Saturday, January 30, 2016

Graphic Novel Review of Winterworld Vol. 1: La Nina by Chuck Dixon

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis: "The apocalyptic international comics sensation of an Earth turned to an icy hell is back with all new stories by co-creator Chuck Dixon and Butch Guice doing some of the best work of his illustrious artistic career as they take on the bleak and frozen future. Follow Scully and Wynn from their icy home of Wintersea into a killing wasteland where the coldest place is the human heart."My Review: I have to be honest, the cover of this one drew me in. I enjoyed the illustration style of this graphic novel. You are almost dumped into the middle of the storyline and that is kind of confusing (they did hint at another GN that will explain how the two main characters got together). The storyline moves a long well though with plenty of adventure and some really interesting takes and view points. This is a series I do hope to continue reading.
My Rating: While I felt like I was missing something throughout the book, the story was still very intriguing. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bedtime Story: Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "Pull on your mittens and head outside for a snowball day. Grab some snow and start rolling. With a few found objects--like buttons and fabric and seeds--and a little imagination, you can create a whole family out of snow. Children will love poring over Lois Ehlert’s bold, funny illustrations and identifying the common (and not so common) objects she uses to decorate her snowy family."

My Review: I guess I was expecting this book to be about snowballs and not snowmen, while that caught me a little off guard it was still a great book. Munchkin loved seeing the snowmen, boys, girls, dog and cat. The use of various items that had been saved up really sparked his own creativity. He had to make a snowman for preschool and with all the ideas throughout the book he created a really unique snowman using buttons, beans, ribbon, popcorn and paper. The book also has facts about snow at the end and photographs of snowmen that were made by other families.
My Rating: While it wasn't exactly what I was expecting it turned out to be a great book to spark creativity and learning. We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Rubble to the Rescue

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Rubble the puppy tries to be a superhero for a day, but finds he still needs a helping paw from the rest of Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol. Boys and girls ages 4 to 6 will love this Step 1 Step into Reading leveled reader.

Step 1 Readers feature big type and easy words. Rhymes and rhythmic text paired with picture clues help children decode the story. For children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading."

My Review: Munchkin is a HUGE Paw Patrol fan so it is always great when you can find a book with favorite character to encourage reading. I often find with books based on TV shows that they just copy episodes exactly. I haven't yet seen this episode if it even is one, so that was a relief. The words and sentences are simple, but unlike so many level one books this one does have a cohesive storyline. Little Paw Patrol fans will love this and will make the effort to read it.
My Rating: We really enjoyed this book and Munchkin has pulled it off the shelf on his own to attempt to read it! We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

After Dark Review of Bloodlines by Leigh Wilder

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
Read for: Mount TBR Digital, Series Challenge
Synopsis: "Damian owes his immortal life to his sire Marcello, and now he owes him money too. To pay his debts Damian must board the Bloodlines Cruise Ship, which will sail to international waters where there is no law against turning humans into vampires. He must share his blood with one of Marcello's 'guests'--humans paying large amounts of money for the chance at immortality. Damian doesn't want to turn a stranger into a vampire. He doesn't know what he wants.

Jamie-boy is pissed off. Damian refuses to admit his love for Jamie-boy, and he begins to question whether or not it exists at all. To make it worse, Damian has been taken away by his beautiful sire for ten whole days. Jamie-boy doesn't give himself a chance to feel alone though, because an incubus named Trent is more than willing to be his new friend.

Loyalties and love are tested in this latest installment of the Deadly Liaisons series."

My Review: This was a very odd conclusion to an odd series. I can only assume this is the conclusion though as there have been no more books released since 2013 after a rush of all four coming out very quickly. Maybe it was a series that was simply abandoned. I must say that this series brings to light a more violent view of vampires as opposed to the classy and glittery view so many authors have taken. This book also doesn't give you an end all wrapped up in bows either. 
My Rating: I feel like this series as a whole wasn't thought out before publishing. Maybe it was supposed to be longer but the storyline and characters didn't grow enough to allow for a longer series, I don't know but it was a let down.  I give this book a rating of Two Paws.

Pen to Paper: Gearing up for A Month Of Letters

Good Morning everyone! I hope you have all had a wonderful mail week.  I was super busy last week and sent out a very large stack of letters.
Thinking about this post and the upcoming month, maybe I should have saved some of my responses for then.  So speaking of next month, in years past I have participated in a letter writing challenge called A Month of Letters, and I want to invite you to join me and many others on this fun adventure. To get started you need to go sign up at it is a free site and you only disclose what you want to (again remember online safety).
The goal for the Month of Letters challenge is to mail out one item every business/mail day for the month of February. So this year because it is leap year that means 24 pieces of mail sent out by you. The can be simple notes, postcards, lengthy letters, valentine's cards, packages, etc.  The site also gives you fun little challenges to earn badges to encourage different forms of mail. I always enjoyed the challenge of mail your letters from a different location than usual, it is fun to track down a new drop box.
So in preparation for this month long event I have been gathering all my supplies.  Make sure to have plenty of stamps, you don't want to run out and then give up because you can't get to the post office to get more.
Have a stack of stationery, cards and envelopes ready to go.
Plenty of writing utensils and anything you like to use to decorate.
I also keep a to go set in my purse for writing on the go.
Also, make sure to have plenty of people to send letters to, here are some examples of who I will be sending to:
My Brother - its his birthday
My Grandma - its her birthday the same day
My Uncle - also has the same birthday
A post card or two for PostCrossing
I have 3 new pen pals to send letters to
I plan to send at least one fan mail letter to an author
I have 5 family members to send quick notes and Munchkin's school picture to
I have a couple of friends I would like to send letters to catch up
I hope to get some responses back too so I can send out additional response letters.
I hope you will join me, it is a great way to kick start your snail mail and letter writing off for the year, even if you aren't able to send something every day it is still fun to participate and see how everyone else does!
If you would like to receive a letter or note from me as well please email me (at easternsunset @ Hotmail dot com) with your name and address and if there is anything in particular you would like to know or chat about!
Let me know if you are joining in the fun too and feel free to friend me on the site, my username is @EasternSunset I will update there as often as I can with what I mail and I will try to also post regular updates on my Instagram @EasternSunset9.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review of The Changing Season by Steven Manchester

Read for: Requested Review & Mr. Manchester never lets me down.
Synopsis: "This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy; one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy – his canine best buddy – going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left.

But that was before the accident that shook the entire town.

It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck.

And it was before Vicki.

This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn't truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple.

An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, THE CHANGING SEASON is an experience to savor."

My Review:  I can always count on Steven Manchester to deliver a captivating and emotional story, and this book met my expectations and more. This is a great coming of age story, it contains all the insecurities and life changing decisions teens make upon graduating high school and taking the next step in their lives. Billy faces additional moral issues and struggles to decide how to maintain loyalties and what is right and wrong. These are all issues that we must face as we grow and learn, maybe not to the magnitude that Billy faced but we still must learn some hard lessons. Thankfully, Jimmy is the ever faithful companion, the silent and supportive friend and pet that some are fortunate to have in their lives. This was definitely a great read, one I didn't want to put down as we followed Billy through this one life changing summer.
My Rating: As I said before, Steven Manchester never lets me down with his books, they are always completely captivating and emotional, they are always books that I find a connection with and The Changing Season was no different.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
The Changing Season was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Steven Manchester and his many great novels on his Goodreads page or his Website.
The Changing Season is scheduled for release on February 23rd, but is available for Pre-Order now! You can order your copy in digital or print format from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tea Time: History of Tea Bags and Some Really Unique Ones

Welcome to Tea Time Tuesday!
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?)
Enjoying Good Earth's Sweet & Spicy. It tastes like a melted Red Hot candy with orange flavors too. I love the little tag with the quote " Always wear a smile - it's the best accessory!" Dana Pugsley. Those little surprises with the tea are a wonderful touch. Only down fall of this tea is that it is caffeine free and I need that kick!
Like so many others, I started out drinking tea using the tea bags you can find in just about any grocery store. For the longest time I believed that was pretty much the only way you could get tea, until about 10 or so years ago when I received my first loose tea as a gift. While I do enjoy loose tea now too, I still have an overwhelming number of pre-packaged teabags. They are so simple and convenient, I keep a few in my purse, some in my desk at work and of course a whole cupboard shelf full at home.
Now as I have been diving deeper into the world of tea, I have been learning a lot of new things (like the fact that tea has possibly been being consumed longer than written history). One of the things I was curious about was the tea bag.
Apparently there is evidence that little pouches of paper were sewn to keep the tea around the 8th century or so in China.  But they were not sold commercially until 1904. So keep an eye on those historical novels you read for historical inaccuracies, before 1904 they would have had to use loose leaf tea with either an infuser/strainer or made their own tea bags.
Most tea bags are made with a thin paper made with both wood and vegetable fibers. It is similar to coffee filters (and you can make your own teabags using coffee filters which I will share with you some time). Though there are also tea bags made with nylon, silk and a mesh made from corn starch to be completely biodegradable.
The common form of a teabag is the square shape that you see so often in the stores, but there are also round tea bags (often without strings), and I even have some really nice lavender tea in pyramid shape. I have also come across some other really unique tea bags in my online browsing . . .
While this is a little creepy, I still want a little fish swimming in my tea. I need to track these down! (image from pinterest)
On the same idea, Origami Tea (from Emily Chang) I really want to find this too, I love the idea of it unfolding as it brews, that would be really pretty as a butterfly.
In the mean time I will continue enjoying the ease of my bagged tea!

Review of The Beast Within by Serena Valentino

Read for: Mount TBR Print
Synopsis: "A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp--like a beast's! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?"

My Review: I picked this book up on a whim last year and finally settled in to read it. I was looking forward to a new take on this classic story, I have read several re-telling books from Belle's point of view. There were a few changes from the story that we have heard and seen before, but there was a lot duplicated directly from the Disney movie, I am talking exact lines. I was also hoping for a more complicated and in depth look into The Beast's personality and developments. It was an enjoyable read, especially if you are a big fan of the movie, but it wasn't quite up to the level I had expected or hoped to read.
My Rating: This was just simply an okay book for me, a nice bit of fluff but nothing really all that imaginative. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 4 - Pirates Past Noon

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.
This next book in the series takes Jack and Annie on a pirate adventure. They wanted to escape the miserable rainy day and landed on a tropical island beach. But with pirates landing and searching for treasure it may not be a peaceful retreat.
My Review: I am starting to wonder where these kids parents are, they are out in the woods in the middle of a nasty storm. Anyway, it is still quite the adventure and we find out who the mysterious M is, not who I was expecting honestly. This one almost has the feel of the end of a series but it clearly isn't so I found that interesting. This is a great book for those young pirate and adventure lovers. I did like how it referenced an actual book too so it will encourage these young new readers to continue reading.
My Rating: This was another great upswing in the series, I love how this book introduces pirate adventures and then guides the kids who liked it on to an additional pirate book. I give it 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

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Club Midnight by Leigh Wilder (After Dark)
Splat the Cat: Blow Snow Blow by Rob Scotton
Just a Snowman by Mercer Mayer
The Selection by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The Queen by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The Prince by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The Elite by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The Guard by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The Favorite by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The One by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
The Heir by Kiera Cass (Series Review)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Pirates Past Noon = 5pts
A Collector of Affections = 3pts
What is the Super Bowl = 5pts
Morning Glories Vol. 1 = 3pts
Beast Within = 5pts
Dante's Fire = 3pts

Currently Reading:

The Changing Season by Steven Manchester - Kindle - 34%

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
 84 points + 24 points Earned - 20 points spent = 88 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 138
Total Points Spent this Year: 50

Pages Read/ Time Listened
35:31 Hours Listened (3:29 listened this week)
4,291 Pages Read (883 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Love in the Light by Laura Kaye - 10 points spent
Dear Cat by Allison Heath - 10 points spent

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Still laid up with the foot but having to push things a little bit, I can't keep letting chores slide or I will never catch up again! The good thing is being forced to sit still I am going through things more and purging the house instead of just shoving things into drawers and onto shelves.

I was hoping to get more reading done this weekend with all the snow but both Munchkin and I caught a nasty head cold so we ended up watching hours of Disney movies and cartoons and color, which honestly wasn't such a bad option.

I hope you are all having a wonderful January and start to 2016!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Crafty Times: Customized Journal

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 think this is actually the first Crafty Times of the new year!
I am way behind on getting the last couple of Christmas gifts out and this was one of them. Over the holidays I couldn't keep my crafting supplies out so now I was finally able to make this gift.  I saw a bunch of customized composition notepads on pinterest and thought I could do that!

I made this one for my friend (and no she doesn't view the blog so no spoiling it).
First I stamp the 2 sentiments in versamark ink and embossed them with white embossing powder.  I then used Munchkin's watercolors to paint the rainbow. I then spritzed on some Color Shine teal spray (I rubbed it in a little to give it a slight swirly/cloud effect). I felt like it was still missing something so I used this beautiful swirly swallow stamp with a dark teal ink. After cutting it down to size, I used double sided tape to secure it and covered the binding with washi tape.
I am so happy with how it came out and have plans a set of 4 smaller sized notebooks in seasonal style.