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.    

 

 

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars - Seth Fishman, Isabel Greenberg
Amazon marked this novel as one of their best children’s books of 2017 so I had to check it out. I liked many of the other books that they had listed in this category and this cover was screaming at me with its bright colors and its fun illustration that I thought I would fall for it too.
 
The illustrations inside this novel are fantastic. They pop off the page and scream for your attention. They begin with contrasting colors that illustrate the energetic scenes. The bright, bold text then grabs your attention and this text is easy to read and follow.
 
This book is about numbers, it’s about the world around you and its related numbers. Some of the items that the author talks about are items that I have thought about and some were new ideas that made me think. For example, I have thought about the immensity of the world’s oceans and trees but I have never thought how many gallons of water that might be or how many total trees that would entail. I have thought about the total population of our planet but I never considered how many ants might be living on our planet or how much total weight this might be. This is an interesting book, a book about huge numbers, sometimes numbers so large they are in the million billion range. Before you start to concern yourself with reading all the zero’s in this novel, the author was gracious to his readers and has provided the reader with written text to some of these large numbers so you can say them with dignity. This is a fun, educational, children’s book that I would recommend to children starting around second grade. I think younger children will get bored with all the great information that is included in this novel unless numbers are their thing. The illustrations are definitely a plus for this novel.

 

Dory Fantasmagory

Dory Fantasmagory - Abby Hanlon
This was a funny and creative story that had me laughing and smiling as I read. The story is about a little girl whose siblings are tired of having her around. Dory is a little girl with quite an imagination who likes to talk. Whether she is making a comment or asking a question, Dory’s siblings feel that Dory is a baby and that she is always bothering them. Dory feels that her siblings never want to play with her so Dory invents her own imaginary stories and people who are quite happy to have her around.
 
There was so much to like about this novel from the great illustrations, the mixture of normal text and graphic text, the sibling rivalry, Dora’s behavior and Mrs. Gobble Gracker. The novel is set up into six separate chapters so this would be a great read-aloud novel. This is the first novel in a series. I’m anxious now to read more novels about Dory to see what else she is up to.

 

The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill - Jaime Jo Wright
Kaine is trying to live out her late husband’s dream as she feels guilty for his death. Kaine believes that her devotion to her work had cost Danny his life and now, she is trying to make amends by renovating a historical landmark. Little does Kaine realize what mysteries and stories this house holds within its walls. Buying the house online, Kaine is happy to leave California behind her and reestablish herself in an area where her family once lived. Kaine believed that her husband had been murdered and that the killer was stalking her but the California police were not convinced. Wisconsin was going to be her new start, at least that was her hope.
 
We are told two stories in this novel, the present-day story with Kaine moving into her new home in Wisconsin, ready to begin a new life and another story which occurred in 1906. Ivy tells this story and it begins with the discovery of a dead girl who was found wedged inside the dead tree. As Ivy assists her father, the physician and medical examiner, Ivy records her information inside her death journal, as she believes no one should be forgotten. Ivy begins her own investigation into this woman’s death which leads her to the Foster Hill House. The stories start to merge together, I loved how they twisted together, as Kaine investigates some bizarre occurrences happening at her new house. Kaine realizes that her house was once called, Foster Hill House and no one liked that house. Great debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else this author creates.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 

Fierce Kingdom

Fierce Kingdom: A Novel - Gin Phillips
I listened to this novel and I went into this novel expecting some intense moments. This is what I was envisioning: a mother with her small child trapped inside a zoo while there were individuals with guns running throughout the facilities, animals feeling the intensity and responding therefore noises and some chaotic moments, other individuals trapped inside the zoo (smart, educational people and some irrational crazy ones) which would add drama and intensity to the novel and some police action. I felt that I was cheated, I only witnessed part of the action. I wanted more drama and action.
 
The novel started off intense, the situation began and I was ready but then it fizzled out and I felt that we were hiding in a box while the rest of the world went on without us. It’s not like I wanted death or shots to be fired but I wanted to know more than what was happening in my little box. I was getting frustrated with the mother. I wanted to run out into the main area and find someone else to hide with. When she finally emerges, and meets up with a few others in the restaurant, the novel was beginning to get interesting again but it was the others who were supplying the drama. I’m glad that I listened to this novel as the premise was fantastic, the novel just didn’t back it up.

