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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.  

The Chronicles of Narnia Pop-up

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

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

 

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

 

Little Whale

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

 

Heart Land

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

 

Dry

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

 

Friends Book Sale

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

American Road Trip

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

 

The Halloween Tree - audio

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

 

Grim Lovelies

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

 

Three Things About Elsie

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

 

Potato Pants!

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

 

Mail Surprise

I got a great surprise in my mail today! So excited to get a copy of this!!

 

#AnAnonymousGirl

 

Afternoon fire

Finishing up Three Things About Elsie and starting this one.  

 

All Rights Reserved

All Rights Reserved - Gregory Scott Katsoulis
I loved Vox. I devoured that book and as I was raving about it to one of my librarians, he suggested this book. I couldn’t imagine a society where every word spoken or every gesture would cost an individual over the age of 15, money. How is that even possible? And why? I had to read this book to find out.
 
I just couldn’t believe how long it took me to finish this book. Usually I finish a book in a few days but this book took quite a bit longer. I thought the plot was great and, in the beginning, when the story was being set up I was hooked but the middle seemed to drag on.
 
The main character Speth, makes her stance when she turns 15 and decides that she is not giving her Last Day Speech. This becomes a major turning point in the book. Speth decides that she will not give her final free words and she remains silent, and she continues to remain silent frustrating the authorities who are in-charge. It just goes to show that although she is small, she is mighty as her actions cause quite a bit of chaos as others begin to follow suit as they turn 15 years-old and the authorities as not happy as the amount of silent individuals grow.
 
This dystopian world was very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the Product Placers as they raced across the city making their surprise visits. Then, there were the ads for the different products that popped up out of nowhere. These seemed annoying to me, but to them it was a way of life. The books, the way they were supposed to be treated and respected. How they were cared for and who had them, so what happened to the rest of the books in this society? The cuffs. This whole idea was clever and corrupt. To pay for gestures, trademarks, copyrights and restricted words: this whole idea seemed crazy but if you think about it, it’s about control and being taken care of. There’s probably someone right now, thinking about making this concept work.
 
I thought it was hard to get inside the character of Speth, she remained silent for a great deal of the book. She also couldn’t gesture and I only could read what she was thinking. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series as I feel that is when I will see what is store for this community. I have a lot of questions that I hope are answered in this next book.

 

When the Lights Go Out

When The Lights Go Out - Mary Kubica
Nope, nada, this novel did not work for me. I have read Mary Kubica’s books in the past and I have enjoyed them but I didn’t enjoy this one. It was the ending that the upset me the most.
 
The story is basically about a woman whose mother has just recently passed away. Jesse has had sleep issues since her mother’s hospitalization and these issues still remain. These sleep issues are now causing Jesse to hallucinate. Ready to begin her own life now, Jesse finds out that her identity is not really her own. Confused and frustrated because she has no one to talk to, Jesse tries to piece together her past to figure out what her real name is and who this “Jesse” really is.
 
Enter in the story of Jesse’s mother. Through her journals, we read her tale of desperation to become a mother. Frustration, tests to become pregnant and failure all become part of the picture. Her mother ultimate goal was to be a mother.
 
I felt ripped off as I finished this novel. It was like the author wrote “the end” before the final chapter. It was all good until the very end. I guess I should have read some reviews before reading this book, I would have skipped it.

 

Ender's Game

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
I will tell you right up front that I don’t usually read Sci-fi. When I got this book for book club, I was eyeing the movie thinking that I might be better off with the movie but I took a chance and grabbed the book. I am so glad I took the book; this book was amazing! I loved this book! I still can’t believe how much I loved this book. As I reading this book, I got excited and was smacking the book closed every so often (more often than I want to admit) and voicing off to my husband what was happening, and we were actually having a conversation about this book because he remembers watching the movie. This book was exciting, tense, irritating, and just plain crazy.
 
I won’t rehash the whole story line but I will tell you this. I could not put this book down! Poor Ender, just when he finally finds a place where he thinks he belongs, he begins to get bullied again, I think not! He stands up for himself (keep soapy!). He begins to make a few friends and amazingly, he ends up getting some individuals who actually admire him, and next thing you know, he’s a leader. Not just any leader, but one who listens to his troops and cares.
 
I loved the character build-up in this book and the anticipation as the story grew. I swear, I was right there with Ender as he commanded his troops and I experienced the ups and downs also as this novel moved quickly, for there was fear of a war and they needed to get ready. Just when I thought the book ended and I was fighting mad, there was more to read. This part was like a nudge to get me calmed down. So now, I am hooked, I need to read the next book in the series to see what happens.
 
I’m a late bloomer to this book but I am so glad that I finally found it.
 
Following Week: I decided to rent the movie since that was my husband’s version of the book. What happened? I think they pulled a fast-forward on the whole book. I was a horrible, and I mean horrible movie watcher, as I commented during the whole movie. I just couldn’t help myself. “Where’s the ____?” “What happened to the ____?” “No,no,no!” “That’s bogus!” I felt that there was no character build-up, no anticipation, and the unity that I felt between the characters in the book wasn’t there. It was wham-bam, here he is, here he is, here he is, so choppy. My husband kept telling me that if they made the movie like the book, it would be hours long and I told him but it would be an amazing movie! Unfortunately, he heard everything that was missing from the movie and afterwards, I asked my 2-3 book-a-year husband, if he would like to read the book to experience it like I did and he declined, with all my narration, he got the just of the book- ha.

 

Won't You Be My Neighbor - VIDEO

I got this biography at the library and after watching it, my admiration for Mr. Rogers has skyrocketed.  I didn’t realize what a remarkable man he really was.  He didn’t shy away from difficult or tough situations/topics that children faced in their lives.  No, Mr. Rogers held their hands and he tried to bring it down to their level, so they could feel comfortable or knowledgeable about living in their own world.

 

His show was deep, I think deeper than people realized at that period in time. I remember watching him and when they showed clips of his show on this DVD, I recalled seeing them, but what they said about those clips was not what I remember thinking about clips when I was younger.    

 

I liked what the video said about the 143, his address that was on the show.  I think I will remember now, the I Love You (143) which was mentioned during that clip.  It was interesting how many individuals commented about Mr. Rogers speech as I watched this DVD. They noticed how slowly he talked, how gentle and how sometimes there was silence and nothing was spoken even though they were having a conversation with him. Mr. Rogers was like that.  He was patient, he was a kind-soul. Mr. Rogers commented that silence was good, that it’s okay to just do nothing and I smiled when I heard that because I like to talk and when in a conversation and there is silence, I wonder…… what’s next.

 

As I listened to this DVD, I had to think, what about now? What about this world what we live in now, with everyone wanting instant gratification, with electronics running our lives, with our world filled with fear, where is our Mr. Rogers?  Where is someone who can bring some peace to every child who needs it without adding to it?  I watched as Mr. Roger’s did some special program to address some special issues that had occurred.  These segments affected him as much as the events he was broadcasting about.  For him to think that children had to experience these types of events was painful.  

 

The video ended with a heartwarming piece that asked individuals to think about who are the special people in your life who wanted the best for you.  Who wanted you to be true, to be the best of what’s inside you.   A truly remarkable video, that I highly recommend you watch with tissues.  Now, I need to read the book that I heard is out.

“Always look for the people who are helping.”  (love this!)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTpzK29_V5Q