Saturday, January 7, 2017

Graphic Novel Review of Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Vol. 1 by David Petersen with Various Authors & Illustrators

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge & I love this series
 
Synopsis: "Inside the June Alley Inn, located in the western mouse city of Barkstone, mice gather to tell tales, each trying to outdo the other. A competition, of sorts, begins. The rules: Every story must contain one truth, one lie and have never been told in that tavern before. With the winner getting his bar tab cleared, fantastic stories are spun throughout the evening. Legends of the Guard is a new Mouse Guard anthology series featuring the work of artists and storytellers handpicked by series creator David Petersen."

My Review: I have really enjoyed the Mouse Guard series so far but I was a little disappointed in this book. While I often do enjoy collaborations, this one just didn't work for me, maybe I would have liked it better if they had all been done in the original style and kept the art the same. I did like how each story was bridged together and I will read the rest of the Legends of the Guard series because I really can't get enough of the Mouse Guard but they don't appeal to me as much as I would have hoped.
 
My Rating: I really wasn't all that thrilled when I discovered this wasn't entirely by the original author/illustrator but with him and several collaborators (granted hand picked by Petersen but still not the same). I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bedtime Story: Too Many Toys by David Shannon

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Spoiled Munchkin definitely has TOO MANY TOYS!
 
Synopsis: "Spencer has too many toys! His father trips over them, his mother falls over them, and the house is overflowing with junk. Now its time to give some of the mountain of goodies away, but Spencer finds it hard. In the end, he fills a box, but decides the one toy he can't part with is the box!"

My Review: I picked up this book because we love the No David! books by the same author and I thought this would be a great way to transition some old toys out after Christmas. I think I enjoyed this book more than Munchkin because it pretty much sums up the battle we had over the last weekend, the negotiations of which toys to keep and which to pass on. It is a fun book when your own house is being over run with toys.
 
My Rating: While this book wasn't quite what I was expecting it still worked out well. Munchkin enjoyed it and kind of laughed because Spencer's Mom said the same things I did. We give it a rating of Three Paws.
 
 
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of Dog Days by Andrea Posner-Sanchez

 
 
Synopsis: "Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. This Step 2 Step into Reading leveled reader is perfect for boys and girls ages 4 to 6!"

My Review: Usually we read the beginning reader connected with a movie after we have seen it, but this time we read the book first. This one did a great job of introducing the characters so that we were familiar before seeing the movie. It is also a great level 2 book, with a little bit more complex sentences and more text on the page, but with words still easy enough to sound out if they are unfamiliar. 
  
 
My Rating: Often I am not a fan of the books from movies for the young readers, they often copy it but leave too much of the storyline out to make sense. But this was one that worked really well, we got to know the characters a little outside of the movie so that when we did watch it we knew a little bit about it.  We give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Pen to Paper: Incoming Mail

 
 
Happy New my mail friends! I haven't posted a Pen to Paper in quite some time due to the Advent Reads event last month, and honestly I haven't written a letter in just as long. For some reason the last two months of last year exploded and stomped all over my carefully laid plans. Thankfully most pen pals and friends understand that things like this happen in life some times.  Thankfully with the new year life starts to return to some level of normalcy (hopefully).   Anyway, I wanted to share some of the beautiful letters I have received in the past month or so and to give you a little update.
 
I received this beautiful letter from a friend and pen pal in the UK, she made these beautiful leaf earrings for me and sent a gift for Munchkin (which he took off with). I love the purple butterfly paper!

This letter came from a friend and pen pal in Norway, she always creates these stunning envelopes and includes a little something for Munchkin. This time she also sent a cute postcard and stamps from Norway!

 

This was from a brand new pen pal from the Ukraine who wants to exchange creative mail. I sent her a pocket letter a while ago and I received this adorable one back! So pretty and I love how on the back of each card in each pocket she wrote a little bit about herself, so each pocket was an extra little surprise (I don't know if my handwriting is good enough for that but I want to try it).
 
 
 
And this last one was a cute pop up Christmas card from a pen pal in Germany, I found her on Instagram and love all the beautiful wooden decorations she had in her house so she was kind enough to send me this beautiful and intricate ornament. Sadly the mail system was much to rough for it, but I hope that I can get it fixed.
 
 
 
So now I have a lot of writing to catch up on, I have about 10 or 12 letters to write to catch up. I hate that I have fallen so far behind but oh well, that is what happens in life. I will hopefully get back on track again soon (and get my hand back in shape, I started writing last night and my hand cramped after only 3 pages!).
 
 
 
As far as plans for my regular Pen to Paper posts, I hope to continue posting each Thursday morning but they will be a little more low key, like this post. I will be posting more incoming and outgoing posts, a few tips, supply hauls, ideas, etc. since over the past 3 years I have put a lot of research into all my posts and I need to take a little step back and treat this like the hobby it is. I hope you will continue to join me in my pen pal and mail loving journey and to share some of your stories and mail too!
 
 
 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review of Meeting of the Mustangs by Cathy Kennedy

Read for: Requested Review
 
 
Synopsis: "A black colt is born into a band of wild mustangs and soon learns that life can often be difficult. Follow his story as he goes from a free spirit to being captured for profit, and find out how one man gains the trust and extreme loyalty of a very special horse."

My Review: When I was contacted about this book I was thrilled, if there is anything that suits my reading preferences it is horse books. I enjoyed following this little colt on his adventures from a young foal all the way up until he was a stallion. I would have liked a little more elaboration in parts, sometimes it seemed a little too short in the descriptions and it caused a little break in the flow of the story. I will also say that I found the black mustang to be rather mild mannered for being a wild horse, but in the end I understood that it was needed to bring the story together. This is a very enjoyable book for middle grader readers that love horses, I also like that this book is appealing to both the female and male readers.
 
My Rating: This book kind of reminded me of Black Beauty or Flicka but it wasn't quite up to the same level, it really lacked the emotional connection that those books gave. I think that with deciding if the book was going to be written from the horses point of view or narrated, and sticking with it would have helped in this aspect. I give this book a rating of Three Paws.
 
 
 
I received Meeting of the Mustangs from the author in exchange for an honest review.
 
To find out more about Cathy Kennedy's work please check out her Goodreads Page.
 
You can also obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Harry Potter Books 1 & 2 Reviews and Discussion

So if you have been visiting my blog for long you will know I was late to read any of the Harry Potter books (I only started them about 3 years ago) and you will also know I am not really a fan at all. I really didn't enjoy any of the characters or much of the storyline and only managed to get through book 4. Well I hate leaving series unfinished, especially when my Hubby went out and spent a large sum of money on a beautiful box set for me. Anyway, last month I found out about a readalong for new and old readers alike and thought that maybe reading it with others might go better for me.  (We only recently finished book 2 so there is still plenty of time to catch up and readalong - Novel Tea Club Harry Potter Readalong)
 
So here I am with my updated reviews of Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets and a few discussion points I would like to add (and hopefully discuss with all of you).  So I doubt it will really matter to most of you but there will be SPOILERS in the discussion at the end.
 
 
My Review: It has been nearly 3 years I last attempted to read the Harry Potter series. I have to admit that reading with other people has helped me appreciate the story a little more (that or my expectations have just dropped in adjustment for my past experience). I am still not a fan of any of the characters except Hagrid and maybe Dumbledore. I really have an issue with the beginning of the book and I had a little chat with a couple other readers and authors about this but I feel like I should say it here too (and would be happy to discuss with any of you as well). I felt at the beginning of the book that I was being manipulated by Rowling into feeling sympathy for Harry, and that just irked me to the point where I don't feel anything toward him at all. I have in the past found sympathy for other characters due to their situations but it wasn't so blatant and forced, I was more lead into those feelings. Maybe it is due to the fact that this is for a younger audience but I think some credit should be given to those young readers, and emotions and situations shouldn't be dumbed down and spelled out for them. Again I find it all too convenient that Harry is able to get away with so much and always come out the hero (yes he had help but it wasn't enough to make it a team effort). I will continue with the group read and hopefully make it all the way through the series finally.
 
My Rating: I may have enjoyed this book slightly more the second time reading, probably because my expectations were much lower, all along I had been told what a fantastic series this is and if I am a book lover and fantasy lover that this was the perfect book - obviously that led to some severe disappointment the first time around. This time was a little easier so I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
 
 
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My Review: So in my original reading of this book I was horribly disappointed, after hearing this series raved about. I just re-read it for the first time in 2 years and my expectations were much lower this time so it made the disappointments a little easier to swallow. I am still rather bored with the characters, Harry of course is still comes out on top even though he has everything against him. It is the same villain, just a different version of him. Dumbledore is as mysterious as ever, Hagrid is the lovable oaf (though keeping scary creatures looses him some points). Honestly for me the most intriguing characters and events in this book revolve around the car! I do still appreciate that there is a longer time frame than most books, it was nice to see an author give character some breathing and development time, even though we aren't there for quite a bit of it.
 
My Rating: Again since I had previously read the book and been horribly disappointed, I went into this re-read with lower expectations. I appreciate that the story gives time but at the same time even with the action I was horribly bored. I find Harry to be really irritating, I don't like how his friends help him solve the problem but he always ends up being the hero (I see a self-sacrificing in the future). I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag as well.
 
 
 
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So now on with the discussion, and I know this is difficult for many of you who have read the series to only discuss what has occurred in certain books. I have found while discussing in the Readalong group, those of you who have read the series in it's entirety make decisions based on impressions you received in later books (like I keep hearing about how Dobby turns out being a great character, while in this second book - his first appearance- he is insanely annoying and meddlesome).  But anyway try to remember not to give any spoilers away beyond the second book for those of us who haven't read more. This discussion is only on these two books.
 
Anyway, one of the things that really set me off at the beginning of the first book was the fact that Rowling was basically trying to force us to have sympathy for Harry before we even really got to know him.  I really dislike how it kept mentioning what a horrible life he had and how little the Dursley's cared for him. I really would prefer to develop my own opinions and sympathies instead of being manipulated into them. It obviously does work though as so many other readers in the group are in an uproar about his treatment.
 
The other thing I would like to discuss is how flat the three main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, seem while the settings are described in detail and the sub-characters all seem to burst with personality. Dumbledore has a very mysterious element to him that you just look forward to discovering more, Hagrid is such a meek yet powerful. Heck even the Weasley's car has personality, he kicks Ron and Harry out when it feels misused and turns wild yet comes to the rescue in the Forbidden Forest. With all of that those three main characters just seem so one sided, Hermione is studious and feels the need to prove herself being Muggle born, Ron is the youngest boy in a large eccentric family and is not the best at much but is loyal to a fault, and Harry is na├»ve yet somehow always comes out the winner in everything.
 
 
Anyway, did you find any of the same things as I have in reading this series? Did you read it when you were younger? Have you attempted to re-read these books? Have you noticed any difference in a re-read?


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bout of Books Readathon #18 - Sign Up and Updates

I love participating in the Bout of Books Readathon at the beginning of the year, you always have the excitement of new challenges and the new books you are looking forward to reading in the new year.
 
Here is the information you need in case you want to sign up too!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team - From the Bout of Books team

  

So this post is going to be my base for the week, I will continue to come back and update it each day with my progress (as I already have a lot of posts planned for this week and don't want things too jumbled up).  I will also be updating via twitter at @EasternSunset9 or maybe on Instagram @EasternSunset9

 


Time Devoted to Reading

I would like to read between 3-4 hours each day and read about 200 pages each day.
Averaging about 1.5 hours and work and another 1.5-2.5 at home after Munchkin goes to bed.
  

My Goals

Read a total of 1,400 pages
Read at least 3 hours each day
Complete at least 1 requested review
Read 10 books
 
 

Books to Read

The Little Prince - 113 pages
The Uncommon Reader - 120 pages
Running on Empty - 145 pages
The Thirteenth Hour - 336 pages
I Love My New Toy - 64 pages
Too Many Toys - 32 pages
Time to be a Hero - 32 pages
Breath of Fire - 448 pages


Extras

Ice Like Fire - 12:49
 
 

Updates:


Monday
Number of Pages I've read today: 210 pages
Total Number of Pages:  210 pages
Time spent reading today: 3 hours
Total number of books I've read: 4
Books completed: Time to Be a Hero, Too Many Toys, The Uncommon Reader
Thoughts: I thought I would have a little more time to read but with it being a day off for everyone and having Munchkin and Hubby home kind of infringed upon reading time. I also had spent all of Sunday on the couch catching up on reading that was supposed to be finished last week so I had a bunch of cleaning to do. Oh well, I still read a decent amount and now that schedules are getting back to normal I can really get to reading!




Tuesday

Number of Pages I've read today: 314 plus 2hrs of listening (=about 120 pages)
Total Number of Pages:  664
Time spent reading today: 4.5 hours
Total number of books I've read: 9
Books completed: Time to Be a Hero, Too Many Toys, The Uncommon Reader, Meeting of the Mustangs, Snow Like Ashes, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, I Love My New Toy, All By Myself
Thoughts:  It was a great reading day yesterday, I was able to read a requested review while at work, finish the last two hours of Snow Like Ashes in the car, and then read some books with Munchkin and after he went to bed and I finished up some quick chores was able to read quite a bit more.

 

   Wednesday
Number of Pages I've read today: 248
Total Number of Pages:  912
Time spent reading today: 2.5
Total number of books I've read: 10
Books completed: Time to Be a Hero, Too Many Toys, The Uncommon Reader, Meeting of the Mustangs, Snow Like Ashes, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, I Love My New Toy, All By Myself, Mouse Guard: Legend of the Guard Vol. 1
Thoughts: Didn't get nearly as much reading done as I would have liked but still managed to meet my goals so far. The late nights of reading this week after chores are done are starting to catch up with me, I hope I have a couple more in me so I can at least try to finish most of the books I wanted to read this week!
 
 
Thursday
Number of Pages I've read today: 113 plus 1.5 hours listening (about 60 pages)
Total Number of Pages:  1,085
Time spent reading today: 3 hours
Total number of books I've read: 12
Books completed: Time to Be a Hero, Too Many Toys, The Uncommon Reader, Meeting of the Mustangs, Snow Like Ashes, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, I Love My New Toy, All By Myself, Mouse Guard: Legend of the Guard Vol. 1, The Little Prince
Thoughts: Recovered a little bit of reading from Wednesday but not as much as I would have liked, I had hoped to finish at least one more book by now.  It was a little too busy in the office yesterday to do any reading but I will hopefully have it done sometime today.  I am also still waiting for Breath of Fire to come in the mail! I have started Prisoner of Azkaban, I won't be finishing this book as I am participating in a readalong but I should be more than halfway by the end of the weekend.
 
Friday
Number of Pages I've read today:
Total Number of Pages: 
Time spent reading today:
Total number of books I've read:
Books completed:
Thoughts:
 
Saturday & Sunday
Number of Pages I've read today: 188 plus 3 hours listening (about 120 pages)
Total Number of Pages:  1,393
Time spent reading today: 5.5 hours
Total number of books I've read: 13
Books completed: Time to Be a Hero, Too Many Toys, The Uncommon Reader, Meeting of the Mustangs, Snow Like Ashes, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, I Love My New Toy, All By Myself, Mouse Guard: Legend of the Guard Vol. 1, The Little Prince, The Big Snow
Thoughts: I not reading on Friday kind of set me back, but I did much more reading this weekend than I expected (and way more than I usually read on the weekend at all). I had so many more books I wanted to read this week but oh well, at least I read as many as I did!
 
 
 



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Challenges:


I don't normally participate in challenges in the Bout of Books because I like to focus my time on getting as much reading in as I can but if I do participate you will see my answers and or photos or whatever the challenge requires posted here with a link to the challenge.

  

Day 1 Challenge: Introduce yourself in six words
My six words are Mom, Wife, Reader, Crafter, Paralegal, Blogger
A photo posted by Ang S (@easternsunset9) on
 
 
Day 2 Challenge: 2017 in a Picture
So there are the majority of the print TBR books for the year!
 
 
 
Day 3 Challenge: Book to Movie
I don't usually like the idea of making a book into a movie because I always worry they won't do the storyline or characters justice.  I also have a really hard time with casting because I have such a specific image in my mind of the characters (the one time that they found an actor that completely matched my image was Ned Stark on Game of Thrones).  Anyway there is one series I would love to see as a movie or series of movies. I think the set would be easy since it is mostly in one place and the costumes would be stunning.  That book series is The Selection (and yes including The Heir and the Crown too).