Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fun with Munchkin: Winter Fun

As part of my resolutions for 2016, I wanted to do more fun things with Munchkin and as a family.  I will be posting sporadically about some of the fun adventures we are having together.
We have had a rather odd winter so far here in Rhode Island, some mild days, some spring like days, some snowy days and some bitter cold.  One thing is that for a change we have been a relatively cold free house (yes I am knocking on wood). So when we got snow Munchkin finally got to go out and play! (Unfortunately, I haven't been allowed to play with him due to the sprained ankle but him and Hubby certainly had some fun).
The first storm only gave us some really light fluffy snow that wasn't great for snowman making but we tried anyway. 

Munchkin also made sure the sidewalk and deck were clear of snow so Momma wouldn't slip again.
Our second snow storm yielded much better snowman snow so once again Hubby and Munchkin made a much better snowman (he only lasted a couple of days then he was melted by the near 60 degree weather and rain).

And of course what snow day would be complete without sledding.  We have a small hill in our side yard and into our neighbor's backyard (and they luckily adore Munchkin and welcome him to come over and play). Of course Hubby got tasked with hauling him back up the hill each time, I guess this ankle thing isn't working out so bad for me.

We would love to see your winter fun too! Have you built a snowman, gone sledding or made a fort?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Bedtime Story: Curious George Makes Syrup by HA Rey

Synopsis: "Sunday is pancake day, and no plate of pancakes is complete without maple syrup. But when George runs out of his favorite topping, where will he find more? With the help of his friends Allie and Mr. Renkins, George learns how to turn sap from maple trees into his very own bottle of sweet, delicious syrup!"

My Review: So I picked this book up for Munchkin while in Vermont at a maple sugary (where they make syrup). This book gives only the briefest overview of how syrup is made, I would have liked it to have mentioned the time of year that the trees were tapped. But Munchkin of course still loved George's antics and of course all the talk of pancakes and maple syrup.
My Rating: This wasn't my favorite Curious George book, I don't think that it really explained some of the essential things children would ask.  We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Just a Little Sick by Mercer Mayer

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Little Critter has a day off from school!

When Little Critter® feels just a little sick, Mom lets him stay home from school. Hooray! But between visiting the doctor and staying inside all day, missing school is not what Little Critter expected.

Just a Little Sick is a simple story—perfect for emergent readers who are eager to join Little Critter on his adventures. "

My Review: A nice little lesson from Little Critter about being sick and discouraging acting sick. The sentences are simple, though it is a beginning reader and is more meant to be read with the words and sentences pointed out or allowing the child to read what they can. The images are great for deciphering the sentences as well. I read this one with Munchkin on a day he stayed home from work sick and he loved finding the little spider in each picture too.
My Rating: This has a nice little lesson wrapped into a simple easy to read story. Munchkin has started to try acting sick to get out of doing things so it came at the perfect time.  We give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

After Dark Review of Winters Thaw by Mari Carr

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: "Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. Sometimes it’s better.

Sienna Compton has it all figured out. Her life’s goals are set and it is all systems go. At least, it was. Until her long-time boyfriend Josh threw a ringer into the master plan, requesting a “break” from their relationship. Now she’s left alone during the long, cold Wyoming winter, questioning what her heart has always believed to be true love.

Daniel Lennon is facing an uncertain future. When a tragic accident leaves him unable to pursue his career as a professional bull rider, he finds himself at Compass Ranch, working to help Sienna’s father, Seth, build his horse breeding business. One look at Sienna has Daniel envisioning things he never imagined wanting—a permanent home, love, marriage—and he’s willing to use all the red hot tricks in his sexual arsenal to melt the ice surrounding Sienna’s broken heart.

When lust turns to genuine emotion, can Daniel convince Sienna to take a chance on something different and unexpected? Can he persuade her to consider a new path, one that will lead her directly to his arms…forever?

Warning: Roping and riding, past and future, cold winter and fiery desire, lust and love all come together in this new Compass series. Saddle up and hang on. The Comptons are back!"

My Review: I originally had a hard time getting into this book, I was expecting after dark but the beginning was set when the Compass girls turned 16 and it threw me off. I am glad I dove back in because I ended up loving all the characters, the setting and the storyline. Of course being set in Wyoming is always a big hit with me, but then to add in the extra steam. I also enjoyed how in addition to the steamy after dark scenes there is a solid storyline and depth to the characters. This is definitely a series that is going to fly by and I am going to end up missing when it is done.
My Rating: I was completely captivated by this story, the setting, the characters and of course the steam all roped me right in.  I give this book a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Pen to Paper: Letter Writing Month Challenges

