I loved it so much! The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-El

5 stars Children’s/Middle School

I absolutely loved The Very, Very Far North!  Immediately after finishing it, I had to know if this was going to be a series, as I didn’t want this to be the end of Duane and his adventures in the Far Far North.  This story captured my attention immediately and entertained me until I turned the very last page (make sure you read the letter from Duane at the very end).  Filled with engaging adventures and exciting stories, this book made me laugh, smile, and touched my heart.

It wasn’t until after I read the book, did I read what others thought of this book.  I have to agree with what many other readers reported, this book does have that Winnie the Pooh feel to it.  As Duane makes himself comfortable in his new home in the Very, Very Far North, Duane has that comfortable, quizzical state about him and the adventures that he has, are quite fun and enlightening.

Duane loves three things in life: napping, eating, and exploring.  For Duane, the polar bear, finding C.C. and the shipwreck was the perfect beginning for him.  He learns and forms so many great friendships in the Very, Very Far North, I’m so glad that he went.

As they have new experiences, met new friends, and help each other, I enjoyed that there was no major rivalry or conflicts between them.  Any struggles that they did have, were addressed, handled and then the parties dropped it.  I also liked that each individual in the book was different and had their own personality.  I really loved the way the book was written; it was reader friendly as the text spoke to you. I think young readers will enjoy this.

I can’t wait to read more about Duane, Major Puff, Magic, C.C., Sun Girl, Boo, Twitch, and Handsome in the next book. I’m really hooked on this book and think it would make a great read aloud for elementary-age children.  I can’t wait to share it with others. 

If you have young children, pick this one up.  If you have grandchildren or work in a school-setting with young children, this is one you will want to look into.  It definitely is a keeper!

“You or I might have responded to a polar bear crashing into our home with a little more alarm, perhaps. I won’t speak for you, but I would definitely have screamed at least once, or five times.”

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audio)

5 stars Fiction

This was remarkable! I listened to this book on audio and I actually feel sorry for the people who read the book, I really do!  With all the different individuals in the novel and how they constantly popped in and out of the conversation, I think reading this book would have been confusing to me.  Whatever you do, read this book!  I thought for sure, I was right back in the 70’s and thought I should be playing their record. Are we sure this story is fiction?

I’m not going to rehash the whole story for you, as most of you have already heard it and if you haven’t, the deal is…..if you liked the 70’s music scene, you will enjoy this novel.  It’s got music, friendships, family, passion, drugs, sex (just a bit), insecurities, heartaches, and lots of drama.

It felt as if, the group occurred by accident. They fed off one another and at times, you could feel them pushing and pulling each other away.  They were meant to be together yet at times, they mixed like oil and water.  The sound they created was like no other, for what they played were not just words on paper but feelings that were hard to contain.

I couldn’t wait to get back to this novel once I started it.  As the group struggled, I didn’t cheer for any specific individual, I wanted the whole group to make it through to the top.  I struggled with them through each drink, through each quarrel, and through each pill that was popped and each line that was consumed because I knew that all of these effected the group. And this group, I wanted to succeed. With each success, I was proud and couldn’t wait for the next one. I can’t tell you how many times I had to remind myself that this novel was fiction as I found myself drawn into the story, for I felt with this narration, they each were talking about their past.  Go, Six and Go, Daisy!    

Here is just a taste of the audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKRB2lAuipY

Small Things by Mel Tregonning

5 stars Mental Health Children’s Picture Book

I know that just about everyone has dealt with the feelings that the boy in the book encounters.  What I didn’t know was the impact this picture book/graphic novel would have on me as it, blew me away. Containing no words, this book carries a strong, important message that I feel that children and adults can relate to.  I feel that this book needs to read together, at least the first time through, because there are many issues that this boy addresses that an adult should talk with a child about to make sure they understand what is truly happening.  

Life becomes overwhelming for this young boy and immediately, I start to see things piling up for him.  He’s not fitting in at school even though he tries, his grades at school are falling, and at home, he’s angry at those who are there for him. Life is not good. 

With powerful, black-and-white illustrations set in graphic novel format, this fantastic, wordless, picture book tells the story of a boy burdened with anxiety that literally, begins to eat at him.  I liked the concept of the emotion eating at him because this is what I typically say when I talk about some emotions so to actually see it, was very effective. The emotions begin to arrive in many places where he encounters his difficulties and then they continue following behind him, in the illustrations.  The boy notices the bites which occur on his arms, pants and his head. The emotions have no particular shape but are just random wiggly shapes and they seem to multiple. 

I just felt for the boy and I understood completely what he was going through.  Day-in and day-out, the same old and nothing was getting better.  Just looking at the illustrations, and watching the boy, you felt his despair.  Those eyes! The cracks on his face!  Who is going to help him!?  Then, a door opens and the look. 

I think reading it more than once and seriously looking at the illustrations is a must.  You definitely need to check out this book.  I highly recommend it.  

Author:   https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/23/shaun-tan-completes-graphic-novel-after-authors-suicide-her-absence-made-me-try-even-harder

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

5 stars YA

I can’t believe I haven’t written this review yet.  This book pulled me in and swallowed me whole! It had that spiral effect and as I saw Mickey spiraling down and down, I wanted to just cry. As I flipped the pages, I found myself yelling, cursing, and shaking my head at her because she was sinking and going under fast.  Someone had to save her, didn’t they?

They were both great students and softball players.  Carolina was the team’s pitcher and Mickey was the catcher, they made a great duo. Then suddenly, it happened. A car accident leaves both girls in the hospital, one teen more injured than the other. 

Carolina’s injury to her arm should be healed by the beginning of softball season but Mickey’s leg injury is more serious. With weeks of therapy ahead of her Mickey is determined to be ready, even if it about kills her.

With the best therapists beside her, Mickey begins pushing herself and her body. The lies begin rolling off her lips because there is nothing that can come between Mickey and her softball. Mickey discovers that the doctor’s prescription of Oxy helps with more than just pain and her bottle drains too quickly.  It isn’t too long before Mickey realizes that she is becoming, “one of those people” but she feels that her pain is just too much to bear without her meds.

It’s all the justifications that Mickey offers in this novel that makes this novel stand out.  How she rationales her continued drug use, the persistent lies, her bold behavior, and her future.  It’s a never-ending cycle, one that just escalates, if you really paying attention.   

This novel is a horrible look at addiction but also shows a very realistic side of it.  Surrounded by friends, Mickey begins to find another world to walk in as she finds her current world too difficult.  She needs to find a place that will accept the new Mickey and she can be herself. It’s sad how quickly she becomes a part of her new community.

I really liked this novel as it showed the effects of drugs on a person and their life.  For the most part, I thought it portrayed an accurate picture (although I have never gone through it myself).  I am surprised that her family and friends didn’t play a more active role in her life during this time as they knew she was recovering from her accident.  One of my favorite reads so far this year, dealing with this subject matter.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

5 stars Fiction

I loved this novel! Give me an author that can write and some individuals living off the grid and I am happier than a fox in a henhouse. I’m glad that I didn’t read many detailed reviews on this novel and although I hesitated to buy the novel, I’m glad that I forked over the money because I am definitely going to reread it in the future.  As soon as I finished reading this novel, I was dancing all over the house, as this novel was one of those novels that got down deep inside me.  I had to give my hubby a quick play-by-play of what happened, the words just came tumbling out.

The more that I read, the more I admired Kya.  I loved how she managed to live in the marsh all those years, basically by herself. I wondered as she commented about the amount of time that she spent in school, if those comments were her own crafty way to address the individual that she had become.  Over the years, Kya had indeed inquired quite the skills and strength living in the marsh, and I think to a point, she was hardened. 

I enjoyed how the two stories slowly came together in the novel. There were moments that I became worried about Kya’s maturity level as relationships developed and times that Kya surprised me when her actions went beyond what I had expected. 

This was a fantastic novel that I highly recommend if you haven’t read it yet.