Friday, July 7, 2017

Bedtime Story: Catch Crusher (Blaze and the Monster Machines)

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Munchkin is a huge Blaze fan

Synopsis: "Fans of Nickelodeon’s Blaze and the Monster Machines can meet Blaze, AJ, and all their monster machine friends in this exciting book-and-CD format! This amazing storybook is perfect for boys and girls ages 3 to 7—and the CD narration brings all the action to life!"

My Review: Munchkin is such a huge fan of Blaze and it is a great show to watch with so much to learn. This book talks about friction and force and it does follow one of the episodes from TV. Munchkin really likes reading the book with the CD, he gets to hear the various voice and still see all the pictures. These books with the audio CD are so awesome for car rides!

My Rating: I really love these listen along books for kids, they allow the kids to learn to follow along while you might be busy doing something else.  Of course Blaze is a huge hit and I love how educational it is with math and science with the regular moral lessons, and Munchkin LOVES Blaze.  We give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of Transformer RescueBots: Meet Heatwave the Fire-Bot by Lisa Shea

Read for: Early Reader Challenge & Munchkin Loves Transformers

ynopsis: "Optimus Prime has selected a special team of Transformers to work side-by-side with the people of Earth--they are called the Rescue Bots! Heatwave the Fire-Bot changes into a fire engine and is partnered with Kade Burns. In this story, the Rescue Bots have to stop some runaway floating lobsters from ruining the town parade!"

My Review: Heatwave has to come to learn what teamwork is about and how each team member has a job, even if he doesn't want to do it. Munchkin loves the Transformers, this wasn't his favorite of the books but he did still really enjoy it. It has some comical moments with floating lobsters to lighten the story. It is a great level one book with simple words to sound out, easy sentences and bright pictures that follow the story line of a TV episode.

My Rating: Heatwave is one of Munchkin's favorite Rescue-Bots because he is a fire truck and this was a fun book for Munchkin. He loves spotting the words listed at the beginning of the book, he feels like he is participating in the story.  We give this one a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Let's Talk About Harry Potter

If you have been following me for the past 6 months, you will know that this may not be the most pleasant of conversations.  I have finally managed to read the whole series (after avoiding any major spoilers for the past 20 years) and I was not exactly blown away. Since so many people have already the series I am not going to post reviews like usual (I will just link them below), instead I want to have a little chat about my thoughts and maybe your thoughts on the books as well as a bit about their impact on our reading world.

So I will start off by explaining a little bit about why I was so late reading the Harry Potter books.  When the books originally came out I was around 14 or 15 years old (just a tad older than the target audience).  But I lived in a very small town with a small library that was sometimes a little slow in obtaining new books.  By this time I had also worked my way through every fantasy YA book in the library (finishing up with Sabriel) and had moved on to a new genre of adult suspense/ thriller/ medical mystery books. So I really didn't hear about the series or think about it until years later.  Did you read it when it first came out? 

So how about I talk about why I finally decided as an adult to pick up the series.  I was told time and time again that this series was fantastic, it was what got readers to read initially, and if I am a reader, especially a reader of fantasy that I should read it. Also, as part of the bookish community there are so many jokes, quotes, sayings, etc that revolve around the series, it was almost as if everyone had an inside joke that I didn't understand.  References to the Harry Potter series started appearing in other books I would read as well as popular TV shows and movies. If you wanted fun bookish merchandise like bookmarks, pillows, blankets, artwork the vast majority of it revolved around the Harry Potter series, especially what you could find in stores.  So it finally got to the point where I figured it was time to give in and read the series, but I am one of those people who wants to own the whole series before starting it.  My wonderful Hubby went out and purchased the paperback box set for me for Christmas the year it came out.  What made you start reading the series? Was it recommended to you, gifted to you, or did you discover it on your own?

Well I picked up the books immediately and was really disappointed with them.  I only made it through the first three books before giving up.  I tried to pick it up multiple times over the next couple of years and again only made it through the first one or two books before deciding to set it aside. Finally in December of last year I found a Harry Potter Read-along for new readers and avid fans alike.  I figured with being held to a reading timeline and having discussions would help push me through the series finally. And it worked out great until the read along group folded suddenly after book 4, but I figured I could push through the last three books on my own. 

Here are my reviews for each of the books:

So are you ready for it now, I guess I should prepare to have tomatoes thrown my way. I am about to tell you about why I was so disappointed in this series.  I will admit that a good portion of my disappointment is probably a result of so much hype, I was expecting this series to blow away all the other fantasy (or other genres) books away. Beware if you haven't read the series yet that there will be spoilers included here.  So here we go . . . 

  • Right off the bat in the first book I felt like the reader was being forced to have sympathy for Harry. I should have been allowed to develop my own feelings towards him but we are just smacked in the face with how bad Harry has it in life and we must feel bad and root for the underdog. 
  • After that things get a little overly descriptive, yes some world building needed to take place but it got a little out of hand and it wasn't well integrated into the story itself. 
  • Harry is boring, Hermoine is a little annoying and bossy and Ron is a little blah. All of the characters really in my opinion fell a little flat, I didn't have connections with any of them in the first several books and honestly found the main characters awfully annoying.
  • The first several books had poor pacing, things took along time to develop and then all of a sudden the last 50-100 pages finally got exciting and then oh, schools out time to go home and wait out the summer again.
  • It is the same villain book after book after book, occasionally we get to see a new aspect of Voldemort or a new way he is being his bad self but it gets old fighting the same bad guy all the time. 
  • Book 4 finally showed a little bit of a turn in the series.  We finally get to see a little bit of the other side of the coin, we have a first death that ups the stakes and finally makes things worth reading. 
  • The side characters seem to be more intriguing and developed than the main characters throughout the series.  Maybe it is the aspect of not knowing every little event in their lives or every stupid little thought that passes their minds but I much prefer characters like Lupin, Hagrid, Mad-Eye, Luna, Ginny, Molly, Neville, etc. over Harry, Hermoine, and Ron.
  • Why on earth was book 5 so unbelievably long and with almost no point?!
  • I cannot stand when main characters (and the readers) are kept in the dark about important aspects of the story and plot. If the main character has to be naive about events that will effect things, then the reader should at least have an inkling of what is going on, how about some foreshadowing please!
  • While there are deaths, especially in the last couple of books, they don't seem to have too much of an impact on the main story or characters.  They aren't as high stakes as I would have liked to see after 7 years of fighting the most evil wizard in history. I really wanted to see a main character death, I didn't care which one just someone needed to leave us all crying and make everything worth it.
  • Even being the 'Chosen One' shouldn't have made it so easy for Harry to get out of every sticky situation he found himself in. Even with the help of friends, they were still young and inexperienced and should not have been able to win every time. This is the problem with this particular trope, the chosen one always has to win and succeed so you always know how things will end.
  • In the end of this series, I really don't think that Harry was the hero. In my opinion Neville ended up being the true hero.  He stood in the background for years, was constantly teased, yet he continued to fight for what was right. He took punishments for standing up against the bad guys, he maintained the defense group that came to the rescue in the end and he was the one to destroy the final horcrux and allow for Harry's escape and ultimate victory in the end. 

So there you have a few of my thoughts throughout the series.  I have several more but this sums up the main ones.  Do you agree with any of these points?  What did you like about the series? What didn't you like about the series?

In the end I am glad I finally gave this series a shot but at the same point I feel like I am still on the outside of the book community because I didn't enjoy it. I am still not a part of the fandom or close knit Harry Potter community. So many have this nostalgic feeling about this series and I am truly happy for them and happy for the fact that this series created so many new readers.  I will just have to remain outside the Harry Potter team and still cherish my own introduction to fantasy, The Lioness Quartet and Sabriel. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Books Without Romance

Top 5 Wednesday is a group on Goodreads hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tome on Youtube.

While I specifically look for romance in my books, I usually really enjoy that element, but with that said some of my all time favorite books are romance free. I also wanted to challenge myself with recommending some books that I normally don't recommend (which means I will be leaving off some of my favorites like Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, Divine Comedy, etc.).  So here are some of my top 5 books without a romantic subplot. . . 

This book really features a wide variety of friendly and loving relationships but without the romance. And it still is full of emotions!

Similar to A Man Called Ove, this book is full of emotions and loving relationships without the romance.

I don't pick them up often but I am a huge fan of westerns and this one is such a classic. Even having seen the movie first, this is a great read.

This book was fantastic, beautiful world building and interesting characters, a type of love does develop but it is not a romantic type. Just beware, this is a major cliffhanger ending and there is not sequel in sight!

How about a graphic novel for you?! This might be one of my all time favorites, and again a type of loving relationship does develop but it is not a romantic one. Some great characters and a great story line and beautiful artwork all in one book.

So there you have in no particular order some of my top 5 non romantic books. I know a lot of you out there prefer books with out the romance, so tell me some of your favorites so I can add them to my TBR

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Read for: TBR 

Synopsis: "A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?"

My Review: I have been told time and time again what a fantastic book this is for readers. I found it to be good, not fantastic. Yes I could definitely find some similarities between myself and Cath, and ended up connecting with her on several levels. I also really adored Levi, he is just your all-round perfect guy. Unfortunately, I was a little bored with the story, it was slow paced and the obvious similarities between the Simon Snow stories and Harry Potter was a little irritating to me. I guess what didn't work for me is that I lived that awkward, introverted first year of college and really didn't care to read about it. I also found the mental health representation to be a little, I guess insensitive and a bit of a plot device. I really do like the concept of the book and the characters were interesting and easy to connect with as was the story, but it just wasn't for me.

My Rating: I know this book is really loved by many readers, but while it was a good book and an easy read it just wasn't for me.  I may be holding the fact that I really disliked Harry Potter and am maybe a little bitter about the fact that I won't be part of the fandom (which in a weird way does tie into this book) but even with that aside I still feel like this book was excessively longer than it needed to be and again I am not a huge fan of New Adult.  Anyway, I still give this one a rating of Three Paws.

Monday, July 3, 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

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert (Audio)
The Waking Land by Callie Bates
Otter: Hello, Sea Friends! by Sam Garton (Early Reader)
Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg (Bedtime Story)
Saga Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Graphic Novel)

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

Waking Land
Siege and Storm
Turning Pointe
Saga Vol. 6
Manage a Cowboy

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:

Pages Read/ Time Listened
126:03 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
32,274 Pages Read (1,634 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently TBR
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Saga Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English
New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins
World Mythology in Bite Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels
Eliza and Her Monster by Francesca Zappia
Turning Pointe by Katherine Locke
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
Frogkisser by Garth Nix
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel by Calliope Glass

Books Read From My Shelves
Seige & Storm
Manage A Cowboy

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


I think things are finally starting to get back on track here, at home and in the office! I have a bunch of emails to respond to and a ton of pen pal letters to respond to but I am working on it. Hopefully having the holiday tomorrow will help some (even though as usually this time of year is booked solid with BBQs).  Can you believe that it is already July?! I really can't, where is the year going?!  So funny story, as of the time of writing this post (Friday) I have been without a voice for 3 days, hopefully I get it back by the time this post goes up.  I have no idea what happened, I am not sick at all, guess if it doesn't improve soon I will have to go get it checked out.

Munchkin officially transfers to his kindergarten room today, he is so excited and I am a little glad that the class will be smaller and a lot of the trouble makers that he likes to hang out with will be gone for the summer (and some will even be going to different schools in the fall).

For those of you in the US, have a happy and safe 4th of July, and those of you in other parts of the world, hope you have a fun adventure this week!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June 2017 Challenge Update

I cannot believe that we are already half way through the year! Where is the time going?!  I have to say though I did a terrible job of limiting myself on books this year and slowing down on my reading.  I am already near 200 books read this year, but I must say a vast majority of the books I have read so far have been awesome.  I also want to say, I was doing so good not buying more books than I read but this month things got a little out of hand and I purchased 22 books this month alone! That is almost as many as I had purchased in the previous 5 months.  Oh well, at least I am right on target with the rest of my challenges. So here are the updates on my challenges so far this year (these are only the books read this month but you can see my full year list on my challenges tab up above).

Children's Book Challenge
37. The Beastly Pirates
38. Dear Teacher
39. There is a Bird on Your Head
40. Last Day Blues
41. Catch Crusher

Early Reader Challenge
29. Pete the Cat and the Surprise Teacher
30. Otter: Hello, Sea Friends!

Graphic Novel Challenge
12. Saga Vol. 6
13. Angel Catbird Vol. 1
14. Local

Audio Book Challenge:
13. The Princess Diarist
14. The Simplicity of Cider

Trilogy Challenge:
1.  Snow Like Ashes Trilogy: Book 1, Book .1, Book 2Book 2.5, Book 3 - COMPLETE
2. Winner's Curse Trilogy: Book .5, Book 1Book 2Book 3 - COMPLETE
3. Sons of the Revolution Trilogy: Book 1Book 2Book 3 - COMPLETE
4. Watersmeet Series: Book 1Book 2Book 3 - COMPLETE
5. A Court of Thorns & Roses Series: Book 1, Book 2Book 3 - COMPLETE
6. Ralph S. Mouse Trilogy: Book 1Book 2, Book 3 - COMPLETE
7. Grisha Trilogy: Book 1, Book 2

Requested Reviews:
17. Run to Ground (netgalley)
18. The Waking Land (netgalley)

Books Added to Shelves
4. Winners Kiss
5. Bubble Trouble
6. Blaze Loves to Race
7. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book
8. Heartstone
9. Beauty and the Beast
10. Norse Mythology
11. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 
12. Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Library
13. Trapped 
14. Samurai Rising

15. Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo
16. The Mating - DNF
17. Hold Your Breath
18. Fan the Flames
19. The Keeper
20. Love and Muddy Puddles
21. Irish Rising
22. The Sculptor
23. Huck: Book 1- All American

24. Dawn Study
25. The Princess Diarist 
Name of the Wind
27. Gone Camping
28. Saga Vol. 7
29. Over the Garden Wall 
30. The Hundredth Queen 
31. A Court of Wings and Ruin 
32. On His Watch
33. In Safe Hands 
34. After the End
35. Seduced by the Billionaire 
36. The Simplicity of Cider

37. Wise Man's Fear 
38. Dragon Teeth 
39. Flame in the Mist 
40. How to Tame a Willful Wife
41. New World: Rising
42. The Sandcastle Empire
43. And I Darken 
44. Finding Wonders 
45. World Mythology in Bite Sized Chunks
46. Eliza and Her Monster
47. Turning Pointe 
48. When Dimple Met Rishi
49. Truthwitch 
50. Windwitch 
51. Done Dirt Cheap 
52. Frogkisser
53. Lawn Boy 
54. Code Talker
55. Princess Leia: Royal Rebel 

56. This Savage Song
57. American Street
58. Pax

TBR Shelf Books
53. Sword & Verse
54. Fangirl
55. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
56. Shadow & Bone
57. Seige & Storm


It doesn't seem like it but we have completed the first half of 2017, and usually the first half of the year is fairly calm for me. From now on things get a little busy for me, but I still have a lot of books I want to read this year.  The next couple of months I am going to focus on reading the books that I purchased for upcoming conventions and my trilogy challenge.

So time to figure out what I will be reading in July:

Ruin & Rising
Bookshop at Water's End
Mask of Shadows
Finding Wonders
When Dimple Met Rishi
Done Dirt Cheap
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel
American Street
Dragon Teeth
start the Black Jewels Trilogy
and of course some children's books, early readers & graphic novels

It is summer time for us here in the north, do you tend to read more or less in the warm weather and on holidays or are you like me and find yourself too busy to read as much as usual?