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.    



Food Rules

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual - Michael Pollan
This was a short novel but I enjoyed all the little bits of information that was inside. The book’s sole purpose is to give you some guidelines for eating.
he links between diet and health according to this novel is that individuals who eat a Western diet (lots of processed food, food with added sugar and fat, and lots of refined grains) will suffer from Western diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardio diseases. That totally makes sense to me but I didn’t know it was known as a Western diet. The second link is that if you eat a traditional diet (a lot of different varieties here) you will not suffer from these diseases. Which basically means, no one diet is perfect but as humans we have adapted to different diets to make them work for us. The Western diet, as it stands now, is the diet which makes everyone ill. Inside this novel, there are 64 rules to live by to eat a healthy diet. These rules are explained further with a brief explanation, if needed.
Some of these rules I had heard about before but about half of them were new to me. There are three parts to the novel: What to eat? What kinds of food should I eat? And How should I eat? Each of these parts have different rules to follow.
I liked that these rules are, for the most part, something I could memorize on my own and therefore, I could recall when need be. There is the rule about not eating food that you cannot say, rule about eating a variety of colors, and a rule about eating at a table, these are a few of the rules I already knew.
Here are a few of the rules that I really enjoyed:
Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry. So, cellulose, thiamine mononitrate is not something I would have on hand, therefore this product should not be in my house.
Avoid food products that contain more than 5 ingredients. Wow, that would eliminate a lot of the processed foods I have on hand.
Avoid food products that contain ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce. Again cellulose, thiamine mononitrate are out and I need to start thinking simple.
Cook food that has only been cooked by humans. Again, lots of preservatives, added sugar, and other interesting items are added which we don’t need.
Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. This one is a killer. I have literally cut down on the number of French fries I eat as I think this rule says it all. I’m not physically making French fries out of potatoes every time I want them, it’s too time consuming and too much work. The novel says there is nothing wrong with sweets, soda and other sweet snacks as long as you prepare them yourself. If I had to prepare potato chips, snack crackers, or cookies as much as I consume them, my consumption would really go down.
Spend as much time enjoying your meal as it took to prepare it. Amen!
I think this book has a lot to offer, things you might know and things that you should know. I like the short and sweet aspect of the novel, it’s not a wordy or a complex read, the author gives his readers just the facts in an easy way to think about them and how to apply them to their own lives. I’m ready to jump on board and I know it will take some time, strength and willpower to incorporate these rules but I know the benefits will be worth it.


Guardians of Bookshelves

As I read, Two Truths and a Lie:It's Alive this weekend, I read about this little guy.  The more research I would do on these bugs, the weirder they became.  This is a picture out the novel I read this week and the link has more information on them.


Fast Falls the Night

Fast Falls the Night: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels) - Julia Keller
If you enjoy Appalachian novels, this is one that you should pick up. The drama unfolds in a Marathon Station in the small town of Acker’s Gap in West Virginia. A woman walks into this service station’s bathroom and winds up dead on the floor. The police have a case of heroin overdose but this is just the beginning. Within the next twenty-four hours, the authorities will be left dealing with overdose cases in the double-digits. In the past, drugs have been an issue that the authorities are aware of and they have tried to get a handle on them but they know their clientele. Law enforcement has come to accept that drugs are just a way of life for some individuals living in that area. As the number of overdose cases begins to grow, the authorities have discovered something different about the heroin that is on the streets now. This new batch of heroin is laced with a powerful tranquilizer, putting all the consumers lives in jeopardy. Who is dealing these drugs and who is the supplier? They contemplate on whether to confront the addicts or the suppliers of this deadly drug. Then, a question looms on whether to spend the city’s valuable resources to stop the consumers and their suppliers when they have chosen this addictive lifestyle. What happens if a drug gets too dangerous, would that change the way things are handled? Is the life of an addict just as valuable as other townsfolk who chose to lead a clean life?
It's a night of hell as officials run from one scene to another trying to get ahead of the madness that has plagued this town. The few side stories complement the main storyline, create a more complex town. I was racking my brain as I read trying to piece everything together and then as the author lays it all out for me, I saw it and it all made sense. I really enjoyed this novel and I think Appalachian novels are becoming one of my favorites.


Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive!

Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! - Ammi-Joan Paquette, Laurie Ann Thompson, Lisa K. Weber
This book has an interesting concept. Each chapter is devoted to three short stories (3-4 pages each). These chapters are themed, for example there are a couple chapters devoted to plants, animals, and humans. As you read each of the three stories in the chapter, you as a reader, are to decide which story out of the three is a fake. In the back of the book, you can research your chapter and find out if your prediction was correct. In the Answer Guide, the author tells you a bit more about the stories and why the one story, out of the three, was a lie. I have mixed feelings about this novel.
I read these stories out loud to my husband as we traveled this past weekend. I would read the three stories and then we each would make a prediction on which story we thought was a lie. Sometimes we both choose the same story and other times we each chose a different story, which began a conversation about what made our story a lie. I liked the off-beat stories as I thought they were interesting and enlightening. The illustrations all looked promising and real, yet I knew that one of the stories was a lie and I found myself analyzing the illustrations with great care. There were topics about bridges made out of vines, a headless chicken, how to stop the aging process and x-ray vision, just to name a few. As we read through the chapters, we both were left pondering on a few of them as we both thought there seemed to be two lies and not just one. We really had to analyze these stories and think them through. Again, I loved the topics that were covered as I love learning new and quirky things. What I didn’t like about this novel is that I thought for some readers, they might have a hard time when they realize the true answer. The author had written some great detailed stories and as I read, I was believing that most of this was true. After finding the story that was a lie, I had to rethink about the facts for that story, telling myself that they were lies. I had to rewire my thoughts from my first original telling of the information. I just hope in the future, I don’t tell one of the fake stories to someone and forget that it was fake. I think this would be a great book for kids who are inquisitive about the world around them and for kids who love to learn new interesting ideas. This was a fun, interesting novel and the stories were excellent.


The Stars Are Fire

The Stars Are Fire - Anita Shreve
I almost DNF this novel as I didn’t like the narrator that read it to me. I thought her voice was flat and she carried no emotions as she read. I feel that I would have enjoyed this novel more had the narrator put some feelings in her voice as the story played out. I did enjoy this novel and the character of Grace really surprised me in the end.
Grace is content in her life with her husband and two small children. Grace loves being a mother and caring for her children but her relationship with her husband is another story. Their married life is missing the passion, love and excitement that it used to have. Grace misses these feelings yet it seems like her husband is fine with how their relationship is evolving. As I read, it felt as if this couple is just going through the motions to get through each day, doing their assigned roles.
When a massive fire hits their region, the couple is separated. The husband leaves to help combat the blazes while Grace stays home to attend to the children and their house. As the fire begins to reach their home, Grace realizes that she cannot stay in their home or they will die, so she starts to consider her options. I thought her plan of action was brilliant and as she cared for her children, I began to see how committed she was to her children. When Grace and her children are rescued, she tries to find the people who matter most to her: her husband, her mother and her best friend. Their family has nothing to return to as everything was destroyed in the fire so Grace must start rebuilding their lives, if they are to have any future. Grace doesn’t break down emotionally or physically because of their situation, she immediately starts planning and deciding what direction she wants to take. With her husband missing and other families in the same situation, Grace is resourceful and swift with her actions. When she comes upon Aiden, I was surprised at her actions. I realized she must have been battling a multitude of emotions but I thought ethics might come out on top. As she continues to rebuild their lives, her love for her children shines, her resourceful strengthens, and she begins to realize what really matters in her life.
I enjoyed the character growth in this novel. I kept reflecting back that his novel occurred in 1947 and as I read, my respect and admiration for Grace grew. She is almost a completely different woman by the time I read the final pages. This was an entertaining read, one that I am glad I read.


Going away

We're traveling to Indiana for a wedding tomorrow.  We're going to be gone 2 days.  Got my books packed and I got some eye-rolling from my husband when he saw it.  He knows me but dang, this bag is heavy!  You 

