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My Never Ending List

The Evil Princess vs. The Brace Knight

The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight - Jennifer L. Holm
Sister and brother, evil princess and brave knight. They lived together in a castle but that didn’t always mean that they got along. The Evil Princess liked to be mean to the Brave Knight. The Brave Knight liked to be brave but he could also be mean, when the Evil Princess was evil to him. The Magic Mirror got tired of their mischief so she sent them each to their rooms!
 
That was fine…….at first. They played in their rooms and did what Evil Princesses and Brave Knights do by themselves. Then, it got rather boring as they each had no one to play with. The Magic Mirror said they could each come out ONLY if they played nice together. When they came out of their rooms, it was boring playing nice together then, they decided to go on a quest together and then, well……let’s just say that the Evil Princess and the Brave Knight just might need to spend more time in their rooms later.
 
This is a cute picture book that teaches a good lesson on playing together and getting along but what really gets resolved in the end? It also helps children discover that not all kids get along and that perhaps they need to find something to do beside doing the same thing every day. The illustrations were comical and colorful. A very fun and engaging book.

 

The Ferret's a Foot

The Ferret's a Foot - Colleen A.F. Venable, Stephanie Yue
Sasspants and Harnisher are at it again! They saw Mr. Venezi put a sign in the window advertising for an assistant and they want to put a stop to that. Working together they correct all the pet-shop signs but a little bit later the signs have all been messed with. Someone(s) has changed all the signs and now the duo needs to figure out who has done it and why?
 
This book was funny but I didn’t think as funny as the previous books that I have read by these famous detectives. I thought the fish were hilarious and Herbert, the turtle. I like how they talk about the animals and how the animals all want to be together. The illustrations are easy to follow and their facial expressions are sometimes really funny. It’s a crazy, mixed-up pet shop which is owned by a Mr. Venezi, who doesn’t quite know what to put in his pet-shop nor does he know how to name what he does have.
 
I like how the book introduces information about the pets and later, at the back of the book, there is a two-page section titled, “Hamsiher Explains….” and here the author explains what was introduced in this graphic novel. There is also a one-page dictionary of terms that were used in the book including that word used in a sentence. This is a cute, entertaining, graphic novel series and I hope the author continues to write them.

 

Last Witness: An Oral History of the Children of WWII

Last Witnesses - Svetlana Alexievich
These stories lives came with a punch, they struck viciously against my heart as I read them. To think that all of these individuals were children, innocent little people, who did nothing yet they received such a life-altering experience, that still haunts them today. I didn’t and I couldn’t read this book, all in one sitting. From the beginning, I wanted to appreciate each chapter: each individual’s situation and account. Upon reading, I realized that this is not a book that I could read straight through. The emotions and the energy in each of their stories lives, makes it a book that needs space.
 
From the voices of Russian children, we hear their side of what occurred to them during WWII. From a few pages to up to six pages, they tell us what they remembered. The children were affected in a variety of ways by the war: many had to leave their homes, some watched their fathers leave to fight in the war hence leaving them with lots of questions running through their minds, some children had to prepare for the war themselves and some even tried to stay in their own homes while the war ragged outside. They told their account and it was translated but the tone and the feelings are still in the words on the page. It’s as if these survivors were sitting with me, telling me how they reacted to a world that had turned upside down on them.
 
I could tell you about many of the individuals in this book as every story life in this book is worth mentioning. Their stories are different but every single one of them, are forever changed. How many times I read the word, “Mama!” I cannot count them all. How many times I read, “I was hungry,” I cannot count them all. How many times I read about death, how it had become part of these children’s regular, daily schedule, I cannot count them all.
 
There was Marlen, age 11, who is now a member of a town council. Marlen remembers always being hungry while living in the orphanage. He remembers needing to be first in line or you might not get anything to eat. With it being -20 degrees outside, Marlen takes off his hat and had a soldier ladle some soup into his hat instead of finding a metal tin. Marlen quickly runs back to the orphanage. He now has frostbite on his ears but he has supplied frozen soup to everyone there. Now, this adventure puts a smile on my face.
 
This is a book worth reading. I enjoyed this book and I appreciate the individuals who shared their stories lives with me.

 

I feel like I’ve been out

I had planned on playing Halloween Bingo this year. I finally got my books organized at home ( if only I’d quit buying more) and I got most of them organized online but I’m still way behind on my ARC’s and my other projects at home. I’m excited to see all the posts about your future reads, surrounding this event, as I plan on reading as many Halloween tales as I can, I just won’t be filling in a card.  

 

I feel that my reading has taken a drastic downward dive lately as I’ve tried to tackle some projects that I’ve thrown in the corner for years. This year, we’ve had some great news and some interesting changes that has caused me to “wake up” and finally start doing these projects that have been looming in the back of my mind.  Boy, does it feels great to finally see light at the end of the tunnel with only one project left- one big box of photos/cards & a computer filled with photos that need dates/info filled in. 

 

Now, for the the great news. My youngest son had their first child in July. We welcomed Calloway into the world and he’s been such fun. My husband and I, go over weekly to visit and I’ve been preparing a few meals each week to help them adjust to being parents. I’ve decided to quit being a substitute teacher, to stay home and watch him when Calloway’s mom goes back to work. I’ll be watching my grandson everyday.  I’m excited and I know my free time will be limited again, hence why I had to get projects done now.  More news! A couple weeks, my oldest son & his wife informed us that they were expecting. Yes, baby #2 for them is coming in January.  My granddaughter is excited and it will definitely be big changes for her. I’m still picking up my granddaughter from school one day a week, so the cousins will have time to be together weekly. 

 

I’ve had some interesting changes as I’ve been helping out my parents more. It started with snow shoveling last year and it has just grown. I’ve learned a few things by being over there more ( they live about 10 minutes away- now that we moved). Did you know, that if you get medicine from the doctor that you should take it? That you have to take ALL the medicine and not just some of them each day? That you shouldn’t click on all the ads on your computer or you might get a virus? That you can’t keep meat in the freezer for years? Its sad to see your parents get old but I’m glad that I’m able to help them.

 

hopefully, I’m back to reading now.  Keep them books coming!

The Chain

The Chain - Adrian McKinty
When I first saw the cover for this book, I was intrigued and then, when all the reviews started popping up saying how great it was, I put myself on the list to read it. As I started reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and then, I started applying the book to my own personal life. What would I do if I was in Rachel’s shoes? How far would I go? I was literally sucked into this book! In the end, what really surprised me, was how involved Rachel became. I was captivated by what was happening inside these pages but Rachel was possessed.
 
Kylie was taken from the bus stop. As she makes her way into their car, Kylie’s mind reflects back to all the warnings that she had received over the years about getting into a stranger’s vehicle. Yet, here she was, sitting next to a hooded man, driven by a woman she didn’t know.
 
Her mother, Rachel will soon receive the first of many calls from an “Unknown Caller, and she will wish that she had done many things differently.” Rachel will then begin fulfilling the requirements to get Kylie back. Rachel, a woman who is fighting cancer hopes that she too, can fight this chain letter which she will discover, cannot be broken.
 
I enjoyed all the different viewpoints that the author provided in this story. I felt these gave me a complete picture of the events and it provided a more elaborate account of what was happening. I liked how Rachel matured in the story. In the beginning, Rachel was scared and timid but by the end of the novel, she was a totally different character. As the story progressed, I felt as if something came over Rachel and she was on a mission. I kept wondering what came over her, why was she acting the way she was and when was this going to end? Planting myself in her shoes, I don’t know if I could have stepped where she did or went as far as she went.
 
I did feel that the book changed tempo halfway through. One part felt intense and vibrant while the other part felt stealthy and sly. This was a fantastic, on-edge mystery that kept me focused till the very end.

 

Harbor Me

Harbor Me - Jacqueline Woodson
I listened to the audio of this book and I thought it was really good. The only issue I had was some of the voices on the audio. It sounded like some of the voices were dubbed in, for they were louder than any of the other voices on the CD’s and it was annoying. I enjoyed how the students discussed their opinions and their lives, and I enjoyed the discussion on the last CD.
 
As the students gather weekly in the Art room, they have become a small family. They were chosen to be a part of this group and at first, they’re not quite sure exactly what their part is, in all of it. They are a small group, a group of their own peers. Meeting weekly to discuss anything they wanted, without any distractions or interruptions.
 
I like how the conversations started to change overtime. They become more lucid and fluid, their tones changed and they started to care more for one another. They weren’t just peers anyone but they became friends and sometimes they became brothers and sisters, someone they could depend and lean on. They’re not all the same which makes their conversations interesting and sometimes intense.
 
They’re kids, they speak from the heart and they show their emotions without warning. It’s a great audio and it’s rather short. The interview/conversation with the author at the end was interesting so make sure you stay tuned to that, if you listen to the audio. I highly recommend the audio version of this book.

 

The Devil's Revolver

The Devil's Revolver (The Devil's Revolver Series, #1) - Sally V. McGrath
This was better than I imagined. I loved the cover and that is what sold me on reading it. The story is part fantasy and part western but the story is total enjoyment as Hettie tries to save her little sister, Abby. Bonded with Diablo (a.k.a the Devil’s Revolver) Hettie unfortunately is walking into many situations blindly. Her accuracy holding a firearm is one talent she can count on and one that she uses to her advantage.
 
I like how Hettie takes matters into her own hands. She doesn’t wait around and hope for someone to help her out and she doesn’t whine, she moves. She almost moves too fast, sometimes. She immediately goes after Abby. When she sees Ling in trouble, she steps in. She’s not afraid of speaking her mind to anyone, she is herself. When bonded with Diablo, the unknown of what has occurred doesn’t shake her, she just continues on.
 
With magic and loaded weapons, Hettie learns the truth behind Diablo and the price this demonic weapon carries. This was a high energy read for read and the magical aspects of the novel were entertaining. I can’t wait to read what happens in the next novel. 4.5 stars
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and IBPA in exchange for an honest review.

 

Velva Jean Learns To Drive

Velva Jean Learns to Drive - Jennifer Niven
Velva Jean’s daddy often took off, leaving his family wondering when he’d return. Later, he’d walk back through the door, as if he’d just stepped outside for a break, and the days and the months that he’d been gone, you’d think they were just all your imagination. When their mama died, the kids were at a loss, for their daddy was out somewhere. When he got done wandering, he would discover that his wife had died and the letter that he had written to his wife, the one that she kept reading after he left, is what his children believe caused her death.
 
I enjoyed this novel as I followed along beside Velva Jean as she explored and grew-up in Sleepy Gap, North Carolina during the 1930’s. Velva Jean had dreams of singing in the Grand Ole Opry and considering her situation, I was impressed with this dream. With her mama, gone and her daddy, a no-show, Velva Jean and her sibling were taken in by her grandparents.
 
I think the grandparents did the best they could and I had to laugh when they sent two of the kids off to a bootlegger. This incident lands the kids in jail which changes them forever on many levels. The kids feel they have now crossed the fence from being “good” kids, they’ve met some new people, they seen new sights, and they’ve been arrested.
 
I liked the flow of this book. It wasn’t an intense, action-packed novel but it had a calm, even-flow pace to it. It had the pace that I would think living in the mountains would have. There was a singing competition that stirs things up as Velva Jean wants to compete, religion comes into the picture as Velva Jean started to worry about future, and it gets interesting when Velva Jean begins to mature and she runs into a fellow from her past.
 
I’m going to look into the other books in this series and I like books about the Appalachian Mountains and I enjoyed this novel.

 

Brave Face

Brave Face - Shaun David Hutchinson
I knew this book was going to be rough, I had been warned but I knew that I had to read it for these are the types of books that I enjoy. I don’t enjoy them for the struggles and the pain that the individuals go through but for a multitude of other reasons.
 
I enjoyed this book because it made me feel, it brought my emotions up front and center. And boy, did I have plenty of emotions with this book. Most of my emotions were directed at Shaun, whether I was ready to scream at him, be scared for him, frustrated with him, or I just wished I could reach inside the book, wrap my arms around him and comfort him.
 
This book also showed me how resilient Shaun was. As I read this book, Shaun faced a lot of crappy situations but when all is said-and-done, Shaun persisted. Shaun experienced scrapes, bruises, and scars during the process, and he’s definitely a changed person because of what he went through. That to me says a lot about a person and I enjoy reading how these individuals find their strength and courage. As I read these stories, I feel like I’m part of the story. I give them encouragement (sometimes more vocal then I should) and push for them to find hope, yet I know that I’m nothing but a voice talking to a book.
 
This book is also one that I will not forget. I liked how Shaun warned his readers at the beginning of the book that it contains some difficult topics. Shaun is being real; this is his life and he’s not going to smooth things over to make his readers happy. This really happened according to Shaun. So, deal with it.
 
Shaun discusses in this book growing up, discovering his sexuality, how he came out, and his depression. It’s pretty straight forward and there’s swearing, homosexuality, drugs, suicide, stealing, and some sex, so be willing to walk with Shaun as he covers what his life was like and how he survived. I thought the novel was powerful and moving. I realize the year on the calendar has changed, yet I wonder if things have really changed in how individuals are accepted. Parents, peers, friends, relatives, and siblings all have an impact during this time. I appreciate Shaun honesty and I appreciate that he shared his experience with others.
 
Shaun never felt good enough for anyone. He’d start to get comfortable with someone and then, internally a switch would go off and he’d start waiting for the ball to drop. It was too good to be true, something bad was bound to happen. Shaun wanted to fit in with his peers. Shaun wanted to like girls but when he was with them, it just didn’t feel right. He lied to fit in but paid the price for it over and over again.
 
He knew he was different yet he didn’t know why. Shaun had his own view and opinions and these clouded his mind and judgement. It took him a while to figure out exactly what made him different and then, he needed to figure out what to do next.
 
A great read that will definitely leave a lasting impression. Thank you, Shaun, for sharing your story with others.

 

The Missing Season - winner!

I got a package in the mail today and the return address was from Gillian French.  I did a double take as the personal label was a sticky one, a personal label, and it said Gillian French with a normal address on it, not a publishing company.  I just let the package sit on the counter for a while as I let it sink it.  I know, I'm kinda weird but I was really excited to get this personal package from her.

 

When I finally opened it , I found out that I was a winner in a YABC Giveaway!  Gillian personally sent me an autographed hard-copy book, a personalize note, some lip balm, a bookmark, a postcard and a business card for her upcoming book, Grit (which is already on my TBR list) .  Thank you Gillian French and YABC! 

 

I'm excited to have this book in my possession as I can read this reread this mysterious novel again  It centers around a town legend and the Mumbler, who they believe abducts children and takes them into the nearby forest.  As a new resident, Clara must come to her own conclusions as Halloween approaches.

 

It's Monday

I usually go on Monday's (twice a month) and clean my section of our main library.  I have claimed the children's graphic novels and children's magazines area.  Once a month, I just make sure it is organized (alphabetized) and I straighten the area and the next time, I take all the books off the shelves, dust and organize it.  As "adopt-a-shelf" volunteers, we also pull any book that needs help and we put them in a pile for the librarians to take care of. 

 

Our West Side Library has now been added into the mix and I have now claimed the children's graphic novel section in that library too. I will also be cleaning the Level 1 and Level 2's reader books in the children's section at the West Side Branch too as the graphic novel section is not that big yet.   

 

Here is my section of the graphic novels in our main branch after I cleaned it.  It looked great but it won't last long, the kids hadn't walked in the door yet :)

 

Great Weekend

I've been stocking up on board books again, for as you know, the books in all markets just keeps exploding. The little package that we have been expecting came this weekend and we are are so thrilled!
 
Our first grandson was born! Born on 7/19/19 at 5:55 weighing 7 lbs. 7 oz and was 19 inches long. Looking at the numbers even, we know that he will be one lucky baby.. I'm proud to say that his parents are readers and that they had even brought a board book to the hospital to read to their new son, as my son had read about that in a parenting book. It's been a fabulous weekend even though I haven't done much reading.
 
 

 

 

Mascot

Mascot - Antony John
I loved this book! There is so many reasons why I loved it and those reasons kept mounting as I read it. I’m only sorry that it took me a while to find this book and now, I’m wondering what else this author wrote that I should be reading.
 
In the beginning pages of Mascot, you will meet Noah who is adjusting to life in a wheelchair. Noah was with his father in a car accident, were his father was pronounced dead and now, Noah is a paraplegic.
 
From his tone, Noah isn’t happy with the way his life is headed. During his weekly physical therapy sessions, Noah’s passive/negative remarks have him moving nowhere, whereas another patient in the room, who Noah has been watching, is slowly making progress. His former teammates taunt and bully him, every chance that they get. The pitcher, once his close friend is the leader in this cruel act. Once a star catcher on the school’s baseball team, Noah can’t use his legs anymore. With his father gone, he must rely on his mother for everything and the way things are going, Noah feels this might be a long time.
 
When Ruben enters the picture, this book just blew up. Ruben cracked me up! Ruben, a.k.a Double Wide or Dee-Dub, arrives in his true form. When he was first introduced to the class, I had many thoughts going through my head as Dee Dub basically says the honest truth without any filters. Like Noah thought, Dee-Dub was crazy or a total genius that knows that being a new kid he can get away with anything. I think he was a little bit of both.
 
Ruben ends up sitting next to Noah and they form a friendship. Ruben is now associated with Noah which gets the attention of everyone especially the baseball team. I wondered how Ruben would handle the harassment now that he was a part of it. Noah and Ruben were now a pair but could they do anything against a team? We meet Alyssa, who is a friend of Noah’s. I thought she was one tough girl. Noah needed to start hanging around her more as she would teach him something, for she was not taking any gruff from anyone.
 
Ruben was not afraid of speaking his mind and now, Noah finally has someone to talk to. Ruben helps us, as readers, get to know the characters as he’s not afraid of talking to them and inquiring into the lives of each of them.
 
What a remarkable, outstanding book! I loved the characters as they felt realistic and I liked how they felt a variety of emotions. There were fears and bleak situations but they worked through them. Now to see what else I need to read by this author.

 

Real Life Dinners

Real Life Dinners - Rachel Hollis
I bought this cookbook after checking it out at the library. This is another great book by Rachel Hollis. So, why did I buy it? Because I liked the recipes and the illustrations that accompanied them. The recipes inside were for things that I really would make, things that aren’t too fancy and the ingredients I can find in my supermarket.
 
Let me walk you through this beautiful book and tempt you with one of my latest cookbook purchases. This last week, I received/bought 3 cookbooks in the mail. With temperatures in the 90’s this week, I might make something but likely, I will be eating strawberry lettuce salad (I could live off this), watermelon, oranges and just cold sandwiches. I don’t like to eat a lot when it’s hot out. T
 
here are 4 sections before we even get into the food sections in this cookbook: intro, table manners, kitchen essentials, spices. Table manners: yep, she lists out some table manners from no electronics, to passing food, to eating. Kitchen Essentials: things you should have on hand. Spices: four blends she created.
 
In the food section, there are 8 sections: Breakfast for Dinner, Kid-Friendly Dinners, Make-Ahead Dinners, Dinner on the Grill, Soup for Dinner, Salad for Dinner, Sides for Dinner, and My Favorite Dinners. Each recipe consists of a two-page spread complete with a short story about the recipe, an illustration, ingredients list (optional ingredient list, if needed), directions, prep time, cook time, serves #, and 3 or 4 step-by-step illustrations for the recipe. She also begins each section with a intro about that section and her thoughts/memories.
 
Looking at the Make-Ahead Dinners section: her intro talks about being prepared and prepping. She discusses what she does and how to use these recipes in your own life. There are 9 recipes in this section. I would eat any of them as they all look good. From Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, Homemade Frozen Burritos, Hawaiian Chicken, Mexican Casserole, Chicken Potpie, Tex-Mex Fiesta, Spaghetti Sauce, Ranch Beef Stew, and Lemon-Pesto Chicken. I thought I might have to cut back on the lemon on that Lemon-Pesto Chicken but it’s not that much and hey, it has green beans in it! The Tex-Mex entree looks super good and so does the Hawaiian Chicken (and I don’t normally do Chinese food) but the ingredients look like something I can handle. I’m super excited to get this cookbook and guess what? I also picked up Rachel’s other cookbook at the same time, Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up. That cookbook is a keeper too.
 
The illustrations in this book look very appetizing and real. They don’t look all glamorous, as if someone spent weeks, spraying and angling the camera, trying to get the right shot of the bun, to make it look perfect. They look delicious and they look like something that I could make. Thanks Rachel, for keeping it real.

 

And Then There Were Gnomes

And Then There Were Gnomes - Colleen A.F. Venable, Stephanie Yue
I thought this little graphic novel was funny. This is the second book in the series, I haven’t read the first book yet. The satire comments and the story were laced with comical moments that had me laughing out loud as Harnisher, the hamster, tried to get Sassypants, the guinea pig, to put on his detective hat and get back to work.
 
Harnisher was just plain funny as he tries to light a fire under his friend Sassypants so he’ll start being a detective again. Living inside Mr. Venezi’s pet shop, Harnisher comes up with some very creative mysteries that Sassypants must solve. He seemed like a great friend and a positive person to be around yet Sassypants was not liking it. Sassypants claims though that he’s not a detective but Harnisher is not listening.
 
When Mr. Venezi’s arrives to open the shop wearing shorts, Harnisher starts in. Determining there’s something peculiar going on, Harnisher tries to enlist the help of Sassypants. Someone needs to help Mr. V recover the rest of his pants! I thought this was really funny as Harnisher’s excitement filled the air.
 
The pet shop owner has mislabeled all the animals and now the mice are disappearing. A group of children come to the shop to purchase pets for themselves and notice the problem which leads to some interesting conversations. Can someone find the missing mice before they all disappear?
 
The illustrations in this graphic novel are super cute and there aren’t a lot of characters in it. I feel that there’s a lot of text to read in this graphic novel yet the text itself is not hard. It’s a fun, creative graphic novel that I enjoyed. I put a hold on the next couple books in this series.

 

Weber's Ultimate Grilling

Weber's Ultimate Grilling: A Step-by-Step Guide to Barbecue Genius - Jamie Purviance
Meat it is, inside this book with its gorgeous pictures. I picked this book up from the library as I saw it on a cart for the cover and the name Weber caught my eye. Looking at that steak over those coals and knowing that Weber knows a thing or two about grilling, I wanted to know the latest.
 
This book is heavy and is more than a cookbook. This book begins by giving you lots of information about grilling, from temperature (and maintaining), the techniques of grilling (indirect, direct, smoking (doing that in a smoker and in a regular grill), timing (for all different types of grills and food), and tools for grilling. There are lots of graphs and illustrations to look at and refer to in this section.
 
The book has seven chapters devoted to food: starters, beef & lamb, pork, poultry, seafood, vegetables & sides, and desserts. The last section of the book is The Pantry. It you don't get hungry looking at this book, there is seriously something wrong with you.
 
In each food section, they begin with a Q&A section, which answers a few questions about that section of food. So in starters, the questions pertain to appetizers, the pork section pertain to cooking pork on the grill, etc. What I love about this cookbook is the illustrations, how easy this book is to look at and follow, and the step-by-step illustrations that accompany EACH recipe in this book. Each recipe takes up 2 pages and is accompanied by a small intro about the recipe, an ingredients list, step-by-step directions with an illustration for each step, prep time, how many it serves, time required on the grill, marinating time (if any), stove time (if any, for additional ingredients for the recipe), any special things you might need, variations printed with them (if any) , and some have tidbits to help with the recipe.
 
You're not just getting the recipes within that section either, you'll get some information regarding that food too. Useful information to make cooking that food, fun and entertaining. In the beef & lamb section, there some information about putting together different flavors of burgers with wonderful illustrations (I thought they all looked good but after reading about them, I would have to substitute some of the ingredients in a few of them). There was another Q&A section about steaks and then a beautiful section of 4 toppings for steaks. Wow, there were two more sections on different type of steaks, a section about more toppings, a couple sections discussing brisket, a section about what to do with leftover prime rib, and that my friend is amongst all the recipes (18) dealing with beef and lamb, in just one section.
 
Lets talk about the illustrations, they are gorgeous. I really don't need a step-by-step illustrated version of a recipe, but these illustrations are beauties. The browned chicken with its light brown skin and the grilled potatoes stuffed full with nacho goodness just needed my fork. The only issue I had with this book is that the book had trouble lying flat and I think that is because it is new, it needs a good press of my hand on the pages while I get down to some serious cooking.