Friday, March 4, 2016

Bedtime Story: Monday is One Day by Arthur A. Levine

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "A love note from a working parent to a child, counting the days of the week -- each one a special opportunity to spend time together.

One by one, the days of the week roll by. Monday is one day, Tuesday is blue shoes day, and Wednesday is halfway day.

When Saturday and Sunday finally come, it's time for little ones and the adults who love them to play, share, and celebrate. Every day of the week offers a special opportunity for families to enjoy being together!"

My Review: I ordered this book a while ago from Scholastic and I have no idea why I waited so long to read it with Munchkin. It is a great book to talk about the days of the week, especially when discussing when and why you have to go to work with children. They do the days of the week starting on Monday as opposed to Sunday (but in reality how many people actually look at Sunday as the first day of the week anymore?). It has fun little rhymes for each of the days of the week for you to use to remind little ones of how many days are left until the weekend and time together.
My Rating: This is an excellent book for not only introducing the days of the week but also the concept of working days. It would be nice if there was something about odd shifts but that would probably complicate the story. We give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review Run, Remy, Run! by Kitty Richards

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Under tables, over carts, and through the dining hall—Remy the rat is on the run! But will this furry fan of fine foods get caught? Find out in this action-packed Step 1 reader based on the film Ratatouille!"

My Review: This was a great book for beginning readers. We have seen the movie Ratatouille, but the style of the book is so different it doesn't feel like you are just reading the movie in print. The sentences are simple as are the words (in fact this is the first book the Munchkin has actually participated in reading, and sounding out the word 'soup').
My Rating: This is an excellent first level reader.  The sentences were short, with a lot of repeating words to familiarize new readers.  The story also has some movement so it isn't like just reading words.  It also features a little bit different art so it isn't like it copies the movie exactly.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

After Dark Review of Summer Fling by Mari Carr and Jayne Rylon

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: Series Challenge & Mount TBR Digital
Synopsis: "Summertime and the lovin’ is easy…until it’s not.

Compass Girls, Book 3

Too much love and loss taught Jade Compton to protect her heart and her sanity by steering clear of all that romance nonsense. She’s doing just fine, working two jobs, hanging out with her cousins and her best friend, Liam.

But when a combination of unbearable heat wave and a case of the boredom blues knock her down, she longs to do something spontaneous…maybe even a little bit reckless.

Liam Harrison met Jade when she was sixteen—in the local cemetery. If he’s learned anything after eight years of friendship, it’s that Jade has a wild streak a mile wide. And while he doesn’t want to tame the adventurous woman, he wouldn’t mind showing her a few sexy ways to channel some of her impulsiveness. With him. In the bedroom.

When he proposes a sexy, no-strings-attached summer fling, Jade jumps at the chance to spice things up and indulge some pretty kinky fantasies. Then summer ends…and Jade comes to the uncomfortable realization that there’s only one place she’s comfortable in her own skin—Liam’s arms.

Warning: Excessive heat in this story—in the bedroom, the barn, the kitchen, the bar. Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated!"

My Review: I am totally in love with this series and how it is giving you a little taste of everything. This one might be the hottest of the bunch, I loved Jade's defiance and spunk, not to mention the determination and patience Liam used in response. I also enjoyed seeing the rest of the characters continue to develop along with the underlying storyline. This was definitely a hot, steamy summer read (or in the winter to warm up a bit). I only have one book left in this series and I know I am going to miss it, but I think I am going to have to go back and read the previous series about the fathers and mothers.
My Rating: This was a well rounded book, full of personality, complete characters, continued storyline and plenty of heat between Jade and Liam.  I think this might be the best of the series! I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Pen to Paper: Books to Inspire You