They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End - Adam Silvera
What a fantastic story line! I enjoyed reading this one. I enjoyed reading about all about the different opportunities the Deckers had as they tried to make the best of their situation. These possibilities were not all doom and gloom but they were rather a celebration, to take advantage of what life had to offer them. I thought the relationships in the novel were amazing, I loved their commitment to each other and the struggles that they wrestled with.
They had found one another by chance or was it destiny? They had both received the phone call and today was their End Day. One last day before their life is cut short. They took a chance and decided to spend their day together. They were Last Friends, who ended up embracing life on their final day on Earth. I liked Mateo’s and Rufus’ relationship. They met as strangers but by the end of the day, their relationship was tight and rewarding. It was emotional as they moved about their day, each of them sharing themselves openly with a stranger, a stranger who fulfilled their final day. I enjoyed the challenges they faced and the opportunities they undertook, they were honest and open with each other as they had nothing to lose for being themselves around each other. They didn’t seek out extreme opportunities to tempt fate, most of their final activities were natural, daily events. I really enjoyed the notion that they were not trying to prove themselves to each other, they were being themselves. I thought their day was extremely long as I read through it, they crammed enough activities into this day that I was tired just reading it. I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it.


Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward
What a read. I found myself thinking about these characters even when I was not reading the novel. This novel is about racism, injustice, family and about maturity. I liked the notion of the gifts that some of the characters exhibited as I felt it added wisdom and complexity to these characters. I was having second thoughts about the spirits who surfaced in the novel, for I believed that this novel had enough going for it without adding another element but again I believe they added another layer to some of the characters.
Leonie was a self-centered, immature individual and to call herself a mother was stretching the truth. A mother is more than just the person who carries a child in their womb for 9 months, a mother steps up to the plate and does battle for her children. I found myself disliking Leonie more and more as I read. It was her lack of trying, her lack of seeing the whole picture and her lack of appreciation that hammered away at me. Her son Jojo melted my heart. For being only thirteen years old, his maturity level and comprehension was amazing. I have to believe that his exposure to his Pop and Mam shaped this young man. His understanding of the world and his attention to it, allowed him to know how to react and speak. His Pop was a strong individual, someone who tried to help those who wanted it. I could see the similarities between Pop and Jojo and I saw where Jojo’s future was headed. Mam is dying but she is trying. Mam’s story was heart-warming and as she now laid in her bed, her story was not over yet. This is not a fast read, it is a read that needs to be savored and valued. I highly recommend this novel as the individuals who made up this novel will touch you one way or another.


Closing Time

This looks like it's going to be the last warm day of the year. We've had highs in the 90's for about a week now. That's extremely warm for Iowa.  This is how I have spent every free minute this last week.  I've had so many holds arrive from the library lately, new releases and books for Halloween Bingo that I am drowning in novels.  Not a bad thing but I really  wanted to concentrate on Halloween Bingo this year. Oh, the life of a reader. 

The Graveyard Apartment

The Graveyard Apartment: A Novel - Mariko Koike, Deborah Boliver Boehm
I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel. Originally published in Japan, this novel has just recently been translated and now, I had the opportunity to read it. There were a few instances where the translation threw me but otherwise, I thought the story was intriguing and mysterious. I noticed with the flow of the story, there were times that I thought the novel seemed stiff and robotic, like a he-said, she-said, he-went, she-went scenario but it didn’t bother me that much. After looking at the reviews of this novel, I can see why some readers did not enjoy it or didn’t finish it, as it definitely was not a smooth, effortless read. It was around the half-way point in this novel that I realized I was hooked and I couldn’t put the novel down.
The story centers on a young family who have just recently purchased an apartment built next to a graveyard. This newer, high-rise complex was almost perfect for this family. They couldn’t believe the size and the price of their unit and they realized that the few issues they had with the unit could be overlooked. Moving into their apartment, they meet a few neighbors and began to settle into their 8th floor home but the view outside their living room window had me questioning what a “great deal” they actually got. A historical graveyard with a temple that would hold the services of the deceased and a crematorium which would occasionally blow dark, thick smoke from its chimney took center stage. Not an ideal view and not one that I could live with every day. Little bizarre instances start to affect the family but they are committed to their new beginning and they try to brush off the strange incidences. When other tenants began to move out, the story becomes more intense and those little instances begin to add up in their heads. With the elevator that had a mind of its own, the closed off basement, and the rumors surrounding their complex, the family begins to have second thoughts about the complex. It thought this novel was a fun, captivating read with supernatural elements that kept me questioning where this novel was headed.
Using this for my Supernatural square in Halloween Bingo 2017.  It could also be used for other squares on the bingo card, like Haunted Houses or Terrifying Women. 


Every Last Lie

Every Last Lie - Mary Kubica
This was one of those novels where I couldn’t wait till the end to see how things shaped up. I really enjoyed how the author laid out the story, it was brilliant and it kept me flipping the pages, just waiting for that big moment when crap would hit the fan. As I flew through this novel, I kept wondering how much more can transpire before it all comes crashing down.
The story centers on Nick and Clara and their two young children. They were fulfilling their dreams but secrets were kept, secrets that would shape their future. Nick had branched out on his own, starting his own dental practice while Clara stayed home with the children. Nick’s business was a success at first and then things started to slowly decline. It was as if a dark cloud hung over Nick as one thing lead to another and to another till Nick felt as if his whole life was hanging by a thread. Clara is left in the dark. Nick was holding onto each raw deal that transpired in his life. It became easier each time for Nick to hold onto these omissions, he knew that this was not what a marriage was about but Nick thought that he would deal with them on his own. Then it occurred, Nick is killed in an automobile accident. Clara is devastated as their life together was just beginning. As she begins to rebuild, Clara feels that physically she will be okay but soon the omissions that Nick kept from Clara start to reveal themselves. I got tired of Clara’s attitude as she uncovered the truth, she was constantly jumping to conclusions before knowing all the facts. Her negative and destructive attitude really got on my nerves.
As I read Nick’s side of the story, I could feel the desperation and the hope that filled him. Reading Clara’s side of the story, I felt sorry for her as she allowed herself to be put in this position. She should have been more active in her relationship with her husband. The ending was not what I had expected and I liked that. This was a great read.


The Red Hunter

The Red Hunter: A Novel - Lisa Unger
Told in two different viewpoints, this is a story of a house and its history. Once upon a time, a family lived in the house and they were content. One day, a gang broke into the house and demanded to know the secrets the homeowners were hiding. They were not backing down until someone told them what they wanted to know. But the problem was, no one claimed to know the secrets that these individuals were looking for. The gang started to eliminate the accused, still no one could reveal what these individuals wanted and in the end, the two suspects were killed. Did they die not wanting anyone to know the secrets or did they truly not know the answer?
These secrets were important and the individuals who sought out this information believed that the house now held the answer. As a mother and her daughter move now into this house, they become a part of this mystery. The house still holds the key on the information that others want and these new residences don’t realize what they have walked into.
I have always liked Lisa Unger’s novel and this one is no exception. It was a suspenseful and action-packed read and I couldn’t wait until the end when things would finally come together. I highly recommend this book or one of Lisa Unger’s other terrific novels.


One Of Us Is Lying

One of Us Is Lying - Karen  M. McManus
There has been a lot said about this novel so I will just post my thoughts on the novel. I liked all the secrets that everyone was harboring. It’s not only that they were the only individuals who were in the room when Simon was killed, there are other motivators that make these teens the likely suspect. It’s all the ghosts in the closets that everyone felt they are hiding but in reality, Simon knew. When all the ghosts start showing their faces, a finger could be pointed at any of them. I enjoyed the variety of characters that made up this novel. From the original five who walked into detention that day, to the parents and to the secondary characters who made up this novel, they brought their own personality and flair to the novel.
I really enjoyed that the author showed us life outside the investigation. She showed us that there was a life for each of them outside this drama. As they tried to go about their day, the investigation looming over their heads, they still had to function in the real world. Sure, the investigation might have affected them as they moved about their day, but they still had a life to lead and expectations that needed to be followed. The author caught me in her trap, I kept narrowing down my suspects but I couldn’t find the evidence that I needed to tie it all together. Then came the big reveal and I started to talk to the novel, placing the pieces where they needed to go. I really enjoyed this novel and can see why everyone is talking about it.


The Cabin

The Cabin - Natasha Preston
There was plenty of times in this novel that I wanted to slap Mackenzie, it was her reluctant searching for clues with nothing panning out. Over and over, she was grasping at straws only to watch the straws fall by the wayside. I was getting tired of Mackenzie. Mackenzie, the girl who expected honesty but fell short herself in this trait. Mackenzie, the girl who fought for everyone, for everyone was innocent yet the clues told otherwise. Mackenzie, the girl who felt as if she was the only individual focused on finding the killer. I was on Mackenzie overload. I enjoyed the beginning of the novel as Mackenzie and handful of individuals gathered at a cabin to have one of their last get-togethers before they headed off to college. Loaded with booze, drugs and personal effects, the group was looking forward to a great weekend. Although Mackenzie couldn’t stand one of the boys that made up this group, his attendance was critical as he was dating one of Mackenzie’s best friends. A older sibling joins in at the last minute and it wasn’t long before Mackenzie and Blake were hitting it off. Two dead bodies lay in the kitchen floor when the group arises the next morning, who killed them and why? Locked doors and windows narrowed the suspects down, the drama was starting to build as the group comes to grips over the death of their two friends. I think the novel started to slide backwards as the intensity and excitement of what was occurring started to slowly decline. There were moments in the novel where I felt the author wanted to grab my attention but there just wasn’t the build-up those moments needed, to affect me. I was disappointed in this novel as I was exciting more intense action.

I am using this novel for Halloween Bingo, the Country House Mystery square.


The Bitter Side of Sweet

The Bitter Side of Sweet - Tara  Sullivan
Amadou and Seydou are cutting the pods from the cacao trees, for this has been their job for more than two years. They must make their quote for the day or endure their punishment for failing. Amadou takes care of his eight-year-old brother Seydou, the responsibility sometimes overwhelming for the fifteen-year-old. They’re just waiting for the day that their debt is paid off, for Amadou feels that, when that day arrives they will be allowed to return home to their parents. Day in and day out, the boys in this camp collect the pods that will later be sold. Their bosses getting paid for the work that these young children have accomplished. The boys get an interesting addition to their group when Khadija is brought into the camp. A girl, and a wild one at that! Khadija puts up an amazing fight as she doesn’t want to work at this camp and she longs to be free. I enjoyed her determination and spirit. While others watched, she was able to stay strong and fight for what she wanted. While most of the boys in the camp see Khadija as a female, Amadou and Seydou start to see her as something else.
I enjoyed the hostility between Amadou and Khadija as they began to interact with each other and then watched, as their relationship turns into something greater. As the drama begins to intensify, the novel moves along quickly. I enjoyed this novel until the very end. To think that young child must work in these conditions daily upset me, for them to dream of their freedom when in reality their work will never be done.



Severed - Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft, Attila Futaki
This novel travels back in time to when Grandpa Jack was twelve years old, some forty years ago, after his grandson hands him a note that he had received from a stranger. This note reminds grandpa of a dark secret that he has been hiding, a secret no one is aware of. It is now, that grandpa slowly begins to reveal what transpired when he was a teen.
Jack is hopping aboard a freight train with his sights set on meeting his father. Jack has had a wonderful childhood but Jack has just realized that he is adopted. Finding an old picture of his biological parents, Jack feels betrayed by his adopted family and wants to see where his roots began. Jack is elated that his father is the famous Brakeman, as Jack now knows where he obtained his musical talent. I was questioning the timeline of this event as I wondered how long Jack knew he was adopted. Did Jack just find this out about the adoption and decided to run off and locate his father? Had Jack made any plans for this trip? Did Jack expect his biological father to welcome him with open arms or did Jack have plans if things didn’t work out between him and his father? It just seemed like a big trip for a young boy to take without any planning.
Jack gets an advance course in reality when he runs into some other domineering individuals on the train, to them they see someone they can take advantage of. Jack meets up with an individual named Sam. Jack takes to Sam, for she seems to knows this new world that Jack has stepped into. When an older man introduces himself to this duo, I see where this novel is headed. They find comfort in the wisdom and resources of the older man but what the teens don’t realize is that this man is a not actually who he says he is. This man preys on little children, for they provide a tasty meal for him and Jack is next on his plate.
I didn’t think this novel was at all chilling, until the very end. The ending provided some excellent illustrations and was where the excitement intensified. I was disappointment as I was hoping for some suspense and intense action to be taking place throughout the novel. I did enjoy the illustrations as they were very detailed and I loved the intensity of a few of them. I was glad that I had picked up this deluxe version with all seven issues in it, as I don’t think I would had continued reading this series if I had to read them one at a time.

I am going to use this novel as my American Horror Story in Halloween Bingo as this novel begins in Jamestown, NY in 1916. Â Jack is trying to make it to Chicago, IL to locate his father but along the way, he visits other U.S. cities. 








Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge