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.    



Hell House

Hell House - Richard Matheson
Well, that was not what I had expected. I didn’t expect all the sexual and passionate aspects of this novel. I did enjoy this novel though and I thought the historical elements and the characters in the novel complimented each other. All the while I was reading this novel, I kept thinking “Vincent Price”, this novel had his name written all over it.
When Barrett is asked to investigate the Belasco House in Maine, I, myself was intrigued to find out the secrets that this house possessed. Being sealed up tight for thirty years, would the mysteries that this house once possessed still be alive after all this time? The history of this house, it’s owner and the guests that once walked through its front door was quite the story. The house became more like a fortress, the occupants choosing their own fate.
Barrett had a week to complete his mission and once inside the house, I didn’t feel like a week was long enough for him. I liked how the house was interacting with its new guests. Accompanied by his wife and armed with a few individuals who might be able to help the physicist, the doctor realizes soon that, they are not alone.
I liked how everyone in the house has their own story. They all have their own point of view of the mysteries that are surrounding this house. The events that are occurring are not repetitive and routine but they spark curiosity and imagination. The character of Florence, she was the most fascinating and interesting one of all. I just never knew what she would do. I’m glad I finally got around to reading this. 3.5 stars


Lullaby Road

Lullaby Road - James          Anderson
I enjoyed this novel more than I had anticipated. As Ben traveled along the desert highway in his big rig, I met some of the interesting individuals he regularly encounters as he makes his deliveries. Ben has been driving the desert for around twenty years, and although the scenery hardly ever changes the individuals, the weather, and the drama that makes up are hardly ever the same.
As Ben fills up his truck to begin his day, he finds that someone has left something for him at the pump. It turns out that this something is a someone, a boy who looks to be about 6 years-old. Pinned to his shirt is a note asking Ben to take care of him for the day, from a man Ben hardly knows. Confused and now stuck with company, Ben takes the boy who is now accompanied with a dog, into his rig and gets ready for a long day on the road. He’s stopped again by a close friend who shoves a baby bag and an infant in his rig. I started to wonder what type of person Ben was, a pushover or a person with a big heart who helps people out all the time? With a full rig, Ben now has to decide whether to call off this full day of deliveries or does he take everyone with him as he makes his deliveries with the winter weather outside becoming nastier by the minute.
I got to know Ben as his mind wanders over the highway, his thoughts taking in the years he has traveled this countryside. The individuals he has met, the relationships that have been maintained, the ones that have been forgotten, and the ones that he has lost. As he makes his regular deliveries he looks out for his customers, some more carefully than others. There are rules of the road and I liked how not everyone respected one another yet there was this bond that put everyone on the same page.
I thought Ben tried to keep to himself, yet he was there to make sure no one took advantage of others who had no voice. I think Ben tried to think he was a loner but he had friends, he had others who thought highly of him and would come to his aid if he needed it. He had a big heart but I don’t think he wanted others to know it. I really enjoyed this novel. I liked the drama on the road, I liked the countryside and the characters. I will continue reading this series but I need to go back and read the first novel in the series to see what I have missed.
I received a physical copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway, thank you!
I also received a copy of this novel from Crown Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


The Night Child

The Night Child: A Novel - Anna Quinn
I really didn’t expect this novel to take all the twists and turns that it took. As the novel began to close, I couldn’t believe that the author really chose that ending for the main character. With everything that had occurred, it just didn’t seem right.
Nora is not content teaching high school like she used to be. Vacation is coming soon for her and her family but not before she begins to have visions. These visions scare Nora as they speak to her and mention subjects that she knows nothing about. Speaking with a psychiatrist, her visions evolve, causing Nora to fear them. I enjoyed this confusing period in the novel as it added a mysterious element and it created tension to many areas within the novel. As Nora speaks with her psychiatrist, we meet Margaret, someone from Nora’s past. Margaret was an important part of Nora’s past and she is needed now to help Nora get through this current period in her life.
I enjoyed this novel as it did a great job dealing with some tough issues but there were times when I was reading, that I thought it would have been nice to have more information on some of the individuals I was reading about. I didn’t think there was a lot of information about Nora’s husband. We knew the negatives but there had to be some positives in there somewhere, right? Her brother James, we know they were close but some information on their childhood would have sealed the deal for me. I liked Nora for the most part. She was intense, creative and her emotions were deep. I wanted something different for her as the novel ended, nothing nice and neat, just a different ending.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review.


I Am A Cat

I Am a Cat - Galia Bernstein
What is a cat? Is it the little kitty that you have in your house? Is it the tiger or the lion that you see at the zoo? Could a cat be a puma, a panther or a cheetah that you see in a picture book? Could it be all of them?
Meet Simon, who claims to be cat. When Simon introduces himself to a bunch of wide-eyed fury animals who claim to be cats, they all laugh at him, they all think he is basically crazy. They try to point out to Simon all the ways that he is not like them. Simon doesn’t have a mane. Simon isn’t one of the fastest animals in the world, Simon can’t leap very high nor can he sleep in a tree. Oh, poor Simon. The more Simon listens to these animals, the more confused he gets. Simon realizes that not all the cats that he sees have all the traits that they are talking about. Lion then tells Simon how all of them have long tails and whiskers, how they all have sharp claws and teeth and now Simon starts to feel better because he is a CAT just like them! Now, this gets their attention as they look at tiny Simon and suddenly, Simon is accepted into their group.
What a cute and fun story. I really liked the illustrations that accompanied this novel. The eyes on the cats were done wonderfully and their expressions were animated and helped tell the story. I thought the fonts that were used were fantastic and brought the story to life. A fantastic novel, one you should definitely check out!



Valensteins - Ethan Long
This is cute children’s book. So, what is love? Does it make your heart feel like butterflies? Does it make you feel all mushy inside? Does it mean you have to kiss someone? To the individuals at Fran’s Fright Club, they think falling in love sounds terrifying and yucky yet to Fran, it feels just right.
This children’s book had me laughing and smiling as I turned the pages and I thought my granddaughter would just love it. Fran is caught making a pink heart by Vladimir and Vladimir proceeds to let everyone know in the Fright Club exactly what Fran is doing. No scary noises for him tonight. Pretty soon, the whole club is in on the action, voicing their opinions as to what this actually means. Is Fran in love and what does love actually mean? Oh, my goodness this is a funny and comical book. Fran though, does not let his friends get him down as they poke fun at him. The illustrations are an added bonus and you just have to read the book a second time, it is just that good! I love it, I can’t stop looking at the pages and smiling. I want to share it, I am sure everyone will enjoy it. It’s not just for Valentine’s Day, it’s a fun read, everyday book.


The Glass Forest

The Glass Forest - Cynthia Swanson
Not exactly a good read for me. As I read, I began to wonder exactly where this novel was headed as it seemed everything was dragging, the novel was in slow-motion. By the time some important reveal was finally brought up, I didn’t really seem to feel its significance was that important any more. This novel just didn’t seem to be what I had expected.
The novel is centered around two families. Paul and his brother Henry. Paul and Henry look almost alike yet they don’t share the same birthday. Paul’s wife Angie is content with her marriage, living a secluded life in Wisconsin with her baby P.J. One day, they gets a call from Henry’s daughter Ruby, telling her that her father is dead (suicide?) and that her mother has ran away. Instinct kicks in and Angie feels that she can help Ruby while Paul wants her to stay home while he takes care of things in N.Y. Yeah, I thought this was weird right from the start, isn’t this a time for families to be together? Anyways, off to N.Y. they go and things are bizarre immediately upon entering the house. Ruby is this quiet teen who had called for help but once help arrives, she hides inside her shell. I couldn’t figure out Paul, but then again maybe he didn’t want me to. We get flashbacks to the marriage of Henry and his wife Silja and I can see that their marriage was nothing like Angie’s and Paul’s. Everything is revealed by the time I finished the novel but it took too dang long for me. This just wasn’t my style of writing.


Sorrow Road

Sorrow Road: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels) - Julia Keller
I have enjoyed reading this series and was hoping Bell would go out in a bang in this final novel in this series. As the prosecuting attorney in this Appalachian community, she has had her hands full as its citizens deal with drugs and crime. As Bell wrestles with her job she also must handle her own life issues and finding a balance between the two. In this final novel, revenge seems to be on everyone’s mind. The passage of time, the events that have occurred make no difference, it is about retaliation.
I found myself not enjoying this novel as much as I have the previous Bell Elkins novels. There were high and lows as I read but there wasn’t the anticipation nor the adrenaline-rush that I have felt in previous novels. I didn’t feel a deep connection to the characters yet I enjoyed their stories and how they tried to resolve their issues. It was nice to see that Bell’s personal life was finally seeing some sunshine. At first, I wasn’t sure what allowed that to seep in and what that would actually do to her but I enjoyed how Bell accepted this change. I enjoyed this series and I liked reading about Bell’s small community and the issues that they faced.


Dear Girl,

Dear Girl, - Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal, Holly Hatam
Girl Power! I think every girl needs to read this children’s book. What an uplifting and wonderful novel celebrating us females! I can’t begin to express how enlightening and empowering this novel is. I am definitely going to be buying a few copies of this novel and sharing them.
This novel is basically made up of an assortment of two-page spread entries which begin with “Dear Girl,” and tell the female reader that they are okay, they are special, they are unique and loved. My heart was bursting after my first reading. I immediately had to reread it as it hit on so many different strings that girls address as they are growing up, that now, on my second time through, I stopped and really enjoyed each and every page of the novel. Girls, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be alone, it’s okay to ask all kinds of questions, to say no and it’s okay to dress different. I loved the illustration of the girl; her simple style went well with the novel. I enjoyed the illustrations and I liked how they didn’t overtake the novel’s objective. I
really liked the pages that said, “Dear Girl, You won’t be invited to every single party on the planet. (Which is really okay- can you image how exhausting that would be?).” This page hit home with me, this page covers many topics that individuals face with growing up. I can’t tell you how many times as a substitute teacher I have had to deal with issues of girls not being accepted by their peers. It hurts to see this happen but like the other pages in this novel, it tells girls that it is okay. This novel tells girls that it is also okay to find people that are different, people that are not like them. As a parent, these pages speak volumes. This is a wonderful, fantastic children’s book! I highly recommend checking it out and perhaps buying a few copies: one for your own child, one for your teacher or giving one away as we all know, we should empower others.


The Boy and the Whale

The Boy and the Whale - Mordicai Gerstein, Mordicai Gerstein
I liked this children's book as the illustrations were beautiful and it had some great messages. One of the messages was about going with your gut feelings. The boy went against what his father told him to do BUT he did what he thought was right and he saved a whale. The whale had been caught up in his father's fishing net and his father had left the whale tangled up and told the boy to leave the whale alone but the boy couldn't do it. He had to try to set the whale free. Working hard, the boy was successful and the whale was untangled, the net back into the boy's fishing boy and the whale went back out into the sea. The father ended up being proud of his son and I liked that the author included this in the novel. I also liked that the boy didn't give up. The illustrations show what a difficult and strenuous task freeing this whale was for this small boy and he did it on his own. He was proud of himself and whale was happy to be free too. It was a great accomplishment and then to have his father be proud of him too, it had to be a proud moment for this boy.
There was something about the word "Breathe" that that the author hit upon in this novel. I thought it was special and it is a word that I myself use quite a bit when others are stressed. Just, "breathe."
A nice book with powerful illustrations that supplement a great story.


Andy and the Lion - an oldie but a goodie

Andy and the Lion (Picture Puffins) - James Daugherty
I remember reading this story at my grandmother’s house when I was little. I was thrilled to see this novel at a sale at the library so I quickly grabbed it, paid my dollar and now it is added to my own library.
I didn’t even have to open the novel to remember anything about the book. I remembered Andy and the lion chasing each other around the huge rock. Andy was scared of the lion and then suddenly the lion stopped running. I thought for sure he would eat poor Andy and then the lion showed Andy his paw. A huge thorn stuck out of his paw and smart Andy dressed in his overalls grabbed out his pliers and pulled with all of his might and got that thorn out. The thorn was so stuck in the lion’s paw that the two of them tumbled over backward when it finally came out. The lion was so grateful that he licked Andy right in the face. The two of them then, went back to what they were originally doing. I loved that part of the story.
Days later, as Andy was visiting the circus, a lion jumped out of his steel cage and ran right toward the crowd. The lion was headed right toward Andy who had been excited for this part of the show. As the lion looked at Andy, Andy noticed something familiar about his lion. The lion stopped in his tracks and looked straight at Andy. It’s funny how things turned out in the rest of the book.
I liked how the author leaves you hanging with the short script. Sometimes there’s not a lot of words on one page and you need to read two pages to get a complete sentence as the author creates a cliffhanging effect on the pages. I liked the white, black and orange color scheme and I like the magical elements of this children’s novel. Andy begins the novel going to the library to get a novel, a novel about lions. A picture of a lion faces his dining room table, his father is reading the newspaper article about lions, his grandfather’s story is about lions, and then Andy dreams about lions, lions are everywhere before he runs into the lion on his way to school. I can’t wait to share this novel with others. 4.5 stars


Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel - Sarah Vaughan
I was riding both sides of the courtroom with this novel, not sure really if I wanted to believe the defendant or the prosecutor in this case. It all came down to one event, one encounter and with only two people witnessing the event, it was her story against his, two completely different stories. He claimed he called off the affair but the events that transpired between these two individuals tell a different story. It’s a, who did what and who said what, when the lift was called and these two individuals walked inside it. It’s the jury who will hear the case and have to decide who is actually telling the truth, they have someone’s future in their hands.
The novel is told from a few different viewpoints and I knew someone was not being honest. I felt for the wife of the defendant as she knew nothing about the affair until it became public news and her husband sat her down to confess. I think she behaved appropriately, going through all the emotions and considerations. She was a kept woman, it’s what she had wanted and standing by her man was what she thought was the best solution. I didn’t his wife to begin with but as the story was being played out, I found to like her a great deal. The story adds a new element now as I read, it flashes back in time to when the wife was in college. We see what she was like, who her friends were and events that occurred during a brief time while she was there. This new view adds a twist to the story, a twist that becomes critical to the case. I pondered this twist, I envisioned different scenarios, some worse than others. I wanted the worse, it’s not that I’m evil, I just wanted justice.
As I read this novel, I kept anticipating when something dramatic would occur. I liked the court scenes, I liked the order and control yet there was this intensity of what was being said and the drama of the whole situation. As the two stories started to come together, I found myself holding my breath as individuals were giving their testimony under oath. I was high strung in the end, I wanted blood, I wanted it all, and as I looked at what was left of the novel there were too many pages left to give me the justice I wanted. Was justice served in the end? You betcha, but I would have dug much deeper!
I won a copy of this book from Bookish First, this review is my own honest opinion.


The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure - Shoba Narayan
I’m lactose intolerant yet here I am reading a book about cows and milk. Hum? I thought this novel sounded interesting and that is why I asked to read it and interesting is what I got. I found out a great deal about cows but I also got an interesting story about a woman who packed up her family and took them back to India. Both Narayan and her husband were from India and they had family there. Looking out the window of her apartment one morning, she spots a woman milking a cow across the street selling the fresh milk to individuals waiting in line. Apprehensive to the idea, Narayan reaches out to talk to the woman, Sarala, and thus begins a friendship, a journey, an education that she will never forget.
I learned a great deal as Narayan and Sarala build their friendship. Sarala has a deep connection to her cows, a connection that goes back many generations. I guess a lot of what I read makes sense but to stop and think about it, I hadn’t really done that. I learned that what you taste in a cow’s milk, should be what the cow has ate. A good connoisseur should be able to taste the wheat, the grass, the barley, etc. that the cow was grazing on. Now, this pertains only to unpasteurized milk, the milk Narayan is contemplating. While in India, Narayan is learning all about this type of milk as this is what Sarala is selling. Trying to convince Narayan that this milk is superior, Sarala is educating her and is having her taste different cow’s milk. All I could think of while Narayan was concentrating on what each cow ate while she was taste testing was an individual swirling a glass of wine before taking a sip.
Most individuals know there is medical value in milk but what about the cow’s urine? What people do with the cow’s urine had me almost gagging. India does love their cows and they love every part of them. I did appreciate learning this information, as you never know when I might need to know this. Let’s talk about cow dung. It’s used for lighting fires and for fertilizer but there is much more this waste can be used for. There is medical value inside of it and you can also use it for purifying, that’s just a couple of things that Narayan learns as she talks with Sarala.
I thought it was interesting as I read about the struggle between the traditionalists and the young folk who are now making their way out into the world. Parents and grandparents want to call upon the traditions that have been in place for over 5,000 years and pass them onto their children, traditions that have worked, while the younger generation are ready to put them behind. It seems every part of the world has this struggle.
I was glad Narayan shared her story with me. I thought this novel was entertaining, educational, and clever. I got an education in cows and life in India.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Algonquin Books/Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.


American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land - Monica Hesse
I thought that this novel was an entertaining and interesting read. Focused on the arson fires that damaged Accomack County in 2012, this novel was not riveting nor was it mesmerizing as the fires damaged property and changed the lives of the citizens living nearby. This novel showed how two individuals, shook up their community, all in the name of love.
Everyone had personally been affected by these two individual’s actions: either by seeing a fire, calling a fire in, or had a fire touch their own property. These fires had become personal. Citizens were taking action by buying guns and binoculars and setting up their own watches, becoming their own vigilantes. The county was burning up. More law enforcement was called in, FBI and specialists were brought in to investigate but they just couldn’t seem to find a pattern or could find any suspects. Finally, as exhaustion was at its peak, they saw movement at one of their locations. Time moved slowly as the men patiently waited, they had to see flames before they could rush in towards their suspects. After all this time, they sat waiting for more fire to finally make a move. Fire! They moved quickly, radioing in as they ran through the night. They were surprised at who they found at the end of their journey. The suspect was a talker, his partner not so much. He loved her, oh he did. From those first words he spoke, you could feel what he felt about her. Her story doesn’t have the same tone as his.
I liked a lot of things about this novel including the writing and the way that the novel was put together. The author did a lot of research to compile this novel as there were interesting side stories and remarks throughout the novel. A true crime story, I liked reading all the details that were involved in such a case and how it all played out. It was frustrating, exhausting and annoying to the firefighters who were mainly volunteers to fight these arson fires day-in and day-out without much of a lead. I loved how the community came together during this tragedy: some took to the streets, some brought supplies to the firehouses and some found other ways to help their community. At the end of the novel, after 5.5 months of fires and 86 fires, they had finally apprehended their felons but the story was not over yet.


And Then There Were None - audio

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
I listened to this novel and I was surprised how fast it went. This is the first Agatha Christie novel that I have read in a long time and I was surprised how much I liked it. I thought it might be slow or wordy but this novel was non-stop action and there were times that I relistened to parts of it as events were occurring faster than I had anticipated and/or was prepared for. I really enjoyed the ending where everything was revisited and the story was revealed piece-by-piece.
There were ten of them to start, ten individuals invited to the island to enjoy their holiday. These individuals had been chosen because they all had something in common, but what was this common link? As they gathered in the dining room, they notice the glass figures positioned on the mantle, ten little Indian boys all standing in a row. Above this small display is a poetic phrase that describes these glass figurines. This lyrical edition and the matching figures were reproduced in each of the guest’s bedrooms with an additional set of figurines on the dining room table. I enjoyed how important they become to the novel and to the guests as their holiday was far from their original expectations.
The number of guests begins to dwindle as the number of deaths on the island increases. They were dying at an alarming rate and no one could figure out who the murderer was. Their chances of returning to the main land was slim as they didn’t have anything to carry them across. The guests were trying to stick together yet, death still found them.
I found this audio very enjoyable and I am looking forward to reading or listening to more of Christie in the near future.


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne
I was disappointed in this novel, I mean for how much people have talked about it and then a movie is made based on this novel, seriously this book needs work. I was so frustrated reading it, I almost stopped and put it away but since I am reading it for a book club I thought I better continue. Why was I so frustrated? It felt so glossy, it never hit on anything important to this time period, it was too juvenile. I read a lot of children’s and young adult novels, novels that pertain to this time period and this one was one major letdown for me.
In the beginning of the novel, I liked Bruno’s confusion and innocence as his family is being relocated because the Fury has big plans for his father. Nine-year-old Bruno knows nothing about what his father does, only that he is important to the Fury and Bruno sees this move as a “great adventure.”
In the new house, his twelve-year-old sister has a forest view out her window but as Bruno looks out his window, his view becomes confusing the further out he gazes. They’re both hoping to find new friends at their new home, as they miss what they had in Berlin. Asking his father about the groups of individuals that he sees out his window, Bruno realizes that the chance of any of them becoming his friend is none as his father tells him that “they’re not people at all, Bruno,” and he has “nothing whatsoever in common with them.” This doesn’t stop Bruno’s curiosity about them yet all through the novel, Bruno is left in the dark. I felt as though he had plenty of opportunity to be educated, to discover what exactly was going on, yet he doesn’t. What about Bruno’s family? How can they leave him in the dark while he is living within feet of a death camp? Did his sister know anything about it since she’s older, did they talk? He had to have heard something from all the individuals coming and going inside their house.
Bruno sees a fence line from his window and he was told to keep away from it yet he doesn’t. He takes this chance and when he does, he proves his father wrong. He comes upon Shmuel, who is a person and he does have something in common with Bruno. I enjoyed this innocent friendship and bond as it started to form. Bruno has lots of questions about the people in the striped pajamas and I was hoping that Shmuel would explain things to him but it seems I was only hoping. They spent lots of time together, these two young boys, talking between the wire fence, I mean a lot of time together and seriously Bruno learns nothing about the truth on Shmuel’s side of the fence.
I did like the ending. I think that is the only thing that saved this novel for me. Moving on……


Reading material

I stopped off at a local used bookstore today to get my older daughter some new reading material for her birthday.  She read all The  Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson so I’ve been giving her some new titles to get her hooked on something else.  I’ve been giving her titles from my basement stash but decided to hit the bookstore and I think I found a few she might like. I’ll definitely be headed back there as I found a few I thought I needed. 


Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge200 Book Reviews