Hello all my letter writing friends! I hope you enjoyed sharing the Month of Letters with me.  I thought that this month instead of talking about actually writing letters, postcards and other snail mail, I would share some books to help inspire corresponding through the mail. 
A few years ago when I first decided to really focus on writing letters I read a book called The Art of the Personal Letter.  While this book was helpful in getting things started, it was very formal. It had several ideas for writing thank you letters, sympathy notes, and invitations, among other letters you might right.  So I assumed that most books you would find on writing letters would be similar, until I came across the book I am going to share with you today.  I saw this book reviewed on YouTube and added it to my cart on Amazon. 
This is a pretty large book, it has a thick hardback cover and the pages are also very thick.  I loved this book because not only did it give you ideas on when to write to someone but also tips on what to write.  It then took things a step further in giving you ideas on how to personalize your mail and letters. Now it may not be for everyone, some of you might prefer the more classic idea of the letter, but for me I love creating unique and crafty letters to send to my pen pals, friends and family.
So this is a great book to pick up if you want to start writing letters and just need some little tips here and there. It has a wealth of information.  You might also want to pick it up just to observe the beauty of the book, it has within it some beautiful vintage letters from the likes of Beatrice Potter, Van Gogh and other famous and influential people.
I hope you will join me throughout the month as I share a variety of the books I have found to inspire you in your written correspondence journey!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss Bedtime Story: What Pet Should I Get

Read For: Children's Book Challenge & I LOVE Dr. Seuss!
Synopsis: "A never-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss!

This never-ever-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss about making up one’s mind is the literary equivalent of buried treasure! What happens when a brother and sister visit a pet store to pick a pet? Naturally, they can’t choose just one! The tale captures a classic childhood moment — choosing a pet — and uses it to illuminate a life lesson: that it is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it!

Told in Dr. Seuss’s signature rhyming style, this is a must-have for Seuss fans and book collectors, and a perfect choice for the holidays, birthdays, and happy occasions of all kinds.

An Editor’s Note at the end discusses Dr. Seuss’s creative process, his interest in animals, and Seussian creatures throughout his work."

My Review: I picked this book up for Munchkin last year but he didn't seem quite ready to truly appreciate Dr. Seuss yet. I am glad I waited and he had an opportunity to really enjoy some of my other Dr. Seuss books first. This one just wasn't quite up to par with his other books, the rhyming is there but it feels like it lacks that extra special creativity spark that I love about Dr. Seuss books. I do really enjoy the afterword but it isn't for the kids at all (even though if they are anything like Munchkin, they will ask you to read every word on every page).
My Rating: It wasn't quite up to the par I expect from Dr. Seuss, though a few of the later ones (the books released after his passing, that were found or finished by someone else) aren't quite as good.  This one leaves you really wondering at the end, which is okay but it drove poor Munchkin crazy.  It is still Dr. Seuss, though not quite the same.  We give it a rating of Three Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss Giveaway!!

Dr. Seuss books have always held a special place in my life, long before I had a child I was collecting and revisiting the books regularly. I am hoping that Munchkin will develop the great for these books as well. My favorite Dr. Seuss book is hard to pick, I have always love Horton Hears a Who, but I also love the Sneetches (in fact I have Sneetch themed nails right now, yellow with green stars and then no stars). So far Munchkin really loves One Fish Two Fish.

I remember back in kindergarten we put on a Dr. Seuss play, it featured Green Eggs and Ham and Cat in the Hat. We all had the hats on, and my line (yes I still remember this) was "Look everyone, the sun is coming out".
Last spring we got to visit the Dr. Seuss Memorial Park in Springfield MA.


And then last weekend we went to Story Time at our local Barnes & Noble for a Dr. Seuss Celebration.
 The first book read was What Pet Should I Get, which was released last year.

Then of course Cat in the Hat
Munchkin was an avid listener, it was a crowded room and he didn't want to leave Hubby.

Pin the Tail on Horton

Coloring hats & draw What Pet Should I Get

We also made some snacks for Preschool, they are having a Dr. Seuss Day!

Tonight for dinner we will be having some Green Eggs and Ham.

So to celebrate this amazing man who has brought fun books to children of many generations (and gotten many parents tongue tied), I wanted to host a little giveaway.

For the giveaway I have 2 prizes (not really a 1st and 2nd just two sets) full of Dr. Seuss book and character themed goodies. Each set includes notebook, dry erase board, wrapping paper, clipboard, pens, coloring crayons, stickers, pencil case, pencils, erasers, bookmarks, and a drink cup.

I have been gathering these goodies for several years and while I have saved some things for my own Dr. Seuss collection, I thought I would share the wealth with all of you. 

