My Never Ending List

I am an outside person who loves to read and cook. Venturing into most genres my favorites are YA and fiction.

They know...... yet they still do it

Want to Go Private? - Sarah Darer Littman

I've got goosebumps on top of goosebumps. It's all too real, they know the implications yet it just feels so right. I think I might cry.  

 

She's in too deep- the lies, the lies, the lies..... 

 

 

"Without Luke, there would be this huge, scary void in my life. I think about him all the time and talking to him is the one thing I look forward to every day. I'd have no one if it weren't for Luke. He's my everything."

 

"Luke doesn't think I'm just a stupid fourteen-year old. He wants me to be his girl."

 

She doesn't think about his lies, his lies, his lies....

Words on Bathroom Wall

Words on Bathroom Walls - Julia Walton

This could be it, at least Adam hopes so. He’s starting a new school, so no one would know his past and what he is capable of doing. No one knows that Adam has a hard time differentiating between what’s real and what’s part of his imagination and now that he’s on this new drug, he seems to have more control over his life. Talking to his therapist through journal entries, we follow Adam as he enters this new exciting part of his life, full of hope yet quiet about his condition.

 

I was hopeful that this new medication would help Adam control his hallucinations. A few of these visions are regulars, so frequent in Adam’s life that he has given them names and he knows what they are capable of doing. There are other visions or images that occur in Adams life and these are the ones that Adam is not sure if they are real or not. As I thought about Adam and this condition, I understood his frustration and agony, for Adam must decide whether these visions are real or not and he then must decide if he is going to react and then, how to react. Image if he saw some birds swooping down at him, an angry dog rushing at him, or something about to fall, does he react or not? Now enter this experimental drug which helps Adam distinguish reality from illusions. Adam feels like he is saved. As Adam enters his new school, his life is more under control with this new drug and he meets Maya. He doesn’t want anyone to know about his condition especially Maya. Maya helps Adam navigate around the school when Ian ditches him immediately after meeting him the first day. I never could understand the likings of Ian, this boy has too much time on his hands and his nose in everyone else’s business. I can feel Adam trying to be normal, this drug helping him succeed but Adam still hesitate about what is real in his life. There are funny parts in this story, the way the visions come into Adam’s life and his perception about them. I laughed yet it was sad, the way his world was shaped. Maya wanted Adam and Adam wanted Maya but Adam was not showing Maya his true colors. I was feeling tension as the book progressed, for Adam needed to talk to Maya but there were too many uncertainties that Adam just didn’t want to deal with. I really enjoyed this novel, I thought it was a great book dealing with this condition and it gave me a better understanding of what individuals like Adam live with on a daily basis.

The Winter People - audio

The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

What an intriguing and mysterious adventure I found myself on, when I checked this audio out. Two stories that I found myself wrapped up in with characters who were dedicated to their responsibility. The novel begins with Sara’s story in 1908, when Sara writes about her life with her husband and her daughter Gertie. It’s written in diary format, and as Sara words speak to you, there is pain of lost babies, hard times on the homestead and her life growing up. Sara is head over heels in love with young Gertie and when an incident leaves Gertie dead, Sara grieves terribly. Remembering a spell that she was taught when she was younger, she uses that spell on Gertie. I was nervous as I listened to this audio, afraid of what Sara was producing. Gertie, the child which consumed Sara, her dead child, she has listened once again to her mother and Sara’s spell has worked. She has become a Sleeper. What has Sara done?

 

The second story takes place in the current time period. A mother and her two daughters are now living in Sara’s home. Everything is fine until one day when the mother vanishes without a clue. The oldest daughter begins to inquire about her mother’s absence while the youngest daughter worries and clutches her doll. They cannot find anything about where their mother has gone to. Their traditional game of hide-n-seek begins to give the girls some unusual bits and pieces about the house that they were not aware of and they begin to wonder if these are not clues about their mother’s disappearance. They’re a bright duo and they begin to investigate these clues, calling upon others to help them. I enjoyed how the two stories begin to come together, the voices of both stories bringing the strange and unnatural elements together. Sara is committed to her Gertie and the girls are committed to bringing their mother back. I really enjoyed this novel, a few times it got redundant and I wanted more story or something to occur but those times were few. I recommend this title, it’s an interesting look into what love is and the supernatural.

