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.

Ashes to Asheville

Ashes to Asheville - Sarah Dooley

I absolutely loved this novel. It was fun, entertaining, captivating and it was delightful. It was a journey that had me turning the pages so fast, it was over before I knew it.


It was fun in the way that sixteen-year-old Zany and twelve-year-old Fella took off with Mama Lacy ashes on a mission to fulfill her last wishes by scattering her remains where she wanted to be. Entertaining because this mission involved many people, where they meet a police officer, where Zany drives a semi-truck, where they go shopping filling up a cart to the top and it didn’t cost them anything, where the conversations are endless and I learned a great deal about these young girls and their lives. It was captivating as I couldn’t put this novel down as the opening pages started with Zany snatching Mama Lacy off the mantel and the girls jumping into Mrs. Madison’s car. Haberdashery is making noise out in the yard and they can’t take him back inside for fear that they will wake up Mrs. Madison and blow their cover, so inside the car he goes, they now have a dog along on their trip. There is talk of a Mama Shannon amongst the girls, this woman I don’t know anything about but as the conversation continues I realize that she is Zany’s mother and that she loved Mama Lacy. Mama Lacy was Fella’s mother and she loved Mama Shannon. The four of them used to live under the same roof but that was before cancer took Mama Lacy away and that was before Mrs. Madison took Fella away from her remaining family. I love listening to the girls and their spunky conversation in the car. Fella is hoping that Zany had a plan when she picked today to start off on this trip and she does have a plan, to get the ashes to Asheville but it all the incidentals along the way that cause the glitches for the girls. It was delightful as it was an enjoyable read: it was exciting, it was comical at times and a very interesting read. What a fantastic novel, a good feel book for me. I highly recommend this novel.

The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I was surprised that this novel got such high reviews considering the religious component that the synopsis addressed. I have been reading YA novels for a while now and I haven’t found many novels that religion plays such an important role. As I read this novel, religion wasn’t something that could be ignored. I found that it wasn’t preachy or demanding, it was there and Lucy needed to find where it fit in her life. She was a teen, who was addressing other responsibilities and concerns in her life and religion was just another issue that needed to be addressed. She had grown up immersed in church activities as her father was a pastor but now things in Lucy’s life have just recently changed and Lucy’s priorities needed to be adjusted. I didn’t mind the religious aspect of this novel but it was something that ran throughout the novel.


Lucy’s parents run a summer church camp for children and Lucy helps her parents each summer with the campers. Lucy has been spending a great deal of time with her parents, as her mother has been recently diagnosed with cancer but this summer her mother wants her to be a counselor at Camp Daybreak. How can Lucy help her mother if she is down the road being a counselor at the hippie camp? Reluctantly, as a favor to her mom, Lucy arrives at Camp Daybreak but she is reluctant to show anyone who she really is. It’s painful to watch Lucy in the corner, as the campers enjoy their day at camp. She’s miserable, I know she has so much to offer these kids but she is wallowing in her self-pity. Lucy slowly learns to let go and be herself as the days pass and she starts to warm up to individuals around her. Lucy starts to learn that she is okay with these campers and that she is like everyone else. Just by letting her wall down, this powerful move is a great start for Lucy. It opens doors for her. I wondered at times about Lucy’s maturity as I read for she seems so immature on certain subjects, I wondered if she was sheltered when she was younger. All through the novel, I could see Lucy changing and at the end of the novel, Lucy was a different girl, a girl who was willing and able to accept new ideas and be adventurous.


Perennials: A Novel - Mandy Berman

They spent their whole summers at Camp Marigold, their whole summers! I can’t imagine this freedom, this opportunity to spend my childhood years with my summer friends without any parents around. It was usually the same set of kids and they’d pick right up where they left off last summer as if no time had separated them. They ‘d take time just to notice the physical differences that had occurred while they were apart, knowing that later they would take the time to talk about anything deep that needed to be exchanged. They had truly formed great friendships. With a whole summer ahead of them, counselors leading the way, the rules were stated but as the campers got older, the rules often got broken.


Inside this novel, we follow Rachel and Fiona, these two girls fill out each other’s voids. Rachel was the risk taker, the outgoing one, the one who seemed to be out there. Fiona, she’s the one who lies in the shadows, she is the girl who individuals can count on for she seemed to have what others want. Meeting at Camp Marigold, we read about how their relationship grows and changes as each year passes. When they first arrived many years ago, they were campers and now many years later, they have assumed the roles as counselors and are now guiding and instructing other female campers. On the outside, Rachel and Fiona looked responsible to the young campers but I had to wonder myself, if Rachel and Fiona were mature enough for these young campers and could handle this responsibility? It was the freedom of the camp and the individualism of each of these young women that had me questioning their role. Their actions and behaviors were questionable at times. Only time would tell, if this role fit them.


I loved the carefree atmosphere of the camp, the friendships of the individuals attending and the friendships that were promised next year. It brought back memories of my own experiences of summer camp. The anticipation of tomorrow’s activities, the promises of next year, the bond of being with your friends for a whole week without your parents and the stories. I enjoyed being away at Camp Marigold, the time walking through the woods, swimming, the late talks, the relationships that were formed and built upon and all the drama. It was good to be away, to experience camp again and to be reminded again of what camp was all about. There was a frustrating part about halfway through this novel, when I found myself whisked off into other individual’s stories, stories of secondary characters who suddenly got center stage. I didn’t really understand the need for these stories but nevertheless, the novel finally got back on track. I can’t say I was pleased with the ending but thinking about the novel, I can see why it ended that way, but it was not what I expected.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for providing me a copy of the novel. This is my own opinion of this novel.

Middle Schoolers Slam Poem

This 7th grader's end-of-the year slam poem is amazing.  I can't imagine listening to her recite it in person as just listening to her, I am in tears.



Not a novel to listen to

The Memory of Light - Francisco X. Stork

I am listening to this novel on audio and everyone has the same monotone voice.  No expressions or anything!  Its about a teen who is in a hospital after surviving her attempted suicide.  Other teens and doctors all have the same sounding monotone voice........ I know that this will effect my rating of the novel.  I am almost done with disc 3 and I am feeling like Eeyore...."whatever." 



Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It

Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do about It - Larry Olmsted

I eat fake food. I think that I am doing better at eating real food vs. fake food according to what this author considers real and fake food. I remember a while back, I was a garden virgin and was floored at how real garden food tasted. Seriously, I lived on Del Monte canned vegetables and hadn’t given any thought about how a pea or a green bean was grown. When a friend on Goodreads brought this book to my attention, I knew I had to read it. I live in the Midwest and I know that our beef is supposed to be good, but with all the different labels they are attaching to the packaging, what is good anymore? And eggs? People have chickens in their yards now, in the city! I am not ready for that but what’s with the brown eggs, free-range, grain-fed, grass-fed, etc.? Is there really a difference? Then there is cheese. I love cheese but cheese hates me, thanks to lactose intolerance. Not far from me, we have a dairy that makes cheese. Is this cheese better than the cheese in the store? What makes one cheese better than another? If I am going to be miserable, I want to be miserable with the good stuff. So, I hoped this book could help me.


The fact was this book help me just a bit. The author covered topics that I didn’t care about and he liked to repeat his topics a lot. I think the author likes Kobe Beef and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese a lot because these items were constantly written about over and over again. I know that I am not going to Italy to get my Parmesan cheese so this part was not helpful, I would love to go to Italy to grab some cheese but let’s be real now. To find a place that specializes in each type of cheese that I like and buy my cheese there? Well, I think a place that makes their own cheese is pretty specialized so this dairy that is close to me might fit the bill but they make different varieties. I also think Wisconsin (yes, you cheese heads) is a great place to get cheese but again, they make different varieties and I really like Shullsburg cheese (from Wisconsin) which I can buy in the store but again, they make different varieties. I don’t have the resources to travel and grab cheese from different places where they are specialized, I think I will stay with my current choices, they are fresh choices. The author covered topics like coffee, wine, champagne, olive oil and seafood. Topics that I was not interested in as they were not items I buy repeatedly. I did read most of these chapters though to see what the author had to say. He was showing us readers how sometimes fake food is slipped into life when we not looking. This novel became a buyer beware novel telling us to be mindful of wrong words, switched foods or food fillers in our food. So, I did learn that no product is safe on the market and that we all need to be vigilant and smart when making food choices.

3rd Degree

3rd Degree - James Patterson, Andrew Gross

I like how there is never a dull moment in these novels, from the moment I start reading the first page there is something relevant to the case transpiring before me and I can’t wait to get back to the novel. I inhaled this novel in one afternoon and was deeply sadden when it ended because of how it ended and I will get to that in a bit. This novel is one in a series but I don’t feel that you need to read the previous books in this series to enjoy this novel but you should know that there is a group of professional women who gather together, organizing their resources to try to solve the crime that has been committed hence, The Women’s Murder Club.


After her morning run with her dog, Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer was headed to Starbucks, when the townhouse that she has always admired, explodes. As the scene is being examined, Lindsay notices a mysterious backpack outside the townhouse. What is inside the backpack, has the team discovering that this fire was a planned, targeted attack and not an accident. Inside the townhouse, they had found the bodies of a mother, a father and a housekeeper but they did not find the 6-month old baby that supposedly lived there. Where is this child and why were they targeted? Meanwhile, the bomber has watched his bomb go off with satisfaction and the au pair is in a hotel room changing her appearance, everything is going as planned. Fast forward to a new day, the scene is a penthouse suite. She promises him that the drugs she is about to give him, will make him ready for her. Little does he know what she has in store for him. It doesn’t take long before he is speechless, he is so stupid and gullible, it was almost too easy. She shoves a piece of paper in his mouth, the public will now know that the August Spies are in town. The August Spies cast demands upon the people and they better listen or there will be bodies, dead ones, every three days until their demands are met. The August Spies are not people to be messed with.


Detective Lindsay needs to call together her friends to discuss this latest case. Chief D. A. Jill, Medical Examiner Claire, and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Cindy gather together as Lindsay updates them and they discuss their next steps . It’s great to see each of these women bringing their expertise to the table, collaborating together to solve the case. As the August Spies keep true to their word, their victims get a bit too close for me and this novel ends on a sad note. What continues for these women will yet to be seen and I can’t wait to see what happens in book four.

As Brave As You

As Brave As You - Jason Reynolds

They were sent to their grandparents as their parents were having problems and they had planned a trip without Ernie and Genie. As they settled in for the month, these two brothers were finding that they enjoyed county living and that Virginia wasn’t so bad. Genie was worried that without internet service he would not be able to find answers for all the questions that seemed to pop up in his mind, questions that needed answers that he would find on Google. Ernie was more social and he liked girls. What would the two of them do all month in North Hill, Virginia?


Enter Tess, from down the hill, who Ernie falls in love with. She is different than the girls Ernie usually likes, she’s a country girl and Ernie s a city boy. Tess’ house has internet service which Genie is able to take advantage of. He can look up all the answers to his questions and boy, does this child have the questions. Grandma sets the boys up with chores, first cleaning up the dog poop in the yard. They start flinging the poop into the forest and soon it becomes a game. Grandma gives them other daily chores and they take hold of these responsibilities. Ernie spends most of his time with Tess as he is in looovvveee. Genie spends time with his grandpop, his inquiring mind takes in his surrounding and he wants to know everything. I love how Genie questions his grandpop about his blindness. His grandpop’s honesty and the rapid-fire question and answer session between the two of them was priceless. Grandpop sure was adamant about grandma not taking care of him, he wanted to make sure that everyone knew that he is able to care for himself. The inside-outside room was interesting and I liked how Genie kept things to himself. Ernie’s birthday and his rite-of-passage was another highlight of this novel. I enjoyed how Ernie and Genie had different personalities and how they conversed with one another. This was a great novel to read as the pace was quick and I think both girls and boys would enjoy this novel.

He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly

It’s so creepy and so good! This novel is not about the act of rape so don’t worry about having to get caught up its illegalities, this novel is a thriller which might catch you off guard if you aren’t watching.

The novel opens with Laura pregnant with twins. Kit, her boyfriend, is off hunting down another eclipse. Laura knows that Kit must go on this trip but she knows that she will be worried the whole time that he is gone. The couple have been living in seclusion for years and they fear that one day, their lives will be turned upside down. Of course, I am confused at what is happening within Laura and Kit’s life and why they would live in seclusion so many year but now the novel has switched to the year 1999 and hopefully I will learn why.


Laura and Kit are at a festival. It’s crowded, it’s lively and the highlight of this festival will be an eclipse but for now, they are walking around. They have found their way into a secluded section, they see a couple having sex. Laura notices the look on the woman’s face. Is this couple having consensual sex or is it rape? The woman is not responding when Laura tries to talk to her so they call the police and set things in motion. This act will change their lives forever. In the trial, they are the witnesses but it does not end there as the author wants us to squirm some more as these individuals encounter each other again. It was beautiful, this novel was a great page turner, one which left me speechless and wanting more! I highly recommend it but be ready for the novel to consume you. I only wish I could erase my memory and I could read it again.

I received an advanced copy of this novel from Minotaur Books in exchange for an honest review- thanks Minotaur Books.
#HeSaidSheSaid #WhoDoYouBelieve

Survivor's Club: The True Story of Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz - Michael Bornstein, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat

He was born a Jew during the German invasion and Michael and his family lived in an open ghetto. Bribing a German officer, his father saved his family for many months with cash collected from their community. Eventually Michael’s family found themselves in Auschwitz, where they were the last prisoners to have their numbers etched in their arms. Michael, the youngest child in the camp is grouped with his mother (Mamishu) and grandmother (Babeshi) while his brother and father are placed in another group. Mamishu continues to care for Michael as best as she can, given the extreme conditions that they are in, hoping that one day the family will be reunited and that they will return to their home in Zarki. Meanwhile all around them, the horrors of Auschwitz descent upon them. Michael survived this ordeal as he was filmed in 1945 by the Soviets being “carried out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms.”


  1. I appreciate the author’s ability to reconstruct his family’s history and share it with others. I enjoyed reading this novel and I enjoyed the second half of this novel especially. I liked how some matters came full circle for Michael, for these matters became an emotional tie. This novel is great for individuals who like nonfiction, history, WWII, memoirs, or survival.

The Dead House

The Dead House - Dawn Kurtagich

She came out at night and I thought she was the fun one, the dark one. These two girls left each other notes to communicate, to let each other know exactly what was happening and what to expect should someone mention something that they didn’t understand. It seemed to me that Kaitlyn was more dependent on Carly than the other way around, for Kaitlyn talked about Carly continuously and she worried when she hadn’t heard from Carly even if it was just for a day or two. It wasn’t the perfect scenario but it worked for them until the day Carly vanished and the communication between the two of them was severed. What really happened to Carley? Did it have to do with the Dead House or was it Carly herself? Kaitlyn panicked, she was losing it when Carley didn’t respond to her: where did Carly go and why did she leave her? It wouldn’t be such a difficult question to answer if, Carly and Kaitlyn where not the same person. Carly is a girl, a girl who everyone sees during the day and Kaitlyn is the person who exists in the nighttime hours, taking over Carly’s body. Strange, yes, interesting, of course.


What I found most intriguing about this novel was all the different formats the author uses to get to the bottom of this mystery: letters, tapes, journal entries, diary entries, and interviews. These formats were recovered and now were being reconstructed to solve the unknown. There had been an accident where the lives of Carly and Kaitlyn’s parents were taken but the girls do not recall it. Between a facility where the doctors hope they can help them and their school, the girls meet a variety of individuals who help round out this novel. Each of these characters are instrumental to the case. Using a variety of formats, they try to piece together what happened and the story is relived. They are recreating history. I enjoyed listening to this novel as I thought the audio helped reinforce the different formats used in this novel, making the story more realistic. It was such a difference novel to listen to, not scary but mysterious and shadowy. I highly recommend listening to this novel on audio to get the full effect.

The Doll's House: The Sandman #2

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House - Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Jones III, Steve Parkhouse, Todd Klein, Chris Bachalo, Mike Dringenberg, Michael Zulli

I had a hard time with this graphic novel. Since this is the second book in the series, this novel takes right off where the first novel ended and I had no problem following the beginning of this story as Lucien is counting the arcana in the dreaming world for the Dream Lord. Lucien finds there are four major subjects missing and that there is a new vortex who happens to be girl. Dream is already aware of this new vortex as he has seen her watching them and her name is Rose. Rose has been in their dream world yet she is not aware of who these individuals are. Rose and her mom got free tickets to England and on their way, Rose has been napping, experiencing unique dreams that she cannot explain. When Rose arrives in England with her mother, they were whisked away to meet an elderly woman who is later revealed to be Rose’s grandmother. I am thinking something sinister is about to occur as Rose’s dreams are starting to become reality.


Then it happens…… the book becomes jumpy and I am not sure what really happened. Another storyline comes into play and I am thrown off. New characters come out of nowhere and I turn back the page to see if I missed something but there is nothing. I continue reading and again, I think I have stumbled into different characters and another storyline. Finally, I find Rose and she is somewhere different. She is in a hotel room, alone and she trying to locate her brother whom she hasn’t seen in years. New characters are added and I am following her story again but later, I am lost again. This was frustrating but I did continue reading, hoping it would all come together. In the end, it was hopeless for me. I did love some of the illustrations. These illustrations were bizarre, distorted and really unique. The characters looked lost to our world, dark and wanting out. What they meant I have no idea. I tried to picture walk this novel: trying to read the pictures to figure out the nature of the book but I got nothing. I’m throwing in the towel for this novel and the series. Why the stars? For the illustrations and the how the book came full circle.

I am addicted to this serries

Killer Whale Vs. Great White Shark - Jerry Pallotta, Rob Bolster

I must admit that I am addicted to this series right now. The ones that I don’t have in my possession, I have on hold at the library. I took four of them into a sixth-grade classroom I was subbing in the other day and they were an instant hit with the kids. I asked the question on the front of the book to the kids, I had them raise their hands to see which species got the most votes. I then gave them a picture walk of the information contained in the book and then I quickly walked them through how the fight went on at the end of this nonfiction children book. They were all ears, hoping that the species they choose won. Some decided to change their original hypothesis after I told them some of the facts inside the book but I loved how they all were listening and wanting to know the outcome. Afterwards, I had some of the kids wanting to read the books for their read-to-self books. Now, that is a testament to these books.


With bright, colorful, realistic, illustrations these books are a gem. Using a variety of font styles and sizes the information is scattered throughout the pages in an easy to read format. With one side of the page devoted to one species and the other species devoted to the other. I liked how the author compared and contrasted the information of the species inside the book, whether it be its habitat, it’s size, how fast it moves, it’s skeleton or what it eats, etc... Each book also has text boxes with Did You Know? Information and some other text boxes with Fun Facts, Bonus Facts, Important Facts that contain interesting information. At the end of the book, is the duel between the species. I find these duels rather comical as they are like watching a WWW match. Every move, every piece of action is written down so it feels as if you are actually there. In the end, there is only one winner. Will it be the one that you had chosen?


In Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear, I liked how the author talked about hair color, paw size, and about their skeleton. The story about their fight was not what I nor the students had hoped for and we had quite a discussion about this, which was good.


In Komodo Dragon vs. King Cobra, I learned a great deal as I knew nothing about Komodo Dragons. Everything about them was interesting and new to me. Some of the students also didn’t know much about them so I was happy about that. The information on both these species babies was interesting, the skeletons was cool, their venom was interesting and their teeth got some aahhs from the class. Again, they predicted the fight outcome although they didn’t want it to occur.


In Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark, this is the book I liked the most. I could have shown almost every page in this book as there were lots of interesting and informative pages in here. Their teeth sizes, the differences in sizes between the males and females plus the differences in their fin sizes, direction of their fins, how individuals look to these species, how they swim, and their brains. Such great information and boy, did this book spark the conversation. I am definitely picking up a copy of this one for myself.


So now I have to wait for the books at the library to come in, can’t wait to see what things I don’t know.

