Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mini Reviews of the Elsker Saga (all books) by S. T. Bende

I am running out of days to share reviews with you so I figured I could share the reviews of this entire series together as mini reviews.
This was a fantastic kick off to the series, I had downloaded this as a free book and after finishing it went and immediately downloaded the rest of the series. Four Paws and a Stump Wag
Again, I couldn't stop reading this book, it was a lot more romance to this book but it was totally swoon worthy. Four Paws!
The action in this book was awesome but Kristia at times was just too perfect and managed things that should have been impossible. It was still a great conclusion, even though I didn't want it to end. Four Paws!
This was a novella from Inga's point of view.  She was definitely a fun and spunky character throughout the series and it was great getting to know a little bit more about her and Gunner. Four Paws.

2015 Series Challenge Sign Up

I participated in this challenge for the past 2 years and really outdid myself with how much I expected to read but didn't read all the series I had planned to read. So I planned to sign up again, however I have been unable to find an official challenge to sign up for so far, but that isn't going to stop me.  I am just going to have to do my own unofficial challenge right here (feel free to join me if you like)
~ An entire series counts as one series (it can count if the next books in the series aren't released until 2016 - as long as you read all the books published before the end of 2015)
~ A series counts as books with the same setting and classified as a series, that is longer that 3 books (even if it is 3 full length novels and one novella it counts)
~ books can be in any format (ebooks, audio, print)
~ if you have already read some books for the series, you must re-read those books within 2015 for them to count
~ Branch off series do not count toward the original series (they are 2 separate series)
~ The books for this challenge can count towards any other challenge
The goal is to read the entire series (at least what has been published by the end of 2015) within the year. 
The series I would like to read include:
Daughters of the Glen Series by Melissa Mayhue (8 books)
Bluegrass Series by Kathleen Brooks (3 books & 1 novella)
Pride Series by Shelly Laurenston (9 books & 2 novellas)
Princesses of Myth Series by Esther M. Friesner (8 books)
The Tudor Court Series by Philippa Gregory (6 books)
The Hearts of Anemoi by Laura Kaye (4 books)
The Warriors Series by Erin Hunter (6 books)
The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas (4 books & 5 novellas - scheduled to publish before 2016)
I also have a few trilogies that I plan to read but I have decided they don't really count as a series.
So are you planning to read an entire series this next year? Let me know so I can check in with you too!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bedtime Story: Frosty The Snowman by Walter Rollins

Synopsis: "This holiday classic is brought to life by bestselling illustrator Sam Williams, with a glitter-filled, sparkling cover that shines with wintertime magic.

Written by Steve Nelson and Walter "Jack" Rollins, FROSTY THE SNOWMAN is a seasonally joyful story that continues to warm our hearts year after year. Famous for his cheerful character, whimsical appeal, and, of course, his button nose and two eyes made out of coal, Frosty is the most magical snowman in town.

Join him as he runs here and there, all around the square, saying "catch me if you can." Thumpity, thump, thump, thumpity, thump, thump, look at Frosty go!"

My Review: I dare you to read this book without singing it! I couldn't manage but Hubby was able to read it to Munchkin without the song. Munchkin absolutely loved it, he is now obsessed with snowmen and can't wait for it to snow enough to make one of our own. My copy had the artwork from the movie and Munchkin enjoyed identifying the characters (especially the rabbit).
My Rating: Frosty the Snowman has quickly become a holiday favorite of Munchkins and we have read this book nearly every night.  I guess it deserves a rating of Four Paws even though I cannot read it without singing!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

2014 Equine Challenge Wrap-Up

The personal challenge I set up for myself this year was to read 30 books that were equine (horse) based.  They could be anything from setting around horses or horses (or unicorns, Pegasus, etc) playing a major roll in the book.
It was a tight one but I managed to get this challenge accomplished!
Here are the books I read for the challenge this year (with links to the reviews)
This was definitely a fun challenge for me and I read some really great books that reminded me of a passion I have had since I was a little girl.  I didn't quite get to read all the books I had planned for this challenge so will have the opportunity to read more in the coming years.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Advent Reads Day 25: Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914 by Stanley Weintraub

Synopsis: "It was one of history's most powerful,yet forgotten,Christmas stories. It took place in the improbable setting of the mud, cold rain and senseless killing of the trenches of World War I. It happened in spite of orders to the contrary by superiors; it happened in spite of language barriers. And it still stands as the only time in history that peace spontaneously arose from the lower ranks in a major conflict, bubbling up to the officers and temporarily turning sworn enemies into friends.
Silent Night, by renowned military historian Stanley Weintraub, magically restores the 1914 Christmas Truce to history. It had been lost in the tide of horror that filled the battlefields of Europe for months and years afterward. Yet in December 1914 the Great War was still young, and the men who suddenly threw down their arms and came together across the front lines to sing carols, exchange gifts and letters, eat and drink and even play friendly games of soccer naively hoped that the war would be short-lived, and that they were fraternizing with future friends.