Are You Sleeping

Are You Sleeping - Kathleen L. Barber

I liked how this author executed this novel. Reliving the past and throwing doubt amongst those listening and those whose past we are reexamining. It’s a past where life was once good but evil crept itself in, entering into more than one place and now to relive it, the pain stabs deep. The truth lies within these individuals and they must encounter some pain for them to be truly free.

 

A podcast cast doubt on a murder case which had taken place thirteen years ago. The accused is serving his sentence in prison, his mother still shouts his innocence while the victim lays under his tombstone. The viewers begin to wonder if the right person is behind bars after listening to this podcast as Poppy Parnell, investigative reporter sheds light on the case. This is Poppy’s job and as she posts more of her informative podcasts, the attention to this closed case gets hotter. Eager yet hesitant, even those closest to the case tune in to these podcasts to hear what Poppy has uncovered.

 

Thirteen years ago, twins Josie and Lanie’s father was murdered in their home. This set off a string of events which shattered their family. Josie left three years later. She’s had no contact with her mother or twin sister and now she reluctantly returns home for her mother’s funeral. Josie has lied to her boyfriend about her past which she feels is justified. She returns to her aunt’s home to await the funeral but the podcasts, her twin sister and her past are things which are creeping up on her and need to be addressed. I feel that Josie feels torn between family, the truth, and her current situation. Staying away from her hometown, she only dealt with life and now coming home, she has to deal with her mother and reliving the murder with the podcasts, she finds herself juggling too many things. Lanie, I disliked her from the beginning and the more I read, the more I hated her. I really enjoyed the story, it was more of a mystery to me than a thriller. I wanted to know what really happened thirteen years ago and I wanted to know how the novel would end. Like I said before, I liked the investigated reporter angle of this novel, I liked that doubt being thrown in as it messed with the minds of the masses, the parties involved in the case and us, the readers. It was a good read.

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for giving me a free e-copy of this novel to read. This review is my own opinion.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

I needed this novel, I really did. I needed Eleanor. The booze. The musician. Raymond. Sam. The house plant. The shopkeeper. The cat. I needed them all. I loved Eleanor and her voice for she was witty, sarcastic, and real. She did not hold anything back and she said exactly what she felt and needed. You knew where you stood with her. I hated for this novel to end, for I knew that I would miss her as the more I got to know her, I cared a great deal about her.

 

Eleanor was a predictable person, a person that you could count on and perhaps that was because she led a boring life. Boring in my world, but to Eleanor she was a self-contained entity for she needed no one and that was the life that she had chosen. She had been working in an office as a finance clerk for the past nine years and she does her job very well. As the book opens up, I can see how organized and detailed Eleanor is and I found myself standing in her shoes a few times. She becomes inpatient with the new IT guy Raymond but they soon become good friends. Raymond is patient with Eleanor and he sees something in Eleanor that I don’t believe anyone else does. Eleanor become obsessed with a musician and it consumes her. It becomes her teenage crush and fantasy. Wanting to make a good impression, she wants everything to be perfect for the exact moment for when they will make contact.

 

There were great moments in this novel: times when her comments had me laughing, times when her spontaneity had me shaking my head, times when I wondered why Eleanor chose to be all alone, and times when I wondered if anything would happen between Eleanor and Raymond or if Eleanor choice of the musician would be her soulmate. I loved this novel, I experienced so many different emotions as I read this. There were times where I was laughing at her remarks, crying when she was in pain, cheering when she stepped out of her comfort zone and worried when she felt confused. Eleanor emerges out of her box in this novel, she realizes that there is a world out there that she has never explored and we get to experience with her part of her exploration. I highly recommend this novel, I can’t say enough about it. This is definitely one I will be rereading in the future.

