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.