~ Open Internationally
~ Must be 18 or older to enter (if you are a winner and want it addressed to your child, let me know when I email you).
~ Giveaway starts now and Ends on Friday (March 4th) to give time for entries.
~ Entries can be made by below methods
~ At the end the 2 winners will be selected by Rafflecopter

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tasty Attempts: Baked Garlic Cheddar Chicken

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.
I am always on the hunt for simple recipes and I came across this one on Pinterest for Baked Garlic Cheddar Chicken.  Again, this recipe calls for just about everything I always keep on hand, though I think I ended up using Monterey Jack cheese instead just because it was what I had on hand.  It was simple, I didn't pound the chicken out, I just simply cut the breast in half (I prefer working with thin cuts anyway). 
The chicken came out crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside!  Munchkin loved it, I loved it (even went back for seconds) and Hubby loved it.  The best tip I got from this recipe was to sprinkle some bread crumbs in the bottom of the baking dish, it seems to have absorbed extra juices so the bottom of the chicken didn't get soggy.  It was a little salty, so if you make it be sure to use unsalted butter and maybe don't add the salt, the parmesan cheese has enough of a salty flavor.

Review of Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry

Read for: Mount TBR Digital
Synopsis: "A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.

Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through."

My Review: I have this shelved as a young adult book, while it is more in the new adult realm it is clean enough to be a young adult book in my opinion. I am having a hard time rating and reviewing this book. I will do the best I can without spoilers. I enjoyed most of this book though a good portion of it felt cliché and something I had read many times before. The instant love followed by a supposedly slow developing relationship felt a little fake to me, but I know a lot of people do enjoy this style. Also, the issue with the mother at times felt forced, almost like it was an afterthought to add some unnecessary drama to the book. Now with for the good part, the book definitely improved the last third or so, it was nice to see the change up of the guy needing the girl for support. And while I didn't think I was really emotionally involved in the book or the characters, I definitely realized I was in fact invested as the roller coaster kicked into high gear. So while it is a book you feel like you read before, there are still some very redeeming qualities to the book.
My Rating: This was a so so book for me for the majority of it, but clearly the ending really got to me.  So it is hard for me to decide a rating for this one, there are almost equal parts that I liked and parts I didn't like but the fact that it made me emotional marks something very good.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and Stump Wag.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 9 - Dolphins at Daybreak

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.
After book 8 concluded with Jack and Annie releasing Morgan from the spell, the question was what kind of adventure would be next.  In Book 9, Dolphins at Daybreak, Morgan returns with the Tree House asking Jack and Annie for help. She needs them to become Master Librarians but in order to do so they must be able to answer some riddles.  To find the answer to the first riddle the Tree House takes them out into the ocean.
My Review: The adventure kicks off again and a new mystery to solve. This time Jack and Annie head out to solve a riddle. It was fun to have a task that the reader could try solving, maybe even before Jack and Annie figured it out. It was quite the adventure but also a little scary if the young reader is afraid of ocean animals. Luckily, nothing truly scary happens. Oh and as a side note, I mentioned in my last review wondering about the parents, this time they were present and at least acknowledged that the kids were leaving the house before the sun was up.  
My Rating: It seems like the books are starting to become a little more complex, but it is subtle. While still enjoying the adventure, young readers must now challenge their minds too. I give this one 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

Midnight on the Moon by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
One of A Kind Cat Book by Ciye Cho
Hope Springs by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr (After Dark)
Plane Pals by Frank Berrios (Early Reader)
Pup, Pup and Away (Bedtime Story)
Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future by Nick Spencer (Graphic Novel)

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

A Life With You = 3pts
Rapunzel's Revenge = 3pts
Dolphins at Daybreak = 5pts
Princess in Love = 5pts
Marked = 3pts
Flight over Newport = 1pt

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
175 Points + 20 Points Earned + 10 bonus points (24 hours listened) = 205 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 295
Total Points Spent this Year: 90

Pages Read/ Time Listened
72:13 Hours Listened (11:03 listened this week)
9,288 Pages Read (550 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



It was an exhausting week this last week, Munchkin got sick again but it is mostly just coughing. Which means he can go to preschool but it also means lots of waking up at night.  So there weren't many nights of staying up late reading, but I again did a lot of listening to a book.  I must say I am enjoying audio books more and more as they allow me to get things done (like driving, crafts, laundry, etc) but still be enjoying a book.

