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Sandy S
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Once Upon An Oak Tree
Once Upon An Oak Tree

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Somebody I Used To Know 5 stars Nonfiction Memoir
Thank you, Wendy for sharing your story, for letting us honestly see how this disease affects a person. I inhaled this novel in one afternoon as Wendy described how at age fifty-eight, her once active life was coming unraveled. I read as she slowly described how her world was changing, how the things that she loved to do were now becoming complicated. To think that at age fifty-eight, this disease was slowly creeping into her life, that this was only the beginning. Wendy’s attitude and resilience made this novel, a winner for me. She didn’t sit back and wait for the disease to consume her nor did she want a pity party as her challenging lifestyle was now coming unraveled. Wendy made modifications where she could and she strived to make a difference.

I was touched when I read this memoir. From her first confused thought to reading her blog, I am grateful that she is taking the time to write and let individuals know firsthand about Alzheimer’s. Since Wendy was diagnosed at the beginning stages of it, reading about the progression of the disease and her thoughts on it, I can understand her challenges and frustrations. Like Wendy said, this is a silent disease. No one can see it so they don’t understand when they can see the symptoms but they don’t know the diagnosis. No one wants to tell everyone their health history nor do they want to explain themselves when things go wrong. So what is a person to do?

I liked how Wendy made adjustments to her lifestyle so she could still enjoy life. From her house to traveling, Wendy saw the obstacles and she tried to find ways to solve them. She wanted to keep working, she tried to keep working but sometimes we don’t see what’s best until later. Who could she tell of her diagnosis? You tell the wrong person and they avoid you like the plague or you tell the right person and they’ll be there for you.

I cringed when she moved, as I thought for sure she would get lost coming home or just the house itself, for there were tons of issues she could have in a house that she was not familiar with. Wendy saw the obstacles in her new house and well, Wendy tackled them and I laughed, she solved them in Wendy fashion.

I really enjoyed Wendy’s memoir and I look forward to reading her blog. I highly recommend this novel for its insight its honesty, and for learning more about Wendy.

“Life doesn’t have to be dull and risk-free just because you have dementia.”
Somebody I Used to Know
Somebody I Used to Know
barnesandnoble.com
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Niblet & Ralph 4.5 stars Children's
It's a cute children's book about two cats who look-alike who live in the same apartment building. The owners, Gemma and Dilla, don't know that their cats have been talking to each other as these two kids don't know each other. One day Niblet decides to visit Ralph but when Niblet gets to Ralph's house, he is gone. The funny thing is that, this is the same day that Ralph has decided to visit Niblet and when Ralph gets to Niblet's house, Niblet is not there. Both cats decide just to wait for their friend to arrive home. At each house, Gemma and Dilla arrive home and they find a cat waiting which they believe is their cat (since both cats look alike). The kids both discover that something is not right with the cats, that are at their house, because they are not acting like their normal cats yet they look like what their cat looks like. The two kids need to find a way to solve this mystery and when they do, they both discover a new friend.

It's a cute book that covers similarities and differences. I liked the simple sentences and the way the kids solve the problem on their own. I really liked the cardstock paper that the book is written on, for it makes for a durable read. i thought the illustrations were cute and bright. I thought it was cute that the cover of the book almost matches the back of the book, that was very clever!
Niblet & Ralph
Niblet & Ralph
barnesandnoble.com
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The Lies They Tell 4 stars YA
Pearl’s father says he wasn’t drinking the night the house burned down, he says he was doing his job, it was just a typical night but, on his watch, the Garrison property went up in flames. Surprisingly, there were no leads in this case so everyone pointed their finger at her father. There was one lone survivor, a boy named Tristan, who now lives inside his own little world.

Pearl wants to get to the bottom of what happened the night of the fire and it seems the only way to do that is to befriend Tristan. Pearl believes her father when he says that he was not under the influence the night of the fire. Since that night, her father finds refuge at the local tavern or at home, with a bottle in his hand. The town that he once called home has now turned their back on him. I felt that Tristan had an air about him which I found annoying but Pearl had other objectives and she worked her way into his circle. She needed the truth to get her own family back on track.

This novel wasn’t the thriller that I thought it would be but it was enticing. There were times in the novel though where things slowed down but later they did pick back up. The more I read, the more “I” wanted to know the truth behind that night as something felt out of place. Tristan was somber, and who wouldn’t be after losing everything they had in a fire, but there was something about him I didn’t like. I liked Pearl as she was determined to get to the bottom of this terrible crime. Her father had now become an alcoholic and an embarrassed member of the community. I thought the ending was interesting, it definitely tied everything together.

I received a copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway- thank you to the publisher and to Goodreads.
The Lies They Tell
The Lies They Tell
barnesandnoble.com
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Realistic Fiction 5 stars Realistic Fiction
I couldn’t get this novel out of my head! I woke up at 3 am just so I could finish it. I had to know what happened to Joon and her new street friends. After living with her loser of a foster mother, I was afraid what would become of Joon. She was just becoming familiar with living on the street and learning who she could trust out on her own. Life on the street was a new experience for her and each day provided new struggles and sometimes, she got to experience happiness.

Both of Joon’s parents died suddenly and she finds herself in foster care. Her foster mother is extremely mean to Joon, both verbally and physically. Aaron has two son’s and one of them follows in his mother’s footsteps as he also abuses Joon. The other son wants to help Joon but feels powerless in the situation. After many years of abuse, Joon finds an opportunity to escape and she heads to the street. Innocent and not street-smart, the street becomes an obstacle for her. It’s complicated and hard out on her own but she knows eventually it will be better than where she came from.

I enjoy reading stories of this nature. Heartfelt stories that push my emotions and show me inside a life that is so different than my own. The novel moved quickly, oh so quickly. Joon experiences are extensive before she becomes an adult, much more than anyone of us would experience in a lifetime. I really enjoyed reading this story and I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Fiction With Meaning, LLC. in exchange for an honest review.
Never Be Alone
Never Be Alone
barnesandnoble.com
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Where Have All The Girls Gone 3.5 stars Realistic Fiction
Anticipation, this is what I felt as I listened to this novel. It was the perfect addition as I walked the exercise trails and pushed the mower across our yard, this novel kept me moving. The short chapters, the small list of characters and the enticing storyline had me speeding through these activities.

The novel began when Charlotte was house-sitting for her stepsister, Jocelyn and receives a package addressed to Jocelyn. Charlotte discovers that the sender of this package has been killed. Attempting to notify Jocelyn of this information, Charlotte realizes that her stepsister is not where she is supposed to be. It seems that Jocelyn is not on the retreat she “supposedly” took. Troubled, Jocelyn hires a P.I. to help her locate her missing stepsister. Working together, Charlotte and Max discover that Jocelyn and a few of her friends had put together their own side business. Piecing together this puzzle, death comes calling again. This death is also linked to the side business Jocelyn was a part of. The partners are being eliminated as Charlotte and Max try to connect the dots.

I liked the short chapters and how things moved along quickly in the novel. I enjoyed how Charlotte worked alongside Max during the investigation. Charlotte knew things about her stepsister which helped move the investigation along faster. There was a romance building between Charlotte and Max and I was glad that it didn’t take center stage. Although some of the story was predictable, there were parts of the story that weren’t. 3.5 stars
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All Night With the Cowboy 5 stars fiction
This is the second book in this series but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this cowboy as this novel acts like a standalone. I enjoyed this novel just as much as I enjoyed the first one. As they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas well, what happens in Fuji was more than both parties had planned. They couldn’t contain what happened in Fuji to just Fuji, so what happened in Fuji followed them home.

They were high school sweethearts until Lauren called it off suddenly. Tanner took the break-up hard and has held a grudge against Lauren for years. Lauren couldn’t tell Tanner exactly why she broke up with him but her feeling towards him have never changed. It is now twelve years later and Tanner has just taken a hard fall. A well-known professional bull rider, Tanner has made his way to the top again only to be trampled by his competitor, Thunder Cat. After hospitalization, Tanner needs therapy from what the bull has done to his body and he needs the best. After some negotiation from both parties, it is agreed that Tanner will meet Lauren in Fuji where she was headed for vacation. Tanner will get his therapy and they both will enjoy some needed vacation, separately.

Lauren is all professional and business-like when they meet which disturbs Tanner. Tanner wants to air out the past and then move forward, whereas Lauren just wants to start Tanner’s therapy and enjoy her time in Fuji. It doesn’t take long for Tanner to make the first move on Lauren and the hardheaded woman, reciprocates. It’ funny how Lauren tries to get all professional again but her mind and body are thinking something totally different. After some serious thought the two of them come up with a plan. Why not have some fun in Fuji and then leave it in Fuji? Their time there is, well you can imagine. When it is time to head back into reality, it’s time to put the brakes on this adventure and get back to work. Afterall, they both have respectable jobs that they have worked hard to achieve.

Lauren goes back home to her job and Tanner goes to his parent’s ranch where he can get some assistance while he continues healing. Being in close proximity to each other has its advantages and disadvantages as now, they can’t put the past few weeks behind them. They each know that they have pressing job with major commitments to attend to. Being together is complicated but together they have a great connection and they are good together. Do they really have a future together or are they just kidding themselves?

I liked the seriousness of the characters and the fun that they had together. I liked how they were devoted to their careers and how they strived to achieve their goals. I liked how mature they were when thinking about their lives and reality, sure they could have some fun while on vacation but they both decided it would be short-lived and they both were willing to do that. It was a fun novel. I really enjoyed reading it. I suggest you read the first novel in the series also but it is not necessary to enjoy this one.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
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Call Me By Your Name
DNF Fiction
I couldn’t do it. I listened to 4 CD’s of this 7-pack novel and I finally had to stop. It was just too painful for me to continue. I think it was a combination of the main character and the narrator.

There was just too much inner turmoil and reflection on the part of the main character Elio, that I found myself yelling at him to “Do something!” This poor teen was overthinking situations, concealing his feeling, and living inside his head. As I listened, it seemed that everything was happening inside Elio’s head and I got tired of listening to his turmoil. The narrator’s voice carried on as he followed Elio’s struggles and I soon got tired of both of them. Elio couldn’t seem to find his voice in this novel yet the person who did speak, the narrator, had a voice I didn’t care for on this novel. Moving on…

Didn’t rate the novel since I didn’t finish it.
Call Me by Your Name
Call Me by Your Name
barnesandnoble.com
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Neverworld Wake 3 stars YA
What was that? I went into this novel thinking that I was going to read something mysterious and creepy but it was nothing like that, this novel was different. I found myself chuckling at times, puzzled and analytical at others and even shocked as I followed the fate of these young college students. This novel kept me on my toes.

The novel begins with a group of college students who reunite to celebrate a birthday. In high school, they were the “in-crowd” and while in high school, one in their group dies, his death is ruled a suicide. Beatrice, cannot seem to get past this specific tragedy, the night that her boyfriend died. As this group gathers and the conversations swells, Jim becomes a topic of discussion. When a knock at the door distracts the party, the individual behind the door transforms the whole group. They think that the words that leave the man’s lips are nonsense yet as the sun rises the next morning, the calendar date stays the same.

It was like Groundhog Day only these characters had a different objective, they wanted more information into Jim’s death. I cringed as the “wakes” occurred and the character’s antics became costlier. I feared how it would all play out in the end and I even wondered how they would find their answer. I heard in my head, the song “I Got You Babe” as I read through their “wakes” and I found myself laughing yet their struggles felt real and their answers were slow to materialize. I have mixed feeling about the ending. I liked how it ended but part of it felt cheesy to me. I started to question the sci-fiction part of the novel and the characters themselves. It was definitely a unique novel and one that I am glad that I read.

I received a copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway- thank you so much for sharing this title with me.
Neverworld Wake
Neverworld Wake
barnesandnoble.com
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True Stories of World War II
4 stars Children's
This was very interesting and it had a lot of information inside it. This is a 31-page graphic novel, containing 6 chapters. Five of those chapters hold true stories of individuals who served during WWII. The author includes in this novel a glossary, an index, and a separate page where he listed books and internet websites where you could also go for more information on this topic. This graphic novel shows the war from many viewpoints.

At the beginning of this graphic novel you get a brief overview of World War II with some key dates and a map. With each soldier’s graphic story, you get a small paragraph about the soldier and a portrait of them before their graphic account begins. Each story is different as one soldier shares their story of the Bataan Death March, another soldier was an Aviation Pioneer, one was a French Freedom Fighter, one shares their Disaster at Sea story and we also hear the story of the Flag Over Iwo Jima. No story is better than the other yet I think, as a reader some of these stories will affect you differently than others. I’m pretty sure at least one of these stories will hit upon your emotions.

These stories were easy to follow and they typically covered 4-6 pages each. Gunfire does take place in this novel, this is war afterall, but I didn’t see anything overly graphic or overplayed in the novel. I thought the details in the illustrations were really good as they showed what needed to be shown and implied the rest. I liked the colors that were used inside this novel. Each story had its own shade of coloring, and none of them were bright. From Army Green to a blue-green to light tan, each story was unique.

I think this is a good graphic novel for mature teen readers. This is history and teens need to hear these stories and learn from them.
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Mummies! 3.5 stars Children's
I was pretty impressed how much information was packed into this 22-page graphic novel. It doesn’t go into much depth about mummies in general but it does give you some specific information about King Tut’s Mummy. I picked this graphic novel up as I was hoping for some general information about mummies and about the junior series but instead I got details on one specific mummy, which was ok. This novel is part of the Junior Graphic Monster Stories and I was interested in how “junior” it really was.

The first four pages of this graphic novel has general information and after that, the story shifts into talking about King Tutankhamen’s mummy. I did learn a few things while reading this graphic novel so it was well worth the read. The illustrations were easy to follow and they were colorful. The story was not graphic or scary in nature. The author talks about search for King Tutankhamen’s mummy, the tomb, its discovery, the curse surrounding the tomb, and individual’s thoughts today about the curse. At the back of the book, there is a glossary and a page containing more information about mummies. I was hoping to learn more information about mummies in general but I was happy to learn more about King Tut’s mummy and I was glad that the book wasn’t graphic. Perhaps the book should be called King Tutankhamen’s tomb as it’s centered around him. I think that most children will be able to read this novel and not be creeped out about it.
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