Saturday, May 3, 2014

Graphic Novel Review of Athena: The Grey-Eyed Goddess by George O'Connor

Synopsis: "Boom! Pow! Crash!

Greek Gods as you’ve never seen them before!

The strong, larger-than-life heroes of the Olympians can summon lightning, control the sea, turn invisible, or transform themselves into any animal they choose. Superheroes? No! Greek gods. The ancient pantheon comes to explosive life in this new series where myth meets comic books. Epic battles, daring quests, and terrible monsters await readers within the pages of these books.

Volume 2, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, is the tale of the goddess of wisdom and war, recounting her many adventures."

My Review: I have always felt that Athena got the short end of the stick and this novel adds to that thought. It seems all of the myths that involve Athena are simply continuation of other Gods or the beginning of some other hero's story. I do like how this volume depicted so much of her strength, though I would like to have seen a little more of the wisdom of her legend. As I found with the previous volume in the series, I love the short info pages/ character pages at the end of the novel that give you a little more information on the major players.
My Rating: I wasn't as impressed with this installment of the Olympians, but I think that is more because of the myths surrounding Athena than it is due to the writing.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bedtime Story: Journey by Aaron Becker

Synopsis: "Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all."

My Review: This was like an updated and more intricate version of Harold and the Purple Crayon (in fact I had to pull out my copy and re-read it). I loved the illustrations and how her red marker stood out. I also enjoyed how there were no words so you could create your own story and make it unique each time. I found the ending to be a surprise and a good one at that, a hope for everyone who may feel alone.
My Rating: I enjoyed this one and I think Munchkin will eventually love making up his own story to go with the pictures.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

After Dark Review of Master of the Abyss by Cherise Sinclair

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: "On the mountain, the watcher seeks out evil women. And then they die.

Two years ago, when Jake Hunt uncollared his slave, she committed suicide. Guilt-ridden, he will commit to a woman for one night only, devoting his energy to a mountain lodge that caters to a BDSM crowd.

Kallie Masterson is tough. Unwanted as a child, she worked hard to become a wilderness guide. She’s proud of who she is, and hurt that Jake frowns on her for acting like a man.

After rescuing the macho guide from a bar fight, Jake is stunned that the ugly men’s clothing hides a warm, responsive woman. A submissive woman. When guide business brings her to the lodge on BDSM night, and she is obviously aroused by the play, Jake takes the little sub right into his world of pain and pleasure. He warns her: one night only. But she responds so beautifully -- so joyously -- under his command, that one night soon becomes two, then three...

Then a missing hiker reminds Jake of his past lover, and he realizes he’s become too involved. He pulls back.

Meanwhile, the watcher on the mountain has rendered his verdict: Kallie Masterson is evil. The sentence: Death."

My Review: This might be my favorite book by Cherise Sinclair! I loved the characters, Kallie is by far my favorite and I really enjoyed Jake. Of course the sub-characters as almost always with Sinclair were fantastic and I hope to revisit them often throughout the rest of the series. I enjoyed not only the main plot line but also the intertwining suspense and other lines the were in the background (and make continue into other books in the series). All together a great book full of steam, emotions and stubborn personalities.
My Rating: As you can tell from that review I loved this book and how could I give it any less than Four Paws and a Stump Wag?!

2014 Challenge Update - April

It's hard to believe we are already 4 months into the year yet at the same time I can't believe the year isn't half over yet! I have been doing a little reading again this month, though not as much as I had expected.
So here we go:
Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge
No progress made on this challenge (though one of the review books I read could probably be counted towards it).
Series Challenge
I didn't make as much progress with this challenge as I would have liked, though I will definitely complete the challenge as 3 of the 5 series I wanted to complete are already done and two more are nearly there. All I really want to do is to take a day out of work and sit down to read a series one book right after another with no interruptions HAHA fat chance of that happening!
Series #1: Harry Potter - Book 1
Series #2: Secret of the Unicorn Queen - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6 - Series Complete!
Series #3: Rose Harbor - Book 1, Book 1.5
Series #4: Firebrand - Book #1, Book #2, Book #3 - Series Complete!
Series #5: Gifted Series - Book #1, Book #2, Book #3 - Series Complete!
Series #6: Master of the Mountain - Book 1, Book 1.5, Book 2, Book 2.5
Audio Book Challenge
I fell a little behind here this month, the books have gotten longer and I seem to be having less time to sit and enjoy them, but I have a little wiggle room on this one since I only promised 10 books in a year.
Graphic Novel Challenge
A little ahead of the game but it is nice to break up the constant novels with something short and illustrated.
10. Relish
Mount TBR
I am still pretty close to on track with this challenge so far this year but didn't make as much progress as I would have liked, of course all these shiny new books I ordered and downloaded have definitely put a damper on this challenge.
3. Beauty

Erotica Challenge
I am definitely keeping pace on this challenge, I have downloaded enough books to get me through the year no problem now! I am nearly done with the Master of the Mountain series (though she is releasing book 4 this month) and may take a brief break to catch up on the rest of my challenges.
 Wow I can't believe how much I slowed down this month, I guess that is what happens when you try to push through books you aren't enjoying as much.  I did however read a lot of books to Munchkin since he has been so sick. So of course shorter books like Children's add up quickly on the goodreads challenge.  I am up to 116 books so far this year and am 65 books ahead of schedule!  At least I am keeping up some where, but I knew I would fall behind at some point.
How are your challenges going? Are you finding you are focusing on any one particular challenge first or just working on them all at once?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review of Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester

My Review: "Pressed Pennies is mainstream fiction, written from a male perspective to a female audience. A la Nicolas Sparks and Robert James Waller, it is a tale of connecting love stories, proving that the world really is a small place and that the trick is to cherish it by living each of its moments to the fullest. Amid the heart-warming romances and deceitful twists and turns, Pressed Pennies tackles the trying issues associated with living in a non-traditional family. In an era of divorce and single-parenthood, it is a story about raising children and peacefully co-existing; making it work with mutual respect and consideration. The book's underlying theme is discovered in the evolution of the 80's child. Though life begins as wholesome and innocent, technology quickly takes over. Suddenly, two parents must leave the home and go to work. Day care, fast food and a list of coveted luxuries replace long talks in porch swings, tree forts and family suppers. The price for comfort proves very expensive, though, as the American family is traded in for the American dream."

My Review: I received this book from the author for an honest review. I will admit that I have a couple other books by Mr. Manchester and have loved everyone of them. This however maybe the best I have read from him so far. Steven has a wonderful way of pulling you into the story and allowing you the pleasure of feeling the emotional rollercoaster right along with the characters. For me the set of characters in Pressed Pennies were some of his most developed and relatable characters and I grew very fond of each of them. In the synopsis it mentions that the writing is along the lines of Nicholas Sparks, I would also add Jason F. Wright in there too because there are hints at religion and God's goodness. This was the perfect feel good, tear creating romance I was looking for at the time, the nice thing was that it wasn't fluff like a lot of them are, it makes an impact. I also really enjoyed the references to actual places and sites, being from the area where the story is set those references drew me even more into the story. All in all a great book and I really hope that some of you will pick it up when it is published (on May 13, 2014)!
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book and it was everything that I had hoped it would be! I felt frustration, loss, anger, joy, hope and of course there were tears. I give Pressed Pennies a rating of Four Paws and Stump Wag!
Pressed Pennies was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Steven Manchester and his work on his Goodreads Page or Website.
You can also obtain your own copy of Pressed Pennies in either digital or print formats on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (available for pre-order the release date is set for May 13th)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review of Moonspell by Gwen Hansen

Synopsis: "Every seven years, the unicorns of Arren must journey to the distant mountain land of Ryudain to replenish their power - and Sheila and her warrior friends are duty-bound to escort them there safely before the next full moon.

But many dangers await them on this trip - including the mysterious terrain, violent rainstorms, a savage tribe who want to sacrifice the unicorns to their angry gods...and the evil sorceror Mardock. Ready to strike out at Sheila for thwarting his plans for unlimited power, he is determined to use his magic to destroy her - and any chance she has of getting home...."

My Review: This was a bit of an improvement over the last book, though again a new character was added, but this time she was suddenly the answer to everyone's problems and had all the answers. I also found it odd that in this book suddenly everyone believes that Sheila can really do magic. The ending was kind of abrupt but of course there had to be a little bit of an opening at the end so it wasn't so unhappy.
My Rating: I hate to say this because I love reading about unicorns but I am glad this series is over.  This final book was good but not a great finale to the series.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, April 28, 2014

What's for Dinner this Week (4)

What's for Dinner This Week is a little insight into my life for you every Monday night. I carefully plan out meals for the week ahead of time and do my shopping over the weekend.  So I wanted to start sharing with you one of the recipes or dinners I am most looking forward to each week.
So this week I will be making a dish of my own that was inspired by something off the menu at Macaroni Grill.  There was this dish that they had with bowtie pasta, chicken, sundried tomatoes all in a cream sauce that I loved! Sadly our Macaroni Grill shut down years ago and I was forced to improvise. I have created my own recipe, though it is still being altered slightly from time to time.
So I used cooked chicken breast, I usually just make it in a skillet, but it is always better if you can grill it. Cut that into bite sized pieces.
I sauté mushrooms and a shallot in some olive oil (if you have flavored stuff that is great, I have a delicious Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil)
When the mushrooms are almost done I add the chicken and chopped sundried tomatoes.
Once everything is warmed to the same temp and absorbing flavors from each other I pour on a jar & a half of Alfredo sauce (I need to learn to make my own creamy sauce).
Once that is all heated through I serve it over cooked Gnocchi. If you happen to have some tasty ciabatta or focaccia bread to go with it, even better. And of course a nice glass of white wine too!
So that is one of my dinners for the week. I will try to get a picture for you all when I cook it. Have you ever recreated a dish from your favorite restaurant? What is on your table for dinner this week?

Dewey Readathon Wrap Up

Boy was Saturday a long day of reading, but a lot of fun! I wish I could have gotten more reading done but am happy with how much I did get done. Of all the readathons I have participated in this was the most successful.
Books finished: Flight, Hades, Count to 10 with a Mouse, Biscuit Loves the Library, Welcome to Trucktown, The Gruffalo, The Bippolo Seed & Other stories, and The Legendary Yoda, Birds of Prey, 5 Minute Disney Pixar Stories
Total of pages read: 1326
Running total of time spent reading: 11 hours
Which hour was most daunting for you?  I think between hours 8-10 got the hardest for me, I was struggling with the books I was planning to read and lost my momentum.
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I loved the Graphic Novels, they were quick reads that kept the pages turning. There are different styles of GNs for everyone. I read Flight which was an anthology style, Birds of Prey is a classic super hero, and Hades was a mythology re-told.
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? can't think of anything than you are already trying to improve.
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The mini challenges were great, and there was a lot of interaction on Twitter.
How many books did you read? 10
What were the names of the books you read? Flight, Hades, Count to 10 with a Mouse, Biscuit Loves the Library, Welcome to Trucktown, The Gruffalo, The Bippolo Seed & Other stories, and The Legendary Yoda, Birds of Prey, 5 Minute Disney Pixar Stories, The Mozart Season, How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini & Doms of Dark Haven 2
Which book did you enjoy most? Flight or Hades, I also enjoyed Doms of Dark Haven 2
Which did you enjoy least? How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini (it wasn't quite what the synopsis said) or The Mozart Season (it was a print book with really tiny text)
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn't but I don't think any official cheerleaders stopped by, mostly just blogging friends so that was kind of a disappointment
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I would like to participate again, I just hope that the weather is better next time so Munchkin can go outside, and goodness I need him to be healthy. I would like to read again, but think I would make a few changes for myself (maybe try an audio book and go for a walk).