I also wrapped up a pretty successful Month of Letters today too. Hopefully I will start getting some responses soon so I can keep up my writing. I am also thoroughly enjoying Post Crossing, I have added quite a bit to my stock of postcards so I have a great selection to choose from.

I also started a new series of art projects to work on some techniques and I am debating taking a stab at an art journal, but I have already ordered myself that I am not allowed to start that until I finish a scrapbook!

We also had some fun this weekend, I took Munchkin to Barnes & Noble to meet up with one of my bookish friends and to also go to story time. They were having a special story time to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday! I will have some pictures later, but also stay tuned for Wednesday,  I am working on a giveaway for the celebration here on the blog!

I hope you all have a great bookish week!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Crafty Times: Coloring

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!
Yes this post is about coloring.  Remember at the end of last year when I talked about my goals for the year? One of them was to complete a coloring book, and I really wanted to try to complete an adult coloring book (I am finding out that might be more difficult than I expected).
So I found a beautiful adult coloring book called Time Chamber, but I figured I should work on some of my coloring techniques and mediums before I start (I really want this book to come out nice, it is so beautiful). So I did some research and looked at what other people were doing. Some people used colored pencils, others were using water color pencils, and others were using gel pens.  I picked up some inexpensive coloring books and a boxed set of Millie Marotta Animal Kingdom postcards to practice on.
First I tried some marker pens on this flamingo, it took me several hours over 2 days to complete. The fine tip was great for getting into all the little feathers but they didn't work well for the background. It was also difficult to get shading, you would need endless shades of colors to really do what you want.

I then wanted to test the colored pencils out and wanted something a little bigger to work with, my eyes were a little tired after all the tiny lines on the flamingo.  Again I only had a small 12 color Crayola set of pencils.  I haven't really finished it yet because again I feel like I needed a wider variety of colors, but it was nice to be able to get the shading the way I like it.
Next, I saw in my research that a lot of people really loved using gel pens for their coloring.  I only had a few colors (and tiny pens as you can see in this picture) but I thought I could give it a try on another one of the Animal Kingdom postcards.  I really loved how easily the colors went on and how bright they popped. Again there was not a whole lot of options for shading but it was really fun to work with the smooth colors.
I could see the gel pens really wouldn't last long and they wouldn't be great for backgrounds so I tested using colored pencils for a background on this jelly fish postcard. It is a little odd with the 2 different mediums but it still looks pretty nice.  I also experimented a little with shading by laying down one color and going over it with another color (you can see that with the orange and yellow). They blended together pretty nicely so I could see that there maybe is a little potential for shading, but again I was only using the very limited pens I had on hand.
After having so much fun and success I went out one night and grabbed a couple of small sets of gel pens I could find at Staples. It was still limited compared to what I had seen others using on youtube but it was more than I had.  I spent one Saturday evening working on this fish postcard (from the Animal Kingdom set). It was a lot of fun to use a wider variety of colors and work through all the patterns.

 With the fish being such a success and done in an evening, I felt as if I might be ready to give a full sized page a try with the gel pens.  This was in a small book that came with one of my card making books and I thought this pattern would be fun.  It took a lot more work than I expected and I found I got bored using the same colors for long periods, so I had to jump from the tree to other sections then back to the tree.  It took nearly 3 nights of coloring for several hours to finally complete it and this isn't nearly as large or as detailed as some of the other pictures I want to do.

I have been having a lot of fun coloring these, especially while listening to audio books. The gel pens are super easy to use and make really brightly colored pictures. I can see that they might run out quickly, but I did find a large set at JoAnn's Craft Store for only $15, and they also sell individual pens so I could pick up specific colors I need. I don't think I am too keen on the regular colored pencils, at least of the Crayola brand, maybe they would be better in a higher quality but I don't want to invest that much money into the hobby at this time. I am going to test out the water color pencils soon, I have been using them with the stamping and find them easy to use, I just don't know how it will go using them on a larger piece or with the paper in the books.
I am definitely finding this to be an enjoyable past time, creative but without having to use much brain power. I can color while still being completely into my audio books (which I am going to have to get more if this keeps up).  I may not color the Time Chamber book this year, I think I might have to find a slightly less complicated book to color for my goal.