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.    

 

 

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel - Bryn Greenwood
This novel, oh this novel. Wavy had no one to take care of her, to watch over her as she became the adult of the family. Not even double digits, silent Wavy cared for her younger brother while her parents lived in their own little world of drugs and alcohol. It was amazing how mature Wavy became, she was fighting for survival, fighting for a way out.
 
Kellen worked for Liam, Wavy’s father, in his illegal operation. Wavy met Kellen when she came upon him after his motorcycle accident and she got ran and got help for him. Kellen soon realized what type of life Wavy had been living and he stepped in to help. At first, it was little things like helping her keep the house clean, helping her get to school and being a positive person in her life. As the years passed, their relationship became closer and I became queasy as I didn’t like how chummy they were becoming. Kisses on the cheek, Kellen buying her things, Wavy hugging Kellen, and Kellen calling her, “Sweetheart,” this was becoming more than just a friendship. Normally not a big problem but the age factor comes into play here, Kellen is around 24 years old and Wavy is around 12. I thought things were progressing too fast for the maturity of the individuals involved.
 
Wavy is smart but she doesn’t talk (doesn’t like to do it) and she doesn’t like to be touched except for now, as Wavy and Kellen seem to be doing some touching which begins to stand out. Now, if Wavy had parents that were awake to what was happening in the world they would notice and step in but her parents are in their own little world and Wavy does what she pleases. It’s sad how things were progressing, I was hoping that time would speed up as everyone was living their lives dangerously and I knew sooner or later something was bound to happen, but to whom?
 
I wanted to cover my eyes and peek through my fingers, this whole novel was living on the edge. I understood Wavy and what she was doing and then, her little brother Donal, he seemed to be floating along on a raft, just there for the ride. What would happen to these small children as they marched out into the world? I couldn’t put this novel down as it pulled at my emotions and I found myself staying up all night to finish it. This was an intense, driven novel and not one that everyone will enjoy like I did.

 

The Someday Birds

The Someday Birds - Sally J. Pla
I want to recommend this book to anyone who likes novels that are fast-paced. I felt that the characters in this novel were constantly moving from one thing to another, always on the go. There wasn’t a lot of time to appreciate or analyze the situation they were currently in before they were onto the next best thing. I found this frustrating at times as a reader but I also understood they were on a journey, an adventure, and with a vanful of children, you need to live each day to its fullest. This novel is also geared towards children/middle school readers who like that continual change of scenery and this novel definitely provided that.
 
The story is told by twelve-year-old Charlie who has some OCD behaviors. He has an older sister and two younger brothers. His father, a journalist, came home from Afghanistan with a brain injury. I enjoyed that the story took off right away with Gram staying with the children while dad is getting treatment in the hospital. Dad is offered additional free treatment across the country where they decide he will go, with Gram accompanying him. The childcare situation doesn’t pan out and the strange woman who was visiting their father in the hospital ends up coming to their house to babysit. The kids decide then that they’re not staying with her and set out to be with their father. Road trip!
 
The fast road trip to reach their father ends up becoming a scenic drive as one thing leads to another. The children find themselves finishing their road trip in a dusty camper with a three-legged dog. You have to enjoy their adventure on this scenic drive as each individual has desires they want fulfilled along the way. It’s comical at times as they stop to enjoy the sights. Charlie’s obsession with birds, the twins’ obsession with anything that catches their eye, and Davis’ obsession with boys. I had to wonder if they would ever reach their father.
 
I thought the ending was super and one of the best parts of the novel. I liked how realistic the children felt and their interactions with one another. The mystery of Ludmila was a mixed bag for me. Why was she sent to watch the kids when they didn’t know who she was? I found this frustrating and that frustration grew the more I read about her until her relationship was finally revealed. I really liked the part where Davis shows Ludmila the flash drive, I got chills just reading this. I wished there would have been more depth to the characters, a chance to get to know them better.

 

Feral Youth

Feral Youth - Shaun David Hutchinson, Suzanne Young, Marieke Nijkamp, Robin Talley, Stephanie Kuehn, E. C. Myers, Tim Floreen, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Brandy Colbert
This wasn’t exactly the novel I was hoping it would be. The side stories by the different authors were nothing to scream about, I didn’t think, but the main story about the ten delinquents left out in the woods for three days was what, had my attention. I wanted more of this story, I wanted to know what became of them, I just wished the book contained more of their journey.
 
They had spent three weeks preparing for their three-day stint in the woods. The ten teenagers each have their own reasons for being a part of this outreach program, some more severe than others. Blindfolded on their drive in, the teens are dropped off in the woods and are given three days to reach their destination. In a perfect world, the teens would have used teamwork, cooperation, and survival skills to make it to the end but this is not a perfect world and we see that, the minute the van drives away. They were teens, they had egos and some immediately formed groups. Some just wanted to make it to the pick-up point and some just didn’t care. They had three days, just three days but to them, it was a lifetime.
 
Gio, the individual telling the story brought up the idea of the teens telling original stories after the teens started to argue about water. Yeah, some thought the idea was stupid until Gio offered up a hundred dollars for the story that he thought was the best. That shut them up and soon the stories began. Each of the stories were different, there was no central theme running throughout them. There was a bit of truth in a few of the stories, it just depended upon the individual who was speaking. Gio was right, it did keep them busy, their minds were occupied and they couldn’t wait to hear what someone else had to say.
 
I liked reading about the teens adventure. I found it interesting as a group how they tried to tackle this assignment. There was an injury along the way and seeing how the characters handled that situation said a lot for that character. People talk the talk but until you walk the walk, you never really know. They were all individual others thought (and a few of these teens thought) were delinquents, but were they really? I didn’t care for the stories that the teens told as they walked. I thought they were simple and juvenile. I kept hoping as I read that that next one would be better so I could pick the winner.

 

The Girl With The Red Balloon

The Girl with the Red Balloon - Katherine  Locke
What a great story! The story was very creative in using time-travel, balloons, and passengers. As they entered the underground cavern where the creative process was taking place, I couldn’t wait till they opened the door. I was all over that scene! I had this image, this impression all staked out in my head.
 
 
When Ellie arrives, I didn’t know what to think. She’s confused and my own mind was going as I wouldn’t know what to do either, if I was in her shoes. She’s no longer on a spring break trip with her classmates, she has traveled back in time. Ellie is in 1988 and she’s standing by the Berlin Wall. Ellie is witnessing history first-hand and yet she cannot mention how the world changes in the future, as no one knows these things but her. If she mentions the future, anything that anyone does based on her comment, could have drastic effects on the future. Ellie wants desperately to go home yet no one knows how she arrived. As they work on figuring out a way to get Ellie home, Ellie begins to fit in and build relationships. The answer for Ellie was not coming. I couldn’t see her staying but people began dying, people that had also time-traveled and they could not find a reason for that either.
 
I liked the concept for this novel. It took me a bit to understand what was really happening but once I understood it, I thought it was very interesting and I couldn’t put the novel down. I would have liked more of Benno’s story.
 
I won a copy of this novel from Albert Whitman Teen in their Albert Whitman & Company YA gift set. Thank you for this novel.

 

Emilia

Emilia - Ellie Midwood
Forced out of their home in Danzig, Poland, Emilia’s family was to take nothing of value with them to the Krakov ghetto where sickness and desperation greeted them. Medicine is now needed as her brother has the flu but they have no money. Emilia secretly takes one of the families prized possessions to a SS officers and he provides to them the medicine that they need. More exchanges are made, the essentials for survival are exchanged for their family’s possessions but soon their possessions are exhausted. The family does not know what they do now. Emilia approaches the officer and informs him that they are out of jewels but they still need his help. Emilia can’t get out of her mind the individuals who don’t make it in the ghetto as the officer tells her to open her coat. Reluctantly, she slowly begins to undo her coat, as his eyes are elsewhere. He then instructs her to lift up her shirt. Emilia pauses as she thinks about her family’s future. Slowly, she lifts the bottom of her shirt and lets her bare skin show.
 
Emilia has seen firsthand the destruction and ultimate death which occurs at the hands of the SS. They will stop at nothing to get what they want. She feels that what she doing is the only way to save her family and herself. The way she separated herself from the situation mentally was marvelous. I was angry and sicken by what was starting to develop but became more aggravated when the family was forced to move again and things became dreadful. The rape, the mind games, the harassment was an everyday occurrence. She learned that she had to walk or someone would walk over her, she had to have an ally or a group because she’d never make it alone, and she had to care or they’d take everything she had. Emilia was shaped by her experiences and they made her the adult she became later in life. I liked how the novel showed us her life after the war. 4.5 stars
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Ellie Midwood in exchange for an honest review.

 

Slow learning curve here

Trying to update the look of my page and I feel like I am getting no where. So if it looks weird, it's because I have NO idea what I am doing but I am trying.  I wanted one picture but it looks like I have multiple picture now. Hum?   I am working on getting rid of the white font color so its readable but this could take me a while....bear with me.  I found the page so my picture is not scrolling, I think I have that covered.  

 

I should have waited  a week to start this project.  My husband, my computer-helper is out of town this week.

A score for the reader

I used to buy used children's magazines and carry them in my subbing bag for when kids needed something to read.  The library I bought them from no longer sells them so I talked to the library where I volunteer at.  I asked them what they do with their outdated kids magazines since I don't see them at the sales.  I am the one who cleans/organizes this section of the main library twice a month, so I know what titles we carry.   They told me that sometimes, someone will ask them for a few of them but otherwise, they recycle them.   I hit pay dirt!!  I was excited now.  I asked if they could save them for me.  They asked how many I wanted and I told him, I wanted them all. No, I am not hoarding them too ( I can read some of your minds) :)

 

Yes, I am keeping some of them for my subbing bag but I do the summer reading outreach program (kindergarten - 6th) and I thought those kids would love to get some free magazines.  Then, if I get enough for our site and I have extra, I will pass them onto the other 4 summer sites.  If I get too many magazines, I can give them to elementary school counselors and teachers to give to kids to take home to read as some kids don't have books at home (great for summer reading).  I am really excited about this!

 

I just got my first haul.  I had to cross off the library information or peel it off but I got a great variety and a awesome amount.  It's a win-win for readers!

 

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner - Deborah Ellis, Rita Wolf
Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in Kabul. Her father was once a history teacher in this capital city of Afghanistan but the building was bombed and he is sick so he now makes money for the family from a blanket in the marketplace. Parvana accompanies her father to the market where he sells miscellaneous items and he reads letters for people who cannot read or write. As they sit there together, they talk and tell stories and her father yells to the patrons, “Anything written, anything read, Pashto and Dari. Beautiful items for sale.” I thought the time that these two spent alone together was priceless. I could still hear her father calling out to the people long after I had finished reading this novel, the words had created a poetic rhythm within me.
 
Then it happened, they came and arrested her father. Now, the there was no one to provide income for their family. Hearing the news, Parvana takes matters into her own hands and transforms herself into a boy so she can be the breadwinner. This is just one of the many instances where we see Parvana’s determination shine through.
 
I enjoyed how this graphic novel can tell this story so quickly and with such powerful emotions. Using captivating illustrations inside a wide variety of text box sizes this story is wonderful. I liked the short sentences that were used and how many times some of the text boxes had no sentences at all.

 

Last Ragged Breath

Last Ragged Breath: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels) - Julia Keller
The story began and ended with Golden, one of the many dogs that belonged to a man named Dillard who started his own life with a traumatizing event. While out on a walk, Golden discovers in the water, a body. Dillard is glad the guy is dead but he claims that he didn’t kill him. All the evidence points to Dillard and as Acker’s Gap’s new sheriff Harrison and prosecutor Bell build a case, Dillard sits in jail. This case is too nice and neat, it just doesn’t make sense.
 
There are many other avenues to this novel. Let’s glance into Dillard’s past. As a baby, Dillard was saved from a tragic event which took the lives of his parents. Dillard was living a secluded life until he got arrested, was his present lifestyle shaped because of his past? Dillard owns property which is needed for the future site of a multi-million-dollar resort which is being built in Acker’s Gap. Eddie has been harassing Dillard to sell the property but Dillard refuses. It was Eddie’s body that was found in the water. See, too nice and neat.
 
The individuals on this case also have their own issues that they are dealing with as they tie the ribbons on this nice case. I was hoping something would crack before they put Dillard in prison. I liked having Bell back (I thought in the last book she wasn’t in her game) as she had her inner turmoil’s back and she was off and running dealing with this case and her own personal issues. I liked this case and I liked how things flowed at the end. I can’t wait to get the new novel.

 

Dear Martin

Dear Martin - Nic Stone
As Justyce keeps a journal, making inquiries to Martin Luther King as to why his life is turning upside down, Justyce is confused on how to proceed forward. He sees these inequalities, these injustices that are based upon the color of his skin, and it infuriates him. But what can Justyce do about them and why can’t everyone else see them? As I listened to this novel, I can’t tell you how many times I said out loud, “What?
 
You have got to be kidding me?’ I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing through my speakers. I felt for Justyce as he tried to figure out what his next step would be. I was frustrated, angry and ticked as people tried to use their power to win. I know this is a problem that needs to be addressed and fixed and I am glad that this book addresses it. The truth of the matter is, no one is really listening. No one wants to listen, they are using their other senses but not really listening to what is happening or what occurred. I think this happens in the lives of other individuals too and not just African Americans.
 
All lives matter. Listen people, for once keep quiet and listen to the voices of those around you. They are important too. You just might learn something.
 
It’s a powerful novel and one that will surely make you think.

 

Robinson

Robinson - Peter Sís
The school is having their costume party and Peter wants to be a pirate like all his friends. They always play pirate together so it seems fitting that they would be pirates together but mother suggests to Peter that he be Robinson Crusoe, the hero from his favorite story. Crusoe is also a great adventurer and braver than any pirate so he decides to be Crusoe and his mother makes him an awesome costume. When Peter arrives at school, Peter’s excitement falls out the window as his friends make fun of him. Peter dashes home and that night as he dreams, Peter discovers an island. Since he is the famous adventurer Crusoe, he makes himself right at home and he knows exactly what to do on this strange island. As the days past, he settles in but as he looks out over the water, he spies something in the water. It is pirates! They are making landfall on his island. He hopes they are friendly pirates. What will happen when they arrive?
 
I really liked the pictures in this children’s book. Colorful and artsy, they highlight the story. Little Peter looks small amongst the island vegetation and I loved the pictures as he makes friends with the animals on the island. Great book about friendship and being original. I really liked the text font in this novel too.

 

Not so bad

I thought I would be dead by the time I finished my TBR pile but no,  if I don't add any more books to my pile, it will only take me about 11 years to get through my mammoth pile.   But, I don't live in a perfect world so it will never be gone as I am constantly adding to it.  

 

Here's the link to see how long it will take you to get through your current TBR pile:

 

http://www.readitforward.com/tbr-time/

 

All the feelings

Dear Martin - Nic Stone

I'm angry.......     

I'm frustrated.......

Only one more CD left to see how he deals with this issue, this time.  

Gods of Howl Mountain

Gods of Howl Mountain: A Novel - Taylor Brown
I only had to read a few pages and I found myself in the back hills of North Caroline, on Howl Mountain. Rory is living with his granny and the two of them make special trips to see his mother who is living in a special home because of an event that occurred that no one likes to talk about. That’s what it’s like here on the mountain. Everything is on a need-to-know basis. Rory would like to know all the details and he will know, when the time is right. Granny makes her own homemade tinctures, remedies and potions for whatever may ail you and the folks come from many of miles to ask for granny’s help with their ailments.
 
Whiskey is the name of the game here up on the mountain and Rory is a runner for the drink. Since coming back from the war with his leg injury, Rory has been working for Eustace while trying to keep his dreams (or nightmares) at bay. Eustace lives with Rory and Granny since he also came back from the war. Eustace has a great setup here on the mountain with his concealed stills and his loyal crew. Some people want a piece of Eustace business and Eustace isn’t just handing it over. Meanwhile, Rory has been eyeing the preacher’s daughter, he just can’t get past her green eyes. The mountain contains many secrets and stories, some that cannot be told until the time is right.
 
I love stories about the Appalachian Mountains region. I love how dark and mysterious these stories can get, how the past and present twist around each other as the story unfolds. This novel webbed and flowed as I read it, sometimes picking up in pace and excitement and other times, I sat with granny on the front porch, as she smoked her pipe, and waited for the spirits to arrive at night. Descriptive language filled me as I read, I heard the colored glass bottles clinking as they hung from the old tree out front and I saw them all gathered together at the church, their arms lifted, some speaking in tongues, as they danced amongst themselves, worshipping their God. Another great novel about a time and place in history featuring individuals living their own lives on a mountain with its own rules.
 
I received a e-copy of this novel from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest opinion. Thank you for allowing me to read this novel.
 
I also won a physical copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaways. I am thrilled to get a physical copy of this novel so I can reread it. Thank you Goodreads!

 

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill - Megan Shepherd
You don’t have to truly understand everything that was taking place in this novel to truly enjoy it. The more that I thought about this novel, the more that I understood the essence of the novel and the more I loved it. It’s a journey that begins when Emmaline discovers what lies within the mirrors of Briar Hill Hospital. This hospital was once the home of a princess but is now the home to children with stillwaters (tuberculosis). Emmaline and her roommate Anna are the only two individuals who claim they can see what is in the mirrors, a secret that they now share privately. Emmaline tries to fit in amongst the other children but since her comment the first day about what she saw in the mirrors, some children have been antagonizing her. As she escapes one such taunting, she dashes beyond the kitchen terrace, where no children are allowed, to a place where she feels safe.
 
It can’t be. One of the images from the mirror has slipped through to her world and now stands before her. It is wounded though. It’s a magical and emotional time as Emmaline is faced with decisions regarding the winged horse from the mirror. Anna, her roommate is slowly dying and Emmaline has been told to keep calm around her yet the excitement and intensity of this new development is hard to keep contained. Anna is the only person who she can share this excitement with and she wants to tell Anna everything. As Emmaline sleeps, she hears hoofprints on the roof and realizes that it cannot be her winged horse as it was injured. Checking on the horse the next day, she finds a note from The Horse Lord. He asks Emmaline help in protecting the injured horse Foxfire, from the Black Horse who is out to hurt her. He leaves Emmaline instructions, if she is willing to help. This is a huge responsibility with the war going on and a huge risk for Emmaline. It was an intense and exciting journey as the rest of the novel played out.
 
I fell head first into the magical elements of this story. I enjoyed Emmaline’s commitment to do what she thought was right and how creative she was. Her age showed as she sometimes acted before she thought things through and I loved how she acted from her heart. This was a beautiful story, a story that you will not forget when you close the final pages. I think it would make an excellent bedtime story or a read aloud. I can’t wait to share it with others.

 

Wish

Wish - Barbara O'Connor
I thought this novel was super sweet. As I listened to the audio, I could feel the frustration and the anger as Charlie is taken from her home and plopped right down in the middle of nowhere. She isn’t staying, this sorry place of a town is not for her. This is hillbilly country! She’s just there until her mother gets better and her father gets corrected and did you see the house she’s staying in? It’s hanging off the side of the mountain, for goodness sakes!  Don’t let Charlie get started on the kids in her school because they’re just as different as they could come, there’s no one like her old friend Jackie. This is only temporary, only until her parents get better. Charlie needs to keeps making her daily wishes, she has to, she can’t stop now.
 
Charlie is determined to go back home. Nothing in Colby is like it is back home even when things are going well. Charlie needs to believe that someday she will be going home and in her mind, going home creates a rosy picture even if deep down inside, she knows better. Living now with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus, they try to create a warm, cozy experience for her but Charlie doesn’t want to settle in, she fights it. Most of the children at school welcome her with open arms. She fights their ways but the longer she stays in Colby, the more comfortable she becomes. A stray dog become an obsession and with help, they soon have him on a leash and she has a new friend. It finally comes, a phone call from her mother, the call that she has been waiting for finally arrives but now, is Charlie ready to go back home? Where is her home now?
 
Charlie was such a typical child that she won my heart over. She wasn’t angry at her current situation nor did she take advantage of it, she was waiting for things to work themselves out. People had explained things to her and she believed them, she knew no different. She had a terrific mindset and an ability to think for herself. She knew what she wanted, she just didn’t know how to achieve it. Heck, she had been wishing for the same thing for years and hadn’t given up on it. Wishing every day! Wishing on crickets, wishing on butterflies, yellow railroad cars, lightening bugs, three birds sitting on a wire, etc. this girl had oodles of things she could wish on. I loved listening to Charlie talk about her new life and the individuals around her. She had me laughing a few times as she went on about them and things they did and what she thought about it. The ending, as things played out, I wasn’t sure who was happier as the dust settled. I know the story is not over for Charlie as there is much more out in the world for her to explore.

 

Professional ReaderReviews Published80%2015 Challenge Participant2016 NetGalley Challenge200 Book Reviews