Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review of Seventh Night by Iscah

Synopsis: "A romantic, comic, action, adventure fantasy in which a princess attempts to marry a prince while someone has set out to sabotage their wedding and the resulting alliance."

My Review: I have been going back and forth on this review since finishing the story. I read the novella prequel "The Girl With No Name" which totally blew me out of the water, so many interesting twists that you couldn't stop reading. However Seventh Night at time hit some real lulls and I had to push on because I knew more adventure was to come. I must admit too that I wasn't a huge fan of the main character and namesake of the book, Seventh Night, she was just typical princess to me for most of the book. That said though I was totally thrilled to see The Girl with No Name return and I still loved her, as well as several other sub-characters (surprisingly enough I really enjoyed the male characters over the female when it is usually the other way around). There are several open ended storylines at the end of this book with no real conclusion for them and it really has me curious what happens to several of the characters after the story. I will come back for more because I have really come to love the unexpected twists and new adventures the author comes up with when the story is moving along.

My favorite quote from the story "May your travels leave you wiser." Isn't that something to live by!
My Rating: While there were some slow spots in the story that I had to push through all and all it was an exciting fantasy adventure that I am sure many will love. I give it a rating of Three Paws.
Seventh Night was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Iscah and her work on Goodreads or her Website.
You can obtain your own copy of Seventh Night in Digital or Print format on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review of Marcie by Carly M. Duncan

Synopsis: "When Kate's mother, Marcie, dies mysteriously she is forever tormented by the many questions surrounding her mother's death. In Marcie's absence Kate clings to her mother's husbands, searching for solace.

As family secrets are revealed Kate works to build her own life and family, but the mystery of her mother's death sidetracks her until she finally gets the answer she's always hoped for."

My Review: This was an interesting journey through love and lack thereof and how the acts of one generation influence the acts of the next. I found it interesting that all through this book Kate is looking for love from her mother but yet she creates additional distance and disconnect with the use of her mother's first name. I did find Kate's development interesting, she insisted on being independent yet was still leaning on someone for support and direction (either Luke or Charlie). I had a little difficulty with the writing, the constant jumping back and forth between time frames, I usually like books with a little more of a chronological order with only glimpses into the past. To sum it up though, this was an interesting book that caused some self reflection on how I interact with those around me.
My Rating: This book may not have been quite my cup of tea or in my usual reading genres but I can definitely tip my hat to the self reflection it stimulated. I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Marcie was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Marcy and Ms. Duncan on her Goodreads Page or Facebook Page.
You can obtain your own copy of Marcie in digital or print format on Amazon or in print format on Barnes and Noble.

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 Age of Not Believing by Andrew Szlachetko (Bedtime Story)
The Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry
Christmas Shoppe Magic by Juliette Hill
One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker
Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz (Bedtime Story)
Catching the Barramundi by Rebecca Burns
The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

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


Currently Reading:

One Big Beautiful Thing by Marie Flanigan - Kindle - 3%
The Gnosis of Salmon by Lynne Marie Rowley - Kindle - 43%
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling - PB - on page 18 of 309

 Books to be Read Soon:
Water Harvest by Eric Diehl (Requested Review)
One Shark, No Swim by Lehua Parker (Requested Review)
Knightmare by Deborah Valentine (Requested Review)
The Lover from Hell by Rob Palmer (Requested Review)
Judgment by Jade Varden



I hope you who celebrate had a very Merry Christmas and found all kinds of fun books under your tree. I was very lucky this year and found the new special edition Harry Potter series under the tree!

Aren't they pretty!! I am guessing that most of the rest of my reading will be put on hold for a while as I dig into the series, I am very excited to read them all of the sudden.
I also received Gift Cards to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I have already spent the Barnes and Noble on and downloaded these books onto my Nook:
I am so excited for the books I will be reading in 2014 and can't wait to get the year started! I hope you will all enjoy the plans I have for the new year!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review of The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

Synopsis: "In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980's, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way amongst the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens.
By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam. He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn't believe he has it in him.
In The Clock Of Life he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality. He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father's son.
This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends."

My Review: This was a very moving and intense book to read. It tackled so many tough issues but didn't seem to really push them on you. I really think this would be a great book for book club, there are so many things to discuss. The characters are all so very rich and full of life as is the setting, they start to seem real. I came to love so many of the characters but especially Uncle Mooks with his drops of wisdom and Mr. Otis with his hard ways brought on by a hard life. There isn't a lot going on in the story, it seems to be more for pondering. You can see the influence of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I really enjoyed, but it is definitely not the same story once you get into it.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book and it is one that will remain with me for some time to come.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
The Clock of Life was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Ms. Klann-Moren and her work on her Website or Goodreads Page.
You can also obtain your own copy of The Clock of Life in print or digital format on Amazon or digital format on Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review of Catching the Barramundi by Rebecca Burns

Synopsis: "Sudden, shattering moments of realisation; creeping, gradual self-awareness - Catching the Barramundi is a collection of contemporary short stories charting the dichotomous processes of reassessment and reflection. A lonely widow living in the Australian Outback has an unexpected encounter with a visiting scientist; an ice-hockey star returns to the site of his home town, now razed to the ground; a grieving husband recalls incidents from his married life - the characters in each tale experience moments of introspection and self-scrutiny, quite out of step with their daily lives."

My Review: This was a very interesting collection of short stories. They were not written or collected to make you happy or to give you some fantasy or romantic hopes. They are to make you think, to ponder life and where it can lead. My favorite stories of the collection were Hades Landing, it makes me think about the fact that this could very easily happen to my own mining home town, and Loving Enid, it was so emotional it nearly brought me to tears. Those being my favorites but all of the stories were great in their own ways, each so unique.
My Rating: It was oddly refreshing to read this collection of short stories and there wasn't the typical happily ever after. They really made you sit back and ponder a little. I give this collection a rating of Three Paws.
Catching the Barramundi was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about her and her work on her Goodreads Page or Website.
You can also obtain your own copy in digital or print formats on Amazon.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bedtime Story: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

Synopsis: "Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown follows Linus as he tries to give up his beloved blanket before Grandma's visit. Even with the help of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Lucy, poor Linus realizes it's a little harder than he thought! Using illustrations from the television special, this is the perfect gift for any child or collectors' library."

My Review: I am so glad I picked this book up at the Kohls Cares for Kids rack, I loved sharing it with Munchkin. How could you not love the classic characters and artwork of Charlie Brown. Not to mention the story about Linus and his connection with his blanket. It is kind of a nice reminder that what does it matter if kids have a lovey, it doesn't hurt anything until they are able to find the support and connection they desire from an outside source.
        My Rating: I really enjoyed this one and hope that Munchkin enjoys it for years to come. I think it should be a classic.  It is a cute but at times sad story. I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review of One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker

Synopsis: "11 year old Alexander Kaonakai Westin—Zader for short—is allergic to water. One drop on his skin sears like white-hot lava. Too bad a lifetime of carrying an umbrella and staying away from the beach isn’t the answer, especially when his popular almost twin brother Jay looks destined to become the next Hawaiian surfing sensation.

But avoiding water is just the tip of Zader’s troubles. Eating raw seafood and rare meat gives him strange dreams about a young girl in a red cape and nightmares about a man with too many teeth. There’s also the school bullies who want to make Zader their personal punching bag, the pressure of getting into Ridgemont Academy, and the mysterious yearly presents from his birth family that nobody talks about.

It’s enough to drive Zader crazy, especially when he suspects old Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima know a secret that explains his unusual biological quirks. After all, they were the ones who found him newborn and abandoned on a reef and brought him to the Westins to adopt. Uncle Kahana swears Zader is ‘ohana—family—by blood as well as adoption. Too bad he’s not saying more.

When Jay quits surfing after a shark scare, Zader decides it’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and start searching for answers.

Growing up adopted in Hawai‘i just got a little weirder."

My Review: This was a very interesting and unusual book. I had some difficulty with the writing and language (it is written in Pigdin which from my understanding is almost like a Hawaiian dialect) but with some persistence it got easier to read. With that said though, this was such a unique story with some fantastic characters that you can't help but be drawn into the story and the mystery. I think that once Munchkin reaches this reading level (many years from now) he will absolutely love this adventure. The characters in this book are so rich that you really wish you could be friends with them, I love Uncle Kahana and Jay sounds like the best brother one could ask for and of course you can't forget Ilima who may be a dog but she has some very human quirks.
My Rating: I must say I have a really difficult time reading books that use dialects (I really really hated Huck Finn) or slang, maybe because it makes me slow down and actually read each word. Other than the difficulty of getting use to reading Pigdin, this was a great story. It had some really unique elements in it.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
One Boy, No Water was sent to me by the author's Publicist for an honest review.
You can find out more about Lehua Parker and the Niuhi Shark Saga on her Goodreads Page or her Website.
You can also obtain your own copy in print or digital formats on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Advent Reads Day 25: Christmas Shoppe Magic by Juliete Hill

Synopsis: "MacMillan’s Christmas Shoppe has held a special magic for Sophia Ward ever since her mother first took her there as a child. Now Sophia’s alone, and she can’t help but wonder. Will the magic be gone, or will this year’s love be even stronger? Brew a cup of tea, grab a Christmas cookie, and prepare for a treat. You won’t want to miss this one!"

My Review: This one had a lot of potential, it was just too short for me to develop a strong emotional connection with the characters. Maybe if I had read the first short story that may have been different. That said it does capture a family recovering from a tragedy through the spirit of Christmas and home. I think with some filling out and developing the story a little more it could become a favorite of mine.
My Rating: This was a really short, quick story, but it was a little too short. I would have liked to be able to really connect with the characters.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Advent Reads Day 24: The Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry

Synopsis: "On Christmas Eve twenty years earlier, Marlee and Jacob were married in a snowstorm. This Christmas Eve, they are ready to quit, divorce is imminent. Their relationship is as icy as the road they're traveling and as blocked with troubles as the piling snow. They take a shortcut to get to the lawyer's office, on a slippery, no-fault path. She thinks they need to stay on the main road. He disagrees. They fight. Story of their lives and they slam into a bank of snow , spinning, drifting, falling, out of control. Just like their lives. Reluctantly, freezing cold, hungry, scared, she trudges up the hill. Jacob is nowhere to be found. Her ears frozen, fingers and hands red, she comes to a house on the hillside, built like a Bed and Breakfast, a green wreath on the red door and the door-knocker is in the shape of a wedding ring.

The red door opens and the first thing she notices is the fire in the room, blazing hot, a warm, inviting, friendly place and the voice of an old man welcomes her in. There are three golden pots on the hearth, shining, glimmering things. The old man claims that they are used to restore marriages. She laughs-and begins a journey through her past, present, and future that will test how she views her lifelong love. There are two futures available. Which will she choose?"

My Review: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway it am so glad it arrived in time for me to read it for the holidays. I loved the unique and Christian take on the classic Dickens Christmas Carol. A lot of the story really struck home about opening your eyes and really seeing each other in a marriage as well as our lives and those around us are all impacted by each decision we make. The beginning started off slow for me with a few too many metaphors but once I got to the meat of the story it really flowed and was a quick read.
My Rating: I really did enjoy this one and loved the integration of such a classic story into a new Christmas story. I really became attached to the characters very quickly and was rooting for them throughout the story.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent Reads Day 23: Bedtime Story: The Age of Not Believing by Andrew Szlachetko

Synopsis: "The Age of Not Believing is a beautifully illustrated new Christmas story for children, about a young boy at the ‘age of not believing’ who discovers, the true meaning and magic of Christmas. Filled with messages, ideals, twists and surprises, The Age of Not Believing is sure to please and to surprise.

Thomas is awoken on Christmas Eve by a mysterious voice. As he follows the voice and walks towards the Christmas tree, he is magically transported to the strange and troubled land of Semdar (an anagram of ‘dreams’), where the wicked Torga has banished Christmas, forever.

Only he can break the spell, but as his adventure unfolds, he is captured by silver wolves and taken to Torga’s castle, where through an unexpected turn of events, he ends up helping and saving the witch!

The story ends with Thomas waking up beneath the Christmas tree. He wonders whether it was all just a dream, but then something catches his eye, to suggest that perhaps it was not..."

My Review: This is a great story especially for kids getting to the "age of unbelieving" to bring back the magic of Christmas even if they stop believing in Santa. I think it would be especially great if you had two children, one who has stopped believing and one who still does, it is a nice middle ground that can be shared by all. There are several great messages in this one story, how it wasn't a great gift that Torga needed but a simple act of kindness and how Thomas took it upon himself to apologize to Josh. A great story for the holiday season.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this story and particularly how it was not about material gifts. Great messages wrapped in a magical adventure for all ages. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
This book was sent to me for an honest review.
You can find out more about the story and Andrew on the Website.
You can also obtain your own digital copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

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 Christmas Wish by Alexandra Lanc
The Christmas Owl by Angela Muse (Bedtime Story)
Snow Dance by Alicia Street
Cooking Up Christmas by Mimi Riser
One Winter's Day (Bedtime Story)
Winter Solstice by Mandy M Roth
The Winter Kitten by Linda Benson

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

Joe the Barbarian
The Clock of Life

Currently Reading:

One Big Beautiful Thing by Marie Flanigan - Kindle - 3%
The Gnosis of Salmon by Lynne Marie Rowley - Kindle - 43%

 Books to be Read Soon:
Water Harvest by Eric Diehl (Requested Review)
One Shark, No Swim by Lehua Parker (Requested Review)
Knightmare by Deborah Valentine (Requested Review)
The Lover from Hell by Rob Palmer (Requested Review)
Judgment by Jade Varden



I have gotten myself a little more on track with my reading even with both me and Munchkin being sick. I began putting together my end of year summary and can't believe how much reading I have done this year! I have hopes that next year can be just as good, I have some plans for the blog and for my reading that I hope you will all enjoy.

For those of you celebrating this week, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas no matter how you celebrate.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Reads Day 22: The Winter Kitten by Linda Benson

My Review: "Brianna doesn't know how she'll make it through her first winter in Portland. It rains too much, she misses her mother and the country life they once shared, and with Christmas coming up she's having a hard time adjusting to life with only her dad. When she finds a kitten trapped in their garage, Brianna is sure things will get better. But nothing goes as planned, and Brianna wonders what she's gotten herself into."

My Review: This was such an enjoyable short story. I love how it was rather realistic, the kitten acted like a wild kitten should. I liked seeing how Brianna and her father's relationship developed once they started opening up and talking. I think this is a feel good, warm you up this Christmas kind of book.
My Rating: I definitely got a warm fuzzy feeling from this story and I think a lot of you will really enjoy this one. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

After Dark Advent Reads Day 21: Winter Solstice by Mandy M Roth

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
Synopsis: "Powerful, immortal, magikal and cursed to the shadows of the night. Gordon O’Caha, a seven-hundred-year-old druid sorcerer, fell in battle centuries ago. When he recovered, he found he wasn’t as he’d once been, purely magik. He was much, much more. Now, he shares his body with darkness—a demon gifted to him by the blood drinkers he’d been attacked by. His family and clan haven’t turned their back on him. It’s Gordon who has shut himself away from them. This hardened man does what he has to in order to survive—he drinks blood, feeds his sexual lust and exists. Nothing more. That is, until a sassy slip of a woman careens into him on the street, spilling her hot coco all over his groin. It’s literally hotter than he can handle. The minx isn’t what she appears to be and when her secrets are revealed, so is a dangerous plot.

Chelsy Riley is doing her best to get by. Her grandmother’s passing left her without family and with a tiny used bookstore to run. She thinks it’s as hectic as it can get. When she slams into a sexy, gruff man who seems oddly out of time and place, she learns what secrets her past holds and that her future is full of endless possibilities. That is, only if she doesn’t become a sacrifice for dark mages."

My Review: I was beginning to loose my love for paranormal books because they seem to be all the same, that is until I read this one. I must say I am in love with this series and the characters. Such an interesting combination, Druid and Vampire. I really did love Chelsy, and even the brief view of the sub-characters of Gordon's family. And oh boy there is some steam in this one too! The only thing that let me down a little was that I was expecting the winter solstice to play a larger role in the story (that is after all why I purchased it). Either way though I think I will track down some more books by this author and in this series.
My Rating: I found myself really enjoying this book even with the lack of Winter Solstice celebrations.  I am definitely tracking down the rest of this series. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent Reads Day 20: Bedtime Story: One Winter's Day

Synopsis: "A delightful story about sharing with others, with soft flocking wherever Little Hedgehog's mittens, hat, and scarf appear."

My Review: This is such a cute little story. I love the illustrations and Munchkin is at the point where he can find and feel the textures in the book. I love how the Hedgehog is so kind and generous even though he is suffering as well and how the animals find a way to repay him for his kindness. I nice little message about how kindness will be repaid in some way.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this little story and so did Munchkin. I think it will be a fun one for us to read all winter long.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent Reads Day 19: Cooking Up Christmas by Mimi Riser

Synopsis: "Scrumptious holiday recipes, plus a Christmas short story as a special bonus… Good food and good cheer! Festive fare that’s sure to delight. This is a little book that’s big on warmth and color. It focuses on variety and culinary vivacity, taking some of our classic holiday foods and doing delicious new things with them (but without getting too complicated). Some of the dishes are sweet, some are savory, some are a bit of both. All are easy to prepare, and almost too easy to eat. Add in the bonus short story, and you’ve got food for the soul as well – all the joyful inspiration you need to start cooking up Christmas!"

My Review: This was an interesting combination of cookbook and story. I loved the recipes (have yet to try them out but plan to soon) and a great idea to have ones for leftovers! Many of the recipes had me drooling, confetti corn, festive red and green beans and carrot coriander dip will be on our holiday menu this year I am thinking. The story was a little odd for me, I am not a huge fan of Science Fiction but it did take a very interesting and fun twist.
My Review: For some reason I find myself very excited to have the combination of recipes and a story in one book.  While the story wasn't quite to my taste, the recipes certainly were, I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Reads Day 18: Snow Dance by Alicia Street

Synopsis: "After a bitter divorce, Amanda Kushinski, a former Broadway dancer from Manhattan, moves to a peaceful village on Long Island’s rural North Fork to open up a vintage clothing shop. She wants solitude and anonymity, but instead she finds herself involved with an elusive ghost, a troubled teenage girl, and a sexy local fisherman who makes her believe in second chances.

Russ McNeil has very bad taste in clothes. A sixth generation son in a family of fishermen that worked the Bay and the Sound, he has no illusions about what life has to offer him, including in the romance department. But he’s in for a little surprise."

My Review: This may have been a short and simple romance novella, but I was completely sucked into the story. I enjoyed the characters and though we didn't get to dig into their personalities much, they still shined and made you care about them. I really enjoyed Amanda and Russ sounds completely drool worthy, even young Casey and Parker connected with me. I have a feeling I will be following this series through to the end!
My Rating: While this isn't exactly a Christmas story, it is winter based and so fun. I really enjoyed the characters and look forward to reading more about them all. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advent Reads Day 17: Bedtime Story: The Christmas Owl

Synopsis: "A Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word."

My Review: This was a cute story but one I felt I have read before only with different characters. It is interesting to see that the owl went to his typical prey for help. The illustrations were lovely but as I said it was had just too much in common with so many other stories of the season.
My Rating: It was a cute story but felt like too many others. The illustrations were very beautiful though.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent Reads Day 16: Review of The Christmas Wish by Alexandra Lanc

Synopsis: "This story starts with a song, and with a wish.

The song is a Christmas song, and the wish is a wish that Clara wishes every year during the week leading up to Christmas...

Fast forward to a week later, when Jack comically discovers that Christmas is in fact Clara's birthday. Through a change of events, Clara realizes that the greatest gifts cannot be bought, and that sometimes sacrifice does come with a happy ending."

My Review: Well Lanc managed to save Clara's personality a little bit for me in this one, she seems more mature than she had in Clara Claus (the first book). Though I don't quite understand why this wasn't a part of the original story, I don't think it really needed to be a novella. At least I don't dislike Clara as much at the end of this short story, though I still much prefer Jack.
My Rating: This was an improvement on the previous book in the series I read but it was far too short.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

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
A Lonely Dog on Christmas by Patrick Yearly
Christmas in Wine Country by Addison Westlake
Silver Bells by Sadie Hart
Evergreen: A Christmas Tale by Richard Taylor
Little Nemo's Wild Sleigh Ride by Roland Urbanek (Bedtime Story)
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan (Graphic Novel)
Clara Claus by Alexandra Lanc
Secret Santa by Kathleen Brooks

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

Seventh Night

Currently Reading:

Dark Chatter by Andrew Branch - Kindle - 22%
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - PB - on Page 40 of 383
The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann - PB - on page 89 of 364
One Big Beautiful Thing by Marie Flanigan - Kindle - 3%
Marcie by Carly Duncan - Kindle - 15%

 Books to be Read Soon:
Water Harvest by Eric Diehl (Requested Review)
The Gnosis of Salmon by Lynne Marie Rowley (Requested Review)
One Shark, No Swim by Lehua Parker (Requested Review)
Knightmare by Deborah Valentine (Requested Review)
The Lover from Hell by Rob Palmer (Requested Review)
Judgment by Jade Varden
Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison (Graphic Novel)


I didn't get much reading done last week, between the wedding, pinterest and now a very sick little munchkin (I can feel me catching his crud too). I had planned on getting a whole lot more reading done but it will all have to wait until I can get my little man healthy.

Additionally, has anyone else had trouble with their kindle paperwhite after the last update? Since then I haven't been able to open any of the books, I have tried shutting down and reloading, unregistering and reregistering and even deleting and downloading from the cloud again. Nothing seems to be working and it frustrates me that it is not even a year old and I already need to contact customer service.

Anywho, I hope your weeks are looking brighter than mine!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Reads Day 15: Review of Secret Santa by Kathleen Brooks

Synopsis: "It wouldn't be Christmas in Keeneston without a party! Everyone's invited, even Santa…
Kenna's court docket is full, Dani's hiding from her in-laws, Paige and Annie are about to burst from pregnancy, and Marshall is breaking up fights at the PTA Christmas Concert. The sweet potato casserole is made, the ham and biscuits are on the table, and men are losing their shirts - and not because of bets placed with the Rose Sisters! All the while, the entire town is wondering one thing: who is the Secret Santa that showed up with special gifts for everyone?"

My Review: So this is quite obviously a novella to a series, and you feel a little lost at the beginning. There are a lot of characters and a lot of quick back stories (that are probably covered in greater detail in the series books)to keep straight. It should have been overwhelming, and I admit it was through a good part of it, but I found myself totally intrigued by the characters and I really want to read the rest of this series to learn their full stories! I loved the Santa and all his little inside information and gifts, and of course the Rose Sisters seem like very interesting ladies.
My Rating: Even though the characters back stories were a little rushed and I found myself lost at times with the wealth of characters, I still found myself caring about them and connecting with them.  I give this story a rating of Three Paws and A Stump Wag.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent Reads Day 14: Review of Clara Claus by Alexandra Lanc

Synopsis: "Jack Frost is about to lose everything. After attempting to again destroy Christmas, the Holiday that he hates more than anything, he is threatened with losing his job, and his Immortality. But, he is given one last chance at redemption.

That last chance lands Jack in the North Pole the week before Christmas, in order to help Santa Claus prepare for his busiest night of the year. There, Jack is tasked with the job of “Tour Guide”, in order to show Santa’s granddaughter, Clara, the sights of the Pole.

As Christmas draws nearer, and Jack’s time begins to run out, he finds himself becoming fond of Clara, who attempts to show him the real meaning of Christmas, all while shocking him with her unique view of the world.

But, the past proves hard to reconcile, and soon, Jack hatches one last plan to destroy Christmas, a plan involving Clara, which may prove fatal not only for the Pole, but for her, as well -- unless Clara can melt his icy heart in time.

The first book in the fan-favorite series, the Snowflake Triplet, Clara Claus is a fantastical adventure that reminds us of the importance of hope, and the real meaning of Christmas."

My Review: I had a difficult with this one, I really really dislike the main character, Clara. She is suppose to be nearly 18 years old and I found her to be far more immature and (I couldn't really come up with a nicer way to say this) ignorant. It was as though she was just a means to get Jack to react and reveal himself instead of actually playing a role in the story. I did however really enjoy Jack's personality, he was really the only character I enjoyed. I even had difficulty connecting with the story line. All in all I have a short story novella from this series downloaded so I will read it but I can't see myself purchasing any more in this series.
My Rating: While I wasn't such a big fan of the story or the characters I must admit that I found the concept of the Snow Queen rather interesting.  Still it didn't quite live up to my expectations so I have to give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

Graphic Novel Review of Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan

Synopsis: "In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

Based on a true story, VAUGHAN and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Barnum!) have created a unique and heartbreaking window into the nature of life during wartime, illuminating this struggle as only the graphic novel can."

My Review: Wow, I loved this graphic novel! It is a whole other point of view from the war. It really captured the animals and the struggles they faced when taken from the world they had come to know. This novel brings to light an unspoken cost of war, one that is not brought up often (though you hear about the loss of museums and artwork from WWII). It is said to be based on a true story and one I would like to find out more about.
My Rating: Brian K. Vaughan is quickly becoming my favorite graphic novel author! I love the realistic feel he gives to the characters and how well he brings the stories to life. I give this a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Reads Day 13: Bedtime Story: Little Nemo's Wild Sleigh Ride by Roland Urbanek

Synopsis (taken from Amazon): "Little Nemo has trouble getting to Slumberland in time for Christmas and when Santa comes to the rescue, Nemo ends up breaking Santa’s sleigh.

This is one of the three fantastic stories told in ‘Little Nemo’s Christmas Adventure’.

Enjoy this exciting tale along with over 30 illustrations based on the classic comic strip originally created by Winsor McCay."

My Review: You can tell this was basically just an excerpt to get you to purchase the full length novel Little Nemo's Christmas Adventure. I was expecting a short children's Christmas story but it was just a little teaser and the story left you disappointed. However the illustrations are beautiful. I guess I kind of do want to know if Little Nemo makes it to Slumberland but it is still a shame that this wasn't a complete story.
My Rating: I would have preferred that this was to be a complete story in itself but it was still a fun story.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Arts Crafts & Pinterest are Ganging Up on Me!

My reading has gone drastically downhill this week and let me tell you why . . .
First off Munchkin is now hitting toddler stage and the terrible twos (way early too mind you), so I have been desperately searching the internet to find ways to entertain him and end the constant fuss and whine. This lead me to Busy Bags, Quiet Books and Felt Boards, which of course all led me into the time warps called Etsy and Pinterest!
I started off with the Felt Boards because they are simple and well I can give them as gifts.  I have already made 6 boards in both 8x10 and 11x16 sizes for play. I knew I wouldn't have time to make pieces for everyone for Christmas and lets just say my skills are a little lacking from under use. So I hit up Etsy and found this great shop called Story Telling Fun and ordered some uncut (its cheaper that way) felt play sets.
It took some time to cut out all the pieces but I think they will be a huge hit! I am going to cut out some simple shapes for Munchkin to play with for now.
I then discovered the Busy Bags and went a little crazy on Pinterest (as you can see on my Board) I have already arranged a Busy Bag swap for my friends and I who all have kids about the same ages. I did try this out on Munchkin already, they suggested a Pom Pom stuff would be good for his age and instead of cutting holes in snack cups for him to push the pom poms through I found this great snack cup at Babies R Us
Munchkin has a lot of fun playing this game but gets a little over excited and tries to go too fast so we have to limit his stuffing time to 5 minutes. I have big plans and have already visited Walmart and the craft stores to gather supplies to make more busy bags for him.
Then there is the really big project of making Quiet Books, these will take a little more time and skill. I haven't used a sewing machine since I was in high school. Thankfully a friend of mine had one she was getting rid of so I didn't have to buy one. Again you can see some of the ideas I have gathered for the Quiet Books on my Pinterest Board and I even have accrued quite a collection of patterns to purchase on Etsy in my folder there.

With all this work and trouble I am going through for Munchkin I decided I would do something for myself next year too (and Etsy kind of helped with this). I decided 2014 will be a year of nails for me.  I can't afford to buy a bunch of new clothes or jewelry to make me feel pretty so I decided I would make my nails pretty and do something different with them every week or two. (Now I just have to figure out how to make my left hand operate enough to paint my right hand LOL).
So has anything been taking you away from reading? Holiday arrangements, random internet searches?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent Reads Day 12: Evergreen A Christmas Tale by Richard Taylor

Synopsis: "A dying grandfather tells the story of the first Christmas tree to a family wrenched by strife."

My Review: This is an interesting take on the Christmas tree and its origins. I found the story a little odd in its presentation and audience in the story, but it is still a heart warming tale. I did like how the narrator was thinking back on this story in his own aging years and remembered how the names held significance.
My Rating: For some reason this one just didn't strike a chord with me, maybe it would with someone else, but I think maybe the story as a whole needs a little more development. I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

2014 Audio Book Challenge Signup

I decided last year to give Audio books a try and signed up for this challenge. Well I found a love for Audiobooks (not only did I complete my challenge of 5 books and surpass it but I also joined Audible.com too).  So the challenge is again hosted over on Hot Listens.
I am signing up for the Weekend Warrior level. I will try to listen to 5-10 Audio books throughout the year.
Some of the books I plan to listen to (and already have many downloaded):
1. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
2. The Cranes Dance by Meg Howry
3. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (try again)
4. Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts
5. Stay by Allie Larkin
7. Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa
8. Rider: Spirals of Destiny by Jim Bernheimer
9. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
10. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
11. We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee
12. The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Reads Day 11: Review of Silver Bells by Sadie Hart

Synopsis: "Every year, the Christmas Carousel in South Howle takes a beating, and every year, Dash Bartholomew tenderly brings it back to life. It’s a job he started fifteen years ago, when Dash became Dasher, one of Santa’s reindeer, and accepted the worn leather harness now hanging on the hooks at the back of the carousel barn. The one with its beautiful, silver bells that once made the most wondrous sound in the world, and now lay quiet.

That is, until Merry, a young, homeless woman wanders in looking for a place out of the cold. Unlike Dash, she can hear the sweet chimes of the bells, proving to him that it’s not the harness that’s broken. As Christmas draws near, Dash finds himself drawn to Merry and her quiet, stubborn pride. However, unable to hear the sleigh bells Dash isn’t sure what Christmas this year will bring, only that the magic in that harness is far less important than the woman he’s come to love."

My Review: I love this story, it has such an interesting concept and story. You kind of know where it is going from the start but you don't know the significance of the silent bells. I really enjoyed Dash and his quiet way that really helped break through Merry's fear and walls. The only thing that could make this story better would be more! I want so much more of this story, I want to know about all the others from the past and current!
My Rating: I really loved everything about this book except that it was so short and that there isn't a follow up (at least that I know about yet). I give it a rating of Four Paws!

2014 Series Reading Challenge Signup

I participated in this challenge last year an really outdid myself with how much I expected to read so am definitely going to participate again! I have a lot of books to clear off my shelves and many of them are complete series.  This challenge is hosted by Salacious Reads, she doesn't have a signup post done yet but will be doing so soon! Last year I finished 5 series and I plan to do the same next year.
The series I would like to read/finish include:
1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (7 books) I know, I know how can a book lover/blogger have never read this series?! But see I am doing it now!!
2. The Secret of the Unicorn Queen by Various Authors (6 books)
3. Firelight Series by Sophie Jordan (3.5 books)
4. The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill (3.5 books)
5. Dakota Series by Debbie Macomber (4 books)
6. The Tudor Series by Philippa Gregory (6 books)
7. 100 Cupboards Series by N.D. Wilson (3 books)
So my question is do trilogies count as a series? I think they do but I am wondering if some people only consider it a series if there are 4 or more books? hmm something to think about.  Anyway there is my list for this year, I know it looks like a lot but most of them are young adult books so should be a quick read and I can't wait to get started! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Reads Day 10: Review of Christmas in Wine Country by Addison Westlake

Synopsis: "It's Lila's big debut as an event planner and the company holiday party is going to be her chance to shine. At a Tuscan-style vineyard near the Northern California coast in the perfect little black dress she's sure to impress commitment-phobe Phillip. What could go wrong?

Seventy-two hours later with no job and no boyfriend, Lila finds herself with all kinds of answers to that question. Like mistaking the glowering Jake Endicott of Endicott Vineyards for the groundskeeper. Or a new video on YouTube featuring Lila pawing her way through drunken karaoke of "Hungry Like the Wolf."

Solo on the romantic holiday getaway she'd booked for her and Phillip near the vineyard, Lila at least gets to visit with her old friend Annie who lives nearby in the coastal town of Redwood Cove. Drawn into the local bookstore with gleaming wooden floors and welcoming armchairs, Lila chats with the owner and impulsively accepts a job offer.

Sleepy, misty Redwood Cove is the perfect place for Lila to take a break from her horrible track record with guys. The only one she finds even remotely attractive knows her as the holiday party crazy lady. Ranked in Bay Area magazine's 10 hottest bachelors, Jake Endicott is just the type Old Lila would have wasted years pining after.

Join Lila on her year of comedy, adventure and self-discovery on the Northern California coast, with all kinds of ups, downs and misadventures and a full cast of small-town wine country characters. Thankfully, even the greatest misunderstandings can all be worked out with a little Frank Sinatra and mistletoe."

My Review: While this story started off with a bang, things got a little lost and drawn out in the middle. I loved the characters, they were full of life and fun to be around. It is amazing the people that can be drawn together in a small town. I enjoyed the setting as well, and the little book store makes me wish it was real and I could hang out there. Like I said, things seemed to get a little drawn out, there really wasn't a need for so many things to come between the two main characters. I did really love the big climactic scene with Sven and Olga (or was it Helga), it was epic and had me laughing so hard that I was in tears.
My Rating: It was a fun book, though not as all around funny as I expected but the parts that were funny were hysterical.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

2014 Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge Sign-up

So I participated in this Challenge last year and while I was a little slow on reading the books I still found the reading very enlightening. There were several books that I wanted to read last year that I didn't get a chance to read so am signing up again this year.  The Challenge will be hosted again over on Opinions of A Wolf Blog or on Goodreads.
I am going to stick with the Acquainted Level and will read 4 out of the following selection:
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
So I hope some of you will join me in this challenge it was a real eye opener for me to new genres not to mention some great reading!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Reads Day 9: Review of A Lonely Dog on Christmas by Patrick Yearly

Synopsis: "Christmas Day is fast approaching. For Beckham, the family bulldog, it means just another year of being ignored while chaos and mayhem reign throughout the house. In this holiday short story full of laughter and family dysfunction, Beckham narrates an ill-conceived plan to create an unforgettable landmark moment in order to reclaim the spotlight as the center of attention. As the extended family gathers to make merry and observe their annual tradition, Beckham has another idea in mind to celebrate and make it a day to remember."

My Review: Awe this is such a cute story, and a little sad at the same time. I love that it is written from the dog's point of view and seems to keep with that voice. He rambles at times like you would expect a dog to when they get distracted. All in all a fun fly on the wall type story about the craziness of a Christmas celebration, and kind of puts some things into perspective. Just remember your little four legged family members (mine are spoiled and not only get gifts under the tree but also full sized stockings).
My Rating: This really was a fun story to read about the holiday from a pet's perspective. Not only was it a great short story but a little reminder of those who count on us for everything.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and Stump Wag.

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
Red Truck by Lorraine J. Anderson
Meghan's Wish by Amy Gamet
Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks
Big Girls Do it on Christmas by Jasinda Wilder (After Dark)
The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman (Bedtime Story)
Christmas Jars Reunion by Jason F. Wright (Audio)
The Fisherman's Night Before Christmas by Sue Carabine

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

Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown
The Marriage Carol
Dirty Little Secrets
The Age of Not Believing
Frankenstein Agent of SHADE: Vol. 2

Currently Reading:

Dark Chatter by Andrew Branch - Kindle - 22%
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - PB - on Page 40 of 383
The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann - PB - on page 89 of 364
Seventh Night by Iscah - Kindle - 18%
One Big Beautiful Thing by Marie Flanigan - Kindle - 3%
Marcie by Carly Duncan - Kindle - 15%

 Books to be Read Soon:
Water Harvest by Eric Diehl (Requested Review)
The Gnosis of Salmon by Lynne Marie Rowley (Requested Review)
One Shark, No Swim by Lehua Parker (Requested Review)
Knightmare by Deborah Valentine (Requested Review)
The Lover from Hell by Rob Palmer (Requested Review)
Judgment by Jade Varden
Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison (Graphic Novel)


Last week was a whirl wind, I got some reading done but I really felt all over the place and my reading reflected it. I just couldn't settle down to one book for some reason. I kind of think it is the reading I plan on doing next year, I rearranged my little bookshelf in my living room with the books I plan to read in 2014 and it has renewed my excitement for those books and I am itching to get into them.  I am hoping to get a decent amount of reading done this week but I have a wedding that I am participating in on Friday with all the other events to go with it this week, not to mention all the Christmas gifts I am still in the midst of making.

All that said, I am looking forward to starting a new year! I hope you are all having a great week and are staying safe and warm in this crazy weather!