262 Followers
285 Following
Sandy

My Never Ending List

Construction by Sally Sutton

Construction - Sally Sutton, Brian Lovelock

My grandson is into construction vehicles so I thought he’d like this book but he wasn’t a fan. He’s 2.5 years old and I wondered if it was because the book wasn’t focused solely on vehicles or if it was the book’s text. The book is focused on building a library so we had painters, plumbers, and movers, working with the construction team.

 

The first part of the book the construction team is getting the building ready. They’re digging the holes, poring the concrete, adding the walls and floors until they finally put the roof on. It’s now time for the inside of the building to get finished. Pipes, wires, paint, and furniture are added. Finally, the books are placed in their assigned spot, the door opens up wide, and a new adventure awaits.

 

I enjoyed the illustrations in this book as they’re bright and colorful. They don’t show a lot of detail but just enough to get the point across. The last page in the book has some Machine Facts which discuss the different trucks in the book. I thought the rhyming text was a bit too much for me. I can see some individuals liking it but the words on some of the pages, just didn’t make any sense to me and I had to do some eye-rolling. Some kids like this silly talk yet I thought other words could have been used which would have made more sense on these pages. It’s a good book to read about how a library is constructed and I think most children will enjoy it. 4 stars

 

“Build the frame. Build the frame.
Hammer all day long.
Make the stairs and floors and walls.
Bing! Bang! Bong!"

 

"Fill the holes. Fill the holes.
Let the concrete drop.
Spread it fast before it sets.
Sloosh! Slosh! Slop!"

What is a Playaway?

We bought a house on a lake this past January and we’ve been doing a lot of driving back and forth each week cleaning and fixing up our new house.  This new lake house will be a place that we plan to use on the weekends and since my husband plans to retire next year, a place that we can escape to more, when he retires.  I could go on about this lake house which I will in future posts (boy, do I have the stories!) but today, I thought I would talk about Playaways.  If you don’t know what a Playaway is, I hope thatt by the time you finish reading my post, you will.  Playaways are amazing!

 

I get my Playaways from my library.  I check them out, just like a library book.  They sound and work just like an audio book actually except they are more versatile and easier to use, I think.  The issue I have with Playaways though, is that the library doesn’t carry a wide assortment of books on Playaways.  They are getting better about buying them for the library which is great so we shall see.  I do notice that more patrons of the library are checking them out so that is a plus. The more that people check them out, the more the library will buy.  I guess I could buy Playaways on the web, but they’re expensive.  So what is a Playaway?

 

A Playaway is an audiobook.  Instead of having CD’s to listen to or having to have access to the internet/Wi-Fi to listen to a book, you’re supplied with a small rectangluar device that has your book on it.  You’ll need to have some headphones and one (1) AAA battery to work the device but once you have that, you’re ready.   

 

The Playaway has volume controls, speed controls, a pause button and off and on controls.  There’s an equalizer button that helps with the sound quality.  The device tells you how far you are in the chapter and it remembers your spot in the book when you shut off the device. 

 

I’ve been listening to Playaways on our drives betwee the two houses but I’ve also been listening to them while I’ve been working around the house.  I like to stick the device in my pocket and go about my day.  I’ve caught myself talking to myself as I listen to the book, either responding to what is happening in the book or stopping and letting off a few comments about what is transpiring in the book.  I currently have paint on my headphones as I was painting listening to my latest Playaway and the cord kept getting in the way BUT there was no way I was going to stop listening.  I’ve also learned that I need to keep a few spare batteries in my glovebox.  

 

Here's a couple links if you want to learn more or if you want to pass some information onto your library.  Our library also have the the Wonderbooks and Launchpads.  I read my first Wonderbooks and I was amazed!

 

https://www.akronlibrary.org/images/pdfs/Playaway-instructions.pdf

 

https://playaway.com/

 

 

The GIrls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian

The Girls in the Stilt House  - Kelly Mustian

I’ve been wanting to read this book so I was excited we read it for bookclub.  The cover of the book and the synopsis gives me this dark mysterious feeling and I was intrigued by how these girls seemed so much alike but were separated by race.   Nestled into the swamp, these folks have their own way about doing things and whether it’s proper or not, is not what matters, it’s that it’s taken care of.

 

She was in love when she left and now, she has returned.  Her fondness of Jesse prompted her to run off with him but now she has returned. Returned to her home, to her father, to this home in the swamp, the house on stilts.  There had been room for Ada in this house but now, her father’s tools are more important and Ada will sleep in the shed.  Her father has expectations of Ada now that she has returned.  He didn’t welcome her with open arms but with expectations and responsibilities. 

 

My heart was torn for Ada as she tried to fit back into her old lifestyle.  Her father wasn’t making it any easier.  When he compares his daughter to his wife and begins to criticize and lash out at her, I wanted to reach inside the book and cause my own scene.  The words that were spoken, the truth that was revealed was painful but Ada had to learn what she could from her father, no matter what the conditions were.  

 

Matilda to the rescue!  I was so grateful that Matilda arrived on the scene and took action.  Anything that she could do would be beneficial but I didn’t expect her to be such a strong character.  Matilda had her own issues but to Ada she was a ray of light and she knew the w’s: what, where, why and when.    I enjoyed the friendship that Ada and Matilda formed and how they supported each other.   

 

I liked how the beginning of the book tied into the middle of this book rather than at the end of the book, that had a nice touch.  I knew the story wasn’t over and the ending was still yet to come.   I had never expected the ending that the author led me down, as I had envisioned many different paths as I became entwined inside this book.  A 5-star read for me.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

The Last House on the Street  - Diane Chamberlain

I listened to this book on a Playaway as I worked outside and it makes an excellent audio book.  The book alternatives between the year 2010 and 1965.  I liked listening to both sides of the story and seeing how the two stories came together, how the characters transitioned through the years and how history impacted the story.  This is a story about race and how race can bring out the best and the worst in individuals. 

 

The year is 2010 and they had returned to Kayla’s hometown.   This was supposed to be their dream house, a place where they could put down some roots.  So why is it, that only Kayla and their young daughter, were moving into this enormous, beautiful home today?

 

It was labeled an accident. This “accident” had left Kayla a widow and now, as she takes Rainie through the house, she thinks about this event and how it changed their lives.  Kayla is warned by a mysterious woman not to move into the house and she has numerous “incidents” to scare her away from this new development yet she stays.  Just down the road, Elle has returned home to take care of her aging parents.  Kayla and Elle cross paths and although it would be nice to have someone close to talk with, they know their conversations feel forced.

 

Meanwhile in 1965, Ellie wants to volunteer over the summer instead of working in her father’s pharmacy.  I love that her aunt was her motivation and that she’s committed to her cause although she experiences a lot of negative response about what she feels so passionate about.  She’s motivated by SCOPE and MLK and she’s bound-and-determined to help those less fortunate.   What an eye-opening experience this is for her!  She never knew what life was like beyond her own world and she finds that she has a lot to offer even when those in her own family don’t feel she does.  I was frustrated with Ellie a few times as I felt she gave in and I couldn’t understand why she bailed after everything she had seen and done; it just didn’t make sense.

 

I enjoyed the intensity as Ellie went outside her normal boundaries and she did what her heart told her to do.  I loved how the two stories came together and how the women in the hook were different yet they were alike.  I couldn’t stop thinking about this book when I had to lay it down, for what did their futures look like?.  This was a great read for me – I really enjoyed it! 

WIsh You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here: A Novel - Jodi Picoult

 

Do you want to hear a great story?!  I read this; I really did!  I won’t give too much of the story away in case you want to read it but it’s super good and it’s crazy!  So……anyways!  Here goes…….

 

This couple has been saving up for this trip for a long, long time and finally, they’ve saved enough money to go.  They book their trip, the money is there, they took the time off work, they’re all set.  They’re both super excited to go and then, yep…..you got it.   Something happened!!  One of them can’t go. The boyfriend is a surgical resident at the hospital and he has to work.  Now what?

 

He insists that she go without him.  She shouldn’t have the miss the trip because he has to work. She doesn’t want to go without him but the trip is nonrefundable, it’s all paid for and she has the time off.  Whatcha’ think?  Should she go?  Would you?  He’s insisting that she go, so she goes. 

 

So, what you thinking?  A romantic story? Not really.

 

Let me finish this, there’s only a small boat to get to the island where they were going to stay.  As the boat pulls up to the island, she’s informed that the boat is headed back to the mainland and this will be the last boat for quite some time.  The island is shutting down.  Think fast!  Stay on the island or stay on the boat and go back to the mainland.  She’s come this far and she’s not turning back. 

 

I would have done the same thing.  Probably not the best decision but how do you know?  She’s now on this fantastic, planned vacation complete with her booked hotel that is now closed, all eating and tourist sites closed and she doesn’t speak the countries language. This is supposed to be a fantastic vacation?!   She tries to make the best of it, she really does and I loved it!   As the community opens up to her, I just couldn’t get enough of this book.  It’s like she’d finally discovered life’s meaning, she’s becoming a part of something bigger.  Yet, somehow, her boyfriend is connecting with her which is tugging at her heart pulling her back to him. Keeping this rope tied to him while on the island, she’s learning to fly. 

 

I felt she was really breathing, on the island though.  When she reconnected to the mainland, her breath was labored and stressed.  There were numerous times I found myself talking/yelling out-loud to her as I listened to this book, advising her cut the strings from the mainland and move to the island.  How could she not continue on with this great path that she had found?  So, what happened?   That’s all I’m telling you but this is just the start of her story, my friend.  It is just the start. 

 

What a fantastic story!  The author threw me for some loops in this book and I fell for them. I had to pick my jaw off the floor for a few of them and I had to tell my husband every last detail of this book whether he wanted to hear it or not as I was super excited about this one.  I can see why this one has been so popular.  5 stars for sure!!

Can You Net the Loch Ness Monster? by Brandon Terrell

Can You Net the Loch Ness Monster?: An Interactive Monster Hunt (You Choose: Monster Hunter) - Brandon Terrell

Do you search for Nessie in Scotland, Champ in New York or do you want to go to Africa to search for Mokele-mbembe, the choice is yours?  I myself, started with the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland and then, came back to the beginning again and started other searches for the other creatures because I needed to know how they all would end.  I also took alternative side options with each of them for that’s what’s so wonderful with these books, the possibilities are endless.   

 

There are actual photographs in these books and a few of them, you will find familiar as they are popular with that creature.  There is the blurry image of the Loch Ness Monster with its head poking up out of the water (or is that really a twisted tree branch in the water).  Nevertheless, the photographs help reassure the reader that these creatures are real and that you’re on a mission to prove it.  I enjoyed all the different directions this book takes you down and following these paths, they were never hard.  The font size was large and easy-to-read which was good and it varied in size according to different tasks.  I did feel that the book was lacking in drama department.  The book does a great job in providing specific details and setting up the scenes but each of the actual events, they fell short for me.  They were over before I knew it and it was time to move on.   Where was the drama?  The anticipation?  I felt cheated.  I was tracking down a famous, mysterious creature and I thought there needed to be more: more story and more excitement.

 

Make sure you check out the back of the book for a list of freshwater Lake Monsters Around the World.  There are 7 monsters listed from Loch Ness in Scotland to Champ in the U.S. to Ogopogo in Canada to The Lake Van Monster in Turkey.  There is also a glossary at the back, a few internet sites & books pertaining to the Loch Ness Monster, and a few questions relating to information in this book.  I liked that this book also includes an index. I think this book provides some good basic information about the monsters presented inside it.   

 

 

Sample Text

“Going inside the cave would be a terrible risk.  You could get trapped or lost. No. You’ll stay where you are and hope the shape returns.  You wait and watch as long as you can.  But nothing appears.  After a while, you have to resurface before running out of air.

In the boat, you swap out your oxygen tanks and head back down.  But it’s hopeless.  You don’t see another hint of Nessie.  As the sun drops low in the sky, you realize it’s time to head back.

This search has been a failure.  But you’re not going to give up.  Maybe tomorrow you’ll have better luck.

 

THE END

To read another adventure, turn to page 9

To learn more about lake monsters, turn to page 103”

Carl's Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day

Carl's Summer Vacation - Alexandra Day

We love Carl and this book is another reason why we do.  Carl and his family have headed to their cabin for summer vacation and the parents don’t realize how lucky they are, that they brought Carl along with them.  With only a few pages containing actual words, the illustrations tell the story of what actually transpires in the story. 

 

My grandson (he’s almost 3-years-old) and I like to read stories about Carl as his stories give way to conversations, Carl sets a great example, and the stories are upbeat and cheerful.  Carl is a large, rottweiler who is mindful of his family’s young daughter, Madeleine.  In the series, the two of them have wonderful adventures together, for which the adults have no idea what, the two of them have been up to.  Carl is her protector.

 

While the parents get the cabin cleaned up, they set Madeleine and Carl down for a nap.  Immediately, they set off to see the sights. I love the way that Carl tends to Madeleine and how she follows his lead.  They do get into an empty boat which isn’t a good idea but she’s wearing a life vest, so she’s safe and this scenario brings up a good conversation for my grandson and I.  I’m surprised that her parents don’t check-in on the two “sleeping” youngsters, for Madeleine and Carl have quite the adventure while her parents clean and tidy up the cabin.  Their excursion finally comes to an end as they scramble back up onto the porch.  They arrived just in time, for Madeleine’s parent’s call out to them, supposedly waking them up.  Dinner is about to be served and the rest of the book is super cute.  

 

The illustrations in the Carl books remind me of some books I used to read from in the 1970’s.  The vivid colors, the way the faces are drawn, and how the illustrations just pop off the pages.  I like how the illustrator paid attention to some details while blending in others.  I highly recommend Carl books by Alexandra Day.     

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

Sold On a Monday - Kristina McMorris

I hope you’re happy!  I can’t tell you how many times I uttered these words while reading this book.  While Ellis Reed slowly climbs up his career ladder, the rungs that he has been using, are slowly falling apart.  The year is 1931 and times are tough all around, as families struggle to stay afloat during the Great Depression.  The uncertainty of their future had some desperate individuals searching for ways to survive another day while Ellis Reed was looking for something more.

 

As a journalist, Ellis is searching for his “big break” as his rise to fame wasn’t coming fast enough for him.  Armed with his camera and his knack for writing, Reed discovers his “big break” but unfortunately, things don’t go as planned.  Not thinking about the repercussions of his actions, he takes a short-cut to secure his “big break,” which in turn, escalates matters. It’s not only Ellis who feels the impact of this fallout, but those he had dragged with him.  Ellis walks along a thin line as he tries to right his wrong as the clock ticks.

 

Images of the Great Depression flashed across my mind as I read this story.  The desperation and the difficult times that individuals experienced brought deep connections to what played out in this story.  I could understand Ellis’ actions as he strives to make a name for himself and later in the story, where some of those desires came from.  I liked how as the story progressed, there were some surprises.  A great story, I can see why this book is popular now.  4.5 stars

 

A big thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark, Kristina McMorris and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  #SoldOnAmonday #NetGalley

Bibliophile Diverse Spines by Jamise Harper

Bibliophile Diverse Spines - Jamise Harper

This book is going to get me into trouble.  I already know that my TBR pile is gigantic but how could I not, find some treasures inside this book.  It was definitely cover love that drew me to this book while I was volunteering at the library.  I realized while reading, that I needed to get my own copy of this book, as it’s a fantastic resource.

 

I’ve heard about these types of books before but this is the first one, that I have actually read.  I liked the concept but would I actually like the books that they featured and/or would I find their lists helpful? I wanted this to be a fun, entertaining book consisting of lists based on a variety of different ideas/concepts.  I was also hoping that the books that made the list were a mixed lot, some new titles for me and some familiar ones.

 

What makes this book unique? It’s diversity.   “The authors, illustrators, designers, store owners, and bookstagrammers highlighted in this book are all Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”  Furthermore, these individuals lived in “spaces where they were marginalized by a dominant white society.”   By reading the books mentioned inside, the author hopes that the reader walks away with a greater understanding and the desire for better communication.  We all desire a great life.

 

I liked the physical size of this book, for being a reference book, it fits perfectly in my hands.  I liked how bright and colorful the pages were.  I felt a renewed energy while reading it and I was excited to see what the other pages contained.  Printed on thick cardstock paper, I thought this was a huge bonus considering it’s a resource and how often I would flip through the book.  The number of categories surprised me, in a good way.  I enjoyed all the different concepts the author used to group individuals and the books.  From the one-line sentences attached to some of the books on the list, to the detailed descriptions of a few of the books on the list, I loved all the information that is packed inside this book. 

 

I had started off thinking that I would make a list of the books that I thought sounded great (ones I haven’t seen or read yet) but after reading a few more pages in this book, I realized that I wanted to retain some of the other information that this book revealed.  I knew then, I would have to purchase a copy of this book.  This book is a gem and I highly recommend you check out this title.   Warning: your TBR pile just might get longer. 

 

The Golden Couple By Greer Hendricks

The Golden Couple - Greer Hendricks

Lie. Lie. Lie.  Holy buckets people, can anyone tell the truth?  It wasn’t like these individuals were digging themselves into a hole with their deceptions, for they were already sitting in their holes.  They were now just wondering how they were going to get out of it, successfully. 

 

The “therapist” definitely had some unusual techniques which gained her some new clients but at a cost.  Avery knew how to be a professional, she knew which lines not to cross but Avery preferred to get to the heart of the matter and get results.  She was a therapist and continued to be one, even when they removed her license.  Avery had expectations, she was motivated, and if you were serious and willing to put everything on the line, she’d be the one to help you through your most difficult time. 

 

Marissa and Matthew, they were the golden couple.  I tip my head back and laugh…...ha, ha.  On the outside, they put on a good show (like so many other individuals) but beneath it all, there’s a storm brewing.  Perhaps their storms will calm down and perhaps they’ll turn into a hurricane, who knows how the wind will blow. I thought it was sneaky how Marissa got Matthew to come into Avery’s office at the beginning of the book.  This got the story started for me and I felt that perhaps Marissa values her relationship with Matthew and wanted to save it.  Tennis Match: Learning more about Matthew, I began to think I was rooting for the wrong person, what the heck is Marissa think she’s doing?  They’re a couple because? This book was more of a mystery for me than a thriller.  Lots of fun with this book.  4.5 stars  #thegoldencouplebook

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The Swimmers - Julie Otsuka

What a unique book.  Who? What? Why? Does this all really matter?  These questions popped up in my mind, one at a time, as I read this book and the more that I read, the more I felt these questions had a deeper meaning.  Perhaps, this book wasn’t just about this time, this place, and these characters but it was about life in general.

 

I found that the sentences in this book flowed yet sometimes they felt quirky as I read them.  They weren’t bothersome but they just felt chunky as the words bounced across the page.  I’ve never read anything from this author before so it took me a while to appreciate her writing style.  Julie walks you into her books whereas I am used to jumping into books where everything is introduced from the get-go. Julie slowly got me up to speed and then, she presented the information I needed to know and I wasn’t used to this pacing. 

 

It was interesting how this pool became such an important part of the lives of the individuals who used it.  There were those who used it for its health benefits while others used the pool for its recreation, social and entertainment values.  Whatever their reasons were for changing into their swim attire and heading to the pool hole, these individuals felt they were part of their own community.  This was one of their comforting spots. It becomes an automatic part of their routine.  This part of the book hit me hard. 

 

Perhaps because as I’m getting older and I see how a routine plays a major part in my life and in the lives of others around me. Whether that be: a weekly television series, a bedtime routine, a child’s routine, or a morning wake-up routine, we all become rooted in a routine somewhere down the line.  Depending upon that routine, we know that by following it, we can achieve success and completion of the actions.  What happens if you don’t follow the routine or if you skip a step in the routine?  What if you change jobs and the hours that you work? Suddenly life is out of balance and everything is in a state of disarray.  In Swimmers, the pool community like their routine, just like we all do.  Yet, a change is coming, a change some of them don’t want to acknowledge.

 

There’s also the story of Alice in this book.  Alice was a swimmer when I first met her but her medical condition put limits on her as the books progressed.  Alice’s story has a great tie-in with the pool and her relationship with her daughter provided some great emotional moments for me, as I read.  They were sweet and at times, those moments gave me those goosebump, ah moments.  Those times where you have to look away from the book, for all the letters have begun to blur together until it’s just a mass of black on white.  I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would.  I feel that I have missed out on Julie’s previous books and now, I plan on reading them as soon as I can.    

Victor and Nora: a Gotham Love Story

Victor and Nora: a Gotham Love Story - Lauren Myracle

The cover got me on this one as I was at the library volunteering.  I’m not one for romance but the Gotham in the title swayed me and I liked the illustrations.  After reading this graphic novel, I couldn’t believe this was actually, the one and only Mr. Freeze.  I was floored!  No way!  This story was actually about Mr. Freeze and his future wife. I think that there’s a great story inside this book but the way that the story is delivered could have been better. The writing felt choppy and the story felt awkward as the characters cope with what life has given them and they find that perhaps there is more to life.  The illustrations were fantastic and they saved the book for me.

 

When we meet Victor, he’s visiting his younger brother again, like he does every year, at the cemetery.  Victor is proving to be quite the successful cryogenics cold tech and his work on perfecting his Accela-Freeze compound is coming along. Oh, what that compound could do, if he could just get everything perfect.  Victor is proud of his accomplishments and he conveys everything to his brother as if his brother could actually hear him from beyond.  Nora interrupts Victor’s talk when he spots her in the distance.  She’s also at the cemetery, visiting her mother’s grave, a surprise since Victor normally sees no one. 

 

Nora.  This girl got on my nerves.  She was a total flake.  Between her words and her actions, I didn’t know what to think of her.  The words that came out of her mouth were all over the place.  “So, come here often?” yep, that’s what you say to someone that you meet at the cemetery.  It doesn’t get better than this for a while and then, she starts to get all romantic with Victor.  What’s wrong with her?  I knew that she had a disease but I doubted that caused her to act like that.  Victor is hesitant at first (and he should be) yet he continues to hang around Nora when he should be running for the hills.  Nora does look amazing with her flowing hair, her spaghetti-strapped shirt, and her spunky attitude but is he really listening to her?  He needs to take off his glasses and really see her. 

 

The illustrations are great!  With attention to detail, the illustrator has created some wonderful text boxes that showcase the story.  I appreciated his attention to detail and the colors that were used, provided the atmosphere that I expected for this story.  These fantastic illustrations make this a good book for me but I felt that the writing alone didn’t work for me.  3 stars    

Infinite Country

Infinite Country - Patricia Engel

What the heck!?  You can’t be serious? I cringed a few times as I read this book, for the main characters were walking blindly.  They lived in fear, they were risking their own lives and the lives of their own children as they dodged not being caught and deported.  Sometimes I wondered if they even knew what complications lied ahead or if the thought of moving backwards was not option so they didn’t consider it.  I was hoping for the best and I feared the worse was headed their way. When would it ever end?

 

It was sweet when they fell in love and had their first child but when they decided to flee Columbia, the choices that had to be made and their actions totally changed the tone of the book.  They were headed to America, where a better life awaited them, didn’t it?  Entering America, they were beginning their new lives as illegal immigrants, earning money under the table, and “just surviving.”  When the couple started having more children, I was getting nervous.  More mouths, more responsibilities and additional individuals to hide.  The status of their children was now mixed and I wondered, how would that play out when it was time to go back to Columbia.

 

With the return date on their Visa’s coming up, the thought of returning home doesn’t sound like something they’re ready for.  Do they really have a choice? This was an eye-opening book, as the family makes some difficult decisions which places additional burdens on them.  This book covers a lot of hard topics including racism, alcohol, some sexual assault and animal abuse (small section).  It was definitely a book that got me thinking, a book that I’m glad that I read.   I received a copy of this book over a year ago from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.  

Saving Ruby King: a novel by Catherine Adel West

Saving Ruby King: a novel - Catherine Adel West

The evidence the officials discover, labeled the crime a home invasion.  Ruby’s mother lied dead at the scene.  In this Chicago black community, this was just another crime committed and marked in the books.  Yet, some individuals knew exactly what had occurred behind the doors of this house throughout the years.  They knew the truth.  The abuse that had been silenced and buried for years was finally over and Alice was finally free from her husband, Lebanon.  Ruby knew it too for she lived it, day in and day out.  Alone now with her father, Ruby faces the reality that it’s just her and her abusive father.

 

Layla is Ruby’s friend and what a great friend she is.  Although Layla was told by her father Jackson, to stay-out-of-it, Layla can’t.  Jackson, a pastor of this community’s church and some members of the congregation know what Lebanon is capable of but their actions and voices are silent.  Layla steps up to help Ruby providing much more than I realized she had in her. 

 

Crossing timelines and hearing from multi-viewpoints, it took me a while to get into the flow of this book. I liked how Layla kept at Ruby, she never gave up and she questioned Ruby and didn’t preach at her constantly.  I thought having all the different characters and viewpoints was interesting and made for a more-rounded book, although keeping them separate took some work, on my part.  Set in Chicago, the book addresses many issues such as domestic violence, race, a church community, family and friendship.   I received this book from NetGalley and Park Row in exchange for an honest opinion (a few years ago). 

The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist - Alka Joshi

Lakshmi wooed them but did they really know her?  There was so much to enjoy about this book from the language of the text, to keeping all the characters separate and unique, to transporting me to a different place and time yet, I felt that I was the only one who really knew Lakshmi.  I liked that Lakshmi was a strong-minded and independent individual but I felt that she was a meddler, when she need not be.

 

I understand that Lakshmi was proud of who she had become and she needed to be “out there” to keep her name on the lips of individuals needing her services but there were other instances in the book where I thought she just needed to step back and not insert herself.  She can get enough popularity, what she needs to be getting the attention for, with her talents, she doesn’t have to be involved in everything.  I liked the end of the book the best, as that gives me hope that she can discover who Lakshmi really is.  I see that there is a sequel and I’ll have to look into that and see what transpires.  I read this book for book club.    

Ain't Burned All the Bright

Ain't Burned All the Bright - Jason Reynolds

Three.  That’s all it took.  Whereas some books use series, some use chapters, and some use pages of text, Reyolds began this book using three powerful, long sentences to get his point across.  Using his artistic talent, Jason Griffin grabbed those words and he chopped and stretched them.  Inserting his special touch, Jason manipulated those words, until he was left with a book that is equally part art and poetry.  To fully appreciate it, I read through it a few times.

 

It's the combination of art and verse that grabbed me.  The erratic use of language spread across this book, I thought for sure, it had to be more than three sentences for its message was worthy of a novel. I couldn’t help but feel the emotions this young man was experiencing and identify with his frame of mind.  Where is everyone?  Where was his own family?  His mother was physically glued to the TV, his father boxed in another room coughing, his brother lost inside his video games and the telephone was connected to his sister’s ear.  But, really where were they?  He’s looking for a sign in these individuals as his world spins relentlessly.  There’s too much going on and not enough solid answers, as the state of the world, the pandemic and his own world changes.  Why won’t his parents change the channel?  Why doesn’t anyone change the channel? An excellent hard-hitting question.

 

The contrasting use of color, the edgy images that spread across the page with the limited use of language allow this book to tap into your soul.  I felt energized yet also saddened as the truth this book conveyed hit me. This is not a book you should rush through but slow-down, appreciate those three sentences and the art that surrounds them.  Make sure you read Reynolds and Griffin section in the back of the book titled, “Is Anyone Still Here?”  I highly recommend this book.