much as I thought I would.

 

Potato Pants!

Potato Pants! - Laurie Keller
I thought this children’s book was hilarious with its engaging dialogue, exciting illustrations and nonstop-action. I really enjoyed reading the author’s Arnie the Doughnut book, so when I read that she wrote a book about potato pants, I knew I had to read it.
 
I love the energy and excitement that flows from this book. From the variety of text fonts to the bright and cheerful illustrations, enthusiasm flows throughout. Potatoes expressions are quite comical and I think the feelings that Potato experiences are ones that everyone can relate to, also.
 
The story begins when Potato notices that Lance’s Vance’s Fancy Pants Store is selling potato pants. All the taters in town want a pair and ‘once they’re gone, they’re gone!” so Potato arrives at the store with all the other taters only to spot Eggplant there. What? Eggplant’s Pant Day was yesterday and Potato is so upset that he is there today. Potato reminiscences about what happened yesterday when he ran into Eggplant and Potato can’t even shop at the sale today because of that incident. The sale is about over and Potato still doesn’t have a pair of pants!
 
Laurie Keller does it again as she closes the story with a great lesson for children while entertaining them at the same time. I think children will love to read this story again and again, and these illustrations are a hoot!