 

Christmas on the Coast

Christmas on the Coast - Rebecca Boxall
I had a hard time with this novel. This novel runs two stories side-by-side, one that is told by Libby in 2016 and another one which is labeled Queenie’s Journal, who was Libby’s great aunt, which was written in 1941. I found that I liked the journal better, although at times it didn’t seem like a journal. The journal answered many questions and it also revealed and validated the actions and views of the individuals she wrote about. I liked the mystery and the darkness that surrounded this part of the novel.
 
As I listened to Libby, I couldn’t believe how on edge she was. Her life seemed too extreme to be actually happening. Then when she served wine with omelets, I had to laugh. Who does this? I just didn’t care much for her and I thought she made a better character when she was with someone else. This novel was a good novel to put me in the Christmas spirit.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Surprise Prize and The Mystery Coins

The Surprise Prize - Anita Yasuda, Steve Harpster
These were cute books. Nothing hard about them but they carried the element of unknown which would later be revealed at the end of the novel. I liked the bold text which was written at the bottom of each page and each mystery was substantial and interesting. At the end of each story, there are story words which list about 4-6 words that were used in the novel and it also lists the word count of the novel. I think these would make wonderful beginning reader books because they hold a few challenging words and then sight words. There are four main characters (dinosaurs with names) that are introduced before the story begins. According to the Stone Arch Readers program- these Level 2 books have longer sentences, higher vocabulary and easy dialogue. I will definitely be looking into more of this series and then, other books in the Stone Arch
 
Readers Program
Level 1 – simple sentence, easy vocabulary, word repetition
Level 2- see above
Level 3 – full paragraphs, higher word count, high-interest topics
 
The Mystery Coins- Ty makes an invention and they are going to try it out on the beach. It works and they discover coins. Using clues, they are lead to the other side of the beach. Hoping to discover what to do with their coins, the friends again use clues to solve the mystery. My 5-year-old granddaughter liked this book and she was using the clues as we read it, to help solve the case.
 
The Surprise Prize – Sara loves Dino Delight cereal and she is eating boxes and boxes of the cereal so she can get a surprise prize by mailing in the box tops. All of her friends guess what the surprise might be and so does Sara. When the surprise comes, they imagine what could be in the box again. When Sara finally opens the box, everyone is surprised! My granddaughter liked this book also. We liked what Sara’s friends guessed and we made our own guesses. When the box arrived, we guessed again and my granddaughter guessed correctly what Sara had received. This was a fun book to read.

 

Pig the Elf

Pig the Elf (Pig the Pug) - Aaron Blabey
Yes, Pig the Pug is greedy! His greed is almost too much for me and I was hoping that he would have a change of heart, like the Grinch. It’s Christmas Eve and Pig has his friend Trevor over. Trevor is sweet and he tries to persuade Pig to do the right thing but Pig is greedy. The two are looking at their lists for Santa and Trevor has written on a piece of paper that he would like “something nice” for Christmas. Pig’s Christmas list is a scroll, amounting to what Toys R Us would have on their search engine. He wants everything! Trevor heads off to bed but Pig is not thinking about sleep, he wants to see Santa and all his presents. As Santa arrives and leaves the gifts for Pig and Trevor, Pig is not happy with what he receives and he lets Santa know.
 
I think some children will laugh when they read this book about Pig as it is extreme and ridiculous what he does but I got tired of his attitude. I liked Trevor more as he knew what to do and he tried to influence his friend but he wasn’t mean or domineering. I think I have had enough of Pig.

 

Dough Knights and Dragons

Dough Knights and Dragons - Dee Leone, George Ermos
Written in rhyme, this novel is cute if you can read it as such. The sentences are long and I, myself got out of the flow of the rhyme when I stopped to explain some of the text. Later, when I reread the text, I found the story charming as the knight and the dragon found their own way to handle the competition they were forced to compete in.
 
They met, a dragon and a knight, the knight feared for his life yet the dragon was not interested in harming him, the dragon was interested in what the knight had cooking in the pot over the fire. They formed a bond, a bond over food, this unlikely pair. They would rather cook together than duel it out against one another. It is required though that the dragon must eat the knight and the knight must spear the dragon so the two of them decided that they would abide by the rules but they would do it their way. They are a sly pair but they fulfilled their roles in the end. Will the spectators and the kings approve of their scheme?
 
It’s a creative novel, a good story about friendships and working together. The illustrations were fun as they were bold and colorful. My 5-year-old granddaughter was not thrilled with this novel and she lost interest while I was reading it to her, I think the sentence structure with the rhyming was too long.