The Mother Promise

The Mother's Promise - Sally Hepworth

4,5 stars
They have never needed anyone else, Zoe and her mother have lived a secluded life and things were fine until Alice discovered she had cancer. They have no outside support, no one to help with transportation, no help with meals or just someone else to care. Alice claims they have no true friends and the only surviving family member they have is Paul, Alice’s brother who is a practicing alcoholic. I had to wonder if Alice had ever thought of this as she was raising Zoe. Did Alice ever think about Zoe’s future if something would ever happen to her? As Alice has surgery, Zoe is left at home alone. Implications arise when Kate, a nurse and Sonja, a social worker get involved in Alice’s case. I wanted someone to be with Zoe or to check on her while her mother was absent but I wasn’t sure if these women were the answer. Kate and Sonja each carry with them a secret that comes into play, a secret that they thought no one would see. As for Zoe, she cannot hide her social anxiety disorder as it affects almost everything she says and does.


After her surgery, Alice realizes that Zoe is not alone. Alice doesn’t like these new intruders in their life. Alice wants to go home and get on with life as if nothing has changed. Yet, life has changed for both Alice and Zoe. I had mixed feeling towards Alice as I read this novel. I wondered why she sheltered their lives and I wondered where their lives would be headed in the future. As the four women were introduced, I could see where their lives might intercept, the comfort and the distress that would await. They were meant to convene; these women were meant to touch each other’s lives and to make a difference.


I found myself cheering for Zoe in this novel for she is finally finding her way out. Zoe’s conversation with Harry sealed the deal with me, towards the end of the novel. The honesty and straightforward exchange that took place between them, how they exposed themselves to each other, they realized that they are not alone but are alike. I loved it! It’s the power of friendship and family, although these individuals might not be perfect, Alice finally sees that they are important and that they are needed. I really enjoyed this novel and although it was my first novel by Sally Hepworth, it will not be my last.
I won a copy of this novel in a Goodreads giveaways- thank you Goodreads. This review is my own opinion.

Who Would Win? Lion vs. TIger

Lion Vs. Tiger (Who Would Win?) - Jerry Pallotta

It’s the ultimate battle, lion and tiger, who will walk away the winner? That is the basis of this children’s nonfiction book. I made a prediction before opening the pages of this slim, colorful, paperback and by the time I finished reading I had learned a few things and I had found that my prediction was wrong according to this book.


Inside this book, the author compares the lion and the tiger side-by-side on each two-page spread. He compares their color, their size, their territory, how and what they like to hunt, the differences between the male and female of their species and their weight and length. Their skull, their teeth size and even their paws are examined. The author doesn’t stop there when comparing these two mammals for instance, did you know that a lion’s roar can be heard five miles away? Did you know that tigers purr between their roars and that a tiger’s roar is not as loud as the lions?


The illustrations inside this book are lifelike and each picture correspond to the information on the page. I found the Bonus Facts and the Did You Know? balloons on the pages full of fun and interesting information. The main text was bright and stood out on the pages and I thought it was fun how they used a variety of text fonts to highlight and to draw the reader’s attention to interesting facts on the pages. The pages weren’t overdramatic but catchy and appealing. In the final pages of the book, the fight is on. Lion and tiger have caught sight of each other and only one of them will walk away. I have made my original prediction and after reading this book, I have additional facts but I have kept my prediction. The author narrates this battle like a TV announcer: the tiger does this…., the lion did that……., the fight continues…..what will the outcome be? This is a fun and interesting children’s book that I think children and adults will enjoy. Easy to read and full of information, I think everyone will learn at least one thing by reading it.

You Don't Look Your Age: and Other Fairy Tales

You Don't Look Your Age: And Other Fairy Tales - Sheila Nevins

Last night after reading 40% of this novel, I just didn’t see what the excitement over this novel was. I have been seeing this novel pop up on different social media sites and I was excited to get my hands on it when it was released. I found myself reading a variety of short stories, all with different themes but there was nothing memorable about any of them. I have to call it quits, I am throwing in the towel, a DNF novel for me. Obviously, not a book for me.

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge