Friday, May 29, 2020

Bedtime Story: Thank you, Omu by Oge Mora

Read for: RI Authors/ Children's Book

Synopsis: "A generous woman is rewarded by her community in this remarkable author-illustrator debut that's perfect for the Thanksgiving season, perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street.

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?

Debut author-illustrator Oge Mora brings a heartwarming story of sharing and community to life in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu's stew, with an extra serving of love. An author's note explains that "Omu" (pronounced AH-moo) means "queen" in the Igbo language of her parents, but growing up, she used it to mean "Grandma."'

My Review: I picked up this book after seeing that it won a Children's book award, and it had also been on my list for a while because of being a local author. I finally got a copy from my library and absolutely fell in love with this book. First off the illustrations are amazing, a beautiful collage style. Then the story is just even better, centered around food and community, about sharing what little we have and others sharing in turn. This is a beautiful book to read with the young ones in your life or just for yourself.

My Rating: I wish I hadn't waited so long to read this book, it is a beautiful book about sharing and community. I loved the art style as well.  I am looking forward to reading more from this local author.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag.


Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Review: Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review/ Anticipated Release

Synopsis: "After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup then move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances."

My Review:  I really liked the sound of the synopsis and of course the cover and title drew me in too. It really took me a while to get into this book, I felt really lost at first, some of it sounded familiar but I couldn't place it. I finally got on and found out that this book follows one that I read last year called Printed Letter Bookshop. You really need to read that one first before getting into this one, there are a lot of relationship backstories in that book. Once I figured that out and refreshed myself on the previous book's characters and story line, I was able to enjoy this one a bit more. There are still a lot of characters to keep track of throughout the book, many we only see once or twice. With that said I did enjoy the main character's stories, particularly Jeremy. There is a romantic undertone but it is not the focus and does not take over the story, it is more about finding your way home and learning to trust yourself and others. It was enjoyable story but it would have been better if I had read both books closer together or even known that they were connected.

My Rating: It took me a while get into this one, and a lot longer than usual to read it.  I did try the audio book as well, I was not thrilled with the narration, the narrator had an accent that didn't fit with the story setting or characters at all.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.  I honestly think if I had read the previous book closer to this one, or even knew they were connected, it would have gone much better.


I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley. The above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Katherine Reay and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Of Literature and Lattes was just released on May 12th so you can now pick up your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

It's Not Monday - Reading List


It is Monday again Err, it is actually Tuesday now, and time to update with what I read last week, what I am currently reading and what to look forward to next week.


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

Beachside Beginnings by Sheila Roberts
But Not the Armadillo by Sandra Boynton (Bedtime Story)
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman (Graphic Novel)

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

Beachside Beginnings
Thank You, Omu
Tiger's Daughter
The Monster of Elendhaven
Snow, Glass, Apples


Currently Reading:

You Can't F*ck Up Your Kids by Lindsay Powers - Print - on page 43 of 320
Of Literature & Lattes by Katherine Reay - ebook- on page 139 or 366
The Betrothed by Kiera Cass - audio - 78%


Pages Read/ Time Listened
413:28 Hours Listened (3:54 listened this week)
13,590 Pages Read (1,034 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
White Rose  - READ
Stealing Thunder (gift) - READ
The Eyes of Tamburah (gift)
The Wolf in the Whale
~~~~~~~~~~March Birthday Waiver Books ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Rain Dragon Rescue
The Order of the Unicorn
#Frankenstein
The Book of Boy
All the Wandering Light
Life on the Leash
Phoenix Unbound
Magic Bites - READ
Fantasy Lover
Night Pleasures
The Midnight Lie - READ
You Can't F*ck Up Your Kids  (gift)
Mary Shelley Monster Hunter Vol. 1
The Caged Queen
The Mum Who'd Had Enough
Ash and Quill
The Voyage to Magical North
I Needed a Viking
Smoke and Iron
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~End Birthday Waiver~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Red Hood (gift)
The Worst Best Man - READ
Scavenge the Stars
Beefcakes
Hades & Persephone
Beachside Beginnings (gift) - READ
Finding Forever
Uncommon Type
Red, White & Royal Blue
The Monster of Elendhaven - READ
Sorcery of Thorns - READ
Beach Read
One and Only Bob - READ
Network Effect
Dark Skies
No Country for Old Gnomes (gift)
The World According to Star Wars (gift)
About That Kiss
The Ranger of Marzanna
The Betrothed
Nightchaser - READ
Starbreaker - READ

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have finally managed to carve out a little more reading time for myself.  I feel like I am finally back in the swing of things.  School is almost over for Munchkin, I have figured out what to do over the summer since his summer camp has been canceled.  I am getting more work done for the office, and more time spent in the office (I even got to go to work by myself last week)!  We are nearly complete with our part of the house project (painting the outside) and the rest will be done by professionals, so lots of progress there. Finally after months of instability in schedules and life, I feel like I am figuring things out and am much more stable.  Hooray for less anxiety.  Now I just need to catch up on some reviews, many requested reviews, and start replying to emails.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Graphic Novel; Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman & Illustrated by Colleen Doran

Read for: Graphic Novel & Borrowed Books

Synopsis: "A chilling fantasy retelling of the Snow White fairy tale by bestselling creators Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran.

A not-so-evil queen is terrified of her monstrous stepdaughter and determined to repel this creature and save her kingdom from a world where happy endings aren't so happily ever after.

From the Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy, Nebula Award-winning and Sunday Times-bestselling writer Neil Gaiman (American Gods) comes this graphic novel adaptation by Colleen Doran (Troll Bridge)."

My Review: I have had my eye on this one for a while and finally found it at my local library. It is definitely a much darker retelling of Snow white than Disney watching folks are used to and is clearly meant for an adult audience. I like the perspective of the step-mother/queen and the different take on Snow White. The illustration style is bright and detailed and so stunning! This was a very different and unique take on the story of Snow White and I so enjoyed it!

My Rating: While this one may not be for every reader, because it is very dark and twisted, I really liked the different take on the classic fairy tale. I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Bedtime Story: But Not the Armadillo by Sandra Boynton


Read for: Children's Books & ARMADILLO!

Synopsis: "For more than thirty-five years, readers have wondered what happens to the mystery armadillo on the last page of Sandra Boynton’s classic board book, But Not the Hippopotamus. Now, at last, comes the long-awaited sequel.

Behold the armadillo, a cute and curious creature who follows his nose wherever it goes. Join him as he quietly travels the less-traveled road: he picks cranberries, stops and smells the flowers, takes a nap in the meadow, searches out the source of a beautiful melody, and at day’s end passes an overeager hippo sprinting the other direction.

Told with Boynton’s signature charm and unpredictability, But Not the Armadillo is a gentle and worthy companion book to But Not the Hippopotamus—perfect for curious little kids and grown-ups alike.

And for everyone who has ever been concerned about the armadillo: Don’t worry. He’s completely fine just the way he is."

My Review: Admittedly, I am a bit obsessed with armadillos and that was the sole reason for picking up this book. I enjoyed the rhymes in the story and the adorable illustrations but it didn't seem quite a silly as the previous Boyton books I have read. I also don't feel like the title really suited the book, when most of it was the armadillo following his senses. It was a great book for introducing little ones to their senses of smell, sound and sight. It was cute, maybe not my favorite but still, there was an armadillo!


My Rating: I just now, after reading the synopsis, realized this is a sequel and maybe it would have made more sense if I had read the first book.  I still adored the story and the little facts about the armadillo and the illustrations are so cute of course! I give it a rating of Three Paws.



For some extra special armadillo love, check out the baby armadillos just born at our local zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo.



Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Intimidating Books on My TBR

So we are nearing the end of another round of Tome Topple, and I have to say this challenge has really helped push me into reading some intimidating books over the years.  Yet no matter how many I read there are still some really intimidating books sitting on my shelves!  So in honor of reading a few more big books off my shelves, I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of the books that are still waiting. 


So let's start with the most obvious . . .

  
Not only is this series intimidating sitting on the shelves (with a total page count over 1,800 pages) but there is also the question of whether the 3rd book will ever come out! I don't want to get into a series that I end up loving, only to be left hanging and waiting for the final book like everyone else. 



 
This is another series that is just plain massive sitting on my shelves (with a total page count over 1,700 pages so far).  I haven't heard too much about these books but the story sounds very intriguing. I was tempted to unhaul them at one point but I tried a chapter on the first book and loved it, yet they still sit there waiting. 


  
So as a kid, I was a complete sucker for the Dinotopia books, and these gave me grown up Dinotopia vibes, but I haven't heard a whole lot about them, and what I have heard hasn't been the greatest.  Each book has less than 500 pages so the length shouldn't be so intimidating but I am worried that my expectations may be too high and I will end up disappointed. 


Not every book needs to be chunky to be intimidating.  Dawn Study is only 480 pages, but it is the final book in a 9+ book series that I have loved.  I have had this book on my shelf since it was released but haven't been able to bring myself to read it because I can't bear to say goodbye to favorite characters or see what may happen to them to bring the series to an end. 


Speaking of not so chunky books that are intimidating, at only 399 pages, Dracula is not intimidating in size at all.  I have attempted it in the past but never made it through for whatever reason. I should really enjoy this one, I love books inspired by Dracula, it is often paired with my favorite book Frankenstein as a classic Gothic novel. I am saying it now, I will read this book before the end of 2020!


  
Finally is a series that I have in fact read, but have been wanting to re-read for a few years now.  I remember enjoying these books back when I read them in high school, but the details are fuzzy now. I really want to re-read them, but I am worried that I have come to love the more modern fantasy books with more action too much and won't have quite the same level of love and enjoyment as I had the first time I read them.




What books do you find intimidating? What are some of your most intimidating books?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Blog Tour: Beachside Beginnings by Sheila Roberts


Read for: Requested Review/ Pump Up Your Book/ Blog Tour

Previous Moonlight Harbor Reviews

Synopsis: "Moira Wellman has always loved makeovers—helping women find their most beautiful selves. Funny how it’s taken her five years with her abusive boyfriend, Lang, to realize she needs a life makeover. When Moira finally gets the courage to leave Lang, the beachside town of Moonlight Harbor is the perfect place to start over.

Soon Moira is right at home, working at Waves Salon, making new friends and helping her clients find new confidence. When she meets a handsome police officer, she’s more than willing to give him a free haircut. Maybe even her heart. But is she really ready for romance after Lang? And what if her new friend is in hot pursuit of that same cop? This is worse than a bad perm.

With all the heart and humor readers have come to expect from a Sheila Roberts novel, Beachside Beginnings is the story of one woman finding the courage to live her best life. And where better to live it than at the beach?"

My Review: When I first accepted this book for review, I didn't realize it was the 4th in a series, so I decided to read the previous books first. I am glad I did, as I like having the backstory but I don't think it was entirely necessary to read them before this one. As with the previous books, this was more of a chic-lit book than the romance I was expecting, but there was a little more of a romance to it. I did really enjoy how it was more focused on the internal strength of women than the romance element. I loved Moira and her story, I had never looked at hairdressing the way she does in the story. The small town feel is great but the way that girlfriends pull together and support each other, even newcomers, was fantastic to see in a book.

My Rating: I really enjoyed this book, I think it is my favorite of the series so far.  I enjoyed seeing familiar characters from previous books but I really loved the focus on Moira.  I am looking forward to more books in this series and am giving this one a rating of Four Paws!  And now I am ready for some beach time!

 I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Pump Up Your Book, the above is my honest review and opinion. 

Here is a sample from the book for you to try out for yourself.



“Don’t look now, Harry, but I think we found the end of the world,” Moira said as she drove through the monolithic stone gateway that guarded the entrance to the town of Moonlight Harbor.
Harry, hunkered miserably in his cat carrier, let out a pitiful mewl. There had been a lot of twists and turns in the road the last part of their journey and even though the highway had eventually straightened back out he still hadn’t forgiven her. She didn’t blame him. She felt awful over having added to his misery. The poor little guy had yakked up and she’d had to pull over to clean the mess and reassure him.
But who was going to reassure her? This wasn’t her scene. She was a city girl, always had been. She’d grown up in apartments and she liked being able to go to clubs and dance, to go downtown or run out to the mall and spend some of her tip money on clothes. Lang criticized a lot of what she spent her money on (not that she had much to spend once she kicked in for her share of the rent and bought groceries), but he never complained when she came home with something from Victoria’s Secret.
There was sure no Victoria’s Secret here.
And so what if there wasn’t? She didn’t have anybody to look hot for any more. She sure didn’t want the somebody she’d had.
Lang had texted her six times before she’d finally shut off her phone. At first the texts had been contrite – Baby, you know I’m sorry, followed by, Why aren’t you answering? Then he got a little more anxious. Where are you? Then he got pissed. Damn, M, where the hell are you? The last two texts had been so full of cursing and F bombs and threats of what he was going to do if she didn’t quit ignoring him that she finally took Michael’s advice and traded in her phone for a new one in a T-Mobile store in Olympia, going with the cheapest phone and plan she could find.
There was no turning back now. Even if they made up, even if he said he was sorry he’d been mean to Harry, there would come another time when his temper would flare. Maybe she could have risked getting her jaw broken but she wasn’t about to risk any more of poor Harry’s ribs.
A bruised rib the vet she’d found in town had said. He’d given Harry something right there and provided her with pain killer meds for him.
If only there was something she could take to make herself feel better. She sure could have used some chocolate right then. What a mess her life was.
“It’s not how you start,” her high school English teacher, Mrs. Dickens, had once told her, “It’s how you finish. Remember that, Moira.”
Yes, she needed to remember that. She was going to finish well.
Here at the end of the world.
Okay, it wasn’t so bad. “Look at those cute little shops,” she said to Harry. Hard for Harry to do any looking from his cat carrier, so she went on to describe them. “They’re all different colors. Green, not dark green like Christmas but green, like an Easter egg, and orange like sherbet, and yellow like a sunny day. Oh, wow, and a go-cart track. I always wanted to drive one of those things. And there’s an ice cream place. It’s so cute. Pink, like a balloon at a baby shower. No, actually, darker than that. Like a sunset maybe. It’s got a big, old cement ice cream cone in front of it.”
Ice cream, sherbet. She parked in front of the Good Times Ice Cream Parlor. She still had a little cash left and she was hungry. Not simply for food but for hope. If a woman couldn’t find hope in a cute place like this where could she find it?
The lunch hour had passed and there weren’t many customers inside– only two old women seated at a tiny, wrought iron table painted white, enjoying milkshakes. The woman behind the counter looked almost old enough to be Moira’s mother.
The old ladies were staring at her like she had three boobs. Okay, so she had a nose ring and a tattoo of a butterfly flitting up her neck. Hadn’t they seen anyone with a nose ring or tat? Maybe it was her hair that had them gawking. (Although the strange lollipop red of the one woman’s hair was just as stare worthy, and not in a good way.)
Moira’s hair, on the other hand, was a work of art. A color that Michael had created, it was a gorgeous mix of pastels, silver and gold that he’d dubbed holographic opal because of the way it shimmered. Lang had thought it was hot.
What Lang thought didn’t matter anymore.
The woman behind the counter smiled at Moira and said, “Welcome. What would you like?”
A new life. “What’s your specialty?” She could have asked, “What’s good?” but anybody could say that. She liked the word specialty. It made her think of fancy French restaurants and TV celebrity chefs.
“How about some Deer Poop?”
Moira blinked. “Deer Poop?”
“In honor of all the deer we have around here – chocolate ice cream loaded with chocolate covered raisins.”
“Deer?” Just wandering around? The only deer she’d ever seen had been on TV or in pictures.
“Oh, yes. They’re everywhere.”
Wow. Now, that was cool. “Sure,” Moira said.
“Sugar or waffle cone?”
“Waffle.” Live it up, she thought.
“One scoop or two.”
“One,” Moira said, deciding to limit the living it up. Who knew if things would work out here? Who knew how long that paycheck Michael was sending would last? With what she had in her bank account even one scoop was a splurge.
“You’re new to town.” the woman observed.
“I am.” Moira glanced over her shoulder to find the two older women still checking her out. The freak show had arrived.
“I just got here,” she said. “I’m hoping to find a job. Your town looks adorable.” For the end of the world. Where were the people her age? Were there any?
Moira dug out a bill, but the woman waved it away. “On the house.”
“Really?” Wow. The woman handed over the cone and Moira took a bite. “This is …” Anyone could say good. “Tasty.”
The woman smiled. “All our ice cream is. What do you do?”
“I’m a hair stylist. My old boss sent me down here to meet a Pearl Edwards.” Moira was suddenly aware of the two older women whispering behind her. She could almost feel their stares.
 “Pearl, she’s the best. She owns Waves,” said the woman. “Everybody in town goes there. Well, everybody my age and older.”
Old ladies and tight perms. This wasn’t the end of the world. This was hair stylist hell.
You’re here now. May as well check it out.
Now one of the women behind her spoke. “I have an appointment there. You can follow me if you like.”
Moira could have found her own way there, but she thanked the woman and agreed to follow her. People at the end of the world were nice to you, even if they did stare.
“I’ll see you later, Alma,” the good Samaritan said to her friend, and pushed away from the table. Standing up she wasn’t much taller than she’d been sitting down. Moira was five feet five but she stood a good six inches above this woman. There wasn’t much to her, either. She looked like she needed to go on a diet of daily milkshakes. Her sweatshirt was pink and it clashed with her hair and lipstick. I Got Moonstruck at Moonlight Harbor, it informed Moira.
“I’m Edie Patterson,” said the old woman. “Everyone calls me Edie and you can, too. I own the Driftwood Inn.”
The Driftwood Inn. Moira had a sudden vision of a cute little place with driftwood at its entrance. “That sounds charming.”
“Oh, it is. It was one of the first motels here in Moonlight Harbor. My great niece Jenna manages it and she’s fixed it all up and brought it back to its former glory. It’s one of the sweetest places in the whole town. Isn’t it, Nora?”
“It sure is,” agreed the woman behind the counter.
“If you need a place to stay while you’re getting settled I’m sure we can give you a room,” Edie said as she led Moira out of the ice cream parlor.
No way could Moira afford to stay at a motel indefinitely. No way could she afford to stay anywhere. She murmured her thanks and tried not to panic.
“Jenna doesn’t like me to drive,” Edie confided. “She’s always worried I’ll get in an accident. But she was busy giving someone a massage – she’s a massage therapist, you know – so I just went ahead and took my car out when she wasn’t looking,” said Edie conspiratorially, pointing to an ancient car that maybe got fifteen miles to the gallon on a good day. “That’s my car. You follow me.”
It wasn’t hard to follow Edie Patterson. A kid on a tricycle could go faster. They crept out onto the street and inched on down the main road.
It gave Moira time to finish her ice cream and check out the place. The buildings looked like they belonged in a movie from the sixties. And what was that? Some kind of store shaped like a giant shark. It looked like you entered through its gaping mouth, complete with long shark teeth. Now, there was something you didn’t see every day.
And wow! Deer. There were two of them, grazing on the grass in the median. There was something you didn’t see in Seattle.
Seattle. Lang. How many times had he tried to call her by now? He had to be really pissed.
Let him be. He didn’t deserve her. And Harry sure didn’t deserve the way Lang had treated him. She was glad she’d left. Glad.
Except she was sad, too. And she ached a little for what she’d had with Lang when they were first together and everything was good. And she half wished she could have that back.
She was a mess.








Best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen her books published in a dozen different languages and made into movies for both the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. She’s happily married and lives in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not hanging out with girlfriends, speaking to women’s groups or going dancing with her husband she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.


WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/funwithsheila/


Beachside Beginnings was released earlier last month so you can now get your own copy in print or digital format
 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/35CrilM  Harlequin → https://bit.ly/2Up9Wqn
Google Play → https://bit.ly/2UlzrbXKobo  https://bit.ly/2vTktk2 


 




http://www.pumpupyourbook.com