My Never Ending List

Loves:  books, cooking, family and being outside. 


As a book lover,  I read almost every genre and I enjoy venturing into unfamiliar territory.   Being a library volunteer, I am constantly bringing home stacks of novels to add to my overflowing library at home.   I read a lot of YA novels and children's novels as I am currently a substitute teacher who is always talking books with the students.    




Sunburn: A Novel - Laura Lippman
I loved the twists in this novel. When I first started this novel, I was questioning whether this book was for me as it seemed jumpy but things soon settled down. I had many questions as I read this novel, it was one of those novels that pushed me the more that I read. Individuals were trying to be devious and cunning and they were doing an excellent job of it yet I began to wonder who exactly is doing the scheming?
Polly had a history. She has just walked out on her husband and her three-year-old daughter, history seems to be repeating itself. How Polly can leave her children behind baffles me and I needed to learn more about Polly to understand her motives. Polly arrives in a small town and she begins to build a life there yet I have a feeling, she won’t be staying long. Adam, pops up on the scene and Polly notices him but after what she just did to husband #2, she notices him but there isn’t that instant romance a guy like him would provoke. Adam knows about Polly’s past and has followed her to this town, in his truck.
Now that we got individuals where they belong and we got some history, I couldn’t put the book down as things inside this novel started to get interesting. I liked how Polly got comfortable in her new surroundings. The small town welcomed her, Adam seemed to be making his own life in this town too and Polly found a job at the High-Ho Bar which led to some exciting adventures. I learned about her past and although I didn’t want to cast Polly in a negative light, her past was awful dark. The ending really surprised me and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend this novel, it began with a slow burn and then grabs you in.


Force of Nature

Force of Nature: A Novel - Jane Harper
I really loved Jane’s first novel, The Dry so I was hoping this second novel was going to be just as fantastic as the first. The funny thing was, I kept having to remind myself as I read, that these were grown women that I was reading about and not teenagers. I just couldn’t believe grown women would behave this way. It was like a free-for-all as they verbally and mentally stabbed each other on a corporate retreat. I also had a hard understanding how not one of these women knew how to read a map and no one thought this might be important to know before they went on this adventure together.
The novel begins as a group of tired men walk out of the brush, having just finished a corporate retreat out in the wilderness. They have made it! The men now have to wait for a group of corporate women who had their own separate retreat to return to this pickup site so they can return home. Panic sets in as the women make it back for Alice was not among those who have returned. How could she had gotten lost when she left before the other women did?
We travel back in time to hear how the women’s retreat went as Federal Agent Falk reappears and it was nice to have Falk back after having him in The Dry. Falk is tied to this investigation and it’s not just because he is working the case. Falk knew Alice before this investigation started so as they begin to unravel the case, Falk’s prior interest in Alice comes into play. It seems that the instant these women are left alone on this retreat, the claws came out. Who in their right mind thought putting these women together would be a good decision? They all seemed liked pests as they go at one another, either behind their backs or right to their faces. It didn’t just start on this retreat, oh no, this has been building and the gloves are coming off! The author decided that we need more drama as the women come upon an evil cabin. I loved the idea of this cabin, the aroma and the filth was sufficient for me but this cabin had a greater story, a story I didn’t feel was necessary for this novel.
I was glad to see Agent Falk back in this novel and I enjoyed Jane’s writing. I wasn’t too thrilled with all the women’s battering that was taking place during this novel. I did enjoy the side stories that surfaced and how they all tied in to one another. I look forward to more stories by Jane.


At 42%

Force of Nature: A Novel - Jane Harper

I admit that I'm not the best person to read a map, heck don't even give me north, south, east, or west directions or I'll probably give you one of "what you talking about" looks but out of all these girls, not one of them can read a map?








The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
I’d been meaning to read this novel for a while so I was glad we read it for book club. As a whole, I enjoy this novel. I found myself laughing throughout the novel and I was totally absorbed into Don’s Father Project. I thought the idea of their original projects were a bit odd and I was glad that the novel didn’t focus on Gene’s sex project. As I read, I thought the character of Don reminded me of Sheldon Cooper on TV. Just like Sheldon, Don is very punctual and everything in his life must be “just so”. Don’s life is on a strict timetable, filled in with the greatest of details. There is no filter on Don’s mouth as he tells it like it is for he is not afraid of what comes out. Listening to Don is eventful, for you never know what might happen.
I do have to say that Don created quite the questionnaire for his Wife Project. I would be surprised with all the questions that he asked, if he would find the perfect candidate. I don’t know if I would even answer all those questions myself, if it were given to me. If he was a prince or a rich guy that would be a different story but heck, he is a 39-year-old postdoctoral researcher, that’s the prize?
I loved Rosie’s spunk. I knew right off the bat that she was not compatible for him as she challenges him with her ideas. He’s not the type of person who likes challenges thrown at him constantly. I loved how Rosie cut him off when he was talking, I thought that was funny. I also thought it was hilarious when they were in N.Y. and Rosie was pulling him along for her full two days of fun. He was totally out of his element yet something was happening within him and between them. This novel wasn’t all fun and games as it also contained some sad moments too, unfortunately.
I thought it was a fun, entertaining read and I am glad that I finally read it. It had its ups and its downs (mainly ups) but the character of Don really made the novel.



Mudbound - Hillary Jordan
This was a hard novel to put down once I started it. I felt for both parties involved, those who physically owned the land and those whose bodies labored over the land. The year was and Henry, a new landowner had never been so proud. Henry had just bought his farm and moved his family to Mississippi, keeping Hep on to work the land. It’s a story that takes you back to 1946, where race was an issue. Where some individuals pushed this issue while others didn’t see the point, where fighting for your country meant something while others were more concerned with your title while you did so. I saw both sides of the story and it was an amazing story.
Laura wasn’t too happy about moving away from her family when Henry came home with the news. The idea of moving closer to her father-in-law made the idea even more depressing yet when they arrived in Mississippi and learned about their living conditions, Laura hit rock bottom. When the kids became sick, Laura had to rely on Hep’s wife with her herbal remedies, as she was the closest thing to a doctor at the moment. I felt a huge shift in the novel as events started to escalate and individuals started to reveal their true colors. Needs and wants, pride and dignity all came to the surface as the families fight for survive.
When family members returned from the war, it added another layer to each of the families and to the community. I have to say, I enjoyed the complexity that these individuals brought to the table. They changed the chemistry of the whole novel.
I really enjoyed this novel. There were some intense, emotional scenes as the story was being played out and I really enjoyed all the characters. I highly recommend this novel and I can’t wait to read what else this author has written.


That was amazing!

The Day of the Dead has always fascinated me and when I saw this was coming out at the theatres, I wanted to go.  I'm glad that I didn't go. After watching this at home, I would have been a mess. I was on the corner of my couch for part of the movie and the tears were falling as the movie came to an end. What a fantastic movie! My husband watched it with me and as I got up to shut it off, I looked over at him and he was wiping his eyes. I asked him if he was crying and he said that it was a really good movie. Now, that says something!


On our vacations to Mexico, I have just started to buy figures of The Day of the Dead. There are so many to choose from down there. This year, I came across this one in a tiny shop, hidden behind some bowls. The woman asked me if I knew what scene was portrayed by the figures and I told her that is what caught my eye. I look at my figures and now think of this movie. 



Only Child

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin
I kept saying to myself as I read this, “this is fiction, this is fiction,” as parts of this novel were hitting a nerve inside me and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading it. It just seemed that with all the shooting that have been occurring nationally, the events in this novel were actually occurring.
Zach is six and Andy is ten, the two brothers attend the same school. The novel begins as Zach’s teacher huddles her class inside a small room, as they hear gunfire just outside the closed door. It feels like they are nestled close together forever when finally, the police locate this first-grade class and lead them to safety across the street. As they make their way down the school hallways, the young children hear screaming and crying individuals and their eyes fall upon what they believe to be blood, splattered out onto their walkway. The church is filling with other children from the school. Parents begin to stream in, emotions are high for everyone involved.
It became too real when they realize Andy is not at the church. Wounded children were being taken to a hospital, but Andy’s name was not on that list. Andy had become a victim, a victim of the shooter who had walked into their school.
Everyone in the family handled the shooting differently, no one is on the same page. No one wants to come together as they’re all shooting off into their own separate worlds. I felt sorry for Zach as he had nothing solid to hold onto. He was so young and confused. What is wrong with these people? Mom wants to save the world but she can’t even save her own family. Dad is trying to provide for his family but what exactly does he feel he is providing? Zach, he’s having major issues and can’t anyone see he’s crying for help. There are other issues within the family and boy, does this novel scream drama. The ending seemed a bit rushed to me after everything else that occurred during the novel and I wasn’t a big fan how the author put it together.


The Never-Open Desert Diner

The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel - James Anderson
I’m reading this series out of order and it’s working for me. Right now, I feel that I will be missing Ben until James gets to work and writes another novel. I have gotten to know Ben and I feel a deep connection to him. Ben is a hard man. I feel the isolation of sitting in a truck all day, interacting only when he feels the need to or when he is required to, has helped shaped Ben into the man he is today. He’s a man who spends his days traveling down quiet roads earning his paycheck, trying to keep his head above water. He’s a caring individual but he tries to keep that hidden and, in this novel, that irritated me a bit. That one little part, that one little issue in this novel, annoyed me and I couldn’t shake it from my head.
I loved traveling beside Ben as he drove down State 117 in the Utah desert. He’d been driving his rig down these roads for the past 20 years and he knows just about every nook and cranny that this part of the world contains. One of his favorite stops is Walt’s Diner. I could see why Ben enjoys Walt and his venue as James described this locale. As Ben is leaving Walt’s one day, he notices a road that he has never seen before. Curiosity got the best of him as he turns off onto that road. After he stops, he feels that he saw a face, a face that he cannot forget. I wish I could say that the results of Ben seeing this face is fantastic but that is only partly true. The face does have a positive impact on his life but it also brings complications too. Ben’s reaction in the end was the part that irritated me, I feel that Ben is a hard man and I understand his reaction but a part of me, thought his response would be something else. I guess I was hoping (wishing) for something else. My mistake.
I enjoyed the twists and the turns this novel took me through. I learned a bit more about Ben and the cast of characters were fantastic. I got to see a new side of Ben and I learned more about Walt. I’m ready for book #3 James and please, don’t stop writing. Ben’s view from his window sure is fascinating!


Leatherback Blues:

Leatherback Blues - Karen Hood-Caddy
They run The Wild Place Animal Shelter and when I say run, I literally mean these individuals, run. They are constantly moving to assist or comfort the many animals that need their attention. Some of the animals are brought in to them by individuals who drop them off, some are animals who are anonymously dropped off at the shelter, and some are animals who are called in by individuals and the shelter must drive out and makes an animal rescue. Either way, this animal shelter is nonstop action.
In the mail one day they receive a letter from Carlos, a conservationist from Costa Rica who needs their help. The Leatherback Turtles are near extinction and he wants to build a turtle sanctuary. Can they come and help him? Excitement hits the air as some of the shelter employees see this as an opportunity to do something abroad and they immediately start planning. Reality slowly begins to trickle in as they begin to grasp the whole concept of what awaits them in Costa Rica.
I thought this was a fun novel to read. I liked the idea of the unknown and how the group themselves didn’t know all the answers before they set out on their trip. What would they find in Costa Rica? There are poisonous spiders in that area, would they be ready for that? There a huge concern about poachers stealing the eggs and what if they ran into these dangerous individuals out at night on their mission? What about the language barrier they thought they faced? I liked learning about the Leatherback Turtles and the poachers and I liked how the animal shelter worked with Carlos to put his sanctuary on the map so it could be successful.
This novel moved quickly without a lot of extra characters. This was an adventurous, entertaining read about saving wildlife and I think young readers will enjoy it.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Dundurn in exchange for an honest review.



Checked - Cynthia Kadohata, Maurizio Zorat
Hockey is Conor’s life but so is Sinad. Sinad is Conor’s Doberman who he rescued from a shelter and is an important part of his life. Conor’s father is a police officer and when his father is not home, Sinad steps in and protects Conor. Conor doesn’t have a mother, she died when he was a toddler and his stepmother wasn’t a fan of hockey, so she stepped out of their lives.
His father used to play hockey and he was good, I mean really good. I thought that perhaps Conor was living his father’s dreams for him, that Conor was playing hockey for his father but no, twelve-year-old Conor loves hockey, he wants to go all the way, just like his father, he wants to be in the NHL. Hockey is expensive. It’s a commitment, an all year commitment. The gear, the practices, the teams, it’s a lot money. Cancer is a lot of money too. Conor faces some tough decisions when Sinad is diagnosed with cancer. A swollen leg on Sinad leads to a biopsy and a $7,000 treatment plan has Conor cutting back on the sport he loves.
I loved the relationship between Conor and Sinad. Conor has made some important sacrifices to help his dog and the bond they have is felt mutually as I read. As Sinad receives his chemo, his body gets weak but he rebounds and Conor is filled with hope for the future. I knew a bit about hockey but I learned a great deal more as I read. I thought the novel was a bit long in the narration about the sport but then again, I am not a huge hockey fan. This is a great novel for individuals who like sports, for those who like dogs and a great coming of age novel. .5 stars off for being a bit long.


Solo (audio)

Solo - Mary Rand Hess, Kwame Alexander
I listened to this novel and I enjoyed the intensity and the determination within the main character. I thought this was enhanced by the narration of this novel as I could feel the emotions through the characters voices as I listened. I enjoyed the story as there were many excellent points within it but I didn’t feel a great connection to any of the characters. Written in verse, this YA novel offers a bit of everything.
It’s Blade, he’s a 17-year-old rock star but his family life is not all that glamorous. His mother died when he was a child and his father is an alcoholic whose behavior and pictures rock all the tabloids. I was even embarrassed reading about his adventures. Blade’s success runs in his blood and Blade has this attitude that follows. Life was great for Blade until a family discussion gets heated and words fly. Those words fall on Blade’s ears and they stick! His world has now flipped over and turned upside down. I think what I enjoyed most about this change is the question: what has become of Blade? Before, we had the self-confidence rock-star Blade and now suddenly, we have Blade, the fish-out-of-water? Why? Within a few minutes Blade has changed.
Blade tries to come to terms with what he knows now but his past is still following him. I found the ending okay but I really enjoyed the ideas and notions that the book provoked in me as I read.


Speak: the Graphic Novel

Speak: The Graphic Novel - Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll
I found her body language so powerful: her slouching shoulders, her droopy eyes, the baggy shirts and her shaggy hair, Em is a victim who is trying to find her voice. Em made a phone call the night of the party which has now made Em an outcast. Em hasn’t talked to anyone about what occurred the night of the party but to her peers, Em was the one who ruined their night. The ramifications of that night are weighing heavily on Em. The isolation is challenging but the act that was committed against Em is intolerable. Standing alone, Em holds onto the fact that she was raped the night of the party. Feeling deserted, Em tries to deal with this information alone and it becomes too much.
What a wonderful graphic novel with powerful illustrations that deals with a difficult subject matter. I found myself stopping and enjoying the illustrations as they told the story beautifully. It truly is worth checking out if this subject matter interests you.



WIldwood - Elinor Florence
I enjoyed the unfamiliar world that Molly and Bridget walked into. Molly assumed that she had walked into prosperity while Bridget knew that she had tottered into agony when the two of them arrived in Alberta, their new home for the next 365 days. The isolated farmhouse cast off a terrifying chill as they took in their surroundings. It would be tough to live without some of life’s modern conveniences but in the end, the title to this valuable piece of property was worth a fortune and Bridget’s doctors cost about that much.
Molly was a city girl and moving into the country with her four-year-old daughter was a chance that she was willing to take. Molly needed money for Bridget’s doctors. Molly believed that taking this year off to live in this remote countryside was the best option for the both of them. Molly knew nothing about country living nor did she know about her great aunt and uncle who left her this property. Molly knew she needed the money and she knew they only needed to stay one year, that really wasn’t a long time, was it?
The townfolk were welcoming and they reach out to the new family. As Molly navigates her new life, she finds one of her great aunt’s diaries in the house. I liked these journal entries just as much as Molly did. I felt that they helped her not feel so isolated in the struggles that she has having living on the estate. The similarities of these two women were striking although the time periods were many years apart.
Bridget is a shy child when they set foot onto the estate but as time moves on, she changes. There were times I wondered if Molly notices what was happening with her daughter as they get caught up in everyday life. It’s hard for these two as they go from a clean, tidy lifestyle to a lifestyle where dust and dirt are a part of life.
Molly is constantly counting down the days till she can go back to Arizona and get Bridget back into treatment. Each day is a new set of challenging yet as I read, I saw something growing between Molly and her daughter. The struggles and the victories aren’t forgotten but they become their own journal and now there are other individuals joining in.
This was a fantastic novel with an entertaining, engaging story that I truly enjoyed. It was one of those novels where I became vested in the lives of the characters and I truly cared how things played out.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Dundurn in exchange for an honest review.


An American Marriage

An American Marriage - Tayari Jones
I think I am in the minority here when I say I didn’t really enjoy this book that much. To be honest here, after reading half of the novel, I had to look up the title to make sure this was the novel that everyone was raving about.
It’s about injustice, marriage and compromise. I wasn’t rooting for anyone in this novel, not because I didn’t like them, it was because I believed everything was too new for the characters and I didn’t think they knew themselves who they were.
Take Celestial for example. She was a new bride, a woman who was trying to create her own line of dolls and also trying to market them. All of this in one year. Her new husband Roy, was also trying on his new role of being a husband. I thought Roy enjoyed being a top dog amongst both males and females. What was beneath that role, I don’t think he truly knew but he liked to be on top. Their friend Dre carried a lot of history that couldn’t be swept under the rug. He didn’t want to go away, he saw a void and filled it. I wondered if he became too comfortable or too reliable to Celestial when Roy was out of the picture? Was it fear of the unknown that brought them closer together?
I was glad when Roy was finally released. I was happy that Celestial family stood by his side throughout the whole ordeal. I was hoping for a totally different ending to this novel. One that put everyone on neutral ground.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest opinion.


All The Forever Things

All the Forever Things - Jolene Perry
What can I say about this novel? I’m sitting on the fence on this one as I found it frustrating and sad. How can individuals be so selfish and why do individuals lay down and let themselves be so exposed?
I found it frustrating that sixteen-year-old Gabe had only one true friend. I understand that living at a funeral home and having parents that own the home put a damper on things but there has to be a way to find friends. When Bree isn’t there for Gabe, she has nothing, a big fat ZERO and my heart broke for her. Then, when Bree started to turn into this evil person, I wanted to climb inside the novel and slap her because here was Gabe, acting like a little puppy: listening and following Bree like everything was fine and dandy when it wasn’t. I was fiercely gripping onto the novel, ready to tear it into tiny shreds! Come on Gabe! Smell the flowers, Bree is not concerned about you, she is concerned Bree and what is right in Bree’s world.
Oh, I was angry! Then, Bree introduced Hartman to Gabe. Hartman, the new boy at school. I thought Hartman was going to be Bree’s replacement as she bowed out of Gabe’s life. It got messy. This boy had baggage and Gabe wasn’t impressed with him. I wanted her to dump him but then again what else or who else did Gabe have? No one!
It was an emotional read for me. Some novels provoke an intense response from me and this one definitely did. I won a copy of this novel from Albert Whitman Teen in their Albert Whitman & Company YA gift set, thank you! This review is my own personal opinion.


The Music Shop

The Music Shop: A Novel - Rachel Joyce
This might be my favorite read for 2018. I absolutely loved this novel. The author had a way of putting me on Unity Street with its shop owners, it’s customers and its history. I loved Frank, the way he knew his music and how he lifted individuals up with music. Frank was not a sell-out, he was a believer and he walked the walk. Individuals believed in Frank and Frank believed in music. Music wasn’t just words but they contained their own life.
This abandoned, ransacked building intrigued Frank the minute his eyes came upon it. There was a feeling inside this building and on Unity Street with its variety of small businesses, it felt like a small community to Frank. Frank only carried vinyl records inside his music store, the medium that Frank believed provided the optimal listening pleasure. This store became more than a music shop as time progressed. Music was the focus of the shop but friendships, stories, unwinding, and socializing became reasons why individuals stopped by Franks. As customers came into his shop requesting a certain artist or song, Frank would often fill that individual’s soul with other artists or tunes that he knew would stimulate that individual.
Isle arrived one day. She didn’t seem to fit Unity Street. She left an impression on Frank’s heart. When Isle came back days later, she wanted something more from Frank. I loved the friendship that emerges between Frank and Isle. The author did an amazing job creating this relationship. I enjoyed the way it slowly grew and how others in this story played an important role in their bond. Frank gave Isle and his customers something they couldn’t find on their own, a sound that they didn’t even know existed.
I was a mess at the end of this novel. My skin was crawling, I was choked up and I had to keep taking breaks as my eyes couldn’t read the words. I was an emotional mess. I would give this novel 15+ stars if I could. I know many individuals that I would love to buy this novel for, as I know they would fall in love with Frank, Isle and with the music that Frank shares with his customers. This is one that I definitely recommend.
I won a copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you so much! This review is my own personal opinion of this novel.


Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge200 Book Reviews