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 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!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent Reads Day 8: Review of The Fisherman's Night Before Christmas by Sue Carabine

Synopsis: "Santa doesn't know lures from bait, so some fishermen gather to help him this Christmas Eve."

My Review: This was very creative and a fun new take on Twas the Night Before Christmas. I really enjoyed every moment of it and was surprised at how well Carabine was able to find rhymes with all the fishing terms. I think this would be a great gift for any fisherman for Christmas, they will all get a kick out of it.
My Rating: I had a lot of fun with this story. It must have taken some work to find so many rhyming fishing terms.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!