Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advent Reads Day 10: Bedtime Story: It's Christmas David by David Shannon

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "The bestselling star of NO, DAVID! turns Christmas traditions upside down with laugh-aloud humor.

Readers of all ages will vividly remember trying to peek at hidden gift packages; writing scrolls of wish lists to Santa; and struggling to behave at formal Christmas dinner parties. Always in the background, we know Santa Claus is watching, soon to decide if David deserves a shiny new fire truck or a lump of coal under the tree. From playing with delicate ornaments to standing in an endlessly long line for Santa, here are common Christmas activities--but with David's naughty trimmings. A surefire hit that is destined to be an annual classic."


My Review: Munchkin is a huge fan of the David book and I thought this would be a fun addition to our collection. We loved this maybe even more than No David. It introduces kids to all the new and special rules associated with the holiday season, things they might not think is wrong until told otherwise. It also gives a little warning about not getting on Santa's good list.
 
My Rating: We love the No David books and this was one of the best in the set so far! It was a great reminder to me to remember that it is an exciting time of year but with whole new rules that Munchkin might not be aware of, and also great for Munchkin to remember to be good. We give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
 
 
 
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Christmas Fun Day 10: Holiday Nails

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
I haven't been real great about being creative with my nail polish like I was last year but I cannot resist during the holiday season. I had to pull all of my polish out this week and plan some fun nails. So far I have only painted them once but I will be changing them up each week leading up to Christmas.
 
Some bows I did the other day, still need to work on a steadier hand but they came out pretty darn cute, and I love this shimmery red color, perfect for Christmas!
 
Here are a couple from last year in case you want some ideas!




Friday, December 9, 2016

Advent Reads Day 9: No Room at the Inn by Jean M. Malone

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
 
Synopsis: "The story of the first Christmas is a favorite with Christians worldwide. And it isn?t just a holiday story. The Nativity story is taught at vacation Bible schools, Sunday schools and in Christian homes all year. Packed with beautiful illustrations, this title is perfect for kids who are starting to read on their own!"

My Review: This book contains the classic nativity story that is taught in Christian churches and homes. I think it does a great job of simplifying the story but for a level 2 early reader it should have been shortened quite a bit more, maybe leave out the conception and make that a separate book as the young readers will loose interest with so much text on the page. Thankfully with it being such a well known story it will be easy for young readers to figure out words as they will have most likely heard the story before.
  
 
My Rating: While this story is very familiar to many children out there, this book is just a little too much for young level 2 readers, they may get discourage by all the text and length of the story.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Christmas Fun Day 9: Snowflakes

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
I remember as a kid my mom would have us make a lot of Christmas decorations and it was so much fun, now as an adult I realize she did this because there wasn't much money available for extras like decorations, but it really was a lot of fun.  So I decided the Munchkin is old enough to start making snowflakes like I remember making, he is getting better with his scissor skills and this will only help.  We used coffee filters and started cutting away, it took him a little bit to understand the concept of not cutting all the way through and only little cuts but once he got a hang of cutting, it was like magic for him.
 
 I love the concentration on his face.
  
 Time for the big reveal!

He was so proud and excited with what he created. He asked if we could do it again soon, I think this time I will try to find some colorful tissue paper to try (or we are going to have to get Hubby more coffee filters).
 
 
 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent Reads Day 8: After Dark - All Through The Night by Maggie Robinson

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
 
Synopsis: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays personal assistant Carrie Moore from the swift completion of her appointed rounds. She’s used is used to delivering for the rich and famous. Can she mend a hunky English lord’s heart and not get him deported?

As a personal assistant, Carrie Moore is used to fulfilling the whims of the rich and famous, even if it means driving through a blizzard to pick up a fresh Kosher turkey for Christmas dinner. No ordinary Butterball for her employer Rosemary Stephens, an eccentric English mystery writer who’s spending the winter on a remote Maine island. When the last ferry is cancelled, leaving Carrie with a turkey that’s bound to get frozen, all the roads closed and no room at the local inn, what’s a resourceful girl to do?

Why, break in and enter, of course, along with Mrs. Stephens’s titled English nephew who is stranded too. Lord Griffin Archer is an actual viscount, but there will be no roast goose and figgy pudding for him, just the random contents of Carrie’s grocery bags. He’s come to America to improve the family fortune, but keeping company with Carrie might result in a prison sentence or deportation. And with a broken engagement behind him, the last thing he wants to do is lose his heart again.

As they snuggle up in a vintage Jaguar inside the inn’s carriage house, bells ring. Alarm or Christmas? Only time will tell."


My Review: It is fun to read about modern day Viscounts, something you don't see all that often. I really enjoyed the characters in this book Carrie is funny and quirky and gets Griffin to loosen up and show his true personality. I also like how the book doesn't end with just the one night but continues to follow the characters through another whole year, which isn't all fairy tales and smiles. I really enjoyed this book and it was great for a cozy night in during the holidays.
 
My Rating: This was a fun and steamy read to pick up for the holidays. I was expecting a short story like so many of these holiday ones are but it is actually nearly full length. The characters were so unique and fun. I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Christmas Fun Day 8: Letter to Santa

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
Of course it is classic to write a letter to Santa, but this is the first year Munchkin has been able to do it himself (so really this is the first year we have done it). I found this little kit at one of the craft stores that had a simple card with a form to fill in, stickers and an envelope. It made it super easy and fun for Munchkin.
 
Munchkin filled in his own name and age and checked the box saying he was Nice this year. I then wrote what he said he did good and what he wanted in pencil so he could trace it.
 
 
I kind of love that he writes with both his left and right hands. At preschool the kids all write their names to sign in and sometimes he switches hands every other letter. This will be handy if he ever breaks an arm!



All done and ready to travel to the North Pole!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Advent Reads Day 7: Santa's First Vegan Christmas by Robin Raven

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "This year, experience the holidays with a story of love, peace, and compassion! Meet Dana, a forthright and fun-loving reindeer who lives in the Arctic. On Christmas Eve, she meets Santa Claus, who has come looking for reindeer to pull his sleigh. Dana gently opens Santa s eyes to how we can be more kind to animals. Together they take off on a journey around the world, spreading far more than holiday cheer and giving far more than presents. By the time the sun rises on Christmas Day, things will never be the same!"

My Review: I must admit I had a completely different idea as to what this book was going to be, I was expecting a story about Santa deciding on vegan treats and kind toys, but it was much more than that. The story takes the vegan idea to the source, and to the animals themselves. They convince Santa to take care and protect the animals and not use them. It does have a good message and one I hadn't seen before, but it may not appeal widely and could go over really young readers heads. The illustrations are adorable and add quite a bit to the story.
 
My Rating: It wasn't quite what I expected but it was still a great book that will appeal to a specific audience. It is a unique Christmas story that many families will relate to now.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
 
 
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
 
You can find out more about Robin and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.
 
You can also obtain your own copy in digital or print format from Amazon.
 


Christmas Fun Day 7: Polar Express Storytime

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
So last year over the holidays Munchkin became obsessed with the Polar Express book and movie.  I found out that our local Barnes & Noble was having a Pajama story time in the evening featuring the book, so of course I had to take him. I am happy to say that this event was much better set up and organized than the Sarah J. Maas one I went to earlier this year and they certainly went above and beyond to make it magical for the kids.
 
They had train tracks taped down to follow the line, they also had a train whistle they blew when it was time. Each kid got a ticket that was punched as we entered the story area.
They had it set up in the Nook area with a screen so all the kids could see the pictures. And the 'Conductor' did a great job being in character as he read the story to them, even had a stop watch he kept checking.
Munchkin always gets a little nervous in these situations and doesn't like being separated, but they had it so the kids could sit up front and adults in the back so everyone could see. Thankfully he had a friend from preschool there to sit next to but he did check to make sure I was still there multiple times.

After the story was over the kids were all funneled through a line for a gift, hot chocolate and a cookie.  The staff also took this opportunity to make sure that each child went home with their parent. We each had to come claim our little one at the end of the line, and they check with the kids to make sure that we were who they came with, I really appreciated that extra assurance.
 
It was a great experience, especially for the kids!
 
 
We had a lot of fun even though it was a little bit of a late night for us (and Munchkin was off the wall after the cookie and hot chocolate) but I think it was totally worth it. They did have a Grinch Who Stole Christmas one a couple of days later but we weren't able to make it.




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent Reads Day 6: Holly and Mistletoe by Susan Mallery

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "A storm had claimed her apartment and now Holly Garrett was without a home for the holidays. But just when she saw her plans for Christmas crumbling, a miracle came her way. The handsome firefighter who'd saved her and her cat--and who'd injured himself in the rescue--was now asking her for help. And he was inviting her to live with him. Sure, she could cook and clean for him while he recuperated, but was that really all he wanted?Jordan Haynes couldn't let Holly be alone for Christmas--not when she brought out his every protective instinct. No, he could play the needy patient as well as anyone...and just maybe he could convince her to keep him company through the holidays--if not longer."

My Review: I came into this series midway through and it doesn't seem to have a huge effect on the enjoyment. I did enjoy this book, the beginning definitely had me captured and it moved along nicely. Holly was way to naive of a female character for me but it suited the story. I did really enjoy Jordan and all of the sub-characters (who seem to have had their own books earlier in the series) and I may just have to continue with this series. This was a nice holiday story too with all the warm fuzzy feelings and traditions to go with it.
 
My Rating: This was a sweet story but it was a little drawn out in my opinion, and I cannot stand such na├»ve female characters, they just aren't for me but if you do like them then this is a great book for you.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws.

Christmas Fun Day 6: 12 Days of Books Tag

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
So I have been spending a lot of my time on BookTube lately and the tags they do seem like so much fun and I wanted to join.  I went on a hunt for some Christmas themed book tags and came up with this one, that is a little old, from Falling Down the Book Hole that looked like a lot of fun.  Of course if you want to do it too let me know so I can come see your answers. So here we go, I tried to limit my answers to use a book only once (at least for the most part otherwise they almost all would have been the same answer).
 
On the first day of Christmasmy true love sent to me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree  : 
The Partridge Stood Alone In The Pear Tree? What is Your Favorite Stand Alone?
 
I think I kind of need to go with my favorite book for this one and say Frankenstein.
 
 
 
On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Two Turtle Doves :
Love Is In The Air, Who Is You OTP?
 
 I have to say that my favorite fictional couple is Fire and Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore. They did not like or trust each other at the beginning and their relationship built slowly throughout the story. And I am totally in love with both of them as individuals, as a pair I think they are amazing.
 
 
On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Three French Hens :  
In The Spirit Of Threes, What Is The Best Trilogy Your Have Read?
 
I had a little bit of a hard time with this one, I have read several trilogies but I tend to read series more (and the trilogies I love fit the other categories better) but I settled on Rhiannon's Ride by Kate Forsyth (I hope this counts even though it is a trilogy within a series, but I have only read these three). (I would have chosen Sabriel by Garth Nix but it seems that is turning into a series now).
  
 
 
On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Four Calling Birds : 
Since Series Usually Consist of Four or More Books What Is Your Favorite Series?
 
Again I had a really hard time with this one, I read a lot of series and I love most of the, but I narrowed it down to one that I keep coming back to as it continues (though the final book is due out shortly) and that is The Chronicles of Ixia by Maria V. Snyder. This series includes the Study Series, the Glass Series and the Soulfinders series.
  
 
  
On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Five Golden Rings : 
One Ring To Rule Them All! Who is Your Favorite Villain/Antagonist?
 
 I struggled with this one because the one villain that stands out to me the most is from the Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore and I already used a book from that series. But I am just going to have to use it again because in my mind there is no one quite as bad as Leck. There really is no reason for the horrible things he does other than he can do them and that is what is most terrifying to me.
 
 
On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Six Geese a Laying : 
Creation Is A Beautiful Thing! What is Your Favorite World/World-Building?
 
 Being that I read a lot of fantasy, I see a lot of world building and some of the books I have already mentioned really could fit into this category too. I am picking two for this answer and reading this as world building that is done really well (not so much my favorite but ones I really appreciate being done well and seamlessly).  First is Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater, the reason I am picking this is that it is so believable and yet not, and absolutely terrifying at times too. The other world building I want to share with you is the Florence Waverley series by Cyie Cho, not only does he build a fantasy world beautifully but he also builds it underwater and makes sure it stays that way and doesn't make it seem like land at times (does that make sense?).
 
 
 
On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Seven Swans a Swimming: 
Who Needs Seven Swans When All It Takes Is One Good Animal Sidekick To Make A Hero Rock! Who Is Your Favorite Animal Sidekick?
 
Gosh another one that is so hard to narrow down, and I really couldn't though I have narrowed it down to a species! Two of my favorites were from years and years ago but are still so vivid to me. Faithful from The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamara Pierce, even though he doesn't come into the books until the second he still plays a huge role. The next is Mogget from Sabriel by Garth Nix is another snarky yet helpful feline sidekick that stands out in my mind. I really am a cat person!
 
 
 
 On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eight Maids a Milking: 
Milk Is So 18th Century! Which Book or Series Takes Beverages/Food To A Whole New Level?
 
 I think when I read the Marriage to a Billionaire series by Jennifer Probst I gained about 15 pounds! It doesn't really get too bad until book 2 but then it really takes off with delicious food and wine that will have you searching the cupboards and grandma's old recipes for tasty dishes. (note: there is a novella to this series called Book of Spells that has a few recipes in it, your welcome!)
  
 
 
On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Dancing : 
Dancing is Just One Skill of a Lady! Who is Your Favorite Kickass Female Lead?
 
I have a special affection for strong female leads and have so many favorites but I would be remiss if I didn't mention one from one of my favorite books this year. If you haven't read this one yet, let me introduce you to Cat from A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet. If you want a spitfire of a female lead, this girl is for you!
 
 
On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Ten Lords a Leaping:
 Leaping Lords? How About Who Is Your Favorite Leading Lad?
 
Again I have several favorite leading men (and since I have already used Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore) I chose to go with a newer one who has captured my attention. I have absolutely fallen for Elias from An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir.
 
 
 
On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eleven Pipers Piping: 
Where Would We Be Without Music? What Is Your Favorite Book or Bookish Thing That Deals With Music? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)
 
So I have read a lot of books with music in them, most of them are contemporary YA or romance, so I wanted to bring a different kind of musical book to your attention. The White Magic Series by Caitlin Brennan is a fantasy book where horses are used to dance and create specific beats to music to work magical spells (like dressage). If you know anything about me you will know this is beyond perfect!
 
  
 
 
 
On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming:
Drum Roll Please…………………….What Is Your Favorite Read of This Year?
 
 I was going to keep this a secret until I do my end of year post but I will just tell you now and then you will have to wait for the rest of the favorites later this month. My favorite book took me completely off guard, I was not expecting to be so drawn into this story. There Was A Fire by Nancy Roy is a book I picked up last year at the RI Author Expo and I have passed my copy around to at least 5 people and forced them to read it, each time I have gotten the same response, "WOW, that ending!"
 




 
So there you have my 12 Days of Books! What do you think? Anything there surprise you? Do we have any of the same picks? What are on your 12 Days of Books list?
 
 


Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent Reads Day 5: Checking It Twice by Melissa L. Webb

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "There's been an accident at Santa's Workshop. He needs to desperately replace what he lost at the North Pole. This Christmas horror story will make you think twice about being on the naughty list. Christmas horror short story."

My Review: This is something a little on the darker side for those who may not be so in the Christmas spirit. It was a very short read, and I would have loved to have had more back story and even more after as well. It is an interesting take on the elves and the naughty list, one that my have those naughty kids rethinking their actions.
 
My Rating: This is one of those books that is such a great idea but that is all it seems to be, I want so much more from this chilling tale. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Christmas Fun Day 5: Making Cards

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
I have finally started expanding my crafting into actual useful items, one of those being Christmas cards! I have been loving the creative outlet and wish I had at least 10 more hours in each day so I could just create all the Christmas cards I have imagined up! So far most of the cards I have made have been for Bazaar booths and for charity baskets but I hope to sit down and make at least a few more cards to send out myself.
 
Here are a few I have already made this year
This was my first attempt at a shaker card, I have learned a thing or two since then and will be attempting one again soon!

These are all spinner dies, where the center ornament is matching front and back and spins when you open the window.

These were made for a charity raffle basket, I finally got to really use my die cutting tools, and am getting better at centering the layers.

I love how these came out with their dimension and colors
 

I saw some similar cards on a video on youtube a year or two ago and finally made an attempt at making them (and experimenting with the sentiment)

I finally got my first copic markers and had a lot of fun playing with coloring and shading.

I have a little bit of an obsession with snowmen and am so thrilled to start being able to use the massive amount of stamps I have accumulated.

I am insanely in love with Wellington bear and these diecut sets pop the image out. Unfortunately he is rather difficult to find in the states and most of the items I have I ordered from over seas. I especially love the bottom left one.
 
 
 
 
Have you made your own cards? Do you usually send out all matching Christmas cards or do you try to find unique ones for each person?