Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent Reads Day 13: Kringle by Tony Abbott

Synopsis: "Just in time for Christmas comes a fantasy epic from one of today's most popular writers for children. It is the story of a young orphan realizing his destiny -- to become the legendary Kris Kringle.

Unlike the traditional Santa Claus myth, KRINGLE is a coming-of-age story about an orphan who becomes a force for good in a dark and violent time. It is a tale of fantasy, of goblins, elves, and flying reindeer -- and of a boy from the humblest beginnings who fulfills his destiny.

Our tale begins in 500 A.D., when goblins kidnapped human children and set them to work in underground mines. Kringle is one such child.... until he discovers his mission - to free children from enslavement. His legend lives on today, as he travels the earth every Christmas Eve to quell the goblins once more."

My Review: I really had to push through this one. I liked the idea of this book but it didn't work the way I expected. The narration is really awkward and at times you wonder if Kringle is actually having a conversation with the person narrating or with himself. Then it takes beloved characters and really pushes them in a direction far from what we know and expect, which it is great to have a little creativity and twist the stories but this one took it a little too far for my liking. It also took many of the traditional Christmas beliefs and forced them together. Maybe this will work for someone who is a little more open minded but it just didn't work to push these classic stories so far from the norm and then force them together.
My Rating: I have been waiting nearly a year to read this book, it sounded interesting and the cover is stunning, but what a let down.  I can only give this one a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

2015 Reading Across the States Challenge

I saw someone last year read around the world and they picked 20 books set in different countries to read, and then I saw a pinterest post about the book that represents the state in which you live and put 2 and 2 together.  I plan to read a book set in each of the 50 states. (I have added the book I plan to read but that can change and a * indicates the book is already in my possession).
If you would like to join me in this challenge please follow these simple rules
~ The books in this challenge must be something you have never read before
~ You need to read at least one book set in each of the 50 states
~ The books can count for other challenges
~ The books can be in any format (audio, ebook or print)
~ Please post a sign up & check in every 3 months and link back here so I can cheer you on

If you want to join but aren't sure what books to read I found this really handy site: Books Set In . . .

(I will add a linky if I can just remember how)
Here are the books I plan to read for this challenge (* indicates book is owned by me currently)

Alabama  - Fried Green Tomatoes *
Alaska - If you Lived Here*
Arizona - Veil of Roses*
Arkansas - A Suitable Wife*
California - Starter Wife *
Colorado - Calves in the Mud Room *
Connecticut - A Whole Latte Life*
Delaware - A Catered Affair*
Florida - Because of Winn Dixie*
Georgia - Deep Dish*
Hawaii - Birth*
Idaho - Whatchago Stew*
Illinois - The Untouchables
Indiana - The Sun Tea Chronicles
Iowa - Little Heathens*
Kansas - A Dog Named Christmas
Kentucky - Bluegrass State of Mind *
Louisiana - Taste the Heat*
Maine - Stone Bay*
Maryland - Dinner at Homesick Restaurant*
Massachusetts - The Dante Club *
Michigan - South Superior *
Minnesota - The Antelope Wife*
Mississippi - The Help *
Missouri - The Borrower*
Montana - The Smoke Jumper *
Nebraska - C is for Cornhusker*
Nevada - Missing Ink
New Hampshire - 19 Minutes *
New Jersey - The Fighting Ground*
New Mexico - Pegasus*
New York - Magicians*
North Carolina - Nights in Rodanthe * or Peach Keeper *
North Dakota - Codename Zero*
Ohio - Dragons of Spratt Ohio*
Oklahoma - True Grit * or Where the Heart is *
Oregon - Rose Suitors of Seattle*
Pennsylvania - The Turncoat*
Rhode Island - By the Sea Tess *
South Carolina - Girls in Trucks *
South Dakota - Buffalo Gal*
Tennessee - If you Find Me
Texas - Friday Night Lights*
Utah - Wright on Time - Utah*
Vermont - Lumberjack Love*
Virginia - Crazy VA*
Washington - The Shop on Blossom Street or new Rose Harbor book
West Virginia - Locking Horns*
Wisconsin - Blankets*
Wyoming - Stone Fox *

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent Reads Day 12: Bedtime Story: Children's Christmas Dreams by Kathy Mann

Synopsis: A collection of short poems and rhymes about Christmas and the holiday spirit.

My Review: This collection of rhymes and poems seemed more like they were written by children instead of for children. The rhymes felt forced at times and the flow was sometimes choppy. There was one in the whole collection that stood out and I enjoyed about the Snowmen's Gifts. A little disappointed, I was hoping for something I could share with Munchkin each night leading up to Christmas.
My Rating: This was really a blah book for me, it looks and sounds like it is written by a kid but it isn't.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

2014 Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge - Wrap Up

For the second year in a row I signed up for the Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge hosted on Opinions of a Wolf.  It is a fantastic way to push yourself outside your normal genres and read something that makes an impact. Check out my original sign up post.
I signed up to read 4 books again this year and did complete the challenge this time!
Here are the books I read for the MIA Challenge (links to review):
1. Still Alice - Alzheimer's Disease
2. Not Just Spirited - Sensory Processing Disorder
3. Down Came the Rain - Post Partum Depression
4. Dependent - PTSD & Depression
Things I learned from this challenge:
~ I enjoy reading difficult topic books on occasion
~ Reading these books caused me to appreciate the health and support that I have
The Best MIA Challenge Book of 2014
Still Alice

While I have really enjoyed and appreciated this challenge over the past two years, I don't plan to sign up this next year.  I have many other challenges I plan to do instead.  With that said, I do already have a couple of books that still fit this challenge and will be reading them next year, I just don't plan to officially join.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

After Dark Review of All Roar and No Bite 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: "Who needs claws when you’ve got a baseball bat? Lauren Evans sure as heck doesn’t.

Human Lauren has a protective streak a mile wide and one immediate goal in life—get her best friend out of an abusive household. If that involves a little bat-based redecorating, so be it. Unfortunately—or fortunately—a certain sexy-as-hell cop breaks up the fight before she has a chance to really get going. Grayslake police officer Van Abrams is too hot for his own good, and his handcuffs make all those wonderful places tingle. Too bad he, you know, arrested her and stuff. But then he becomes overbearing, demanding, and commanding. Suddenly Lauren finds herself in his arms, in his bed, and mated to his werebear butt. What’s up with that?

Werebear Enforcer Van Abrams doesn’t want anything to do with humans. He’s got reasons, and they’re damn good ones. He doesn’t need to explain himself to anyone, especially the curvaceous, luscious, gorgeous, human Lauren. Then, his bear decides Lauren is his mate and Van’s anti-human feelings abandon him. He still hasn’t figured out if that’s a good thing. Of course, when danger rolls in from Boyne Falls and joins with a powerful prick from Grayslake, Van realizes that, human or not, Lauren is his.
Van hopes he can kill their enemies and still make it home for dinner.

Warning: This book contains bad guys (more than one) being bad to good girls (two if you’re counting), and one group of humans who sorta end up… dead. Unfortunately, all that comes with a lot of blood, tears, and balls of fur. In this one, boy bears really do drool and human girls rule (and kick ass). We also learn that you can never have enough baseball bats, brake fluid, or fire pokers. Just sayin’."

My Review: Another yummy bear shifter romance. I am definitely developing a soft spot for bears with this series. While this one wasn't quite as good as the first in my opinion, it was still very enjoyable. I like Van and Lauren, but they were both a little too all over the place for me to really enjoy them. The bad guys while they were bad they didn't seem like they should have been as much of a threat as they were made out to be, but oh well you need to have something to push and pull the characters. I am still going to continue with this series, I have a feeling that maybe Martin and Anna are next? I really can't wait for Keen's story, he is the most outstanding sub-character in the series for me so far.
My Rating: It wasn't quite as great as the first in the series but it was still very, very good.  It is definitely a series I plan on continuing.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Advent Reads Day 11: Santa's Little Helper by H. D. Gordon

Synopsis: "He shows up in a white box, with a bright red book under his arm... He wears a jolly grin and hat, a suit with gold bells and green yarn... He watches you for Santa, or so his red book claims... But though his grin is jolly, he's not here for fun and games...

The children have been chosen, such precious little souls they are... And may the Gods be with them, if they wish to make it very far... For Santa's Little Helper does not say, but knows important things... He knows when you've been bad or good, and what monsters stalk your dreams... He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake...He's picking out his presents...He's got some souls to take."

My Review: Even though I don't read a lot of suspense or horror books, I decided to pick this one up as something new for the holiday season. I think those elf on a shelf dolls are creepy and this story went right along with that thought. Unfortunately, this tale wasn't as gripping as I had expected, I didn't have a heart pounding experience while reading it. The format kept kicking you out of the story by jumping between too many characters, which also drew the story out far too long. I feel like the author just wanted to make sure there were enough dead people to make it a horror story so extended it to accommodate those deaths. Sadly, it just fell a little flat for me, the creepy factor was already there for me (between elf on a shelf and Chuckie) and this didn't really add to that fear.
My Rating: I really dislike those elf on a shelf dolls and thought this would be an interesting twist to add to the advent reads event.  It was a great idea but unfortunately the suspense and horror part just didn't deliver for me.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.
Santa's Little Helper was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about the author on her Goodread Page or Website.
You can also obtain your own copy in digital or print format on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent Reads Day 10: The Thursday Night Club by Steven Manchester

Synopsis: "Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off.

As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.

A story of Christmas spirit that will strike a chord in your heart any time of year, The Thursday Night Club will make you look at the holiday season in new ways."

My Review: This book, like all of Manchester's work, has a beautiful message. Unfortunately, it was too brief for me to really find the connection with the characters that I usually enjoy. With that said, this short story combines not only the holiday spirit and gift of giving of ourselves but also a nice thread of comic relief. I really enjoyed this story and love the way it not only gives ideas for gifts that don't cost a thing but also how one person really can make an impact on those around us. It is a beautiful holiday tale.
My Rating: Being a novella, the shortened time with the characters didn't allow for the connections that I am used to but there is still a fantastic message contained in the story.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.
The Thursday Night Club 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 his Website.
You can obtain your own copy in digital format from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

2014 Audiobook Challenge - Wrap Up

I joined the 2014 Audiobook Challenge hosted over on Book Nympho this year (check out my original sign up post)
I had originally signed up to listen to 5-10 Audiobooks.  I managed to accomplish that and more! 
Here are the books that I listened to (linked to the review on goodreads) this year.
7. Stay
9. Rider
Some things I learned from this challenge:
~ I don't like narrators with thick accents, fake or real
~ I am much more critical of an audiobook over that of print books
~ I am not fond of audiobooks over 8 hours (too much time passes between available listening times)
~ I found that books I would have given up reading, I continue to listen to
~ I love books narrated by the authors, you get the little nuances they meant and that you would otherwise miss.
Best Audiobooks in 2014
1. Frankenstein
2. Still Alice
3. This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store
Worst Audiobooks in 2014
1. We Bought a Zoo
2. Cricket on the Hearth
3. Stay
So there you have it! I completed the 2014 Audiobook Challenge with flying colors.  I listened to some great books and not so great books.  Found out some things about myself and my preferences.  I also found the joys of listening to audiobooks. 
Keep your eyes peeled for my 2015 Audiobook Challenge Sign up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent Reads Day 9: The Last Christmas Card by Laura Briggs

Synopsis: "Over sixty years ago, a World War II soldier mailed a Christmas card from overseas to his sweetheart. That card has finally arrived–but to an address now called home by Samantha, a young missionary awaiting her next assignment. Inspired by the card's amazing journey–and the tender message of its sender–Samantha searches for the card's rightful owner against the odds.

Her best hope seems to lie with Ty, a wounded soldier sent home to finish his career behind a desk. Feeling trapped, bitter, and alone, he wants nothing more than to bury himself in his work. But Samantha's quest draws him into the world again as he helps her search for the soldier and his long-ago sweetheart.

With the holidays approaching and only a slim chance of finding the truth, Samantha and Ty find themselves taking chances with both their faith and their hearts to deliver a Christmas miracle in the form of a special card from long ago."

My Review: A touching Christmas story about a love that stood the test of time and a love that is freshly blooming. It is a strong Christian based book as one of the characters is a missionary and at times it felt a little pushy but not always. I do love the story of tracking down the owner of an old card, there is nothing as heartwarming as reuniting someone with an old lost memory.
My Rating: This was a sweet book and actually along the lines of the Nano novel I wrote last year (only obviously much better).  It may not be the book for everyone as the religious aspect is one of the main threads.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Review of Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Synopsis: "From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed “Scary Mommy” blogger Jill Smokler comes a funny and practical guide filled with essays, recipes, and tried-and-true tips sure to get any parent through the holiday season—without losing your marbles.

Ah, the holidays: a time of joy, celebration, serenity, and peace…

Unless, of course, you have whiny, screaming children demanding presents, attention, and a personal appearance by Santa or Judah the Maccabee. Then you’re screwed.

But wait, there’s hope: Scary Mommy Guide to Surviving the Holidays to the rescue!

Yes, in this handy holiday guide, you’ll find everything you need to survive the fall/winter rush of cheer in style, and without having a mental breakdown. From relatable, hilarious essays on everything from the Santa myth to being seated at the dreaded kids’ table, to easy-to-follow recipes that might include just a little something special to take the edge off (can anyone say Kahlua?), to fun and accessible gift ideas, this book is your ticket to peace of mind—and a laugh—during the busy, crazy holiday season!"

My Review: A little comic relief for this holiday season. It has a great variety of recipes, funny stories, and a little of all the holidays. I liked the collection of contributors, all had a little different outlook but all on the same torture the holidays bring. I am definitely going to make a couple of the recipes and the drinking game will be in full effect!
My Rating: Fun way to lighten up from all the stress of cleaning the house, preparing the meals, finding the perfect gifts, all with a toddler hanging from your leg or throwing an epic sized temper tantrum. I enjoyed the variety that was included. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Note: there is the occasional cuss and some topics not suitable for everyone.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Reads Day 8: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents A Magical Christmas Menu by Dinah Bucholz

Synopsis: "Free eBook Download!Sure, you can't be in Hogwarts Hall for the Christmas feast, but you can add some wizadry to your own holiday meal with this free e-book! The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents: A Magical Christmas Menu includes 16 recipes guaranteed to enchant your friends and family this holiday season. From mouth-watering appetizers to decadent desserts and a steaming cup of Mrs. Weasley's Hot Chocolate, this season you can conjure a feast that would satisfy even Hagrid's hearty appetite!"

My Review: This was very interesting and would be fantastic for any big Harry Potter Fan. It gives a full several course menu with recipes for each item for a Hogwarts worthy Holiday dinner. I liked that each item had a brief description about where it appeared in the Harry Potter books and then an additional description of the history of the dish. There are several unique ideas and I am definitely making the creamy onion soup for either Thanksgiving or Christmas!
My Rating: This really wasn't what I was expecting but such a pleasant surprise. You don't need to be a Harry Potter buff or even a fan to enjoy this one. I give it a rating of Three 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

Santa's Ninja Elves by Lizzy Ford
Elixir by Ted Galdi
The Note by Mike O'Mary
Dashing Through The Snow by Diane Farr
Kissing Santa by Heather Horrocks
No Ifs Ands or Bears About It by Celia Kyle (After Dark)
Winter Lights by Andrea Posner-Sanchez (Bedtime Story)
1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham (Graphic Novel)
Nine Lives of Christmas  by Sheila Roberts
Snow Kissed by Cindy K. Green

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

Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Splat the Cat
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Christmas
Hunter Huntsman's Story

Currently Reading:

Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914  by Stanley Weintraub - on PB - On page 21 of 187
Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss - on PB - on Page 26 or 304

 Books to be Read Soon:

Enfold Me by Steven Greenberg (Requested Review)


Interesting Tidbits from the Web:



I apologize for my late in the day Monday Reading List post.  Poor Munchkin got very sick over the weekend and we ended up in the emergency room most of the day yesterday, which led to me staying home with him this morning.  Thankfully he is doing much better now, thanks to an inhaler. I tell you what, when he gets sick he doesn't mess around, he just goes all the way!

On a brighter note, I am still on track with reading 365 books this year! It helps that Munchkin gets Advent gifts each day (most of which are books).  I hope you are all enjoying the Advent books I have been sharing here!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Advent Reads Day 7: Snow Kissed by Cindy K. Green

Synopsis: "Today is one of those days Logan Reilly wished he?d stayed in bed. Not only does he have to deal with the annoying Winter Wonderland Carnival but his close friend, that whimsical lover of snow, Holly Armstrong, is leaving town forever. The question is why didn?t she tell him and why today, of all days, does he realize she might be more than a friend?
Holly can no longer stay in town knowing the man she loves only sees her as a friend. It?s time to move on; besides she has other career prospects.

As the carnival unfolds, watch God work in amazing ways. Can He change Holly's mind and make her stay? Can He help Logan see beyond the friendship? Only time can tell."

My Review: This was a pretty short story and I wish there was a little more to it but with that said I completely fell in love with the characters, especially Logan. A beautiful, light, clean romance that does mention religion but doesn't push the issue on the readers, it is simply a part of the characters story. Honestly what woman hasn't wanted a guy to ask her to stay (or follow in my case)? I got the feel goods from this book and sometimes that's all you want.
My Rating: This was a cute, sweet and short romance. Perfect for these cold snowy nights. I give this one a rating of Four Paws.

2014 Erotic Challenge - Wrap Up

I had joined the 2014 Erotic Challenge hosted by Anna at Burning Soup and Herding Cats a little late last year and didn't do an official sign up post, but I was shooting for 24 books.  I did manage to accomplish that and more!
Here are the books I read for the challenge this year:
24. Beg
33. Affliction
So there we are, I read way more than the 24 I originally was shooting for but hey, nothing wrong with over reading right?!  I am still debating signing up for the challenge again next year.  I know I will read at least as many again so it doesn't really seem like much of a challenge.