Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review of The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

Read for: TBR & that cover and horses!

Synopsis: "There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?"

My Review: This was a complete cover buy for me, you give me magic and flying horses and I am all over it! I was really intrigued by this story, it had an interesting setting and time period, and the cast of characters were also really unique and well developed. This is one of those books that can be read in different ways and it isn't clear exactly how the author intended it to be read, but you can read it as a straight up fantasy, or you can read it as if it is all symbolism. There is always that question whether Emmaline is imagining this to make herself feel better, is it a symptom of her illness or is it something more. The ending is also left up to your own interpretation and I absolutely love when an author can do this with a book.

My Rating: This was such an interesting book and I love that it could mean so many different things to so many different people, there is also so much left open to interpretation.  This book definitely earns a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!  Also never be afraid to pick up a Middle Grade book!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Forgettable Books

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

So I almost forgot to post this week's Top 5 Wednesday, which kind of works for the topic of the Top 5 Forgettable books.  The books that you have read and just can't remember what they are about. Maybe they were fantastic at the time but they just didn't stick with you or they were just so blah that it wasn't worth remembering.

I remember I read Firethorn in my college days and it was super intriguing, dark and gritty historical fantasy and takes place during a war and there was something about her being with the troops but that is about it.  I definitely want to re-read this one since I have had the second book sitting on my shelf for ages.

Hades' Daughter was one of the first books I listened to on audio (it was a cassette tape set with at least 12 tapes if that tells you how long ago it was).  I remember it was really interesting but with it being such an intricate fantasy with mythology interwoven I can't remember the details.  It was also the first book in a series that I meant to continue on with but with the first book being so forgotten I would have to re-read it first (and it is not a small book by any means).

I read this one back in High School and I know it packed a real punch but at the time I was reading a lot of memoirs and some of them had similar themes throughout so my memory is a little muddled.  

I know this is horrible to say but I really don't remember much from the Diary of Anne Frank/Young Girl, I think I read it way back in Elementary school and never read it again. Probably something I should pick up and re-read.

My most forgettable book is without a doubt Great Expectations.  I have read this book at least 3 times for classes and every time I start reading and it takes me a good 1/3 of the book before I figure out that Hey I have read this before!

So there are my totally forgettable books, I think I might re-read some of these but at least the last one seems to be better left forgotten.  What books have you completely forgotten about?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's Not 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 Last Namasara by Kristen Ciccarelli
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Don't Forget Dexter by Lindsay Ward (Bedtime Story)

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

Pancho Bandito & the Avocado Desperadoes
Kindred Spirits
Kilty Pleasures
Natural History of Dragons
Heart on Fire
And I Love Her
Dinotrux and the Snow Blazers

Currently Reading:

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate - print - on page 21 of 224

Pages Read/ Time Listened
35:33 Hours Listened (20:15 listened this week)
1,180 Pages Read (586 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Moonsilver by Kathleen Duey
Silver Thread by Kathleen Duey
The Silver Bracelet by Kathleen Duey
Mountains of the Moon by Kathleen Duey
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman


Bout of Books was really a great way to kick off my reading year, at first I didn't think it was going so great because I wasn't able to do much reading during the day but it turns out I had a pretty awesome reading week! I am definitely happy with all the audio books so far this year, I have had a lot of crafting to do so I love having a book going at the same time.   With that said, I had some great posts planned for the weekend but due to the schedule at the office I just wasn't able to get them done.  Hopefully I will get them in this week and weekend.

In other news, Go Vikings!! As you probably know by now, I am a huge NFL fan, particularly a Minnesota Viking fan and I am still in complete shock over the game this last weekend.  I have watch that final play over and over again because I just can't get over it!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bedtime Story: Don't Forget Dexter by Lindsay Ward

Read for: Prime Early Reads/ Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "Introducing Dexter T. Rexter, the toughest, coolest dinosaur ever. At least he likes to think so.

When his best friend, Jack, leaves him behind at the doctor’s office, Dexter T. Rexter panics. First he tries to find Jack. Then he sings their special song. Then he sings their special song even louder. But when Jack still doesn’t appear, Dexter starts to wonder. What if he’s being replaced by another toy? It can’t be—after all, he can STOMP, RAWR, and CHOMP! Right? Right?!

This hilariously neurotic dinosaur will do whatever it takes to get his friend back—even asking the reader’s advice—in this first book of a brand-new series."

My Review: This is a really adorable book told from the point of view of a forgotten toy. As a parent we always have those panic moments where that special toy goes missing and it was fun to read a book from the different point of view. It is a great conversation starter if you want it to be about taking care of our things and being responsible. It can also be interactive as Dexter asks for your advise on what to do throughout the book. Really a fun and unique book to share with little ones.

My Rating: This was such a cute book and unique concept. It was a little young for Munchkin but he still enjoyed it. I think it would be great for kids 2-4 years old.  We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Read for: Recent Purchase (2017)/ Mount TBR (2018) and look at that cover!

Synopsis: "At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind--she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed--this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales."

My Review: So this was a struggle for me to get through, nearly a full month to read, but in the end it was totally worth pushing through to the end. I think the hardest part for me was the terminology used to refer to each character, sometimes different names were used and then also terms of endearment (that I wasn't aware of) but at the end I discovered a glossary to clear up those issues (I have a whole other argument about putting important info like that at the back of the book where you don't find it until you stumble your way through). It was also very slow to develop, we are introduced, in detail, to each party to the story and the settings before everything is finally put together. I didn't really get into it until well over half way through the book. With that said by the end I was rather attached to Vasilisa and was rooting for her, but I could also see the other side of every disagreement throughout the story. I absolutely adored all the little spirits and the role they play and would love to see even more of them. I must also add that this is a must read in the winter, it was so atmospheric, the snow and chill outside only lent to drawing you into the story. Once I finished with this one, I immediately picked up Girl in the Tower and am enjoying that one much more.

My Rating: This is a tough one to rate because if I went by my feeling at the end it would rate very high but for a less than 400 page book to take me more than a month to read I just can't justify that; so I am having to give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag, right in the middle.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it? If not, do you read any Eastern Folk Lore/ Retellings?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Didn't Get to in 2017

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

So this week's topic is about the top books that we didn't have time to read in 2017 that we really wanted to read, and will now be prioritizing in 2018.

Well, as all bookworms know, there is never enough time for all the books we want to read! For me the second half of 2017 really went by faster than I would have liked and it left some books on my TBR shelf that I really did want to read.  Now this is a bit of an eclectic TBR but here are the books that I just didn't have time for but will be reading early in 2018.

I have really been enjoying this King Arthur retelling, even though there isn't any magic and Arthur is not all that great of a person.  This is the final book in the trilogy and I really wanted to read it but with them all being near 500 to 500+ pages it made it hard right at the end of the year.

I am a little horrified that this book actually came out at the end of 2016 and was a much awaited book in a long series I have been enjoying.  It has been so long that I may need to revisit the previous 11 books in the series but this will be one to read very soon!

I have wavered back and forth on this book but I do really love a good western. Not to mention the fact that the second book is also out now. Definitely going to read this one and the second book pretty early this year.

If you have been a visitor here very often you will know I am a huge Kristin Cashore fan, and have been anxiously awaiting another book from her. But when this one came out and I read the synopsis, it has me a little scared. It is not the genre I was hoping for and sounds so obscure that I don't know if I will like it, but with that said other fans of her books have loved it.  I think this is one that I will have to force myself to pick up but will end up enjoying.

It took me a while to pick this one up after it came out (even though I really wanted it) because of the price and now I am delaying reading it until I can download the audio book because there is a great cast of narrators and I think that would just amplify my enjoyment of the stories.  (That and I kind of want to share it with Munchkin as we approach May the 4th and his first time seeing the movies).

So what books did you miss out on reading in 2017 and want to read this year?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Review of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Read for: Received in the Unicorn Crate & Dragons!

Synopsis: "In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her."

My Review: The cover of this book and the synopsis instantly drew me in and I had to have it, and I was thrilled when it came in a Unicorn Crate book subscription box. I did try listening to it first on an audio book from the library but I was very confused as there are old stories mixed into the book and there wasn't any clear definition in the audio book. So I read it in print instead. It was a very slow to start book but once all the pieces fell into place it really picked up speed. I love the play on the enemies to friends/lover theme that is in this book on multiple levels. I did find it odd that the 'old stories' really aren't that old and some of them even happen in Asha's life time, it was rather confusing, and honestly still puzzles me bit. I did really enjoy the side characters and the way that all the characters developed as the story moved along, often the line between good and evil blurred and then re-aligned, sometimes a few times. It was really an interesting story. It is a first book in a series but honestly I am pretty satisfied with the conclusion of this book.

My Rating: Once I figured out the format issue with the audio book and switched over to print, I was really drawn into the story.  I enjoyed the characters and the story and the play with friends and enemies is my favorite trope type. I give it a rating of Four Paws!