 

Caps For Sale and the Mindful Monkeys

Caps for Sale and the Mindful Monkeys - Esphyr Slobodkina, Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer, Esphyr Slobodkina
If you loved Caps For Sale, you will love this new addition to the original. I think I love this new novel better than the original. The monkey’s in this new novel remind me of the elves in the Shoemaker and the Elves. They help the peddler tremendously and he realizes that they are not pesky monkeys but instead they are mindful monkeys.
 
He shakes his finger at them, “You monkeys, you” and the monkeys only shake their fingers right back at him and reply, “Tsz, tsz, tsz!” Don’t you just love this? I smile every time I read this. Then, looking at the illustration, I see the smiling monkeys, the peddler with his mustache, and I know that one party wants to play and the other one has work to do.
 
There are sixteen monkeys now and they have been following the peddler for two days. The peddler is going to visit his friend Essie as she will know what to do about the monkeys. Guess who follows the peddler to Essie’s? Yes, the monkeys! Essie has some good advice but it’s not exactly what the peddler wanted to hear but nevertheless he returns home with the monkey’s trailing behind him. He follows Essie’s advice and unexpectedly, he has to leave town as one of his friends is sick. He is gone many days and the monkey’s wait in the tree, for his return. These are mindful monkeys and soon they band together and decide to help the peddler. When the peddler arrives home, overcome with worry and discomfort, the peddler is surprised at the monkeys in his tree. His friend Essie was right and the ending to this novel was wonderful. The pictures were great and they follow the same template as Caps For Sale. Another fantastic children’s novel!

 

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook (Pop Classics) - Kim Smith
I liked this children’s book as it was just like the movie that I loved. The illustrations were cartoon in nature and as I read it, I smiled as I could remember seeing this novel at the movie theater so many years ago. The author tried to include as many of the highlights of the movie that he could and I thought the flow of the novel was great as I didn’t feel that I was missing anything important to make me have to stop reading. I loved the details in the illustrations, they weren’t too cumbersome and little E.T. was cute with his huge eyes and his little fingers.
 
Elliott discovers something out in the shed and it didn’t look like a coyote. His story of a goblin doesn’t sit well with his family so the next night, using candy he entices the creature into his home while outside some individuals are searching for something using strange equipment. I can hear Gertie scream as she is introduced to Elliott’s goblin and the illustration was perfect for this part in the novel. The story continues with the globe, his solar system model, and his mother’s search of Elliott’s room where E.T. is hidden amongst all his stuffed toys (excellent illustration). There is this anticipation as the story continues as the individuals outside continue to draw closer to Elliott house and this suspense continues as I read, the individuals creeping closer and closer. Gertie dresses E.T. up as they played and she teaches him how to talk, such great movie scenes and the illustrations do a wonderful job also. This really is a fantastic novel, one that makes you relive the movie and one that brought smiles to my face. This is definitely a novel that I will be purchasing for myself. I think kids will love looking at its illustrations over and over again and it will be one that they will love to hear repeated. This novel and my Home Alone children’s novel will be hits! I think now I need to watch the movie, I really do!

 

The Book of Gold

The Book of Gold - Bob Staake, Bob Staake
I think this book is geared for older children, kids who are at least in the third grade. From looking at its cover and its title, I was hoping it would be something I could read to my 5-year old granddaughter but it just didn’t keep her attention with far too many words on each page and a storyline that didn’t jump out at her. I did enjoy the story but I think it is a story that only older elementary students will be able to enjoy. If you take the time to notice the illustrations, you will see that the beginning illustrations were created using a dull yellow. Something changes within the main characters as the story continues and suddenly the illustrations burst out with color. It isn’t till the final pages of the novel when another change occurs, this time the pages are coated in gold as another change occurs within the main character. I liked this transformation with the illustrations and I thought the story was cute and entertaining but I don’t think a young child will find this story captivating.
 
The story centers around a young child named Isaac who really doesn’t care about anything. His parents are trying to find something to engage his interest in but nothing is working. They have tried to talking to him about a variety of subjects and now they are tempting him with books. They are trying to show Isaac that his world is vast and the answers to his world are inside novels. His parents love books and the knowledge that they have gained from them but Isaac doesn’t care about books or his world. The trip to the library didn’t work so on their way home, they pass a store front were mother stops to buy a present. This novelty shop was full of strange items but Isaac was not impressed. When the shopkeeper notices the bored Isaac, she finds it odd that he is memorized by her wares and she talks to him. When she mentions The Book of Gold to him, Isaac finally becomes excited and his life changes. The Book of Gold has become his mission and Isaac begins this transformation. The ending was not what I expected or wanted, I guess I didn’t know what to expect but the ending left me hanging.

 

Here We Are: Notes For Living on Planet Earth

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth - Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers
I absolutely love this children’s novel. What a gem! I picked this one up at the library but this novel is one that I will be buying for my own library. It was a fun novel with fantastic illustrations.
 
This children’s novel describes the world to the main character. The world is huge, it’s confusing, it’s interesting and there is so much for anyone to learn so come along and listen while they explain it to the main character. They touch on different subjects (sea, people, sky, solar system, etc.) and provide to the reader details about each of these subjects. The illustrations are wonderful and they sell the novel. They’re bold, colorful and the detail is outstanding, I took my time looking at these wonderful works of art.
 
I liked the tone of the novel, it was friendly and encouraging. It showed me just how amazing Earth is and the ending left a warm feeling in my heart. This is definitely a children’s novel that needs to be read and cherished. Highly recommended!

 

Amy Harmon - free novel

I really enjoy her novels and I just saw this on Facebook and have to share

 

https://www.facebook.com/authoramyharmon/posts/1760135363996679

 

 

The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower - Katherine Arden
Someone needs to tell Vasya to quit being such a gambler and to stop accepting all the wagers that come her way, as I don’t think my heart can take any more! When Vasya decides to forego marriage and the convent to spend her time experiencing the world, I don’t believe she was envisioning bandits, talisman, or competitions. Vasya wants to see the world, she wants to be free to see new sights and sounds, she wants to witness what was beyond her reach but as she leaves her comfortable surroundings, other concerns and situations develop that she must address before she reaches her destination.
 
The minute Vasya rides off on Solovey, her world becomes an astonishing adventure, a captivating journey where she is pushed and pulled in every direction. She meets so many different individuals, sometimes it was hard for me to keep all these individuals separate. I don’t know where Vasya would be if she didn’t have Solovey at her side. Solovey, this fierce stallion, is beyond incredible. Able to understand and talk with Vasya, Solovey becomes her companion, her partner and advisor. Then, there is Morozko, the snow demon. I wished I had read the first novel in this series so I would know how tight their bond is but from what I can tell and from what transpired, these two are close. I worried for Morozko, as he seemed to be more committed to their relationship whereas Vasya acted nonchalant. Who really needed who, in this novel?
 
I enjoyed reading about Vasya as she was bold and determined and enthusiastic about what she believed in. What an incredible novel. What’s next? I am going to read the first novel in the series to catch myself up and then, I will wait for the next book to be released as I need to know what happens to Vasya.
 
I won a copy of this novel from BookishFirst and Random House, thank you! This review is my own opinion.

 

 

 

A Different Pond

A Different Pond (Fiction Picture Books) - Bao Phi, Thi Bui

It’s early in the morning on a Saturday, yet his father has been up a while getting ready for the day. The streets are empty as the father and his young son set out for the fishing trip, stopping off to get bait, at a business that his father frequently visited. The boy is squeamish about the procedures for fishing, his father is patient and loving with him as he assists his son with the tasks. As the two fishermen patiently wait for a tug on their lines, father tells his son stories about life before coming to America, an emotional subject not frequently visited. As they arrive back home, the sun rising, the father must now get ready for work. It has been a successful morning, they will now have food on the table tonight. Living in America has been hard for this family. As mother and father leave for work, they know that coming home tonight will be special.

 

This story was a relaxing, calm read yet I knew about the hardships that this family was enduring on a daily basis and the ones that they had lived through. This story is about endurance, strength, and family. You could feel the love that lived within this family in the way that they communicated with each other and the way they interacted with each other. I enjoyed this children’s novel.

Dentin Little’s Still Not Dead

Denton Little's Still Not Dead - Lance Rubin

It took me a while to get back into the swing of things when I started listening to this novel. Denton is supposed to be dead but he has now lived past his death date and is currently the first person to do so. Denton is not happy in his new life, he misses his friends and he is bound and determined to return to them. He wants to find Paolo and he is determined to find him. To return to his previous world where friends and family believe that he is dead just cannot happen, can it?

 

This novel was funny and I liked how devoted Denton was to his friends. They The were his constant. I started to admire Denton as he started to think on his own and take chances. I thought it was hilarious when Denton went to the funerals as he had to think and act quickly. This was a great conclusion.

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge