Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pen to Paper: Incoming Mail

Good morning everyone! Hope you have been having a good week! It has been a little hectic around here this week and while I am looking forward to an awesome weekend, I am kind of ready for it to be over.   Anyway, last week I shared with you a picture of some of my outgoing mail from earlier this month, so here is my incoming mail from the last 2 weeks.
The large envelope in the back is from a pen pal in Germany who just recently returned from her summer vacation, she always sends amazing details about her trips, it is fun to read about places I can only imagine traveling too.  The blue envelope is from a brand new pen pal in Brazil, this is her first letter to me and I am looking forward to getting to know her more! The brown envelope is from a pen pal here in the US that I haven't heard from in several months because of personal reasons, but I continued to send her postcards and letters, she was so thankful that just because she couldn't write for several months I didn't give up on her; I am so glad to hear from her again and that we will be able to continue the friendship we started nearly a year ago.  The adorable purple butterfly envelope is from a pen pal in the UK, she is one of my most loyal and fast responding pen pals, I love that we have such a short wait between letters from each other (usually less than 2 weeks even with mail travel time!). And the postcard on the top was a postcrossing post card from Germany, this was her second card since it seems her first was lost in the mail :( but I am glad she was kind enough to send me a new one without me even knowing!
I have some really amazing friends all over the world and I love finding these little bits of happiness in my mailbox!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Books To Read Before the End of the Year

Top 5 Wednesday is a group on Goodreads hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tome on Youtube.
I can't even remember the last time I have done one of these (or if I really ever have?) but I have been really enjoying Sam's videos every week so I finally caved when I saw this week's topic.  Speaking of the topic. . . .
Top 5 Books I want to read before the end of the year
Tale of Elske will complete this 4 book series that has had me pretty wrapped up all summer. It has been a unique reading experience with its slow pacing and epic journeys.  While it is fantasy, there hasn't been any magic or mystical creatures, just normal people accomplishing normal tasks that lead to amazing things.  I am really curious as to where this last book with take me.
Telep the Diamond is the third book in a fantasy series by a local author. I have really enjoyed the previous two books and am looking forward to reading this one. So far this series has had all the elements you expect in a fantasy series, elves, magic both good and dark, an unusual cast of characters coming together and an epic quest to save the kingdom.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I had picked this book up at my local bookstore quite a while ago, before I even embarked on my focused letter writing. I have really been enjoying my journey with my pen pals and am looking forward to reading this book too.
I received Vienna Nocturne in my first BookCase Club box and it sounds like an amazing book and the cover is so beautiful that it draws my eye every time I look at my bookshelves.  I also think that the reading of this book will need a soundtrack and I am looking forward to this reading experience.
The Girls of Mischief Bay is the first book in a series by Susan Mallery, an author I have really enjoyed in the past.  I think from reading the synopsis that this book will really speak to the place I am in my life right now, and my relationship with friends and family.
I had to add one more honorable mention too
The Madman's Daughter is a book that has been sitting on my TBR for far too long. I have always been a huge fan of the Island of Dr. Moreau and am really intrigued as to what spin this book is going to put on the story of the island.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tea Time Tuesday: Out for Tea (and Brunch)

This is a new series of blog posts to share my love of tea and some discoveries I am making as I dive more into that love. (And honestly, what goes better with books than a nice cup of tea?)
I have talked a bit in the past about this little tea house I go to on occasion that really got me into drinking tea, especially loose leaf.  Well, I finally got to go again recently (it has been nearly a year). A very good friend and I went to brunch to celebrate her birthday and I took a few pictures for you!
This is the Tree House Tavern (they have a bunch of micro brews). The yellow portion was the original little bistro that originally served the tea. It has changed names and owners a few times but thank goodness they have maintained their awesome tea list.
Here is 2 of the 4 page tea list. You can have tea by the cup or by the pot. You can also buy the loose tea by the scoop to take home with you (Monks Blend on the first page is one of my favorites)
This time I picked out the Wedding Blend, it was a hot day so I wanted just a mug and something light and fruity. This one was perfect!
 And I just have to show you the amazing brunch because it was fantastic! Crepes filled with chicken, spinach and mushrooms with a hollandaise sauce and rosemary potatoes (and of course a mimosa). 

Anyway, this has become my cozy little hideaway. There is something about the atmosphere, tea, food and often company that just releases the stress and makes me relaxed and happy.
Do you have a special place you go for tea?

Review of The Hike by Steven Manchester

Read For: Bout of Books & I love Steven Manchester's books
Note: This was a free download offered back in March, I don't believe it is available for sale on any sites currently).
Synopsis: Billy and his dog Jimmy set out for a lazy day hike, it is an opportunity for them to spend some quiet time together. Also for Billy to ponder the upcoming changes in his life as he nears high school graduation and all the choices he must make in the near future. An emergency situation changes that calm and lazy day in a way neither could have imagined at the start of it.
My Review: This is a short read and a prequel to The Changing Season, seeing as I have already read Changing Season I knew what the end would hold but that didn't stop me from getting emotional as the story unfolded. Manchester has this ability to grab your attention and emotions, connecting the story and characters with you in a very deep and meaningful way. Even though this is a quick story it still held a well rounded out plotline and full characters, you are left feeling satisfied but curious as to the full story.
My Rating: I was trying to find a different book in my kindle library when I saw this one (I had forgotten it was downloaded), but I am so glad I opened this one. As always, Steven Manchester, managed to bring some tears to my eyes and feel a depth of connection I am not always able to find, especially with short stories.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 29 - Christmas in Camelot

Welcome to Magic Tree House Monday!

Each Monday (other than when special events are planned) I will review one book of the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne.
Book 29 starts what are known as the Merlin Missions and are geared towards a slightly older audience and more experience readers, more for Middle Grade Readers. It has been months since Jack and Annie saw either the Tree House or Morgan but when the Tree House comes back they travel to cold and quiet Camelot with no plans to celebrate Christmas. Jack and Annie need to use their imagination and bravery in a quest to save the kingdom and King Arthur.
My Review: This book marks the beginning of the Merlin Missions in the Magic Tree House Series which are starting to be geared towards a slightly older and more experienced reader audience. This book is slightly longer in page count but the print seems to be larger and there seem to be more illustrations in this book (at least in my edition). The story itself takes a little more imagination, there are a lot of fantasy elements whereas the previous books in the series have been based on actual events and places with slight embellishment. All in all it is a great continuation to the series and I am curious to see how the rest of it develops and advances.
My Rating: I enjoyed this book, it is really the first time that you get a real fantasy element to the book. It is still a pretty easy read for younger readers but the storyline is more complicated but it shouldn't be a challenge for kids who have already been following the series.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws.

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Tale of Oriel by Cynthia Voigt
Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
Monsters One to Ten by Emily Thompson (Early Reader)
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems (Bedtime Story)
Threat of Peace: Star Wars Old Republic Vol. 2 by Rob Chestney (Graphic Novel)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Christmas in Camelot = 5pts
The Giver = 5pts
War Dogs = 3pts
Threat of Peace = 3pts
Charlie Goes to the Doctor = 1pt
Currently Reading:

Everywhere and Every Way by Jennifer Probst - Audio - 61%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
   211 points + 17 points earned = 228 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 923
Total Points Spent this Year: 699

Pages Read/ Time Listened
174:18 Hours Listened (None listened this week)
31,872 Pages Read (690 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


I had hoped to read so much more this last week but it has gotten insanely busy at the office and at home. I have the Bout of Books Readathon going on right now but I am starting to have doubts of much success. We have officially entered my insanely busy time of year!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bout of Books #17 Readathon Sign Up and Updates

It has been too long since the last readathon I participated in and even though this is landing on not the greatest week for me (prepping for our big summer bash this weekend) I couldn't resist signing up!
Here is the information you need in case you want to sign up too!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

So this post is going to be my base for the week, I will continue to come back and update it each day with my progress (as I already have a lot of posts planned for this week and don't want things too jumbled up).  I will also be updating via twitter at @EasternSunset9


Time Devoted to Reading

I would like to read between 3-4 hours each day and read about 200 pages each day.
Averaging about 1.5 hours and work and another 1.5-2.5 at home after Munchkin goes to bed.

My Goals

Read a total of 1,200 pages
Read at least 3 hours each day
Complete at least 1 requested review
Read 10 books

Books to Read



Number of Pages I've read today: 183 pages read plus 2 hours reading (= about 120 pages)
Total Number of Pages:  303 pages
Time spent reading today: 4.5 hours
Total number of books I've read: 6
Books completed: Cinderella (GN), Savage, Rocking in My School Shoes, There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Desk, The Hike
Thoughts: I managed to eek out quite a bit of reading time today, it was a little surprising. I also really am going to be taking advantage of audio books this week while I am cleaning and getting things set for our big summer bash and Munchkin's Birthday Party!


Number of Pages I've read today: 213 pages read plus 2.5 hours listening (= 120 pages)
Total Number of Pages:  636
Time spent reading today: 4.5 hours
Total number of books I've read: 8
Books completed: Cinderella (GN), Savage, Rocking in My School Shoes, There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Desk, The Hike, Everywhere and Every Way, Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
Thoughts: It was another great reading day all things considered! I finally had to stop reading last night when my lamp bulb burned out at 11:30ish.  Wednesday will be the last day this week I can actually get a bunch of read in, it will be super busy in the office on Thursday and Friday is the last day of party prep and I just found out my best friend from across the country is flying in just for the weekend!!

Number of Pages I've read today: 211 plus .5 hour listen (=20 pages)
Total Number of Pages:  867
Time spent reading today: 3 hours
Total number of books I've read: 9
Books completed: Cinderella (GN), Savage, Rocking in My School Shoes, There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Desk, The Hike, Everywhere and Every Way, Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve, Summer of the Sea Serpent, Unexpected
Thoughts: Wasn't as successful yesterday as I had hoped but I still managed to get a decent amount read. Today (Thursday) will be totally nuts in the office and then at home I have a ton of cleaning and work to get done, but I will hopefully have an audio book going for a good portion of it (I just started An Ember in the Ashes and am already obsessed).

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Saturday & Sunday
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I don't normally participate in challenges in the Bout of Books because I like to focus my time on getting as much reading in as I can but if I do participate you will see my answers and or photos or whatever the challenge requires posted here with a link to the challenge.

So we are supposed to pick our favorite and least favorite book to movie adaptations.  I am taking this as meaning the movie came out way better than the book for the best and the worst is a movie that totally missed the point of the book.
Favorite Book to Movie
I don't know how they created such an emotional movie based on this book, it was such a dry read, very analytical without much emotion at all. So the movie was way better!
Least Favorite Book to Movie
The movie totally missed the point of the book with the unrest and political blackmail and turned it into a romance (and they kind of missed the point of Katniss playing the part to get through it alive - yes there were underlying emotions but not as much as they made it). So the book was way better for me.
 I am a day late on this one because I had to snap quick pictures of the last two bookshelves last night. So anyway here are all my shelves

My Romance/ Fantasy Shelf (This picture is a couple of months old, the shelf is nearly full now)

This is kind of a random shelf, my Robin Cook books, Graphic Novels, Cookbooks (I have since transferred the rest from all over the house to this shelf) and coffee table style books.

The top two shelves hold all of my signed books, then it goes in to my Middle Grade equine books, then into YA
This one holds my classics, poetry, memoir, historical, non fiction/ research and contemporary fiction
This shelf holds children's books, Dr. Seuss collection, Serendipity collection, beginning readers, Magic Tree House, first chapter books and Middle Grade
This is Munchkin's Bookshelf in his room (yes that is a jack Daniel's bottle on the top but it is only for change, my husband had memories of having a bottle for his change as a kid and I believe his dad did too, so we had to continue the tradition).

This shelf is in my living room and holds all the books I plan to read within the year. I thought by now it would be a little less full but I guess I still have a lot of reading to do!