Friday, February 10, 2017

Bedtime Story: Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Valentine's Day
Synopsis: "Horace and Hattie are hedgehogs, and the very best of friends. Together, they make daisy chains, splash in puddles, and have tea parties. But there is one thing they can't do—hug! They are just too spiky. Throughout the seasons, these two hedgehogs will try many different ways of hugging. But will Horace and Hattie find a hug that feels just right?"

My Review: Munchkin received this book some time ago in the Booku Box and I guess he has been reading it at preschool. He pulled it off the shelf and insisted reading it, I think he knew I would adore this story. It is a very cute little story and is prefect for Valentine's Day. The illustrations are very cute too. Munchkin really enjoyed the story and was so excited to share it with me.
My Rating: This is a really cute story about friendship and overcoming obstacles to maintain that friendship.  It is so cute and perfect for Valentine's Day.  We give this one a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of Pig and Pug by Laura Marchesani and Zenaides A. Medina

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Pig lives on a farm with lots of other animals. All the animals have friends, but Pig does not. One day a new animal comes to the farm. Pug has a curly tail like Pig. Pug plays in the mud like Pig. Pug even snorts like Pig. Pug is not a pig, but maybe, just maybe, Pig and Pug can be friends!"

My Review: This is listed as a level 2 book but it almost reads more as a level 1. The sentences are short and simple, a lot of word repetition to help familiarize beginning readers. This is a cute little story that has a great message about looks not being what makes friends but similar interests are what make friends. Munchkin enjoyed the book but has not requested it again.
My Rating: This is a really cute book, I think I enjoyed it more than Munchkin, but he really isn't into animals all that much. I give this one a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Series Review of Snow Like Ashes Trilogy by Sara Raasch

I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!
Synopsis: "Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own."

My Review: I decided to take the plunge into this trilogy after hearing a lot about it and also seeing it constantly pop up in my recommendations. I am listening to it on audio book and find the characters to be intriguing. I am having a hard time picturing a map of the world, which if you had the print book wouldn't be a problem. The world sounds very complex and it took some time to settle into it. I did like how we are given some time at the beginning to get to know the characters on their own before slowly starting the world building. I must say that I am not all that thrilled about this love triangle thing going on but oh well, it is just another one of those common tropes that happen. I am looking forward to the next book but I am not chomping at the bit for it like I expected.
My Rating: While I didn't find this book to be as enthralling as I had expected (especially after hearing so many other readers raving about it), I still did enjoy it. I wish I had a print copy as I did have a very hard time imagining how the world is but hopefully it won't matter in the long run.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
Icicles Like Kindling (Book .5)
Synopsis: "Icicles Like Kindling is a glimpse into Meira’s life before the events of Snow Like Ashes that was originally going to serve as the prologue to the book. In it, you will get a taste of the kingdom of Autumn, meet some of Meira’s fellow refugees, and get an introduction to the wicked danger that will soon plague them…"

My Review: This book takes place just before the first book in the series, with glimpses of a time even early in Meira's life. I found it interesting to find out a little bit more about how their group struggled to survive and how the losses affect each member. It really isn't necessary to read this novella, but it is great if you can't get enough of the story or if you want a little more of a back story.
My Rating: You could really read this before or after the first book, and while it doesn't really add a whole lot to the story as a whole, it does give some nice back story.  It isn't a necessary novella but still a nice addition.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
Synopsis: "It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world."

My Review: I have to say that I am a little disappointed in this series, particularly this book. Not saying that it is horrible but it is just falling a little flat and feels forced or false to me. I find the decisions that Meira is making as a brand new ruler to be a little ridiculous and the fact that she continues to rely on people that have manipulated her and back stabbed her in the past. I also find it a little crazy to leave your new kingdom right after re-establishing it. Anyway, I guess these decisions lead to the plot line the author wanted. Most of this book was rather dull, a lot of internal turmoil from Meira, refusing to share because she is a perfect Mary Sue. I just find I so frustrating how she is constantly in the right place at the right time, and even if she gets into a sticky position she still manages to worm her way out. All a little too convenient for my liking. Anyway at least it is only a trilogy to get through so I will finish out the last book.
My Rating: Unfortunately, this one suffers from the second book slump.  There wasn't quite enough world building in the first book and things needed to happen to get to the third book and so we have a slow, whiny second book that is so dull. I really grew to dislike Meira in this book but hope things can be redeemed in the final book otherwise this was a waste of 12 hours of listening.  I give this one a rating of Two Paws.
Synopsis:"She was part of Summer, and Summer was part of her, and this land wouldn't abandon her too."

Ceridwen Preben, princess of Summer, has spent her life plotting against her brother, Simon, the Summerian king. Simon has embraced the ruling family's reputation for using their conduit to keep their subjects in a state of bliss, and has spent his reign slowly driving Summer into ruin, filling everyone with carelessness and letting them turn a blind eye to Summer's rampant -- and deadly -- slave trade. But Ceridwen refuses to let her kingdom disintegrate, and with the help of her fellow rebel-in-arms, Lekan, she hopes to undo Simon's lethal dealings.

But when Ceridwen uncovers Simon's deadliest plot yet, she starts to realize just how deep magic runs -- and that even though her kingdom is one of sunlight, with light, there always comes shadows."

My Review: This was a good and quick novella, I don't think it is necessary to the series but it does give a good peek into the dynamics of the Summer Kingdom. I appreciate Ceridwen a little more but most of all I really liked to learn more about Lekan and why he is always by her side when he could leave. You also find out why Ceridwen's anger is so high at the end of book 2 (but you really need to read book 2 first).
My Rating: Again I don't think this novella really is necessary but it does help to understand the relationships between some of the Summer characters and their struggle to overcome their kingdom's flaws. I give this one a rating of Three Paws.
Synopsis: "Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything."

My Review: After a slow rest of the series, we finally get a book that makes progress. I really enjoyed this book, there is a lot of developments in the plot, world and characters. There is also a lot more action throughout this book. We finally get to see characters stepping up and doing what they should have been doing all along, though there some room for self doubt in the characters but they all grow so much. I am so glad that the series got so much better in this final book and it still managed to wrap everything up beautifully.
My Rating: Finally a book that I really enjoy in this series.  Characters have finally matured, some really great action and development too.  I still never really got a feel for the world geography, this is a book where it is really necessary to have that map in the print books. I give this book a rating of Four Paws.
Complete Series Review: I had heard so many great things about this series and it sounded like something that was right up my alley.  I really struggled with the world building, I listened to audio books so I didn't have a map to refer to when confused. I just really couldn't picture the position of the kingdoms and that made the travel and interactions between the kingdoms a little confusing. I also really struggled with the characters, I feel like Meira was just such a weak character that was being portrayed as someone strong and independent.  I really get frustrated with the whole Mary Sue cliché, oh I must protect everyone and the only way to do that is to sacrifice myself but I am also not going to tell anyone or ask for help to see if we can find another way around it.  This series really did suffer a lot from the second book slump, other than obtaining the keys and seeing the various kingdoms (and finding my belief that Theron was a jerk was true) there really wasn't much worth while in the over 12 hours of audio book.  At least the final book really picked up, we met some really fantastic characters in this book and I wish there had been a novella about the Paisleans.  Anyway, I rate this series as a whole at Three Paws.
Did you read this series? What did you think about it? Who was your favorite character? What kingdom would you want to live in?
Personally I really like Mather, even though he went through a period of confusion in book 2, he recovered quickly.  I also really liked Ceridwen, she is the type of female character I enjoy.  If I could pick any kingdom to live in, I thing it would be Autumn. The weather sounds delightful as well as the customs and traditions. It also sounds like a strong kingdom, one that could stand on it's own with out magic where other kingdoms would struggle.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review of Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

Read for: Netgalley/ Requested Review
Synopsis: "Miranda is a lonely child. For as long as she can remember, she and her father have lived in isolation in the abandoned Moorish palace. There are chickens and goats, and a terrible wailing spirit trapped in a pine tree, but the elusive wild boy who spies on her from the crumbling walls and leaves gifts on their doorstep is the isle’s only other human inhabitant. There are other memories, too: vague, dream-like memories of another time and another place. There are questions that Miranda dare not ask her stern and controlling father, who guards his secrets with zealous care: Who am I? Where did I come from? The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too; an orphan left to fend for himself at an early age, all language lost to him. When Caliban is summoned and bound into captivity by Miranda’s father as part of a grand experiment, he rages against his confinement; and yet he hungers for kindness and love."

My Review:  It has been years since I studied Shakespeare and I can't even remember when I last read The Tempest but I jumped at the opportunity to read this re-telling. It has been so long since I read the Tempest that I don't remember any details so it was almost like reading a whole brand new story. It is a very slow moving story but it was beautifully written and the pages just keep turning. I absolutely adore Caliban's character and his development throughout the story. I must admit that I really, really disliked Miranda, her weakness and lack of striving for knowledge drove me a little crazy. I did really appreciate Carey's fearless writing though in developing the characters and their relationships but giving a more realistic ending and leaving it open for the readers.
My Rating: Being as I haven't read the Tempest in so long, I didn't remember how it ended, but clearly it is a tragedy.  I really enjoyed this one and give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Jacqueline Carey and her work on her Goodreads Page or Website.
Miranda and Caliban is scheduled for release next week on February 14th but you can pre-order your copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Monday, February 6, 2017

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

What to do with a Box by Jane Yolen (Bedtime Story)
Princeless Book 1: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley & Mia Goodwin (Graphic Novel)
The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Expurey (Mini Review)
The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace (Mini Review)
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Mini Review)
I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin Ganda & Liz Welch (Mini Review)
Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroder (Mini Review)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Light Like a Bird
Calen the Emerald
I will take a Nap
Pig and Pug
Transformer Rescue Bots: Meet Blades
Duck Soup
Miranda and Caliban
Blaze Loves to Race
Bubble Trouble

Currently Reading:

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch - Audio - 73%
Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell - Print - on page 122 of 304
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling - Print - on page 95 of 734

 Books to be Read Soon:


Pages Read/ Time Listened
23:54 Hours Listened (None listened this week)
5,893 Pages Read (1,074 this week)

Books Added to Shelves This Month
Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Maria Bradley
Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Bubble Trouble by Mary Tillworth
Blaze Loves to Race by Mary Tillworth
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
Heartstone by Ella Katharine White
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Books Read From My Shelves
Calen the Emerald
Light Like a Bird

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Another really great reading week this last week, which really surprised me.  I did go on a little bit of a book shopping spree so I really need to read several extra books this month but at the rate I am going I don't think that will be a problem!  This last week I also started cleaning up my Goodreads shelves, I want to organize them a little better and I also need to get my TBR and wishlist under control.  I managed to delete about 300 books so far off those shelves.  I do have a question for all of you though, what do you do about the books that are on your kindle and nook that you are no longer planning on reading? Do you keep them on your Goodreads shelf just so you know you already own it or do you just delete it to clear out your TBR?

In other news, I don't know how many of you are football fans, but I am a huge fan (though my team was not playing last night). My husband is a huge Pats fan and we have a super bowl party every year.  Last night's game was without a doubt one of the most intense and exciting games ever! Now I am completely wiped out today and am regretting not taking today off to recover.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mini Reviews: I Will Always Write Back, Uncommon Reader, Little Prince and more

So with reading and reviewing so many books, I am running out of days in which to share them with you.  I am going to start posting Mini Reviews of books that I read through out the month but couldn't find the time to post on the last Sunday of each month.
I had planned on posting my mini reviews last week but just couldn't get everything together when I was sick, so here are a few mini reviews of books I have read in the past month.
While I understand why so many rave about this book, I just don't have the patience for all the symbolism and metaphors in my books anymore. I am not in college anymore and read to escape so I don't want to have to think so much when reading.  Two Paws
This book has a wealth of poems, not all of them suited me and there were a lot of very dark subjects touched on but the ones that I connected with I loved.  Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
I am not a huge fan of the dry British humor but there were some really great lines about books and reading throughout this one. Three Paws
I rather enjoyed this journey of pen pals and growing friendship and economic struggles. Four Paws
A beautiful story about grief and families torn apart and finding their way back. For some reason I thought this one would be in verse but it was not.  Three Paws and a Stump Wag.