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.    

 

 

A Different Pond

A Different Pond (Fiction Picture Books) - Bao Phi, Thi Bui

It’s early in the morning on a Saturday, yet his father has been up a while getting ready for the day. The streets are empty as the father and his young son set out for the fishing trip, stopping off to get bait, at a business that his father frequently visited. The boy is squeamish about the procedures for fishing, his father is patient and loving with him as he assists his son with the tasks. As the two fishermen patiently wait for a tug on their lines, father tells his son stories about life before coming to America, an emotional subject not frequently visited. As they arrive back home, the sun rising, the father must now get ready for work. It has been a successful morning, they will now have food on the table tonight. Living in America has been hard for this family. As mother and father leave for work, they know that coming home tonight will be special.

 

This story was a relaxing, calm read yet I knew about the hardships that this family was enduring on a daily basis and the ones that they had lived through. This story is about endurance, strength, and family. You could feel the love that lived within this family in the way that they communicated with each other and the way they interacted with each other. I enjoyed this children’s novel.

Dentin Little’s Still Not Dead

Denton Little's Still Not Dead - Lance Rubin

It took me a while to get back into the swing of things when I started listening to this novel. Denton is supposed to be dead but he has now lived past his death date and is currently the first person to do so. Denton is not happy in his new life, he misses his friends and he is bound and determined to return to them. He wants to find Paolo and he is determined to find him. To return to his previous world where friends and family believe that he is dead just cannot happen, can it?

 

This novel was funny and I liked how devoted Denton was to his friends. They The were his constant. I started to admire Denton as he started to think on his own and take chances. I thought it was hilarious when Denton went to the funerals as he had to think and act quickly. This was a great conclusion.

Long Way Down

Long Way Down - Jason Reynolds

I enjoy reading novels written in prose. I feel that the novels take on a deeper, more emotional quality to them. I loved the way that the author spaced out his words, how he placed his punctuation, and how he grouped his text. Whether one page held ten words or thirty, the intensity and the significance of those words was the same, each word had value. From the beginning pages, I was captivated by the story of Will and his brother Shawn.

After the shots rang out, Shawn was dead. Reading the text, I could see Shawn’s girlfriend, bent over Shawn’s body, her earsplitting screams piercing the air. Will cannot comprehend the scene that is before him, that is his brother lying on the ground, a stain spreading around his limp body. His mother becomes numb when the news reaches her ears, this was not supposed to happen. The world has come to a stop.

Will knows immediately what he must do, what you had to do when you come face-to-face with this type of situation, Will has to follow the rules. The rules, how they came about is not important, what is important is that they are followed. As Will begins his retaliation, his ride down the elevator to the world outside becomes quite a long journey. A long eye-opening journey which allows Will to see the world for what it is, to see the consequences of decisions that have been made and to decide where the future is headed.

The Librarian of Auschwitz

The Librarian of Auschwitz - Antonio Iturbe, Lilit Thwaites
 

 

“It’s the war, Edith……. it’s the war”. Every time I saw this comment in the novel I had to smile, for it showed me the attitude that some of the individuals acquired as they dealt with the circumstances they were dealing with.

This novel is about the prisoners that were held in the Family Camp, Block 31, a section of Auschwitz that allowed children and parents to be held together during WWII. The rules stated that the children would be entertained while their parents worked. School was forbidden but the children would be entertained with games and other activities. It was a unique situation, a first, and some individuals could not understand why it was happening. Fred Hirsch was in charge of the school, he knew the expectations but Hirsch had his own agenda. Hirsch created an invisible school, invisible to the people outside the walls of their contained area. He gave these children hope, strength and courage within their gated world. I loved how creative Hirsch was and how he encouraged others, he encouraged individuals to succeed. While death surrounded them, these children were able to be children, they were able to learn and have fun.

 

Hirsch has inquired a small library for this school, a handful of forbidden books. This library needs a librarian to make sure they are protected and safeguarded and Hirsch encourages Dita to accept this position. Dita is hesitant to accept this responsibility but Hirsch knew what he was doing when he asked her because she thrives in this position.


The world outside their contained area is full of change and uncertainty. The crematorium burns daily, prisoners are coming and going, romance still tries to kindle, and their future is uncertain but for now, the children feel safe. This was an excellent novel, because of its subject matter it is a difficult novel to read but it is an important novel that needs to be read and appreciated.

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
The circus is coming! The circus is coming! The boys discover the flyer swirling in the yard, a circus coming this late in the year is just unheard of. Alone in their rooms, the two boys hear a noise in the distance, it’s a train and the call of the calliope. It’s three a.m. and the circus is pulling into town! Sliding down the drainpipe, the boys set off to watch the excitement unfold. There is a sinister, mysterious feeling as the boys sneak off to view this spectacular event, their day sure has been exciting.
 
Earlier today, the boys told the salesman that they had no money yet he gave them a lightning rod. He told them it was free. He was adamant about Jim putting the rod on his house, he had foreseen a fierce storm that would soon be approaching their area. Will wondered about his own house but the man warned them both again that Jim needed to take action now. It had been a strange day, as now with night upon them, the circus was here and was setting up their thrills. Who knew about the circus coming? What was instore for these two boys? What the boys don’t realize is that this is not a normal everyday circus. This circus with its carny attractions, it’s unique individuals and its thrills has its own agenda and the boys will become a part of it.
 
Finally, my last novel for Halloween Bingo! Yes, I made it to a Black-out.  This novel is for the 80's horror square.  Happy Dance !

 

Tales From the Crypt #3

Tales from the Crypt #3: Zombielicious - Mort Todd, Marc Bilgrey, Jared Gniewek, Jim Salicrup
I remember watching some of these stories with my children when they were growing up. I just remember them as being weird, nothing scary about them, just them being odd and them giving me something to think about. I saw this title at the library and thought it might be fun to read and it was. Inside I found four short graphic novel stories, where one of them was just not for me, one of them made me laugh and the other two, well I rather enjoyed them.
 
The first story is The Crypt of Terror. This story is about a teen who is obsessed with his computer games. I thought this one was rather good as I could relate to the craziness that surrounded Andy a.k.a. Evenblade. Killing ogres, winning gold, and hanging around with lots of individuals, Evenblade was the man! Andy spends more time online being Evenblade then living in the real world. His online world mixes with his real world and soon he is paying the consequences.
 
In Queen of the Vampires, this story was fun. Small town college campus and two female roommates are discussing their favorite novel. They discover that this author is having a contest, the winner will get to spend an evening with her in her mansion. Of course, one of them has to win, she is their favorite author! The other roommate is jealous as the winner is announced and is determined to be the winner. I had to wonder who really was the winner when I finished reading this one.
 
I didn’t care for Reading Graveyard Shift at the Twilight Gardens. I didn’t like how the story was progressing as I read. The main characters is starting a new job which he thought would be a breeze but there are just too many temptations in his way. He knows he has to stay clean but it’s so hard! His boss is all over him, do this and do that and the pressure is mounting. I just didn’t like this one at all.
 
The Kid Tested Mother Approved was funny. I really enjoyed this one. You know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so they say. So, when Jimmy’s mother forgets to buy milk, Jimmy decides to skip breakfast. He hasn’t skipped eating these tasty balls of chocolate his entire life! What is he doing? He is hounded about a well-balanced breakfast, he is told to eat his cereal dry, she chases him with the cereal, and she even calls the principal and has him talk to him about it. Jimmy is about to make a huge mistake! Big laughs for me as I continued with this story and I bet it will be the last time Jimmy forgets.  I gave it four stars,  you have to remember that It's Tales From the Crypt,  a bit strange and a bit off the wall, its not your typical novel.
 
This had some magical realism in it so I am counting this novel (along with Tales From the Farm) towards my Halloween Bingo (although I know the game is over). 

 

Tales From the Farm, Essex County Vol 1

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm - Jeff Lemire
What a sweet graphic novel. While browsing at the library, I saw this cover and I had to pick it up. It had a bold nostalgic look about it and now it looks like I will be reading the next book in this series. All the illustrations are done is black and white but that is all you really need as the illustrations were fantastic. Illustrating an area, a mood, or a flashback, the illustrator darkens or lightens the area to achieve the perfect affect. The words, though few, were direct and purposeful. Lester was just trying to fit in.
 
Lester’s never knew his father and with his mother just recently deceased, Lester was now living with his Uncle Kenny on the farm. His uncle had never had kids so having 10-year old Lester around was something new and he wasn’t quite how to handle it. Lester is into comic books and he likes to pretend he is a superhero fighting aliens. His uncle gives him chores but Lester likes to play out by the Creek, only after his chores are done (per his uncle).
 
Lester is not fitting in his new environment and it is only down by the Creek that you can see Lester enjoying himself. He comes upon Jimmy down by the Creek and I was hesitate as I wondered what would occur next. Jimmy is the local gas station owner that he has talked to a few times but doesn’t really know that well. It was Jimmy that Lester needed in his life. Jimmy and Lester talked and then they shared of themselves. They had great times together down by the Creek and I felt for Uncle Kenny as he was missing out on knowing Lester. Uncle Kenny just didn’t know how to unwind, how to relax and take a few minutes to enjoy life. As Uncle Kenny’s strong attitude comes pouring out again at Lester, Lester takes a stand. The novel ended not like I wanted it to. I have no idea where the next book in this series will take me.

 

I am using this novel for my Halloween Bingo,  the Magical Realism square.  There were instances where Lester was fighting aliens while he was a superhero.  I am using this novel with another novel as I thought the magical realism was not central in  either novel but it existed. 

Good Me, Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me - Ali Land

Annie is the daughter of a serial killer. Her mother’s case has yet to go on trial. Annie plans to be a witness and testify in court over the deaths of the nine innocent children who were killed while in the care of Annie’s mother, while Annie was nearby. Annie acts too quiet, she was too nice to have endured what she has and act the way she is, I kept waiting for the true Annie to come out.

 

Annie has changed her name to Milly and is currently living with a foster family. Her foster father, a psychologist, is helping her prepare for trial. In my opinion, he was a bit too big for his shoes and his wife, she needed to start wearing his shoes. What a pair. Everyone is trying to protect Milly’s new identity so she can have a quiet life until the trial. My emotions were all over the place with Annie/Milly. I wanted to like her but she was playing this hopeless, depressed individual and I knew, for what she had gone through, she was hiding something. As her foster sister Phoebe began harassing and tormenting her, I wanted Milly to fight back. I wanted justice! Do something Milly! Phoebe needed to have her lights shut down, she was one mean chick. The actions in the novel intensified and I loved how things were progressing. It was fantastic. The ending, I was waiting for it and then, when I read those final twenty pages or so….oh Milly, Milly, Milly

Come Closer

Come Closer - Sara Gran
This was a quick, entertaining read. This is not a novel that you can skim over, as you would undoubabtly miss something important as event happen quickly and every detail is vital. I enjoyed the novel and thought the story was interesting and it definitely drew me in. Had the author slowed things down in the story and worked in more details and development, I think the story would have been more creepy and suspenseful.
 
Amanda and her husband Ed have a good life. They each had great job, a nice home and they loved each other. Things start to take a wrong turn when they began hearing some mysterious tapping at night. Unable to find the source, the couple put up with the noise, blaming it on the 100-year-old building their home was located in. Amanda dreams of a childhood friend she used to have and surprisingly, days later she swears that she sees a girl on the street who looks exactly like this same individual. Amanda begins to notice that her life is changing and when Ed and her begin to argue more, this really gets her attention. Dragging down the book she erroneously received in the mail and kept, Amanda opens the beginning pages and takes the quiz before reading any further. Amanda score lands in the middle. According to the novel, Demon Possession, she is probably haunted and should get help. Things begin to escalate rather quickly in her life. Oh, she knows good from evil when she has the choice but she doesn’t always get to make the decisions now. I thought this section of the novel was fun and exciting as Amanda is not the sweet girl that Ed had married and things between this happy couple get interesting. Opening her novel once again, Amanda takes the test again and her score has changed. She should have listened before because now, it just might be too late.
 
Yes, I am still working on Halloween Bingo (I am determined to get my black out). Reading them as they are due from the library.  This is for my Demons square.  

 

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J.E. Vance
What a story! I appreciate the author’s honesty as he tells his story of his own upbringing and how that influenced his life. I didn’t expect to get such an attachment to this novel but as the author jumped around from place-to-place as a child, I became alarmed and disturbed at where he might land next. As he moved into his teens, I read with enthusiasm as he started to see the world around him split in two. He was maturing and he saw the inequality that was all around him.
 
Vance was proud of his hillbilly family, for they chose what was right, even if their means of execution wasn’t perfect. Vance is a hills man, a man who saw the best of times and the worst of times as he weaved his way through his childhood. Laughing on one page and then later shaking my head on the next, I never knew what to expect as I turned the pages in this novel. Vance’s story was a whirlwind of activity and emotion. His was part of a hillbilly family, a family who kept it together even when they were apart, a family who passed on their ways whether they meant to or not.
 
I loved his Mamaw and Papaw. They were strong, determined and opinioned individuals in the community and important people to many including Vance. Vance’s own parents had an important role in his life and it was interesting to hear Vance talk about his relationship with them. As Vance bounced around in his childhood, his future looked shaky and to see what he has accomplished, it makes me smile. I loved it when Vance got his first job and he started to see the inequalities that resided in the world. How these inequalities were not just in one area. He was on a roll discovering this new information and I was his cheerleader. I also loved it when Vance talked about the paths that individual’s lives were headed and how they have the opportunity to change the direction they are headed. His insight was excellent and valid. I was screaming, “yes!” from my chair as Vance wrote down my own thoughts. Thank you, Vance, for keeping it real and for sharing your life. I definitely need to reread this novel in the future and get my own copy. I highly recommend you read this novel if you haven’t already.

 

The Obituary Writer

The Obituary Writer - Ann Hood
When I read an obituary, I am expecting it to contain certain information. When Vivien writes an obituary, she isn’t concerned about dates and events, she wants to capture the whole individual. Vivien sets the stage for the survivors in her home, serving them comforting beverages and snacks as they talk freely about their loved ones. Vivien has a talent and individuals seek out her comfort. Vivien is seeking comfort herself when her lover goes missing after a natural disaster. She cannot let go of what they once had and she yearns to reconnect with him. If only she could have what she provides to others.
 
Let me introduce you to Claire. Claire is married and has what her mother would say, “everything that should make her happy” but the problem is, Claire is not happy. Claire’s life should be stable but Claire is living on the edge, afraid of what will happen when her lover is revealed and when the baby she is carrying is delivered. These two women are living decades apart but they will soon collide, a meeting that gave me chills.
 
I listened to this novel on audio and l loved the narration. Her soothing voice was perfect for this novel. I understood why Vivien was so popular amongst her clients, for she took her job seriously and she wrote from her heart what her clients expressed about their loved ones. Personalizing some of the obits with phrases that she knew, you could feel the love that she wanted to share with her readers. I liked the drama that surrounded Claire’s life. She was taught by her mother how to be the perfect wife and she had the perfect Beaver Cleaver set up but this was not the life that Claire wanted. It was missing something. Claire was fighting an inner turmoil of being content or going after what she wanted. This battle raged within her and was one that she could not ignore. This novel was better than I had expected and I was glad that I picked it up.

 

Bitter River

Bitter River - Julia Keller
I really enjoyed A Killing in the Hills so I had high hopes for this second novel in the series. I liked reading about the happening in this small Appalachian Mountain town in West Virginia where everyone is connected either from the past or in the present. I found that this novel was a bit slower than the first book in the series and that the book started and ended strong but in the middle, the book dragged. Just when I thought I might have to abandon this novel, a major event occurred and the novel continued at a speedy, adventurous pace until the final pages.
 
It seems like everyone has issues that aren’t central to the novel but still haunt each of the main characters as they navigate their way around Acker’s Gap. Acker’s Gap, as a whole, has its own share of issues with a dwindling economy, feuds and personal conflicts among its citizens. When a young girl is found immersed in a vehicle in the nearby river, there doesn’t seem to be a culprit. Everyone has their own alibi. The victim had her own secret, a secret that leads many to contemplate different ideas and leads. When authorities come under attack, the town is shaken. What is happening to this small community? And why is it happening now? This had a great solid ending and I can’t wait now to read the next book in this series.

 

Disturbed

Disturbed - Jennifer Minar-Jaynes
This was one twisted novel. I wanted to believe one person was the culprit but it just seemed too perfect but yet I couldn’t figure why or who else it could be. Then, when it was being revealed to me, I saw what I had been missing, I couldn’t believe it, seriously?! I was along for the ride on that one.
 
The novel starts with a brutal killing. Two college girls killed and one left for dead, with a hand-written message on the bathroom mirror. Fast-forward to now, almost five years later and Chelsea is still reliving the nightmare. Chelsea has lost most of her memories but the memories of that night, the night she was found in the bathtub are still vivid. When Chelsea returns from her morning run, she swears she saw Ethan outside her apartment. Calming Chelsea down, Elizabeth reminds her best friend that this typically happens after a night that she has her recurring nightmare of the night that she almost died. Ethan was there the night of the slaying, Ethan and Boyd, two boys she hasn’t seen since the night that turned her life around.
 
Amazingly, Chelsea runs into Boyd a few days later and they immediately hit it off. They decide to meet for dinner and I immediately want to run into the restaurant and throw water on both of them. Put the brakes on it, people! They are falling for each other like magnets. Chelsea gets a note on her car windshield and it corresponds to the night of the murders. Boyd shows up, she gets a note, is this a coincidence? Chelsea sees Ethan and Boyd together in the same week, another coincidence? I am undecided about Boyd as why are they madly falling for each other and why all of a sudden does she get a note? More dates and again, she gets another note that sounds like it came from the killer. Boyd? Boyd and Ethan? Hello?? Elizabeth tries to be her best friend and also tries to give her sound advice but Chelsea has her mind set already. Boyd acts like he knows nothing about the notes and the police are checking out all the alibies. Too much innocence and not enough gaps, who is playing this game and why?
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors - Drew Daywalt, Adam Rex
I thought this might be a cute book to share with some classes when I teach so that is why I picked it up at the library. This children’s book is oversized and the illustrations are bright and colorful so I was very pleased to see this. I really enjoyed all the different font types and sizes that were used throughout the novel as I thought it made the novel come to life and the sharp contrasting colors on the pages, the book popped!
 
