Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mindless Weekend Ramblings: More Books I Wish to Share

Welcome to my new blog event called Mindless Weekend Rambling where I will ramble on and on aimlessly about all the junk rolling around in my brain. Occasionally I might rant and rave about something that is bothering me or question the sanity of it all, or maybe choose to discuss my to do list or plans that I am making or maybe share something new I learned. The only thing I can guarantee is that it will be totally off the cuff. I hope you will bear with me and maybe get a laugh or two in the process.
So I have been working very hard to share so many of my favorite books from times prior to blogging, but how could I possibly read and share a lifetime worth of reading in one short month?! So I thought I would just take some time today to highlight some of my other top suggestions.
If you want something sci/fi, futuristic, with great characters and romance check out the Celta's Heartmates Series by Robin D. Owens.  This is currently a 13 book series and they are very interconnected so need to be read in order relatively close together.  I hope to re-read this series and get caught back up (I have read up to book 9).
For more along the lines of fantasy I strongly suggest the Rhiannon's Ride Trilogy by Kate Forsyth.  I have probably handed out at least a dozen sets of these books because I so strongly suggest these books.  I plan to re-read them soon for my own enjoyment (and I hope to have a guest post or interview with Ms. Forsyth in the near future for you).
Also along the fantasy genre but focused on my beloved horses I suggest the White Magic Trilogy by Caitlin Brennan. This series has so many of the elements I love to read, fantasy, romance, horses, and of course a very kickass heroine.
As many of you know I have a special place in my heart for Arthurian Legends, one of my favorite series in this area is the Paths to Camelot series by Sarah Zettel. It took some work to obtain the last book in the series (Camelot's Blood) as it was never released in the US (maybe it has been since). 
Some of my favorite books land among the Classics and Epic Poetry genres, all of them at one point being required reading during high school and college but they became books I couldn't put down.  Some of my top picks and suggestions are The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Beowulf, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Those are just a few of my top picks.  Do any of them match your top picks? Have you read any of them and what did you think? What are some of your top books?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bedtime Story: A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester

Synopsis: "Should Mr. and Mrs. Porcupine name their baby Lance? Needleroozer? Quillian? Perhaps they should, but they don't. Instead they decide on the unlikely name of Fluffy. Fluffy's name is a source of sorrow to the sharp-quilled youngster, until he meets and befriends a rhinoceros named . . . Hippo! Munsinger's bright, cheery pictures are as whimsical as Lester's delightfully silly text. Together, they create nicely absurd images, such as a scene in which Fluffy and Hippo roll on the ground, laughing so hard that they start to cry. Lester and Munsingerwho have collaborated on other picture bookstell a sweet story with joyful exuberance."

My Review: This was one of my favorites from when I was a kid and one of the books I won in the summer reading program. While I never quite understood why someone would not like their name, but I did have fun with how Fluffy tries to be fluffy. The end is brilliant with Fluffy and Hippo becoming great friends, finding their commonality. Munchkin enjoyed this book but I have a feeling it really confused him as we are still trying to get straight what are hippos and what are rhinos.
My Rating: I enjoyed this book a lot as a kid and it is still fun now. It got some laughs out of Munchkin so that means something.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review and Discussion of Naya Nuki by Kenneth Thomasma

Synopsis: "After being taken prisoner by an enemy tribe, a Shoshoni girl escapes and makes a thousand-mile journey through the wilderness in search of her own people."

My Review: I read this book years ago and really enjoyed it and all of Thomasma's books, he creates a thrilling story that you can really immerse yourself into. Upon re-reading it now, years later, there were a couple little tiny issues that bothered me, some things were repeated several times that didn't need to be repeated. That said though, these books are clearly written for a younger audience and are prefect for them. Even with these extremely minor issues you can still completely connect with the character as she struggles on her journey.
My Rating: While there were a lot of repeated sentences and information throughout this book I never noticed it as a kid and didn't mind it now as an adult because the story and character are so fantastic.  This is definitely a book to have on your shelf and share with kids.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
The Impact on Me:
I remember my mom reading many of Thomasma's books out loud to me and my brother, especially when my brother was really into native americans and their history. The stories were fantastic and completely enthralling, but I think more than the books the author had a huge impact on me.
I believe it was my 5th grade year, I was one of 2 kids in our school invited to a writing seminar and event with Kenneth Thomasma.  It was a huge honor as only so many kids from the district were allowed to attend. It was nearly an all day event and should have been boring and exhausting for a kid that age to sit through but I was totally into it. He taught us so much about writing in general and also creative writing.  Towards the end we were given a writing prompt and an index card and told to write what happened next.  It is crazy but this was such a big event in my life that I still remember the prompt and a lot of what I wrote. 
The prompt was that you were with friends and family off trail skiing in the mountains when an avalanche occurs and everyone but yourself is swept away, down the back side of the mountain.  I filled every inch of that index card, and created a lot of suspense about the trees catching on my coat and seeing a clearing ahead thinking it was the main trail that led to the lodge but only finding a clearing, beginning to wonder if I was lost, etc. Several teachers narrowed down our submissions and then he read the best to the entire room and announced his best picks.  I won as one of his top picks and his comments really pushed me to keep writing and continue to inspire me to this day.
I now have many of his books autographed, and hope to have them all at some point and be able to share both his works and his guidance with Munchkin in the future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review of Bathing and the Single Girl by Christine Elise McCarthy

Synopsis: "BATHING & THE SINGLE GIRL is the smutty, mercilessly irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel by actress Christine Elise McCarthy. Inspired by her one-woman short film of the same name, it’s the kind of novel Jonathan Ames might write if he’d dropped out of college and had been working as an actress in Hollywood for the last 20 years.

The life of an actress in LA isn’t all glamour, money, and bedding rock stars. Sometimes it’s more about humiliation, red wine hangovers, and the bad decisions they fuel. Ruby Fitzgerald has barely worked in years, not that anyone remembers her for anything but her short stint on a long-canceled but iconic TV show. But that was back when her career prospects seemed on the upswing -- longer ago than Ruby cares to admit, and awkward sex with regrettable partners is doing nothing to take the edge off. Everything once functional in her house is going on strike, but the unemployment checks barely cover the mortgage, and a self-respecting girl needs to be able to pay her bar tab -- so repairs are on hold. One more bubble bath and a few more cocktails. A gal can always get responsible tomorrow.

With everything mounting against her, a cranky and increasingly despairing Ruby will have to find out if her life’s larger indignities are the result of bad luck, or a chronically bad attitude. What follows is a walking tour of the hilarious depths you can sink to if you stop exercising your best judgment."

My Review: I guess I am missing something here because I did not click with this book. I was envisioning a comedy along the lines of what you get with a long awaited girls night. There was definitely some comedy but there were a lot of pages to slog through to get to it. I did not connect with the character at all, in fact I found her to be very judgmental and cruel. There were several great sub-characters though, I thoroughly enjoyed Eliza and Kate. I guess it was really up and down for me throughout the book and was difficult for me to pick up again each time.
My Rating: I guess I was really disappointed in this one and almost had to force myself to finish.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.
Bathing and the Single Girl was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Christine Elise McCarthy on her Goodreads Page or Website
You can also obtain your own copy in print or digital format on Amazon or digital format on Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review of Secrets at Sea by Sabre Moore

Synopsis: "When seventeen-year-old Zandra learns of the future her foster parents have planned for her, she knows what she must do. Disguised as a boy named Zander Knight, she hires onto the Chaser, a beautiful ship whose mission is not as it seems. Soon Zandra's life becomes a web of Secrets at Sea, even her own identity is shrouded in lies. What she once thought was a small price to pay for her dreams becomes more complicated as she gains a nickname, a father, friends and falls in love. When Zandra is captured by a pirate from her past, she learns of the strains and changes of time. When a truth is revealed, there is yet another secret waiting to take its place."

My Review: I read this book about 5 or 6 years ago when my mother sent it to me. Turns out it is written by a girl that was going to my high school, yup she had a book published while still in high school. While there are some issues with the story, it is still a fun adventure with some very lively characters. I did feel like Zandra fell a little fast and would have liked for more development prior to that and her character was just too perfect at everything. That said it is still an impressive book for a teenager to publish and one that many would enjoy, and honestly who didn't want to be a pirate and have awesome adventures at some point in their lives?!
My Rating: This was a fun and adventurous book to read and even with the issues it does have, I am happy to have it on my shelf and be able to read again. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What's for Dinner? (26)

What's for Dinner is a little insight into my life for you every Monday night. I carefully plan out meals for the week ahead of time and do my shopping over the weekend.  So I wanted to start sharing with you one of the recipes or dinners I am most looking forward to each week.
So I usually cook all week long, about 3 to 4 meals planned with recipes and everything.  However, when the weekend comes, I relinquish the kitchen and pretty much only prepare snacks and breakfast for Munchkin.  Hubby gets run of the kitchen and I will even offer to clean up after he is done, because it is so worth it!
Now he almost never works off a recipe, he might look at a few to get an idea but then he just runs with it.  It blows my mind that he can work like a Chopped chef and just pull random food out of the fridge and make a gourmet meal!
This last weekend he decided to make a stuffed pork loin . . .
And after:
With a dinner plate like this
What woman in their right mind would have ever turned down a proposal?! Wait until I share some of his Italian cooking! This next weekend he promises a taste of Italy with eggplant parm, meatballs, lasagna and all with homemade sauce!

Dewey Fall Readathon Wrap up

I am a little delayed getting this post up but there was absolutely no time yesterday since I had a weekend worth of chores to get done in one day.
I survived another Dewey Readathon! I didn't read the full 24 hours and for some reason I felt completely frazzled all day, and still feel a little frazzled and rushed. I think it is because I had so much scheduled on Saturday and wasn't able to really settle in and read like I would have preferred. (I really hope the Children's Book Festival doesn't land on the same weekend again next year or I am really going to have to choose which I want to do).  With that said I actually did get very nearly all the reading I had hoped to get done!
Books finished: Winter Lights, A Porcupine Named Fluffy, Happy Halloween Little Critter, The Note, Kissing Santa, Santa's Ninja Elves, A Christmas Carol GN, Paddington Bear Treasury
Books Read but not Finished: A Cricket on the Hearth (40% complete), Confessions of a Scary Mommy (61 pages read)
Total of pages read: 670ish plus 1 hr 15minutes listened
Running total of time spent reading: 11.5 hours
Which hour was most daunting for you?  hours 11-13 were most daunting because Munchkin went to bed and clearly Hubby couldn't find anything else to occupy his time other than pester me.
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Again I strongly suggest having GNs to break things up and I really enjoyed having the Christmas short stories and novellas to read this year.  They were short and fun and it really feels like you are getting somewhere when you finish one.
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I didn't get to participate with everyone much so I can't make any suggestions
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I was really happy with the cheerleading this time, after not having anyone stop by last time I was overwhelmed by the support I had on Twitter this readathon. I guess it is easier for the cheerleaders to visit you on twitter rather than the blogs, something to keep in mind for future readathons.
How many books did you read? 10
What were the names of the books you read? Winter Lights, A Porcupine Named Fluffy, Happy Halloween Little Critter, The Note, Kissing Santa, Santa's Ninja Elves, A Christmas Carol GN, Paddington Bear Treasury, Cricket on the Hearth, Confessions of a Scary Mommy
Which book did you enjoy most? I really enjoyed Santa's Ninja Elves
Which did you enjoy least? None of them were bad, I struggled to focus on Confessions of a Scary Mommy because of Hubby.
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I will definitely be participating again next time (I have already marked my calendar for April 25th) and will be a reader again.  I eventually want to reach at least 15 hours of actual reading time.
Thoughts on My Fall Readathon: As I said, it was a crazy day and I had a hard time settling in to read with so much going on.  I felt like I was missing a lot of the fun by not participating online as much and not doing the mini challenges. The interaction has become a big part of it to me and I want to make sure I have that again next time. I also didn't feel like I was really doing much reading with so many children's books this time, I also think the feeling came from the fact that most of my other reading was done on the Kindle, it just doesn't have the same page turning feel.  With that said I really liked having and audio book to listen to, it freed me up from the couch and allowed me to move around and go places while still reading. I did miss my special snacks too, weird but true.
Plans for the Spring Readathon: I am so looking forward to another readathon and am already making plans.  It was handy to get out of the house to avoid Munchkin and Hubby instead of trying to get them to leave me alone while there, so I think I will make a point to spend at least a part of the day out of the house. I will also plan to read more graphic novels between full length books, I will still have children's books to share with Munchkin too.  I think maybe plan on books no longer than 300 pages so that I don't feel like I am stuck. Maybe a few Novellas and some Middle Grade and Young Adult books to keep things going. I will also have another Audio book to both be able to leave the house or even do some chores while still reading.  I think I will also try to have themed snacks to go along with my books.
So how did your readathon go? If you didn't participate do you want to next time?

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

Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce (Alanna)
From My Heart to Yours by Michelle Zarrin
Goddess of the Sea by PC Cast (After Dark)
Meet My Cats by Lesley Anne Ivory (Bedtime Story)


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

Jingle Bells
Secrets at Sea
Bathing and the Single Girl
Porcupine Named Fluffy
Winter Lights
Happy Halloween, Little Critter
The Note
Kissing Santa
Santa's Ninja Elves
Paddington Treasury
A Christmas Carol

Currently Reading:

Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens - PB - on page 32 of 425
Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill - Audio - switched to HC - on page 68 of 496

 Books to be Read Soon:
Behind You by Carly M. Duncan (Requested Review)

Interesting Tidbits from the Web:

Unique and Beautiful Book Shops - I love the van bookshop in Portugal and the scenery of the one in Norway (and to think an entire town of books).



Phew! What a week and weekend!! I cannot believe how much reading I got done, between work and home I squeaked out every second I could.  Dewey's went better than I thought it would considering how much I had going on that day, but one of these days it will go exactly how I plan it!  Did you participate in Dewey? How did your day go?

I have another big week planned for this coming week (the boss is out and this girl will read).  I am trying to get way ahead on my reading so next month will be open for a lot of writing!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crafty Times (8)

Crafty Times is a new thing I am trying on the blog where I can share some of the art and crafts I have created (you can too of course). I really dabble in a wide variety of crafts and hope you can find something that sparks your interest or inspires you!
I was in a gift swap on one of the forums I am a member of that was for coffee/tea mugs for this chilly season. One of the mugs needed to be handcrafted/painted/decorated.  
I found this idea on Pinterest to make mugs dipped in nail polish for an abstract art look.  I thought, well I have a ton of nail polish so why not give it a shot, and managed to find an inexpensive mug. I used a dark purple/plum color and a gold color on a yellow mug, and well it didn't come out quite as I expected but still unique and something I will try again sometime.
Have you tried something from Pinterest lately?  How did it go?