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

Into the Dream by Suzanne Weyn
Taking Stock by Scott Bartlett
Doms of Dark Haven by Cherise Sinclair (After Dark)
Bear's New Friend by Karma Wilson (Bedtime Story)
Dark Gods by Josepha Sherman
Mini Reviews

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

Pressed Pennies
Flight Vol. One
Welcome to Trucktown
Biscuit Loves the Library
Big Cat the Proud
On The Farm
Hades: Lord of the Dead
5 Minute Disney Pixar Stories
Count to 10 with a Mouse
The Bippolo Seed & Other Lost Stories
The Legendary Yoda
Birds of Prey Vol. 1

Currently Reading:

Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein - PB - on Page 138 of 310
Perfect Match by Kristin Higgins - PB - on Page 243 of 441
Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff - PB - on page 35 of 272
How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini by Heather Horrocks - PB - on Page 43 of 265
Doms of Dark Haven 2 by Cherise Sinclair et al - Nook - 52%

 Books to be Read Soon:
Lest the Dew Rust Them by Michael Drakich (Requested Review)
My Heart to Yours by Michelle Zarrin (Requested Review)


So with my week finally settling down this last week (after the chaos of vacation and Easter) I got down to reading again. Sadly, that did not work out so well . .
We ended up spending all day Thursday in the Emergency Room at Hasbro Children's Hospital with Munchkin. He was having extreme difficulty breathing and we ended up having to bring home a nebulizer to continue his treatments all weekend.  Thankfully he responded well and is nearly better. He did manage to get an ear infection again too, even though he has tubes in his ears! I swear I just can't keep him healthy.

 I have a bunch of requested reviews I want to get to so have really been pushing myself to read whenever I have a spare moment.  With that in mind I also realized that we are dangerously near the end of the month and I need to get some writing done to avoid having to release some more of my writing, but more on that on my writing post coming up next Wednesday.  I hope some of you were able to participate in Dewey's Readathon this weekend, I was able to participate at least a few hours on Saturday and will have a full report for you later this afternoon.

 Later this week we move into May so I will have a the 2014 Challenge Update for you, I am still pretty pleased with myself.  I have done a lot of reading this year, been keeping up with my reviews, added some new features to the blog and have more exciting things coming up.  May 12 - 18 is Children's book week in which I hope to have lots of not only picture books for you but also some early readers and middle grade books to share with young readers in your lives. I have also been working very hard on a 'From the Book' project to be introduced in May.

Somehow with all of this happening I still managed to treat myself to new nails! My Easter nails didn't last long so last Sunday night I decided to paint them again. I found this polish called Berry Scary in this Etsy shop, it is a purple glitter polish that has a berry scent when dry! I was a bit skeptical but was totally shocked how strong the smell was when it dried and it lingered for a few days even.  I do have to say though I could do without the glitter, I would have preferred just the transparent purple color with the smell.
Later last week I also wanted to try out these great false nails with frogs and rain. I got them for 'April Showers' at this Etsy Shop so needed to wear them before the end of the month! They worked out really well, and I used these little nail stickers instead of glue and they didn't damage my nails at all.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mini Reviews: Cat Confessions, Tiny Book of Tiny Stories #2 and Many More

So with reading and reviewing so many books, I am running out of days in which to share them with you.  I am going to start posting Mini Reviews of books that I read through out the month but couldn't find the time to post on the last Sunday of each month.
This is my first of these Mini Review post so please let me know how you like them, if there is anything different you would like to see.
Unique book, though not as good as the first one.  Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Great concept but didn't produce the funny like expected. Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Unfortunately not quite what I was expecting. I loved the show but this book lost most of the elements of the show that made me love it.  One Paw and a Stump Wag.

Definitely an improvement over Show Off, saw more of my favorite characters and they didn't seem as out of character. Wish I could find the rest of the series. Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Full Review

I have really grown to love the characters and world in this one, not to mention the fact that they are short reads that fit just right into my life. Hope this is not the end, but it is listed as a trilogy on Goodreads and this is the 3rd book.  Four Paws.