The Hate U Give (audio)

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

What can I say about this novel that has not been said already? I listened to this novel on audio and I realized a few things while doing so. One, while listening to this novel, I felt the power and the emotions of every character whose voice poured out of these CD’s. These individuals became alive inside my car and inside my house as this story unfolded and I couldn’t help but to become invested in their lives and become moved at what was transpiring. Every character was effected by the events that were played out, either negatively or positively and thence, I became angry/scared or I was laughing at their situations. I couldn’t help but to become emotionally involved in their drama. Two, I was constantly playing with the volume as I listened to this novel. I loved the energy and the fire in this novel. I wanted to feel it, I wanted to drown in it and as the characters spoke, their messages deserved special attention. They spoke from their hearts, it couldn’t get any more real and I’m glad that I chose the audio of this novel as I truly felt it spoke volumes. Three, as I finished up this novel I realized how important this novel is. The reality of what occurs and the way that it is presented is fantastic. I can think of lots of words to describe this novel and lots of items to discuss within this novel but the words perception, attitude and choices are the top picks for me. I absolutely loved this novel, I highly recommend the audio version, it is definitely moving.

Loving this at 68%

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

She  was going to get so drunk. I mean "what the hell happen" drunk!

 

 

Do Not Become Alarmed

Do Not Become Alarmed - Maile Meloy

It was Liv’s idea, she always had good ideas, it would just be their two families over the Christmas holiday, taking the two-week cruise, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. They soon met another family on the ship and it almost seemed too perfect, everyone enjoying the cruise line’s entertainment, food and drinks. There were six adults and six children, every couple had two children, how perfect was that. They hadn’t planned on taking an excursion but they were getting cabin fever so the wives decided to take the children ziplining and the husbands were going to go play golf inland. With a guide from the ship, the wives and children set off on their outing. Car problems attack their plans and their car is now useless, putting them on the side of the road. They decide to trek down to a beach which was just down the road, and it is now that I start to freak out. I try to remain positive but I know what can happen and well, things do go from bad to worse as one thing leads to another. What is wrong with these people!?! Are they drugged?! Don’t they remember where they are at?!? Get a grip! They are in a foreign country with their small children and they are acting like they do not have a care in the world. Soon, both of the mothers realize that their children are not with them on the beach. Not there, how can this be?!? What the mothers were doing while their children vanished will horrify you but even worse is that one of the children has a medical condition that needs constant monitoring and perhaps medication and he is among those that are missing. The husbands, they were off golfing, enjoying their quiet game of golf unbeknownst to the car troubles and to their new plans that their wives had made but soon they will be brought up to speed and locating their children, will become the top priority. Image finding yourself in a foreign country and your children have vanished. Your vacation cruise ship is ready to set sail to its next destination and you have no clue where their children went. This is just the beginning of the story, the story becomes more intense and engaging with each passing page.

 

I felt that this story was mesmerizing and entertaining. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the characters in the story and I needed to know any history to help put this story together. I felt that the storyline was excellent but I also felt that the execution of the story could have been better. I thought that my own emotions and the situations that were played out in the novel brought about the intensity I felt while I was reading. Word choice or style by the author didn’t help create this intensity which is what I thought this novel was missing. The plot and story was there, it was the mannerism in which it was presented that I thought could have be tweaked. I was so angry at some of the adults in this novel, at their immaturity and their carefree attitude, that it had me screaming at them. I’m glad that I reserved this novel as it made me think and it definitely got me riled up. It was a good one!

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate

The year was 1939 and they were rounding up the unattended children like stray animals, taking them to Mrs. Murphy where she would get them ready. Mrs. Murphy was a part of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage which was ran by Ms. Tamm. They rounded up the five of them promising them that they were going to see their mama and daddy. It was a scam but the children fell for it as their daddy had just left with Queenie and the baby to get help at the hospital as this birth was not going as planned. With children standing inside the fenced-in yard, the building didn’t look much like a hospital as the car approached it. They wouldn’t answer their questions as they ushered inside the tall structure, it wasn’t a hospital but where exactly were they? They tried to stay together but it was difficult as the reality of what was occurring was beginning to fall into place for a few of them and they began to resist while the others had different feelings about their current situation. The lies that were being spewed, the viewings that were being held for prospective parents and the emotions that the individuals felt as they went through the process, I felt that I was a part of this lie as the story was unfolding as I knew where these children had come from and yet I had no voice to tell the truth, to end this horrible drama. These children had no voice and I could not speak for them, what would become of them and what and where would this all end?

 

Enter into the present day, Avery comes home to see her father, a successful senator. She also visits her grandmother who resides in a nursing home. She meets May, who is another residence at the nursing home and Avery notices a picture on her table. This picture resembles her grandmother but how can that be? Avery decides to investigate the picture and while doing so, she digs up a secret in her family’s past. I really enjoyed this section of the novel as it began to bring the novel together and give voice to the children who had been so quiet. I enjoy looking at old photographs, thinking about their history and I thought it was remarkable that Avery took the time and effort to look into the photograph’s history. I really enjoyed this novel and I was surprised to learn that although most of the characters in this novel are fictional, the orphanage and Ms. Tann are true historical figures. Thank you to the author for bringing this part of history to our attention.

Dragons Love Tacos

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (unknown Edition) [Paperback(2012)] - Adam Rubin

Yes, dragons love tacos, so serve them lots of tacos but do not serve them spicy salsa. Serve them chicken tacos, meat tacos, small tacos, big tacos, tacos in buckets, tacos in sacks, hey better yet…..why don’t you host a taco party and have lots of tacos and lots of dragons come over. But do dragons like parties? Sure! Oh, but be careful what you serve for topping on those tacos! Because there is one thing that dragons can’t have on their tacos. Can they have cheese? Lettuce? Tomatoes? Sour Cream? What is that on the table? Who put that on the table? Someone get that away from that dragon! No!!!

 

It’s a cute story about dragons, their love of tacos and why they should not eat spicy salsa. I thought the illustrations were cute and text font was perfect for this fun story. I liked the lists that accompany each item, it’s broad yet children could expand on it as they know the perimeters that the author set. For example, the tacos (chicken, meat, small, big, tacos in buckets, tacos in sacks) we could add: bean tacos, stuffed taco, soft-shell taco, tacos in wheelbarrows, tacos in helmets, the list could go on. There are also the toppings, the salsa, and the parties. It reminded me of Green Eggs and Ham, as I would add: would I eat them on a bus? Would I eat them with a guy named Gus? So, what happens when the dragons eat the spicy salsa? Let’s just say that things get kicked up a notch. I think this is a great read aloud or a fun book just to look at the pages. What? There is a sequel

LumberJames Volume 1

Lumberjanes Volume 1 -  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis

I can see why young kids love this graphic novel for its fast and it’s flashy. The youngsters in this novel are over-the-top, they’re loud, they’re super heroes (in their own way), and when they’re together they’re not afraid and they’re just what young kids need. This graphic novel is made up of adventures that the LumberJanes Scouts set out on to together. These girls are at a camp, a camp where they are not only living like ladies but they’re also learning how to live in the wilderness. While out on these adventures, they meet interesting and exciting characters bringing the girls closer together.

 

At the beginning of each chapter, there is brief but extensive overview of the LumberJanes Field Manual and a badge that is highlighted during the chapter. The illustrations in the novel are bright, busy and colorful. The novel definitely had a lively, cartoon feeling to it. I enjoy it when an illustrator uses a variety of text fonts in graphic novels, as I think that brings these types of novels to life and this novel is living proof of that. There are so many different type of text fonts and sizes in this novel, I really thought this was a plus in this novel.

 

My thoughts on the novel? I thought the story throughout was choppy and sometimes, bizarre. I had a hard time trying to decipher what was actually happening and why? So why were the girls beating up a bunch of foxes, saying, “what wacked-up eyes you haaaaave!” and then later after they had beaten them up, the foxes howled and said, “Beware the kitten holy.” What is this? I was thinking what had I missed. It wasn’t till way later, the words The Kitten Holy helps them get out of another mess. There seemed to be no logic to this madness at times. Yet at other times, brains…….you actually needed to have brains to survive some of their adventures and then, I thought this graphic novel was wonderful but yet, it failed to explain the full details in how they solved the puzzle using their brains. All in all, I think this book has potential, if it gets kids’ reading and it sometimes pulls their brains into the mix, I’m for it. I just might pick up another LumberJane graphic novel and see how it goes.

Restart

Restart - Gordon Korman

This was a fun read. Chase wakes up in a hospital not recalling anything: his parents, how he got in the hospital, nothing. He has been in a coma after falling off the roof which he got to from his bedroom window. Chase has been diagnosed with amnesia and the doctors are not sure he will ever recall his previous memories or not.

 

Chase basically has to start over, he doesn’t know anyone and so he is friendly with everyone he meets now. Friends and Chase’s peers cannot believe that this is Chase, as the Chase before the fall, was not like this at all! Chase used to be athletic and great at sports especially football but now he can’t play because of the accident. As Chase goes to school, he realizes that people are staying clear of him and others want him to take part in their bullying. What was the old Chase like that has people behaving the way they are? Chase likes the way his new life is turning out yet what would happen if some of his old memories start coming back, would old Chase return?

 

I think this would make an excellent read aloud as it brings up some excellent topics to talk about. I love the community service hours the boys do and the individuals that they meet. A great book to read.

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir - Sherman Alexie

This memoir surprised me. I was surprised how open, honest and free Sherman was in this novel. I am not one who follows celebrities, reads celebrity magazines to be in- the-know or digs into their past so I know all the juicy gossip so when Sherman starts to talk about his personal life in this memoir, I was amazed to know that his life was less than ideal. I appreciated his openness and his wiliness to share his life with his readers.

 

He talks a lot about his mother, hence the title and the picture on the cover, inside this novel as she was a unique individual. She was an alcoholic just like his father, only she quit drinking before her death. She knew the ways, the customs, and the stories from the old world, she was their connection to the past and now that she has passed away, their connection is lost. A connection, that they can never replace. At the funeral, Sherman comes to the realization that there were two sides to his mother and this awareness adds flames to the fire that is burning in Sherman over his mother. He has lost her, lost more than he originally thought. He has chosen to live off the rev all these years and that is something that he cannot take back. Again, it is the emotions, the anger, the love and the confusion that runs through these pages that allows me to see his family and how they dealt with life. Sherman’s phrasing repeated over and over again, his “sometimes you just don’t know” comments repeated throughout the novel because in reality, you just don’t know and it’s okay to admit it. I enjoyed how his family size grew as they helped out each other and how their relatives knew they could count on each other in times of need.

 

I found the following parts of the novel especially heartfelt: When Sherman talks about racism, I could feel his pain in his writing. As Sherman mentions the nurses when he was sick, I especially enjoyed this because sometimes we forget these important people in our lives. I cannot forget the waltz his mother did with his sister. Tears were forming in my eyes as I read this short chapter. After accidently spilling water on her as she was getting a drink, his sister stood their morphine-drugged mother up to change her clothing and sheets. As the sister instructed her where to step and how many steps, mother swayed. ““It’s okay,” our mother said. “I’m dancing on purpose. I want to dance. Dance with me.” It was three in the morning but our mother was awake and she shuffled left and right. “Oh,” our mother said. “We are dancing. It’s been so long since I danced. And I don’t know why nobody asked me. I was a good dancer.” My sister laughed. She was alone in the night with our mother. There was no music. But my sister held our mother closely and shuffled with her. They moved in the smallest of circles. “We only danced for a few seconds,” my sister later said. “But, all the next day, whenever she was awake and had visitors, Mom kept bragging that she’d danced until sunrise.”” I loved this.

 

The memoir consists of short chapters of poems and narratives. It is a big book, a book that I really enjoyed. Thanks again Sherman, thanks for being one of us.

The Dry - audio

The Dry - Jane Harper

What a fantastic mystery! I loved the slow, steady pace of this story, the way the author showed me the wilting landscape filled with characters who were either willing to step aside so others could take the reins or pushing their way to the front any way that they could just so they could be the leader. I really enjoyed the individuals inside this novel, I was sad to see them go when it was all over.

 

It had been twenty years since Falk had been to his hometown and today he was attending the funeral of Luke, his childhood friend. Luke was found murdered along with his wife and young son. Luke’s youngest child was the only survivor. Federal Agent Falk only returned home to attend the funerals, silently he was counting down the hours until he could get inside his car and leave. You can feel the tension in the room as they gathered for the three funerals. The evidence had pointed to Luke as the one who killed his family and then took his own life but Luke’s parents don’t understand why? What would make Luke do such a thing?

 

Falk decided to stay a few days to try to bring closure to the case. Using his career, his ties with the family and the community, he settled right in and he began to dig into the last twenty years. Falk finds that the town is filled with emotions over this case. A few days turn into weeks as Falk feels he is beginning to uncover the truth. The novel digs up another story that occurred with Luke and Falk were school mates. Falk’s presence in town has stirred up deep emotions in the town and his effort on Luke’s case is heating things up with some of the town’s citizens. This story was emotional for me and I found myself yelling as I listened to this audio. Falk tries to be sentimental but I was getting chills as the story started to unwind. Mischievous, intense and moving, this novel, I highly recommend. Bring it on Aaron Falk, I am ready for book #2!

Arrowood

Arrowood: A Novel - Laura McHugh

They vanished when Arden was 8. They were playing outside, when she quickly went around the corner of the house to retrieve something and when she came back, her twin 21-month old sisters were gone. She remembers seeing a gold car, it was moving down the street with her sisters inside, that was the last memory she had of her sisters.

 

The police investigated the man who owned that gold car but he was clean. His name was Singer and an accusation like that, can be devastating for a person living in a small town in Iowa. Singer is a bitter man, there has been no hard evidence to accuse him of this unsolved crime and now, his life has been destroyed. Josh is a writer who is trying to write a novel about cold cases and wants to include the kidnapping of Violet and Tabitha in it. With a personal connection to unsolved cases, Josh contacts Arden when she arrives back at the family home in Iowa. Arden has recently received the family home as part of her inheritance but didn’t realize what shape the home was in. It’s been 15 years since the abduction, Arrowood, the family home looks almost the same since she walked out the door to go to college. Although Heaney has been taking care of the house, tending to the maintenance while it stood empty, problems still occur.

 

Not much has changed inside the house while Arden was gone, it is as if time stood still. Josh wants to move forward with his book so he needs to talk to Arden about the abduction, but he has questions that need answers. Arden wants to talk to Singer, she wants her questions answered. Singer wants to ask Arden a few questions. Lots of questions to be answers which leads to reexamining the past. Did something happen in the past that was ignored that should have been addressed?

 

I thought this novel had a great underlying story but I found the novel to be slow in parts until the end and then I felt everything came rushing out, all the pieces were laid out on the table and they fit perfectly together. I thought the ending was fantastic and I enjoyed how it all came together. I had no inkling on how things would turn out and when the big reveal came, I don’t think there was any hints in the novel for this outcome either. It was such a surprise. I really enjoyed the authors novel, The Weight of Blood as I had a hard time putting that novel down and I was hoping this novel would be the same. I liked that this novel took place in my home state Iowa and that the author referenced many of the stores/restaurants that are in this region. I liked the nostalgia of the novel, how Arden comes back to her childhood home and everything has remained the same. Her childhood room, the furnishings, and the Christmas decorations that were there for her so she can relive her past. I really loved the history of the house, I feel that brought warmth to the novel and put it all together. This wasn’t as good as her first novel but I will continue to look for books by Laura McHugh.

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge