Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent Reads Day 6: The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Synopsis: "Two people are about to discover that when it comes to finding love, sometimes Christmas magic isn’t enough…sometimes it takes a pesky orange cat named Ambrose.

When a guy is in trouble, he starts making deals with his Creator…and Ambrose the cat is no exception. In danger of losing his ninth and final life, Ambrose makes a desperate plea to the universe. He’ll do anything—anything!—if he can just survive and enjoy a nice long, final life. His prayer is answered when a stranger comes along and saves him—and now it looks like he has to hold up his end of the bargain.

The stranger turns out to be a firefighter named Zach, who’s in need of some serious romantic help. If Ambrose can just bring Zach together with Merilee, the nice lady who works at Pet Palace, it’s bound to earn him a healthy ninth life. Unfortunately for Ambrose, his mission is a lot harder than he ever thought. Merriliee is way too shy to make the first move on a ladies man like Zach, and Zach thinks he’s all wrong for a nice girl like Merrilee. Now it’s going to take all of Ambrose’s feline wiles—and maybe even a good old fashioned Christmas miracle—to make them both realize that what they’re looking for is right in front of their eyes."

My Review: This was so much better than I expected. I was completely wrapped up in the story and the characters, which of course lead to the pages being turned quickly. I loved Ambrose/Tom's view point, it was comical at times and completely cat-like. I really enjoyed where the story took you, it wasn't just about romance, it was about animals and family as well. It was a touching story and great for these cold winter nights.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down at 1am to get a couple hours sleep.  It is a wonderful tale and so heartwarming for this season. I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Graphic Novel Review of 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham

Synopsis: "Traveling in Arabia as an Ambassador from the exiled FABLES community, Snow White is captured by the local sultan who wants to marry her (and then kill her). But the clever Snow attempts to charm the sultan instead by playing Scheherazade, telling him fantastic stories for a total of 1,001 nights. Running the gamut from horror to dark intrigue to mercurial coming-of-age, FABLES:1,001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL reveals the secret histories of familiar FABLES characters through a series of compelling and visually illustrative tales"

My Review: I liked bits of this one and there were bits I didn't enjoy. I did enjoy the short stories that really gave you a backstory on some of the characters of the series, it was nice to get to know a little more about what makes them tick. The part I didn't enjoy was the pages and pages of text, as I have said before, I don't read GNs to sit there and read text, if I wanted to do that I would read a standard novel. Thankfully even with that issue, it was still a fast read with enjoyable illustrations.
My Rating: While this wasn't my cup of tea as far as graphic novel style goes, it is still a nice complimentary edition for the Fables series.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent Reads Day 5: Bedtime Story: Winter Lights by Andrea Posner-Sanchez

Synopsis: "The Pteranodon family celebrates the beginning of winter with a trip to the North Pole! Children ages 2–5 will love this Little Golden Book that retells an episode of the PBS Kids show Dinosaur Train in which Buddy the T. rex and his siblings get to see the amazing Aurora Borealis!"

My Review: Dinosaur Train is one of Munchkin's favorite shows and it is so nice to be able to read books (even though I need to look up all the pronunciations of the dinosaur species). This was a perfect one for winter, I liked that it touched on winter activities, winter solstice and the northern lights. Munchkin really enjoyed it as well and had fun pointing out the colors.
My Rating: This was a cute book and while out of the ordinary for the holiday season, it is the perfect fit. We give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

2015 Mount TBR Sign Up

I am once again signing up for the Mount TBR Challenge Hosted by My Readers Block.
And the rules:*Once you choose your challenge level, you are locked in for at least that many books. If you find that you're on a mountain-climbing roll and want to tackle a taller mountain, then you are certainly welcome to upgrade.  All books counted for lower mountains may carry over towards the new peak.

*Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2015.

*You may sign up anytime from now until November 4th, 2015.

*Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2015. No ARCs (none), no library books. No rereads. [To clarify--based on a question raised last year--the intention is to reduce the stack of books that you have bought for yourself or received as presents {birthday, Christmas, "just because," etc.}. Audiobooks and E-books may count if they are yours and they are one of your primary sources of backlogged books.]

*You may count any "currently reading" book that you begin prior to January 1--provided that you had 50% or more of the book left to finish in 2014.  I will trust you all on that.

*Books may be used to count for other challenges as well.

*Feel free to submit your list in advance (as incentive to really get those books taken care of) or to tally them as you climb.

*There will be quarterly check-ins and prize drawings!

*A blog and reviews are not necessary to participate. If you have a blog, then please post a challenge sign up and link THAT post (not your home page) into the linky below. Non-bloggers, please leave a comment declaring your challenge level--OR, if you are a member of Goodreads, I will once again put together a group for the challenge there. Feel free to sign up HERE.  At the beginning of the year, I will once again have a sidebar link for called Mount TBR Review Headquarters for 2015 reviews and progress updates.
Challenge Levels:

Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s

Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s
I am once again signing up for Mt. Kilimanjaro with 60 books, but have every intention of reaching El Toro at 75 (in fact I have been preparing for this challenge and buying all the books I want to read next year so they count towards this challenge hahaha a little planning goes a long way).
Some of the books I plan to read are:
The Pride Series (books 3-9 will count - 1 & 2 will be re-reads)
Daughters of the Glen Series (books 3-8 will count)
Hearts of Anemoni series (books 2-4 will count)
Warriors Series (books 1-6)
And many many more books - I have created a Goodreads shelf for this challenge so I remember what books I owned before January 1st, 2015
I hope you are able to join this challenge too and work on those TBR shelves!!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

After Dark Review of No Ifs Ands or Bears About It by Celia Kyle

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: "The first day of Mia’s new life in Grayslake, Georgia is not going as planned. The house her grandfather left her looks ready to crumble, boxes cover every inch of the floor and—oh—there’s a bear cub in her pantry. It gets worse when the cub’s uncle comes by and busts out his fur and claws while on her front porch. Then it gets loads better because suddenly there’s a hot hunk of badge-wearing werebear on her lawn ready to rescue her. Yum. Of course, he has to ruin things by trying to take the cub out of her hands. Ha! The cub is hers… No ifs, ands, or bears about it.

Werebear Ty can’t seem to get the curvaceous, delectable Mia to understand that, even if she is one-quarter werebear, she isn’t keeping the cub. Ty is the Grayslake Itan, the clan’s leader, and the little werebear is going home with him… Unless it isn’t. It’s her smile. If she’d stop smiling and being gorgeous, his inner-bear would support him and Ty would get his way. But the beast wants to make their woman happy, so it’s perfectly content to let her do as she pleases. Then things change. Threats arise, danger comes close, and Ty demands she return to his den. No ifs, ands, or mates about that."

My Review: MMMMM! I have always been a little partial to big cat shifters but oh boy did bear shifters make a move up the list with this one. I absolutely loved the pushy and bossiness of the MCs. Mia is awesome and I want to be her friend and learn her kick ass attitude. Parker is insanely adorable, who wouldn't cuddle a frightened little shifter bear cub? I couldn't stop turning the pages on this one, while it followed some common romance clich├ęs it was done beautifully. There was plenty of tension and suspense to keep you involved in the story and not just skimming the pages. So all in all I suggest this one, you won't regret it. Yes, I have already downloaded the next book!
My Rating: I really did enjoy this one and it was a great change of pace from all the sweet holiday romances.  I like the constant butting of heads and of course the steam was great.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Advent Reads Day 4: Kissing Santa by Heather Horrocks

Synopsis: "PG-RATED FUN

KISSING SANTA (A Christmas Street Romantic Comedy Novella #2)

It was supposed to be just an innocent kiss at a charity kissing booth—but it turned out to be fireworks.

‘Volunteered’ to dress as Santa, firefighter Zeke Pepper is blown away by the kiss and feels he may have met The One, but school teacher Hannah Cooke is still trying to win back her high school sweetheart Jackson.

When Zeke runs into Hannah on Christmas Street, they make a deal: In exchange for him making her ex jealous at a New Year’s Eve party, she agrees to go on three dates with Zeke.

It seems like her plan to win Jackson back is working perfectly—but Zeke has other plans. Could she be falling in love with the wrong firefighter?"

My Review: This was a fun, clean romance for the holiday season. I am beginning to wonder where all these super hot firefighters are because they aren't around here (not that I am looking but a little eye candy doesn't hurt). While I really enjoyed Zeke and many of the sub-characters I couldn't help but wanting to smack Hannah upside the head. It was a fun light read (and thankfully did not push religion like some of Horrocks other books).
My Rating: I had read the first novella in this series for the Advent Reads last year and really enjoyed it.  While this one wasn't quiet as good it was still enjoyable.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent Reads Day 3: Dashing Through the Snow by Diane Farr

Synopsis: "On the road to Bath, a kind-hearted young man encounters a young lady in a hurry. Together they journey to an unintended destination -- and share an unforgettable Christmas Eve."

My Review: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but it turned out to be a lovely historical romance. It was short but the characters and storyline were beautifully developed. I had a lot of fun reading it and really fell for each of the characters, I found them to be unique in their own ways and relatable. If you are looking for a clean, short holiday romance give this one a shot.
My Rating: It has been a while since I read a historical romance and this was a nice one.  If you are an avid reader of the genre you may not like this one as it is rather compacted.  I however liked it and give it a rating of Three Paws.

Wednesday Writing

So Wednesday is my official writing update day. I have so many story projects going on and I need a push to get some done. So I will be trying to post each Wednesday about how my writing adventures are going (and I may need a swift kick in the pants by you guys sometimes).

Current Active Project:

Here's The Truth (and you don't get a spoonful of sugar) - 10,016 words
the honest to goodness truth about creating the little tyrants that will run your lives. No sugar coating here!
Princess Bs - 34,317 words
A story about a woman, recently divorced and returned to her home town to figure out what is next. She encounters an old friend and spends a weekend with him and his daughters. Feelings that are long since buried are rising up again, but are her recent loss and his current life going to stand in the way of their happily ever after?

Other Works in Progress:

The New Old Home - 17,193 words
Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but what would you do with that money? That is the question presented to Natalie, when she is at the lowest point in her life, she is presented with an opportunity to make any normal person's dreams come true, but all those winnings can't give her what she wants most.

Night Rider - 17,229
Alice is a recent high school graduate who is a very accomplished competitive rider in Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, and Western/Rodeo. Her parents had arranged for her to attend a private college on the east coast geared specifically to equine professions. However, Alice wants to focus on her studies in English Literature. When she arrives at the college she hides her riding abilities, but can she keep her talent and love of horses hidden?

The Last Mountains - 13,468 (handwritten) = 15,766 (typed)
A equine shapeshifting family is being hunted to near extinction and the young new leader must go against all her lessons and approach the elite council for aide. Will they help her? How will she keep her family's traditions and values alive, let alone her herd?
Olivia's Mountain Tale - 3,607 words
Olivia is left in the mountains by her uncle to guard the sheep grazing in the summer pastures.  This summer could change the course of her life.
Tamlyn Marie's Grace - 5,811
Think Cinderella only with a matchmaker ;)

Other Ideas Plotting:

Bloodsoar's Story
A pegasus struggles through life, ejected from the herd, near capture by humans.

The Assassin's Assassin
A student learns what the school is really teaching and sets out to destroy those who support the program.

Angel Story
Angels battle out an age old feud in a parallel world

All in the Company
A business that keeps to itself, employees marry employees and live on company property. Lissandra is ordered to marry Cody but both are always on business and don't know one another.

Little Wind Guides
Little Wind must lead her clan to new territory as the gods of the Fire Forest are cleansing their home with wrath.  Will they follow her while she holds so many secrets.

Draft Complete:

The Story of Things (previously titled Each Item a Story) - 50,052 words
A journal a woman keeps as she sorts through antique items and documents left in a home she purchased.