Unfortunately, there was one instance in this novel that makes me hesitate to share it with some classes. This might not be a big deal to some but as an instructor, it was to me. It was when rock met apricot and he said, “You sir, look like a fuzzy butt.” The word, butt shocked me. I know some children will laugh when you read it and some children will say, “butt, it says butt. That’s a bad word.” So, what do you do? Do you change the word out, skip that part, forget the whole book or read it and see what happens? There is name calling in this novel as one person tries to gain control in the situation. It became a pattern as they fight for control and I feel that this is a topic that cannot be looked over. I know its supposed to be all fun and games but do the kids that you are reading it to, see it that way.
 
I thought the story itself was cute and entertaining and I think many children will like the story. The story is about power, who is the most powerful one of all. When we play the game rock, scissor, paper we are looking for a winner, who has the power, who will be the leader. There are teachable moments in the story, areas that could be talked about further after the story is over or while it is being read. I liked how the story ended.

 

What Does Consent Really Mean?

What Does Consent Really Mean? - Pete Wallis, Joseph Wilkins, Thalia Wallis
I think this graphic novel is a great starting point for this topic. I liked its simple approach to the topic and the way it covered a variety of subjects relating to consent. I liked the way that they reaffirmed their clarifications throughout the novel. They explained things in a clear and concise manner and even elaborated in many situations. They talked about values and gave examples, many of which young adults will be able to relate to. The format was easy to read and creating it into a graphic novel makes this topic more appealing to its readers.
 
So, what is consent? The novel elaborates on this many times throughout the novel. Consent means that there is no pressure, that both parties are happy with the decision that they are making, that there is the enthusiastic “yes!” before the act, that the individual is not being forced or coerced into something, etc. This text provides many definitions and many examples of what this word means. Because your body is yours and what you do with it depends on what you want. So, what happens if you say no? What about the famous, “everyone else is doing it.” or what if you’re just not sure? This graphic novel covers these options and many more. The novel consists of a group of four girls conversing. You will meet a group of boys who chime in on the conversation and give you their opinions on the subject matter so it’s not all about girls.
 
In the back of the novel, the author has given its readers a wonderful resource. From consent, sexting, porn, being positive sex resilient, etc. the author has listed some discussion questions, a list of information that was discussed in the novel, some Did You Know Facts and a list of resources where you can go to find further information for each of these additional subjects. I feel that this is a wonderful way to approach this subject and this novel should be read by anyone who is mature enough to handle this subject matter. This novel makes a great starting point for future discussion or research.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast & it's sequel

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast - Josh Funk, Brendan Kearney
Very creative! There is only one drop of syrup left in the refrigerator and Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are on a race to get it. Miss Brie just informed the leftover friends and now the two of them will be pushing, shoving, rolling, falling and hurdling over items to get that last drop. Watch out linguini, you tall bottles of salad dressings and all you beans, these two are not stopping until they reach that syrup bottle. Chili Lagoon, Broccoli Forest, Orange Juice Fountain may slow them down but these two will clean themselves off and hit the road again. Who will be the winner and was this race worth the fight?
 
I thought this novel was fun and creative. I could actually visualize the events occurring in the novel as the twosome battled through the refrigerator towards the syrup bottle. Once they arrived at their prize (syrup bottle), I liked how things were settled and how the book ended. The bonus map which flips down on the back page, so it is a vertical illustration of the inside of their refrigerator, was the icing on cake. What a fantastic novel. 5 stars 
 
It's sequel:
 
The Case of the Stinky Stench
 
This is a cute sequel to Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. I enjoyed the rhyming text as it kept the story moving forward as Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast help investigate the strange stench that is troubling the fridge. Interrupting their vacation, Sir French Toast's nephew Inspector Croissant informs the vacationers that something is causing a horrible smell that needs to be investigated and eliminated before everything is lost. Immediately they know who is behind the odor but when they find their suspect, they find out they were wrong. They try again with other clues and it is the determination of Inspector Croissant that helps solve this mystery and saves the fridge elimination.

It's a cute story with colorful and bright illustrations. I enjoyed the fun and quirky names of the items in the refrigerator (Mount Everbean, Onion Ring Cave, Miss Steak, Corn Chowder Lake, etc). It's a creative and imaginative children's book that's fun to read.  4 stars
 

 

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge