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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.  

Mail: Stone Mothers

Just opened my mail and I received this book and notification from MacMillan Publishers.  I loved He Said/She Said so much so I was thrilled to receive this. Check out that cover. The woman is looking at the Royal Park Mayor (according to the paper). Luxury countryside living with” framed artifacts from the original Nazareth Hospial” - yep, according to the books synopsis, that’s a mental hospital. I can’t wait to dig into this!!

 

#stonemothers

The Bigfoot Files

The Bigfoot Files - Lindsay Eagar
Ok, I will admit it, I am fascinated by Bigfoot. Sea monsters, the Loch Ness monster, and all those other mythical creatures draw my attention because their identity is baffling. Do you believe it or do you not? Are those individuals who seek after them weird or are they unlucky? When I saw the title and the synopsis for this novel, I had to read it!
 
Miranda’s mother studies cryptozoology. Her mother investigates and organizes the hunts for legendary creatures, in the hopes of proving their existence. Charting the different sightings, she also manages a blog, and drives the most unique vehicle that you wouldn’t want to be seen in. This wouldn’t be such an issue except with no other relatives to fall back on, Miranda’s had no other choice but to tag along with her mother all these years.
 
Now that she’s twelve, Miranda is tired of playing along. She feels it’s all a big waste of time and she just wants a normal mom. It’s time to show her that “her big break” is not coming.
 
Meet Miranda, the overachiever. Miranda strives to be perfect, issue #1. Issue #2, Miranda stretches herself too thin by trying to do too much. Issue #3 Miranda overthinks – she over analyzes situations for which she has no control. When you put these all together with a mother who is trying to “find her big break,” it’s a recipe for disaster.
 
I really did like the character of Miranda because of the issues that she was dealing with. She thought she hid her frustration and anger but little-by-little, she was coming undone. There were times that I thought Miranda was going to lose control but somehow, she kept it together. I didn’t know what to think about the mom. She was a different and frustrating character to me. I thought she was flaky but then, when she needed to be a parent, she came through. Definitely an interesting read.
 
(Read for Snakes and Ladders- one die roll)

 

Be Prepared

Be Prepared - Vera Brosgol
I guess I didn’t see what was so funny about this graphic novel. There were a few parts that were funny but for the most part, I felt sorry for Vera. Vera feels that she never fits in with her peers. When she finally discovers that she’ll get the opportunity to be just like her peers, she’s thrilled. Unfortunately, her experience has some unpleasant elements waiting for her.
 
The cover of this novel made me pick it up from the library. Vera is Russian and she’s having a hard time fitting in with her American friends. Invited to a birthday party of one of her peers from schools, Vera takes mental notes on how to have her own successful birthday party. The way the girls interacted with one another, just made me cringe. On the day of Vera’s party, she thinks she has everything ready but things start to fizzle before the girls arrive. As the girls join in on Vera’s festivities, they let Vera know exactly how they feel about her big day.
 
Vera has heard the girls talking about summer camp and she realizes that her family cannot afford this luxury. One day while talking with a girl after Russian Services, Vera hears about a summer camp that gets her hopes up.
 
Finally! Vera has a connection. This summer, Vera will get to go to her own summer camp while her peers go to theirs. Visualizing the adventures that she has heard about, Vera is pumped about her new adventure until the day she arrives at her new camp and realizes that this is nothing like she imagined. Lack of indoor plumbing and electricity, this camp is far from modern. The other campers that she is with are not the kids that she expected. How long does she have to stay here?
 
I thought it was sad how Vera’s peers treated her and that Vera had no one fun to play with. The adults in the story didn’t help the situation any either. Attending camp, some of the illustrations were comical and some of the situations that she was in made me smile but just the thought of how she must have felt, considering this was her “one thing,” put a damper on the whole experience. It didn’t seem fair that just as her camp visit was winding down, she found hope.

 

Thirteen Reason Why

Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

This was a reread for me.  I have to admit, I don't do a lot of rereads because there are too many books that I want to read and to stop and do a reread, if just not something I normally do.  When I saw this book last month, in my bookclub's bag, I was pumped!  Finally, a YA book for us to read and also, one of my favorites.

 

I had a feeling that this book would have mixed reviews at bookclub, as we have an older crowd that normally shows up.  Like most bookclubs, there are a few who are very vocal about their opinions and I was hoping we would have some good discussions pertaining to this novel.  Surprise!  Most everyone liked the novel.  There were some questions about the novel and there were some parts that individuals didn't care for but everyone liked it.  We had some great discussions and trips down memory lane, as we chatted about the novel.  

 

 

In our bookclub discussions, we discussed the other characters in the story and their importance.  We talked about the importance of Clay's trip around town and whether that enhanced the story or not.  The question about Hannah's purpose and whether we thought her purpose was successful provoked some interesting conversations.  I thought that Hannah put a lot of trust in Tony, which I thought was interesting considering all the other people she included on her tapes.  What was Hannah real purpose though for making these tapes?  It wasn't as if everyone received their own tape. No, everyone got to listen to the whole story, how they each played a part in Hannah's life. Everyone on the tape heard Hannah's side of the story, but for what purpose? Did she want them to feel guilty/bad/good?  Did she do it to just let them know that they have have this effect on people?  Did she want some action to take place after she was gone?   

 

As I reread this novel, there were parts of the novel that quickly came back to me and others that I saw in a new light.   The novel still impressed upon me the magnitude an individual can have upon another human being, whether positive or negative.  Whether it be for a few minutes or longer, its how we treat one another that makes a difference. 

 

Discussing this novel in bookclub, I rediscovered this novel all over again. 

 

Used this novel for Snakes and Ladders - square 39: A reread - finally a book that fits the square!

On The Come Up

On the Come Up - Angie Thomas
This is one of those books that I became just like one of the characters and I.started.to.feel.the.anger.and.the.frustration.as.each.word.became.it's.own.island.as.
I.read. Some issues and points became so strong that they couldn’t blend into the paper like everything else, they had to take a stand. Every day, the fight for fairness is apparent for many individuals. For this world that we live in, it seems that, every day this great planet is getting more difficult.
 
In On the Come Up, Bri has a hard time taming herself. Bri’s young, she’s vocal, and she’s bold, which is a good combination but for her situation, there must be some balance.
 
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this novel. Although it was long, it didn’t feel that way as I read it. I enjoyed the author’s other novel, The Hate U Give, a great deal but this novel I enjoyed more. I think it’s because of all the other characters in the novel and the parts that they played and how they influenced the main character. The energy in this novel is fantastic and just picking up this book, got me fired up!
 
Bri’s father was a well-known rapper who ended up dead because of who he was. Bri’s been rapping since she was ten and as the novel open up, she is waiting for her first big break in the Ring. She wants to battle in the Ring and get noticed.
 
Coming out a victor, she should be flying high but there’s some controversy and Bri has some issues at home that she’s trying to get a handle on. There never seems to be a quiet moment, a moment to breath and enjoy the fame, as life keeps on moving and Bri needs to keeps rapping if she is to make a name for herself.
 
With the main topics of relationships, racial issues, and family, Angie Thomas did it again, with another fantastic novel. I highly recommend it.

 

Code of Honor

Code of Honor - Alan Gratz
His world changed overnight. They arrived while he was sleeping. Throwing a bag over his head and dragging his body out the front door, Kamran tried to make sense on why Homeland Security was doing this to him. He was an American citizen afterall and this shouldn’t be happening to him.
 
The story flashes back to Homecoming night, where Kamran is being crowned Homecoming King and his date Julia, is the Queen. A racial remark directed at Kamran, sparks a confrontation which lands the two boys in the office. Remarks like these are nothing new, he has heard these while growing up. Kamran remembers a pact that he made with his brother Darius, this Code of Honor, the two boys created bonded them. Kamran also feels he has this type of pact with his best friend, Adam.
 
When mom arrives to pick Kamran up from the office, he notices that something is not right. His questions go unanswered as he leaves with her. Arriving home and watching his father stare blankly at the screen, Kamran sees an individual that looks familiar yet it can’t be. Confusion hits everyone in the room as a name is printed on the television screen. Neighbors and newspapers want answers as they ring their house. It appears that Darius was the one committing the act yet how can that be when he’s in the Army? What happened to his Oath to protect his country? Kamran’s desire to walk in Darius’ footsteps start to fade. The television videos images become clearer yet the truth of what is happening concerning his brother is hard for Kamran to accept. His brother cannot be a terrorist. He’s an American citizen just like Kamran.
 
This was another fantastic novel by Alan. I have read a few of his other novels and they were also incredible. I really don’t want to say that much about this novel, as I’d hate to spoil it for anyone. I enjoyed reading about the characters thoughts and opinions and how views changed as the story played out. I enjoyed the shorts chapters and the intense writing. I was all over this novel: feeling all the powerful emotions and dynamic situations as they unfolded. I highly recommend this novel and I can’t wait to read another one of his masterpieces.

 

Noir

Noir: A Novel - Christopher G. Moore
I didn’t know exactly what I was walking into when I started listening to this novel. This was my first-time reading noir and I found it quite entertaining. I thought the audio itself was excellent and I highly-recommend it, as the slang and the humor were superb.
 
The names used in the novel, the nature of the slang and the quirkiness of the mystery added to the uniqueness of this story. As I listened to this novel, there were times that I found myself laughing out loud and times that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought Johnny Heller did an amazing job on the audio. Hats off to Johnny!
 
Don’t get me wrong, there were times I was confused as I listened, as I seemed to lose track on who was speaking but I really enjoyed how Moore set the tone. Moore created an image for me as I listened. He moved me around the backstreets, inside the buildings and around the areas that were important as I became a part of the novel. This didn’t feel like a normal novel to me as I listened to it, it felt like movie with a smoky haze floating in the air and the mingling of voices in the background.
 
I was glad that I listened to the audio as I now have that instilled in my mind. Now, I can reread the novel and put the two together and hopefully follow the story more.
 
I received a e-copy of this novel from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

 

Total Cat Mojo: Everything You Need To Know To Care For Your Favorite Feline Friend

Total Cat Mojo: Everything You Need to Know to Care for Your Favorite Feline Friend - Mikel Delgado, Jackson Galaxy
I really enjoyed this book. I like watching Jackson’s show on television as he seems like a down-to-earth individual who loves, cares and deals with a variety of felines. I hadn’t intended to read this whole but what can I say, it was interesting and educational.
 
I really needed some advice on introducing a new cat into our household and this book was just the thing. It outlined the process, in a detailed format, covering multiple pages. A few years ago, we adopted our one-year old tabby and now we were planning on adopting another cat for a companion for him. I wanted this to be a smooth transition and I hope Jackson could help me. I appreciated all the details that Jackson included in this section, all the steps, all the what-not-to-do and the what to do if things did not work out. Jackson also informed us what to look out for as we progress. As I continue to work on this, I know that following this book, I did the best that I could to make this work.
 
I had only wanted to read this section in this book (about adopting a new cat) but the more that I flipped through this book, I realized that there some great topics in this book. I also realized that I didn’t have to read this book straight through and that I could randomly read sections at a time. Before I knew it, I had almost read the whole book, just by picking it up now and then and reading it.
 
From litterboxes to feeding your cat, Jackson gives you some advice and the reasoning behind it. I learned about petting my cat, anger issues, body movements, and what my cat is actually trying to tell me. I have had cats almost my entire life yet I still learned information reading this book. Thank you, Jackson, for this valuable resource. I highly recommend it!

 

The Lost Man

The Lost Man - Jane Harper
What I enjoy most about Jane’s books are how she makes me feel when I read them. There’s not an intensity to her novels but more an inquisitive feeling, an I-need-to-know quality that ignites within me as I explore the characters and the landscape that opens up around me. In The Lost Man, with a limited number of individuals, what happened in the Australian Outback is anyone’s guess at the moment. As the story unfolds, we discover that history is still alive.
 
The novel doesn’t waste any time as it begins with two brothers locating the body of their other brother, who has been found dead. It is interesting the history these three boys have had living in the Outback. Nathan, the oldest had an issue when he was younger and he has since left the area. He was the only sibling to leave town. Shunned by others, Nathan has now returned home with his son but the past has not been buried. I felt sorry for Bub, for it seemed everyone played down to him and he knew it. Being the youngest, Bub wanted people to take him seriously but it was a struggle. Cam, he was the most successful out of the three, according to those who lived nearby. Cam was also the one who laid lying on the ground with a tarp over his body. Cam’s car was found, full of supplies kilometers away from where his body was found, and why was that? The more they inquired about his death, the more questions they had.
 
The questions began with Cam’s body but that was just the beginning. To find the answers you had to have known the history of those who might have played a part. Each player has a voice, some strong and some just barely audible but they all become part of the scene.
 
I enjoyed how the story slowly built up and began to unravel. Jane does a wonderful job describing the events and her descriptions put you right in the midst of the action. If you liked her other novels, you will enjoy this one also.

 

Jack

Meet Jack, this is Charlie’s new brother.  They haven’t officially meet each other face-to-face but they know that each other exist in this house. Jack has his own room in the house ( spare bedroom) where he’s been hanging out.   I’ve been looking for a brother for Charlie for about a month, someone to keep him company, someone to hang with. 

 

I’ve been to quite a few shelters and when John and I saw this cat, his temperament and body language warmed us over.  He’s almost just like Charlie, he wants you for loving and when he’s done,  he’ll walk away and come back later. He’s not a cuddly cat which is just like Charlie. I’m glad that I took John because i was afraid I’d fall in love with a cuddly cat which wouldn’t be a good fit. 

 

Jack is a great.  I can’t wait till this introductory period is over and hopefully, they have a great relationship.  Day #1 was intense. Day #2 was much better. Taking this process very slow. 

 

The Night Diary

The Night Diary - Veera Hiranandani
It’s a story that shows innocence, loss, and love. Nisha is writing letters to her mother, who has died, about everything in her life including her feelings. Being twelve, Nisha is aware that she has to move away from the city and the house that she is currently living in and she is not happy about it. With questions for her mother and comments which she includes in her letters, Nisha writes the story which tell an amazing story.
 
The year is 1947 and India is finally becoming free from Britain’s rule. Pakistan will be home to the Muslims and everyone else will be moving to India. This will cause a big shift as individuals move including Nisha and her family.
 
As the family plans their move, I thought since her father was a doctor, they would have a priority or a dependable means of travel but I was wrong. Everyone managed things on their own.
 
I found it interesting about her parents’ marriage and their connection to their family afterwards. The novel felt very realistic and I felt for the family during this event. I really hoped that someone would help Nisha and educate her more on what was occurring in her life.
 
This was an excellent novel about this event.

 

24 Hours in Nowhere

24 Hours In Nowhere - Dusti Bowling
This book is fantastic! I loved her Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and I loved this one also. What an adventure! The novel begins with the main character being bullied, and before you know it, the novel is winding down and you’re sad it’s over.
 
Meet Gus, he’s 13 and he lives with his grandma in her trailer. Gus didn’t ask to live in Nowhere, AZ where every day it’s hot. He’ll tell you later how he came to live with his grandma. Gus loves vocabulary words and one day, they are going to come in handy.
 
Meet Bo, he’s the bully. He likes to picks on kids. Today, he’s picking on Gus. Bo’s in the process of making Gus eat something that he shouldn’t really be eating. When Rossi enters the picture, she stands up for Gus but Gus just wants her to leave. When Rossi hands over Loretta, Gus is shocked! Loretta is Rossi’s dirt bike and without her bike Rossi can’t beat Bo tomorrow in the race. Determined to get Rossi’s bike back,
 
Gus confronts Bo later that day, to determine what he must do to get it back. That night, armed with his measly supplies, Gus enters Dead Frenchman Mine to obtain the item that Bo desires. Gus knows that others have unsuccessfully entered this mine before but he’s determined to get Rossi’s bike back. At his side, he has one of Bo’s friends with him acting as a witness and they are soon joined by two other friends of Gus’ who join in on the hunt.
 
It’s an entertaining story as the pages fly by as these kids travel inside the mine searching for Bo’s treasure. They had some great moments and some intense moments as they wandered around. As the youths have some serious discussions, I thought these moments brought them together and connected them.
 
This is an excellent novel for boys and girls and would make an outstanding read aloud. I highly recommend it as Dusti Bowling is a talented author.

 

Sheets

Sheets - Brenna Thummler
The cover of this book grabbed my attention as I was cleaning my graphic novel section of the library, so I picked it up. As I started to read it, I thought this novel had potential but as I read it, I started to wonder what exactly was happening.
 
There are three stories that are intermingled together somehow in this graphic novel. There is the main story of Marjorie whose mother has died and whose father is now depressed. Marjorie is running her mother’s laundromat to keep the family floating, taking care of her younger brother Owen and trying to juggle school.
 
A Mr. Saubertuck wants to buy the laundromat and convert it a different business but Marjorie is devoted to keeping her mother’s business alive. Wendell arrives one day but Marjorie treats him like dirt and calls him stupid, afterall he is a ghost and ghosts aren’t real.
 
Wendell tries to help Marjorie, even after the way that she treats him which creates some drama. I thought this was a terrific set up: a friendly ghost meets a human who needs help in a variety of ways. Only, as I was reading, I was getting baffled for the stories weren’t flowing that well for me. I thought at times, they seemed choppy.
 
One of the other stories dealt with Marjorie at school. I had mixed feeling about this story as Marjorie is amongst her peers. The other story is about the ghost and his life since crossing over. These are important parts of the story but definitely take up less space in the novel.
 
I did enjoy the details in the illustrations, the variety of characters, and the overall storyline. I loved how Marjorie was committed to her mother’s business even after her mother’s passing. Seeing Marjorie in the illustrations and reading about her, I felt that a person had to have some emotional feelings towards her as they read, she was going through so much.

 

Mail

This might be the motivation I needed to get back on track. Today in my mailbox I received these two lovely books from St. Martin’s Press. I was a winner today, a double winner !  After shoveling for over 5 hours I didn’t quite feel like a winner today but after getting the mail, my spirits were definitely lifted. 

 

Ive been in a reading slump lately as I feel all I ever do is shovel, shovel, and more shoveling.  We’re getting constant snow here in the Midwest and next week’s forecast, yup snow forecasted every day.  

 

I actually sat down this afternoon and read a couple books after getting the mail. I’m  psyched now. I’m picking up my new rescue cat tomorrow too. I couldn’t do it today because of the snow. I’m hoping my Charlie (3 yr old rescue I’ve had for over 2 years) and this new cat will get along. I’m getting him to be a brother/companion for Charlie. 

 

Mother Nature please stop

 

The Secret of Clouds

The Secret of Clouds  - Alyson Richman
What a touching novel about embracing life. If you want a book to cuddle up, one that will work its way into your heart and leave you inspired, this is the novel for you.
 
I need to comment on the love between Katya and Sasha. I believe that these two have been living with some type of stress during their whole relationship. When they left Kiev and settled into America, I felt that they had to have known that they might be harboring some harmful effects of the disaster that had just occurred. No one really knew at that point what the future held for the victims of that disaster. Starting over in America, Katya would soon give birth to Yuri, a son who would be born with a rare heart defect.
 
The feelings that Sasha had to have felt as Yuri was diagnosed with this rare disease. Then, as the years passed and Yuri missed out on being a typical child, it had to be hard as a parent, to see their child not interacting with other children because of his disease. I felt overwhelmed for this couple as it seemed there was a dark cloud over them yet, you could see and feel the love between Sasha and Katya. They supported one another and looked out for each other. There could have been negative feelings/comments or a child who was angry but instead there was love.
 
When Maggie was brought into the picture, she questions exactly what she can do for Yuri. When asked to home-tutor him, Maggie sees him at face value. It isn’t until she connects with him, that she really sees what’s inside him and realizes that there is a little boy in there just waiting to come out. Maggie wants Yuri to have as much as a life as his disease will allow him to.
 
Meanwhile, Maggie is doing some growing on her own. Maggie is finding excitement in her work as she’s working with her students and Yuri. Incorporating new ideas and talking with others, Maggie is energized in finding ways to help her students be successful even though sometimes they might not always work. As she shares these ideas with her boyfriend, she finds that he is not always “there” for her. She had thought that moving in with her boyfriend would be the next step in their relationship but now, she has realized that he’s comfortable and content with life the way it is, while she is not.
 
There are many little lessons to take away from this novel which have to do with life. I was afraid that the ending was going to be sad but it ended on a positive note. It took me a while to get into this novel but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Dreamers

The Dreamers - Karen Thompson Walker
Kara told her roommate she was unusually tired when she crawled into her bunk bed. Still in her clothes and her boots from the night before, her roommate left Kara sleeping the next morning knowing that perhaps she needed more sleep, little did she know that Kara would never wake up.
 
The kids watched their father as he stripped himself down to his briefs and using the garden hose, he gave himself a shower when he arrived home. Sara knew something was up when he told her to check on the emergency fall-out shelter water in the basement. Father feels that trouble is a coming, for there is talk of a sleeping sickness that has been spreading and Father is getting nervous.
 
I could feel the anticipation as I read this book, who was going to be next and was anyone ever going to wake up? Why were some people affected and some weren’t? Was this an airborne issue or something else?
 
They soon realize that these sleeping individuals are dreaming, but what would make these individuals have such lengthy dreams and what are they dreaming about? I have had some livid dreams in my life but to sleep for days, I just can’t imagine how involved these dreams must be for these individuals.
 
As we learn about the dreamers, we meet Rebecca and they discover that she is pregnant. Throughout the novel, as she sleeps, her unborn baby’s growth is explained. I was hoping that Rebecca would wake up so that she could be united with her baby but I was also fearful of this happening. I wonder how her dreaming and sleeping affected her child. What would happen to her child if she continues to sleep past her delivery date? Who is the father? There were too many unanswered questions pertaining to Rebecca.
 
I thought the ending of the novel was anticlimactic. I was looking for something more dramatic even if it was a bit over the top. I felt that this novel was driven and that it pulled its readers through its pages yet the ending didn’t continue with that drive. It was a fun and entertaining read but the ending was not what I expected.