So sad but I didn't complete Nanowrimo this year.  I think it could have been accomplished if the office wasn't so busy or if I wasn't on my own taking care of Munchkin.  I needed one thing to give and unfortunately it was Nano.  Oh well, I think the book is still a great idea and one I will continue working on, hopefully more before the end of the year.

I didn't do so hot with my writing at all this year but that is okay, we all have off times when other things in live are distracting.  The good thing is that it isn't my job, it is a hobby that I can revisit when I want.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent Reads Day 2: The Note by Mike O'Mary

Synopsis: "Overview
Named Best Gift Book of 2011 in the Living Now Book Awards, The Note is a story about the power of appreciation and how a simple note can change a person's life. At the center of the story is a simple note of appreciation. The story behind that note will break your heart, but by the time you finish reading, your heart will be mended and filled with warmth. The book also includes insight into the importance of showing appreciation, and step-by-step advice on Writing a Heartfelt Note. The powerful and ultimately uplifting message of The Note is that a simple note of appreciation can change a person s life and create positive feelings that ripple outwards and touch an ever-expanding circle of people including all who read this book.

Learn About the Note Project
Also, be sure to learn about the Note Project at NoteProject dot com. There is no cost to participate. The goal of the Note Project is to make the world a million times better by collectively writing 1 million notes of appreciation. You can participate simply by pledging to write a note to someone you appreciate."

My Review: I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book but it was great. I loved the short sentimental story at the beginning about receiving that meaningful note. Then the book goes into how to make that same impact on others and how to go about sending your own notes. I have really enjoyed writing letters in the past few years but have fallen off the past few months and this is a real motivator to get going again. You can read just the story or you can read the whole book, or you can even take it a step further and get involved or send messages of your own gratitude or love.
My Rating: I really adore the concept of this book and think it is a great way to start off the Christmas season.  With the economy still not great and people not always having money for gifts, maybe they should consider a simple note, it could mean so much more than a gift. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Review of Elixir by Ted Galdi

Synopsis: "Meet 14-year-old Sean Malone. He has an IQ above 200, a full-ride scholarship to one of the country’s top universities, and more than one million dollars from his winning streak on Jeopardy. However, Sean wishes he could just be normal.

But his life is anything but normal. The US government manipulates him, using him as a codebreaker in pursuit of a drug lord and killing innocent people along the way.

For reasons related to his personal security, Sean finds himself in Rome, building a new life under a new name, abandoning academics, and hiding his genius from everyone. When he’s 18 he falls in love. The thrills begin again when he learns that his girlfriend is critically ill and it’s up to him to use his intellect to find a cure, a battle pitting him against a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company and the demons of his past.

Elixir is a story about identity, secrets, and above all, love."

My Review: This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review. I don't normally read a lot of suspense or thrillers but this one captured my interest. I honestly had to push myself to get through this one, it has a lot of potential but just fell a little flat. There is a lot of math and science involved in this storyline but unfortunately it is just brushed over (granted these are fictional accomplishments but still there should have been a little research involved to put some facts in the story). Without these elements, the whole suspense was lost to me. While I was definitely on Sean's side and that of both Natasha and Mary, the whole heart pounding element was lost. I also felt this needed a little editing, there were a lot of descriptive details that were not needed and simply pulled you out of the story once you did get going. There is a lot of potential for this one but just came up short.
My Rating: This was an intriguing book with a lot of brilliant ideas but just not enough detail to really draw you in and make you believe and feel.   I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.
Elixir was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Ted Galdi and his work on his Goodreads Page or Website.
You can also obtain your own copy of Elixir in digital or print format from Amazon or print format from Barnes and Noble

Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent Reads Day 1: Review of Santa's Ninja Elves by Lizzy Ford

Synopsis: "Santa’s Ninja Elves: two short stories depicting elite elves whose missions are to protect Santa against all enemies using an assortment of cinna-bombs, candy cane bullets, tinsel traps and throwing bells and intelligence from the fortune-telling Mrs. Clause. After years of dedicated service, Santa decides to reward them by helping them find love on Christmas."

My Review: I really enjoyed these two short stories. They were so unique and fun compared to so much else I have read recently. I really wish that Ford had taken it a step further and written a longer story for each of these characters, I would have loved to read more. There were so many very creative ideas here and I really hope she does more with them.
My Rating: I so loved these two short stories.  I want more of them and more of the characters and ideas.  Even though I want so much more I can't help but give this one a rating of Four Paws and a 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

Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
Giving Thanks by Katherine Paterson
The World According to Mr. Rogers by Fred Rogers
That's When I'm Happy by Beth Shoshan (Bedtime Story)

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

Curious George and the Pizza Party
Santa's Little Helper
V is for Viking
Thomas the Train and the Hide and Seek Animals
Do Your Ears Hang Low
Frosty the Snowman
Hard to Hold On To
Rescuing Christmas

Currently Reading:

Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914  by Stanley Weintraub - on PB - On page 21 of 187

 Books to be Read Soon:

Enfold Me by Steven Greenberg (Requested Review)


Interesting Tidbits from the Web:



Boy oh boy, I got a lot accomplished last week! 4 batches of chex mix made, 2 batches of cheese balls, the house cleaned and decorated, Christmas gifts wrapped, and packages shipped. That of course doesn't include all the reading I did! I am determined to make this year the year I read 365 books.

Oh and it is now December 1st! Time to kick off my Advent Reads Event!  I will have a new holiday themed story review for you each night at 6:00pm EST.  I normally post my reviews in the morning but for some reason, Christmas and Holiday stories feel so much cozier after it is dark and we can all curl up under a blanket on the couch.  I am really happy with the variety I have for you this year, of course there are kids books, but also a graphic novel, historical, romantic holiday stories, even one with a bit of horror in it. I hope to squeeze in a giveaway or two as well.

I of course will have additional posts in the mornings with other reviews, updates, Challenge completion posts and Challenge signups. Boy there is a lot to cram into this final month of reading for the year!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014 Challenge Update

Oh Wow! 2014 is almost done! We are in the last month of the year and Challenges are quickly being wrapped up! Time for one last update and push.
So here we go:
Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge
This challenge is complete however I do have one more book I would like to read for this challenge, maybe in the fall.
Series Challenge
Wow I have completed 9 whole series so far this year! I am still determined to finish the Harry Potter series, and possibly the Icemark series too.
Series #1: Harry Potter - Book 1, Book 2,
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, Book 2, Book 3 - Complete
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, Book 3, Book 4 - Series Complete (for now, I am sure there will be more books but none are set to release this year).
Series #7: Dakota Series -  Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4 - Series Complete!
Series #8: Vampire Warrior Kings Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 - Series Complete!
Series #9: Firelight Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 3.5 - Series Complete
Series #10: Woods Family Series - Book 1 (read previously), Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book .5 - Series Complete
Audio Book Challenge
This Challenge is COMPLETE but still have been listening away
8. Stay
9. Rider
Graphic Novel Challenge
This challenge is COMPLETE and I think I have finished all the GNs I planned to read this year.
10. Relish
Mount TBR
I am still a little behind on this challenge, but I have several books that I need to read for the upcoming Advent Reads event. Many of them can be applied to this challenge.
3. Beauty

Erotica Challenge
Another Challenge Completed!! Woohoo! I even signed up for this one a little late and completed and surpassed my goal (and will probably continue to do so).
 23. Beg
Holy Cow! Where did this year go?! I start to wonder if I have read enough this year and with every opportunity I could, and then I look at this list and say yes, yes I have read as much as possible this year.  We are down to the final month of 2014 and the challenges we set for ourselves this year. 
I am very happy to say that I am definitely going to complete all of my challenges this year! I have completed 6 of my 8 challenges for this year. I have 2 more books to read for the Mount TBR challenge and 3 more books to read for the Equine challenge. I will more than definitely read those 5 books within the next month!
My current Goodreads book count is at 320 so far this year.  I am kind of hoping to reach that 365 mark and be able to cross an item off my bucket list.
So as we head into this final month of the year, expect to start seeing challenge completion posts and challenge signup posts from me!
How are your challenges going?  Are you starting to plan next year's challenges yet (because I am)?