Saturday, March 17, 2018

Graphic Novel Review: Korgi Book 4: The Problem with Potions by Christian Slade

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge, Middle Grade March & Love this series

Synopsis: "Magic potions can be powerful stuff, but they don't always turn out like you want. Our canine hero, Sprout the Korgi, learns this the hard way -- and goes through quite the transformation -- in his latest adventure! This mixed-up woodland fairy tale features Ivy's first meeting with Sprout, a surprisingly musical new trick, an undead unicorn, more of those pesky Creephogs, and at least one giant boulder. 

As always, the story unfolds in lovingly detailed pen-and-ink drawings. From the heart, mind, and hands of Christian Slade comes the most fantastic and creative chapter yet from the enchanting world of Korgi."

My Review: It has been a while since I have last read a Korgi book, they don't really come out on a consistent schedule but I do adore this series. I wasn't too sure about this one when I saw the cover, it doesn't really match the rest of the series or what I expected it to look like, but after reading it makes a lot more sense. I am glad I picked this one up, it had loads of personality and really added to the overall story. Even without any words the characters and story really come to life. The story in this one is a bit silly and quirky, I loved the look at the 'evil' creatures, they are rather unique. These graphic novels are great for readers of all ages, even those who can't read yet.

My Rating: I really adore this series and am glad that another long awaited book came along, and I hope more come out.  These are such great graphic novels for all ages, a fun and unique world and a story told in simple line drawings.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bedtime Story: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & We love her books!

Synopsis: "A snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on a whale's tail. Together they go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins, and the snail feels very small in the vastness of the world. But when the whale is beached in a bay, it's the tiny snail who saves the day."

My Review: We love every book by Julia Donaldson that we have read and of course had to pick this one up when we saw it. The rhythm and rhyme of this story is great, the story just flows off the tongue when read out loud. It is also a fun book about helping each other out no matter how big or small. I reminds me a bit of Charlotte's Web but for a younger audience. This one will definitely be re-read often!

My Rating: We really enjoyed this one, it has a great message behind the story and like always has such great rhymes and rhythm that it just rolls off the tongue.  We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March Readathon/ Readalong/ Challenge Update #2

So as you probably know, I went a little crazy this month with read-alongs, readathons and challenges.  I figured I better have a weekly check in post to dedicate to all these events. I am a bit behind on getting my updates and discussion posts up but I totally blame the crazy weather of this week.  I think I will have my update posts for the next couple weeks on Thursday anyway, it will be a bit easier to work into my schedule.  Anyway, here is my progress as well as the discussion answers the the various readalongs!

Anne of Green Gables Read-Along
Just the other day we had a twitter chat about the first 13 chapters of Anne.  Also Suey had a little update on her blog with the below questions to discuss.  The next round of questions will be on Kami's Library Thoughts on the 22nd to review chapters 14 through 26.  I have read up to chapter 27 and while Anne still irritates the heck out of me, I am growing to love Marilla more and more, she is so much like me.  I also keep waiting to like Gilbert like everyone raves about but we really don't know much about him yet other than Anne is infuriated by him (probably because she likes him and he challenges her).  Anyway, we are more than half done, I am glad I am finally reading this but at the same time don't believe I will continue the series.

 1. In chapter 2, when Matthew is driving Anne back to Green Gables, she asks him: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive.” Given her tragic childhood, how do you think Anne is able to maintain such a positive attitude?
Her optimism is definitely a part of her personality, that hope that better things are coming are what keep her going through life and the imagination is her way of dealing with the things in life that could get her down.

2. Anne is insistent on renaming places and inanimate things.  Why do you think she does this? 
This is part of her imagination, it helps her keep in that mind set that things are more beautiful than they are and feed into her imaginings.

3. Marilla gives several reasons for finally deciding to keep Anne. What reason do you think most changed her mind? 
I think Marilla is a much kinder person than is portrayed.  I think that she was worried that eventually the hardships that kept coming to Anne would eventually break her spirit and that would be a loss of just a little bit more hope in the world.  I think she has grown to need Anne's optimism in her life too as she has never imagined more for herself. I think she also believes this for Matthew who has also not had much hope or desire for more in life and she wants him to have this bit of happiness in his life too.

4. If Anne grew up today, would she have been happier with how she looked? What would she have pined for, looks- and fashion-wise? What is our society's equivalent of plumpness, dark hair, and puffed sleeves? 
I think that no matter what, she would find some flaw with herself, it is what makes her human. There are always flaws and even though she has a great outlook she has to find something wrong with herself in order for her to imagine better for the future.  If she were in modern times, she would probably be wishful for the most fashionable handbag and long dark eyelashes to flutter at future suitors. 

5. How would Anne have turned out if Marilla had let Mrs. Blewett take her? Would that life have crushed Anne's imaginative spirit, or would she have changed in a different way?
I don't think it would have crushed her spirits right away but her imaginations may have been dimmed.  She had managed in different ways in each of the previous homes that she was in to keep her spirit up and find a way to share her imaginations.  I do think it would have been harder as she grew older though and eventually the reality that she would not get to be a bride would have worn her down.


    The Selection Buddy Read
    It is so exciting when a non-reader really takes to a book suggestion you make! My Sister in Law and I have been reading The Selection together and texting back and forth to discuss.  We have just finished the first book and we both love Maxon but can't stand Aspen.  For me it is a re-read and while I totally want to binge read and fly through these books, I have had to slow down and read at her pace, but it has made me pay a little more attention to what I am reading.  I have to say that so far my favorite chapters are 17 and 18 where we get a little more into the political aspects of Illea. We are now starting The Elite!


    Middle Grade March Read-A-Thon

    I have made a ton of progress on the Middle Grade March challenge! It is a lot of fun to read these books that can be read in a sitting or two.  I have also read such a wide variety that it is fun to get that bit in so many different genres.  I have only DNFed Listen, Slowly due to the voice of the character, it was just a little too whiny and immature for my liking.  Other than that one, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the books I have read so far! As Brave As You and Addie on the Inside are both fantastic reads that readers of all ages can relate to in my opinion. I am still working my way through Letters From Wolfie and just started Monstrous, I hope to finish 2 or three more by next week's check in.


    Try a Chapter Challenge
    I have continued with my Try a Chapter Challenge, and tried out 4 more of the oldest books on my TBR, I think these were all from the Bookworm Box and they all are romance, though a wide variety from contemporary to historical fiction to thriller.  Of these 4 I am only going to try to read Vegas Love because it seems like a light escape.  So far I have tried a chapter in 9 of the 22 books from subscription boxes and only kept 2 books. 


    Frankenstein Read-Along
    So I was planning to read multiple versions of this book, but I found when I picked up the more popular 1831 version that currently I am really preferring the 1818 one that I have started with, so instead of reading multiple versions at once, I will read the 1818 version for this Readalong and then I will maybe read the version of Mary's original manuscript before Percy's edits.  Anyway, below are the questions for the Letters & first 3 chapters from Stef at Noveltea Corner.  The next update will be tomorrow for the next 50 or so pages (to the end of Volume 1); I still need to read those pages but I will probably have no problem doing so tonight and tomorrow.

    1. Is Walton a reliable narrator? Why or why not?

    As someone who works in the legal field I would have to say no, the story he is narrating is not his own, he is telling it second hand in a letter written in the evenings after the tale is related to him from Victor himself. 

    2. Is Walton’s goal to “confer on all mankind . . . a passage near the pole” noble or overly ambitious?
    Definitely overly ambitious based on what we now know, but when you think about the times where new knowledge and advances in any field were highly valued, new shipping paths would have made his mark in the world as he wanted.

    3. How does Robert’s desire for a friend affect his relationship with Dr. Frankenstein? How might this relationship affect the reader’s trust in Walton as a reliable narrator?
    Because he seeks a friend in a place where sources of such are so limited, he would be willing to forgive far more and trust far more than he would have in a setting where he would have normally discounted Victor's ramblings as those of a mad man and moved on. 

    Chapters 1-2
    1. How does Victor’s statement that “the world was to me a secret which I desired to divine” serve as characterization?
    This is one of my all time favorite quotes in this book! I think it really sets up Victor as a character, an intelligent person and someone who is always seeking an answer to his questions. The belief that there is more to be known and a way to discover that knowledge is what drives him. I also love how this quote can be brought back around later in the book with the creation. 

    2. How do Henry and Victor differ? Why might Shelley be setting them up as character foils?
    In the version I am reading, Henry has a far less prominent role in the book, but I can say from previous readings that they are a like in very few ways.  One difference that really stands out to me is how Henry is willing to do as he is told out of loyalty and duty to his family and friends; while Victor has had less guidance in his life, and has taught himself so much that he is used to forging his own way and being dedicated to the path of his own choosing.

    3. What is Shelley’s intent when she has Victor characterize Elizabeth as “the saintly soul (who) shone like a shrine-dedicated lamp in our peaceful home?” What role does this characterization set for Elizabeth?
    Elizabeth is set up to be perfection, she is all that is right and good, she always makes the choices that are morally correct where as Victor turns down a darker path.

    4. Is Victor’s fascination with the Philosopher’s Stone an admirable one?
    As we all know, it is not and there is no possibility; however it does add to his characterization, with the intent for great and miraculous leaps in his work. His desire to reach for the unattainable is what drives him to his obsession, as with what he accomplishes later, the want to beat life and nature in its cycle is his ultimate quest.


    I am actually super happy with my progress so far this month! I have managed to keep up with my reading so far, at least where these challenges are related. My other reading however has fallen by the wayside and I do need to catch up.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, starting tomorrow I am on a bit of a vacation and it can either lead to a lot of extra reading or non at all so we will have to see how I do this next week!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Top 5 Wednesday: Children's Books We Should Read as Adults

    Top 5 Wednesday is a group on Goodreads hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes on Youtube.

    So this week's subject is Children's books we should read as adults. I took Children's books to be anything from Middle Grade and younger.  It really took me quite a while to put this list together, simply because I read a lot of Children's books and Middle Grade books, a big chunk of them I have read as an adult so I am not entirely certain if they would have been different as a child.  Even though I am a big fan of Fantasy and Romance books, I have to say Middle Grade is my favorite age category and the books in this category, whether they are historical, fantasy or contemporary have such a huge impact. They take on some of the hardest subject matters and help form the lives and opinions of young readers.  Think back to the books that impacted you most as a reader and a person, chances are they were ones you read in middle school or even younger (for many this is probably Harry Potter, for me it was Lord of the Flies).

    So anyway, here is a list of books I would like adults and young readers alike to read.

    I read this book a few years ago to Munchkin, and while it didn't really capture Munchkin, boy did it have an impact on me.  It has simple sentences like Does a story remember it was once a single word? or Does the family remember it was once just two? 

    I am sure that at one point as a kid someone tried to explain the full impact of this book to me, but I probably never fully grasped the concept of it until I read it as an adult. I think about how much my parents have gave me over my life so far and how little I have fully appreciated that they have given and given and loved.

    No matter the sport, it is important to remember that it is a game and it is supposed to be fun for the players! Now that Munchkin is in sports, I kind of want to hand this book out to the parents, even at 4 and 5 years old the parents are a little crazy.

    I just read this book in January and I am already certain that it will rank among my top books of this year.  It was fantastic! Told from the perspective of a tree, so it takes on an unbiased and observant tone for a story about love and hate.


    Everyone, adults, teens, pre-teens, should read this series.  The first book may have come out 17 years ago but the issues within this series are still relatable and these books do such a great job of addressing them.  The main subject that the series tackles is bullying, be it because of looks, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, it all comes back around to bullying.  I have only read the first 3 books but I have no doubt the 4th book will be just as fantastic!

    Okay, it was very hard to limit my list but I think I did a fairly good job and I wanted to pick books that may not show up on other lists or be as popular too.  Have you read any of these books? Did you read them as a child or an adult or both? What are some of your recommendations? 

    Monday, March 12, 2018

    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

    And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
    Gabe: The Dog Who Sniffs Out Danger by Thea Feldman (Early Reader)
    Cold Forged Flame by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
    Lightning in the Blood by Marie Brennan ( Series Review)

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

    The Scarlet Dragon
    Can't Buy Me Love
    Into the Fire
    The Selection
    Obi 123
    The Snail and the Whale
    Escape from Darth Vader
    Listen Slowly (DNF 30%)
    Sea Monster
    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

    Currently Reading:

    Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery - Audio - 18%
    Frankenstein (the original 1818 Version) by Mary Shelley - Print - on page 28 of 167
    Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff - Print - on page 68 of 437
    The Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne - Print - on page 28 of 624
    Letters From Wolfie by Patti Sherlock - print - on page 128 of 240

    Pages Read/ Time Listened
    132:27 Hours Listened (6:37 listened this week)
    8,077 Pages Read (1,098 this week)

    Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
    Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
    Moonsilver by Kathleen Duey
    Silver Thread by Kathleen Duey
    The Silver Bracelet by Kathleen Duey
    Mountains of the Moon by Kathleen Duey
    Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
    I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
    Gods of the North by Lucy Coats
    We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson
    Life Changing Manga of Cleaning Up by Marie Kondo
    To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi
    Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley
    Letters from Wolfie by Patti Sherlock
    Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
    Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
    Luck Love and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert
    Beartown by Fredrik Backman
    The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
    Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
    Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
    Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
    The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
    Terrier by Tamora Pierce
    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
    As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds
    Smuggler's Run by Greg Ruka
    The Lost Stone by Jordan Quinn
    The Scarlet Dragon by Jordan Quinn
    Sea Monster by Jordan Quinn
    Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
    The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
    Heaven on Earth by Jayne Rylon and Mari Carr
    Into the Fire by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
    Still Waters by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
    Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
    Reflections of Yesterday by Debbie Macomber
    Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
    Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne
    Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson
    Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
    Here Comes the Sun by Marie Force


    Last week was quite a rollercoaster for me, it was an extremely stressful and busy week at work, but it ended on a high note with my birthday on Friday.  It was a very fun weekend with the family and we took Munchkin to Monster Jam for the first time, he was thrilled!  I have another super busy week this week because my best friend is coming for a visit over the weekend so I took a few days off to enjoy time with her.  We also have another big storm coming tomorrow, so I am expecting a snow day. When is spring coming?!

    Anyway, I was hoping to get an update up of all my challenges this afternoon but I don't know if it will be possible since I am squeezing in 2 days of work and appointments.  I will try to get it up from home tomorrow if I can't get it up today.

    I hope you all have a wonderful week!

    Saturday, March 10, 2018

    Series Review of Ree Varekai by Marie Brennan

    I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!

    I have really enjoyed many of Marie Brennan's books and thought I would give this duology of novellas a try.  As far as I know there are only these two but it has definitely been left open for more. 

     Synopsis: "The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.
    And so, in reply, there is a woman.

    At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

    Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.

    This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war—and of fate."

    My Review: I have read Marie Brennan's work in the past and am currently reading the Lady Trent series, but I saw this short duology and thought it would be a nice quick read. It kicked off quite abruptly and you are left in the dark along with the main character for much of the book. Usually, I am not a big fan of books like this as it usually leads to a big info dump at the resolution, but this one while there is a bit of an info overload near the end it wasn't quite as abrupt and the development of the story and the character were intriguing enough that it didn't matter in the end. I also think that the withheld information really allowed you to get to know the character and the setting better without any distractions of backstory and extra world building. It was definitely an interesting story and I do look forward to reading the second story, but I don't know if it would suit all readers (but it is super short so give it a try if you are up for something unique).

    My Rating: This was an interesting read, and while it was a bit confusing, it was still very unique and interesting. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.


     Synopsis: "At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

    Once, there was a call--a binding--and so, a woman appeared, present in body but absent in knowledge of her past self. Making the ultimate journey of rediscovery was not without its own pitfalls--or rewards--and now Ree, a roaming Archeron, spirit of legend and time and physically now bound to her current form, has yet to fully uncover her true identity.
    Ree has spent her last innumerable seasons on the move--orbiting, in some sense, the lands of her only friend in this world, Aadet, who has become intricately involved in the new post-revolution politics of his people. Swinging back from the forests surrounding Solaike, Ree falls in with another wandering band, some Korenat refugees searching for their own protection on a trade route besieged with the fallout of the recent uprising. The Korenat's plight might not have striken Ree so deeply, but they are accompanied by their own Archeron, who seems to know much more about Ree's own origins than she ever dared to hope." 

    My Review: I have to say this was a very bazaar story to read, the first book while meandering made a little sense, and this one does too at times but there is just so much open. I enjoyed the characters again, both Ree and Aadet, they were both how I came to know them in the first book but also more. I also appreciated that there was a nice time gap between the first book and the second book, a time when the revolution took place and while that might have made for an interesting story, I appreciated the focus remaining on the characters. This was also obviously left open for a possible third book but I don't think it would be necessary, there is an open ending and you can fill it in as you see fit. 

    My Rating: This might have been even more odd than the previous book, but on its own it was still interesting.  I would have liked it wrapped up a little bit more or at least have a little clarity.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.


    Series Review: This was so bazaar to read, you are left in the dark a lot along with Ree. The world is mostly unknown to you but the events throughout the series are quite adventurous and you can't help but want more.  So far there are only these two books in the series, and while it has  been left open for more down the road, I don't seen anything coming down the pipeline yet on Goodreads or her website.  I would like to know more about Ree and Aadet but by the time another one is released I may have lost interest.  I give the series a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

    Friday, March 9, 2018

    Early Reader Bedtime Story: Gabe: The Dog Who Sniffs Out Danger by Thea Feldman

    Read for: Early Reader Challenge

    Synopsis: "Meet Gabe, a real dog who worked with the United States military, in this Level 2 Ready-to-Read based on one of the winners of the annual American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards!

    Meet Gabe. Gabe had an important job: He used his canine sense of smell to find weapons before they hurt anyone. Gabe saved lives! When he wasn't sniffing out explosives in Iraq, Gabe spent his time cheering up wounded soldiers in the hospital and visiting schools across the United States! Read his action-packed story to find out more about what he did and what made Gabe a hero dog!

    Emerging readers will love discovering the inspiring, action-packed story of a different heroic dog in each book of the Hero Dog series."

    My Review: I figured this would be a great one for Munchkin, he loves non-fiction books and dogs, and his uncle recently joined the Army. I like the way that this story is illustrated, the style gives it a taste of real without getting so real that it may cause issues for young kids with family serving (we do get to see an actual picture of Gabe at the end). The sentences are simple and the words are easy to sound out and are repetitive for those emerging readers.

    My Rating: Munchkin really enjoyed this book and it sparked a lot of questions and discussions. We will definitely be tracking down more of the Hero Dog books.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!

    Good Night! Sweet Dreams!