Friday, August 12, 2016

Bedtime Story: I am Sharing by Mercer Mayer

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "The cooperative Little Critter shows how he shares his toys, his crayons, and even his ice cream, with his little sister. He even shares the TV--except when it's time for his favorite show!"

My Review: This is a great Little Critter book, it isn't exactly a story but it is a great conversation starter. You still have the fun Little Critter illustrations (and the spider and mouse to find in all the pictures). Munchkin was even able to pickup that Critter wasn't sharing as good as he should have been and we were able to talk about what sharing does mean.
My Rating: Another great little critter book that will spark some great conversations about sharing. It is an easy book to read to young ones or even kids to read on their own once they start.  We give this book a rating of Four Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Baby Dolphin's First Day by Peter and Connie Roop

Read For: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "What does a baby dolphin do on the day it is born? He swims, he whistles, he jumps, he naps, he escapes a shark, and he follows his mother through the beautiful blue sea. This easy reader brings children along on his new adventures and teaches them about these highly intelligent animals!"

My Review: This book came in a set, and we thought we would give it a try even though dolphins hold no interest for Munchkin. While it may not be our cup of tea, it is still a great level 1 beginning reader. It has short sentences and easy, familiar words. While it is non fiction it still has a little bit of a storyline to follow so it isn't just reading facts. I think kids who love the ocean and animals will really enjoy this book.
My Rating: This is definitely a great level one non-fiction, I liked that it actually had a little bit of a story instead of just facts like a lot of the other non fiction early reader books I have come across. Unfortunately it was just not for us, Munchkin has zero interest in dolphins. For us it gets a rating of Three Paws but a dolphin fan will really enjoy this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Subscription Services: Bookworm Box, Novel Tea Club & Bookcase Club

So I have been testing out a few different book subscription boxes over the past few months.  I wanted to have a good idea about the items included, prices, shipping, packaging and my enjoyment before telling you about these boxes so I could give you my best opinion.  As I am sure you know, subscription boxes really started picking up steam a year or two ago and when I originally wanted to receive a book subscription box each month the only one available was BookRiot that was way out of my price range at the time.  Most subscription services sent you a monthly box in the interest of your choice, mine is obviously books, for a fee. They select the items that you receive and they are often a complete surprise.  So anyway enough of my chatter let me share my boxes with you, I have subscribed to 3 different services over the past 3 -5 months but I am only going to show you the most recent boxes. (Just as a note: none of this sponsored, I paid for each of these subscription services from my own pocket. I was never contact by any of these services to post a review or promote anything, these are all my own opinions).
This was the first subscription I started receiving. There is a limited amount of boxes each month and it took me a couple of months on the email/waiting list to snag a subscription. The subscription is $39.99 for the box and I think $11.00 or so for shipping. The box includes at least 2 signed books and some book swag and bookworm box swag.   All proceeds go to charity.  The books are I believe donated as is the author's time for signatures.  The Bookworm Box is organized by author Colleen Hoover
In my July box I received The Perfect Life by Erin Noelle and Unseen Messages by Pepper Winters both signed by the authors.  The box also included a little preview book from Roman Crazy which was a great idea. There are also little cards and bookmarks from other authors. As far as the Bookworm Box goodies, there is a stress reliever book, pen, sticker and socks (the goodies vary each month but there is always a pen and some really unique items).
I like all the goodies you get in this box and I enjoy the fact that the books you receive are signed and especially that the proceeds are donated to a variety of charities (you receive a note telling you where the money is going). I am a little disappointed in the book selections though, they seem to really revolve around contemporary books, which I don't often read. I have only once received a book that I had heard of and was on my TBR/Wishlist and I have received 5 boxes I think. A few of the books do sound interesting but they are definitely not a priority for me to read. I have cancelled my subscription to the Bookworm box because of the selection of books and the high price. I do think you get a good value for your money if you enjoy the books being selected.
 Previous Boxes I have received
A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

The next service I decided to try out was Novel Tea Club, I happened to stumble and loved the idea of a book and a different tea each month. There was no waiting list at the time I signed up, I don't know if there is one now.  The subscription is $27.50 USD (this is a Canadian subscription service) which I believe includes shipping cost. There are also almost always promo codes to find on their facebook or website (I had a limited time code for 10% off for life).  Included in the box each month is a book, a tea (either loose leaf or bagged) and a few other goodies that often include a snack and/or some locally or small business made/produced items. You can also select the genre for your subscription, the options currently are Romance, YA and Fantasy/Sci-Fi.  You can also change your selection throughout your subscription.

I subscribed to the Fantasy box and while most of the books are new to me, they all sound very intriguing. In my July box I received Once Again by Liz Braswell and Cameron Dokey, a pair of fairytale retellings, some Macha Macaroons, some bath fizzies, chapstick, a pair of magnetic bookmarks and 3 types of tea (a berry green tea, green rooibos and red rooibos).  I do know that they are changing the format slightly come next month and there will be a theme (Night Owl).
I have really enjoyed this box every month, I have never been able to finish all the tea before a new box arrives. When they send loose tea there is usually a tea infuser and/or bags to fill included. The goodies are intriguing to try, there have been handmade marshmallows in the past, maybe not my favorite things to eat but still fun to try. I really love that you can select a genre of books, a few of the ones I have received have been on my TBR/Wishlist already.  At only about $25 a month this has been a great box to enjoy.
Past boxes I have received

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

The Bookcase Club is my newest subscription box that I have tried out. It is more of a straight up book subscription.  Each month you receive 2 books in your selected genre. The genre choices have a wide variety and include: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, YA, Mystery/Thriller, Children's, Romance and even options for cookbooks and history books (these two are quarterly books). The cost is $9.99 a month and $5.00 shipping (if you pre-pay for several months or use promo codes it can be cheaper - I pre-paid for 6 months and had a 10 or 15% off code so it works out to be less than $8 a month).
I subscribed to the Romance Subscription and in my July box I received Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer.  I haven't read either of these books but I really can't wait to read Read Bottom Up, it looks like a really unique format.
I really have enjoyed this subscription and you can't beat the price. I like how there is such a selection of genres to choose from and I believe you can change it.  I haven't heard of most of the books I have received so far but so many of them have sounded fantastic and I am clearing out a lot of my TBR for this year so I can read these books. I am thinking if I can get another fantastic code like last time I might get Munchkin his own book subscription.
Past boxes I have received

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on

Do you have a book subscription box you like? Have you received any of these before? Did you enjoy the books you have gotten?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tea Time Tuesday: Travel Cups and Tumblers

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?)
Good afternoon everyone! Hope you are doing well. I thought I would chat with you a little bit about the travel cups and tumblers I use for my iced tea.  I am not home much so most of my tea is consumed at work or on the road so I have tried out many different brands to try to find the ones I like the best.
So here are all the ones that I use the most, from left to right, Mason Jar mug, Kate Spade, Tervis, Contigo & Thermos.
I like the Mason Jar for at home, I don't have a lid for it though I know there are all kinds of tutorials on how to make your own but I don't have the time. It is nice because it isn't too large and I can use an extra large straw for the bubble tea.
I love the Kate Spade cup design, it is all bookshelves so of course, but the straw rattles in the lid, it is hand wash only and it isn't double layers or insulated so the ice melts super quickly.
The Tervis might be my favorite cup, it is double walled and you can buy it in so many different designs to suit your style.  They also offer different lid options, this one came with a lid you drink out of but I also purchased the lid you can put a straw in and it can handle the extra wide straws for bubble tea.
Contigo has a really nice cup, it keeps the drinks cold for a very long time, it is also dishwasher safe and taller than my tervis.  My only complaint is that it had a cover over the straw hole but the spring broke off after only a few uses, it works fine without that little cover (I think it is too keep the drink cooler and spill resistant in transport).
The Thermos I have is rather old, but I love it. It is supposed to be hand washed but I have run it through the dishwasher almost every time so the picture is starting to wear off. The mouth is a little small so some types of ice cubes can't fit and it isn't insulated, it does stay nice and cold for some time but the outside also gets cold so I am not a fan of carrying it around much or leaving it on my desk as the condensation drips everywhere.
So what cups do you use to take your iced tea with you? Have you had an experiences with these cups? 

Review of Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Read for: Mount TBR & I love equine books
Synopsis: "Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesized to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful pegasus in all of Anok.

Star is this black foal.

Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders, and his epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.

A gripping new animal fantasy series!"

My Review: When I was younger I was an avid fan of horse books, I read nearly everyone I could come across (and honestly still do to a degree) and this book would have been right there in that list. I downloaded this one for free or next to nothing on my kindle some time ago and decided to pick it up. I was rather shocked at this book, I understand that this is a wild animal book along the lines of The Warriors by Erin Hunter, it was an unbelievably violent book for young readers. Nearly every chapter was filled with some kind of attack or blood shed and it is rather graphic in the description of those events as well. It was fine for me to read but I would be hesitant to hand this book to a middle grader reader (the target audience) unless I knew they could handle the content. With that said this still a wonderfully constructed fantasy world, you almost don't notice the world building, it is so well integrated into the story. You also connect with the characters even though they are equine in nature. The underlying message throughout the book about the gray area with what is right and wrong and the greed for power is a very powerful one. I really do think this is a great book just not entirely appropriate for the target audience.
My Rating: I am having a really hard time rating this book, I would give it a high rating for my own reading enjoyment and the quality of writing but then it not in anyway appropriate for the target audience.  In the end I am giving it a rating of Three Paws.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 27 - Thanksgiving on Thursday

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.
In Book 27 Jack and Annie travel back to the time of the Pilgrims and lend a hand with the first Thanksgiving, but nothing seems to be going right for them. Lessons will be learned and a new kind of magic as well on their journey to become magicians for Morgan.
My Review: I really enjoyed this one, not your standard story of the First Thanksgiving. I think Jack really had a lot to learn in this book and I also liked how they used their research book much more in this adventure. Again all the additional historical facts at the back are great for further learning and for teachers.
My Rating: I yet again really enjoyed this book and can see how teachers would love to use this book to integrate into lesson plans. 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

Good Morning, Gorillas by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Centaur School by Lucy Coates
More Than Pizza by Christine DePetrillo
Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens (After Dark)
Ice Cream Soup by Ann Ingalls (Early Reader)
What a Bad Dream by Mercer Mayer (Bedtime Story)
Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan (Graphic Novel)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Tale of Oriel - 5pts
Heart Mate - 3pts
Starfire - 3pts
More than Words - 3pts
Here all Along - 3pts
Thanksgiving on Thursday - 5pts
Llama Llama Mad at Mama - 1pt
Saga Vol. 3 - 3pts
Monsters One to Ten - 1pt
I Dream of Dragons - 3pts
Currently Reading:

Angel of Fire by Tanya Anne Crossby - Audio - 13%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt
HeartMate Series by Robin D. Owens

Total Points Earned
 145 points + 30 points earned + 10 points for 10K pages= 185 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 871
Total Points Spent this Year: 699

Pages Read/ Time Listened
166:44 Hours Listened (12:55 listened this week)
30,751 Pages Read (1,540 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


So it was another pretty miserable week, we haven't been getting any better so I finally decided to take Munchkin to the doctor and found out he has walking pneumonia, I felt horrible for waiting so long to get him in but you just never know if it is just a cold or something worse.  Thankfully we have antibiotics for him and he seems to be on the mend.  I also figured I better get in too and yup I have bronchitis so more antibiotics for me too, our kitchen counter looks like a full blown pharmacy now. Luckily today is also a holiday in Rhode Island so no work or preschool so we can work on getting better some more.

I did actually get quite a bit of reading done this last week all things considered. So I have a bunch of reviews to catch up on and some fun things planned coming up.  I have also gotten myself a whole new way to manage the blog and blog posts so I hope to have a post about that soon too.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Crafty Times: Index Card A Day 2016

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!
So I posted back in June that I was once again going to attempt the Index Card a Day Challenge. The key word there being attempt, I was successful in managing I think 20 days.  It was extremely frustrating that my supplies were not organized so I couldn't just quick grab what I needed and also I didn't have a designated craft space so each day I would have to pull out what I needed work at the kitchen table and then pack everything away again. As a result I ended up giving up not even halfway through because it was taking up too much time having to shuffle supplies constantly.  The good thing was that I did practice some new techniques and supplies that will come in handy with some future crafting plans. 
Anyway here are some of the cards I made this year:


So which is your favorite?