Wow, we are more than halfway through the month of February and the Month of Letters Challenge.  I have been participating all month long and last week I gave you a little peek at what I have been sending out. 
Now I had originally planned on doing a post about how much sending mail out each day was costing, but a few thing happened instead.  First, I was horrible about keeping track of the stamps and shipping costs this month, there were a few times I was running late and would just throw a stamp on everything I had and drop it in the box.  Second, I have been having issues with the challenge website all month long. I was only able to enter my first mailing and then I haven't been able to add any more or complete any of the challenges. So, I wrote up my own little list of challenges I could check off and I thought I would share my challenges with you. Please feel free to use any of these challenges for your own mailing adventures or to share ideas with me too!
So there are 24 mailing days in the month of February this year, thanks to leap year.  So I decided to set out 20 challenges for myself, leaving the other 4 open.  I have starred (*) the ones I have completed so far.
1.  Postcard *
2. Handmade Mail * (colored postcard & Pocket Letter)
3. Letter to an Extended Family Member*
4. Letter to an Immediate Family Member
5. Birthday Card *
6. Valentine Card*
7. International Mail*
8. Fan Mail Letter*
9. Long Letter (5 or more pages)
10. Short Letter (1 page or less)*
11. Send from a Different Mail Dropbox
12. Letter to a New Pen Pal
13. Thank You
14. Package*
15. A Thinking of You Card
16. New Baby Card*
17. Renew Contact with a Long Lost Friend
18. Reply to Letter
19. Use a Not Current Forever Stamp*
20. Make Own Envelope*
So there you have the little challenge I set out for myself, I certainly have my work cut out for me next week! I seemed to have save many of the hardest letters to write for last.  I am a little proud of myself though, this morning I drop in the mail my first Fan Mail to an author I love.
Have you been participating in the Month of Letters? If you have been or even if you haven't have you written a letter out of your comfort zone or set a challenge for yourself?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review of Trina Bell's Humming Summer by Silke Stein

Read for: Requested Review
Synopsis: "Shooting ghost bears? Twelve-year-old Trina Bell has finally had enough. Why should she spend another dull summer watching Great-Aunt Roswinda play lawn bowling, while her father has all the fun? This year, she won't let him get away with the usual excuses. To her surprise, she succeeds. Her dad, the famous wildlife photographer, agrees to take her to the Canadian rainforest, on a quest for the elusive Kermode bear. Trina's triumph is short-lived, however; soon she finds herself in a city on Vancouver Island, dumped in a strange apartment building that may not be what it seems. But when she befriends Moss, the three-legged dog living across the street, and becomes involved in a mysterious case of vanishing hummingbirds, events take an astonishing turn..."

My Review:  It took me quite some time to read this book. It has a slow pace to it until about the last 50 pages or so. To make up for the pacing and lack of excitement there is a lot of beautiful imagery and creative fantasy. I really enjoyed the depth of characters, and the uniqueness of the animal characters. I was happy with the way the story developed with the characters, nothing felt forced in a particular direction (again possibly the reason for the slow pacing). It may not be enjoyable for all readers, particularly younger readers, but it is still a very lovely book (and I now really want to get a hummingbird feeder and travel to see the British Columbia setting myself).
My Rating: This was a beautifully crafted book, though it might not appeal to all readers due to the slow pacing. It does have a wealth of imagery, fantasy, creativity and emotional growth of the characters, as well as a little mystery.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Silke Stein and her work on her Goodreads Page or her Website. 
You can also obtain your own copy of Trina Bell's Humming Summer in digital or print format from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tasty Attempts: Crispy Black Bean & Rice Burritos

I am now posting Tasty Attempts every other Tuesday. The posts will include a variety of recipes, maybe some of them turn out tasty, maybe others are failed attempts.
So it is getting harder and harder to please Munchkin at the dinner table, we have been relegated to eating mostly chicken nuggets, fish sticks, mac & cheese and pizza. Not that I am opposed to eating loads of pizza but he is growing boy.  Thankfully, I have learned to play to some of his preferences.  There is one thing this boy oddly loves and that is beans, black beans, kidney beans, northern beans, cannelli beans, etc he loves them all.
So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest for Crispy Black Bean and Rice Burritos, I knew I had something that would make everyone in the family happy.
I did alter the recipe a little, instead of using plain rice, I made one of Rice A Roni's Spanish rice mixes.  I also realized belatedly that Munchkin had eaten all the bell peppers, so I threw a can of Rotel in instead.  Also my husband HATES cilantro, so I only added it to the ones I made for myself, luckily it was a recipe that is easy to adjust per person. Also, I have discovered that I am HORRIBLE at wrapping burritos, I either put to much filing in or I start rolling it up to loose or something else goes wrong.  With all that said, I am definitely hanging on to this as a go-to recipe, we all ate them and loved them (and bonus there is protein, veggies, dairy, and grains all in one nice little wrapper).

Review of Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot

Read for: Mount TBR Print & Series Challenge
Synopsis: "No one ever said being a princess was easy.

Just when Mia thought she had the whole princess thing under control, things get out of hand, fast. First there's an unexpected announcement from her mother. Then Grandmère arranges a national primetime interview for the brand-new crown princess of Genovia. On top of that, intriguing, exasperating letters from a secret admirer begin to arrive.

Before she even has the chance to wonder who those letters are from, Mia is swept up in a whirlwind of royal intrigue the likes of which hasn't been seen since volume I of The Princess Diaries."

My Review: This second book in the series was a definite improvement over the first book. While Mia is still a little immature, it is a little bit more age appropriate. Apparently the princess lessons are working as she is starting to think about the people around her as opposed to just herself. The book also read a lot faster than the first one, I had no problem reading it within a single day and enjoyed it. The storyline is developing nicely as well as the characters, it is great to get to know some of the sub-characters a little better too.
My Rating: This book was much improved compared to the first book, it actually makes me excited to read the rest of the books.  I am also seeing where the movie picked little things out of the different books to put together into a movie storyline.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 7 - Sunset of the Sabertooth

Welcome to Magic Tree House Monday!

Each Monday (other than when special events are planned) I will review one book of the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne.
Book 7 in the series is called Sunset of the Sabertooth.  Jack and Annie must continue to search for the four special items to free Morgan.  This time they must face freezing temperatures and animals of the ice age.
My Review: Another fun adventure for Jack and Annie. There was a lot of excitement, some danger and some things to learn as well. Jack is taking more notes than in the first few books and seeming to learn more from these trips. Of course the theme of the special things is figured out as the third of the four items is found. I expect the next book should be pretty exciting as well.
My Rating: I enjoyed this book, it was fast paced and while there is danger, it wasn't quite as scary for little ones as the Amazon book. With them almost done finding the special items I am wondering where the storyline will go from there.  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

Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Mary Poppins by PL Travers
Mama Loves by Molly Goode (Early Reader)
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Bedtime Story)
Korgi Vol. 3: A Hollow Beginning by Christian Slade (Graphic Novel)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Mary Poppins = 3pts
Mama Loves = 1pt
What Pet Should I Get = 1pt
Hearts in Darkness = 3pts
Princess in the Spotlight = 5pts
Love in the Light = 3pts
Sunset of the Sabertooth = 5pts

Currently Reading:

A Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood - Audio - 53%

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
147 points + 21 points earned + 10 Bonus Points for 24 Hrs Listening - 40 Points spent =  138 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 228
Total Points Spent this Year: 90

Pages Read/ Time Listened
50:09 Hours Listened (3:50 listened this week)
7,863 Pages Read (722 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Aesop's Fables by Aesop - Scholastic Book Order
Supertruck by Stephen Savage - Scholastic Book Order
Giggle Giggle Quack by Doreen Cronin - Scholastic Book Order
Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong - Scholastic Book Order
Sounder by William H. Armstrong - Scholastic Book Order
Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivansan - Scholastic Book Order
Little Owl's Day by Divya Srinivansan - Scholastic Book Order
Tiptoe Joe by Ginger Foglesong Gibson - Scholastic Book Order
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson - Scholastic Book Order
Cliffords Spring Clean Up by Norman Bridwell - Scholastic Book Order
Princess Lessons by Meg Cabot - 15 Points Spent
Project Princess by Meg Cabot - 15 Points Spent
Maid for Love by Marie Force - Freebie
Fatal Affair by Marie Force - Freebie
Treading Water by Marie Force - 10 Points Spent

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



So I got a little distracted this week.  I have been reading so much I have been neglecting some of my other interest, I always seem to struggle with this balance during the beginning of the year.  I missed a couple of posts and had a couple posted late last week, but I am back on track this week.  I have started to get some coloring practice before I dive into one of those really intricate adult coloring books but at the same time I am listening to audio books. Speaking of Audio Books, holy listening time! I am definitely listening to more books than I ever used to (not that it is a bad thing by any means).

In other exciting news, a good book loving friend of mine picked us up 2 tickets to the Summer Reading with Robin event (a local book event in a beautiful location).  We went to this event last year and while it was a complete blast and I walked out with a mountain of signed books and met some new to me authors, we both felt rushed. So this year we are going to pick up some books and head to the beach before the event!   Also, I just recently discovered the Bookworm Box and of course they were all sold out, I figured I would have to wait until next month but low and behold after following them on Facebook I found out extra boxes would go on sale for a couple of minutes. I managed to snag a box!! They are a little pricey and it is a subscription so it will automatically charge each month, but I figured give it a couple of months and see how I like it! And, my local Barnes & Noble is finally doing a regular story time on Saturdays (that isn't during nearly every young child's nap time).  So we are going to try to start taking Munchkin a couple of times a month.  And I just found out they are doing a trade up event for the Nooks! I have the very first Nook that ever came out and it is very slow to load and my buttons are all cracked, so I have already told Hubby that his birthday present to me will be the new Nook less the buy back amount.

So see, I haven't completely neglected my bookish interests! There are lots of fun adventures to come and I hope you will all continue to join me for them.