It began when German soldiers lit candles on small Christmas trees, and British, French, Belgian and German troops serenaded each other on Christmas Eve. Soon they were gathering and burying the dead, in an age-old custom of truces. But as the power of Christmas grew among them, they broke bread, exchanged addresses and letters and expressed deep admiration for one another. When angry superiors ordered them to recommence the shooting, many men aimed harmlessly high overhead.

Sometimes the greatest beauty emerges from deep tragedy. Surely the forgotten Christmas Truce was one of history's most beautiful moments, made all the more beautiful in light of the carnage that followed it. Stanley Weintraub's moving re-creation demonstrates that peace can be more fragile than war, but also that ordinary men can bond with one another despite all efforts of politicians and generals to the contrary."

My Review: I have always been a little curious about this truce that supposedly happened ever since hearing Snoopy & the Red Baron and the Garth Brooks song. I thought this would be a great book to read for my Advent Reads but was a little disappointing, I was hoping to read some letters sent from the front, or maybe have a little tale, but it was not anything like that. It felt as though I should be reading it for a class in college, not only that but in order to really understand and follow the book you really need to know all the intimate details of the war, the major players and exact locations. At times it was an enjoyable read but for the most part it felt more like a text book than a pleasure read. The chapter of What If really turned me off, being a speculation and seeming to be purely the author's opinion, was completely unnecessary. Hopefully I can find a more enjoyable and better written book in the future.
My Rating: I was so looking forward to this book as I find the events that were said to happen on that day intriguing but was sadly disappointed in this book and had to force myself to read it.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Advent Reads Day 24: Santa Wore Combat Boots by Barbara Witek

Synopsis: "Emma Turner feels like her life ended with the death of her husband. Three years later she’s doing the best she can for her children and moving through life on autopilot. She doesn’t believe true love can happen twice in a lifetime. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t believe in much anymore. Putting her trust in one honest man might be just what she needs to move forward.

Bound by duty Jake Nicklaus never imagined he’d cross the line and fall in love with the woman he swore he’d watch over. If only he’d died on that chopper instead of her husband, she wouldn’t be hurting. The only way to heal her heart is to show her how to live again. Finding the magic in Christmas is the perfect way to start.

Will one kiss under the mistletoe change their lives forever?"

My Review: This short story had an almost sentimental feel to it. It was a touching and heartwarming story but didn't have quite the time to build the full emotional connection as I would have hoped it would. I did like the characters, and could relate to a lot of Emma's personality and some of her struggle. For some reason the name Nicklaus just drove me up a wall, it was just too blatant for my liking. All in all it was a good light romance, but I don't think it is going to be all that memorable.
My Rating: I enjoyed the story line and characters but there wasn't anything outstanding that will stick with me.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and Stump Wag.

Review of Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Synopsis: "Ever since it was published in 1978, the picture-book presentation of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" has been an enduring favorite. For this special edition with a new design, trim size, and three new spreads, Susan Jeffers has added more detail and subtle color to her sweeping backgrounds of frosty New England scenes. There are more animals to find among the trees, and the kindly figure with his "promises to keep" exudes warmth as he stops to appreciate the quiet delights of winter. The handsome new vellum jacket will attract new and old fans as it evokes a frost-covered windowpane. This celebration of a season makes an ideal holiday gift for a child, a teacher, or a host. Robert Frost (1874-1963) is one of America's most celebrated poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize."

My Review: While I was hoping it would include more of Frost's work it was still a beautiful book. The images were beautiful and the simplicity of it all made it something I could enjoy and Munchkin could enjoy. It will definitely be added to my annual Holiday reading list.
My Rating: This is a beautiful book that all ages can enjoy.  There really is nothing like Robert Frost's poetry during winter nights.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Advent Reads Day 23: Rescuing Christmas

Synopsis: "Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis ThompsonAll Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left alone. And yet, in a fit of Christmas-cheer-induced insanity, he agrees to help beautiful shelter director Tansy Dexter find homes for all her rambunctious animals. Little does he know that the one truly in need of a loving home this season…is him.

Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann

Information from Ms Mann's newsletter: For those of you who enjoyed my Wingmen Warrior series, this story features Zach Dawson's daughter Shelby, all grown up and ready for her own happily ever after with a flyboy!

Shelby Conrad has had more than her fair share of silent nights. But even though her husband, Tech Sergeant Alex Conrad, is coming home in time for Christmas, Shelby isn't sure he's in time to save their marriage. Can a road trip to deliver three shelter dogs to their new homes teach the couple that the most precious gift of all is hope?

A Puppy for Will by Kathie DeNosky

Will Parker hasn't exactly had all his hopes and dreams met, but work has filled the gaps in his life. Or so he thinks…until an energetic and large Saint Bernard foster puppy and Will's cute neighbor Macie Fairbanks introduce him to the best thing about Christmas and life—unconditional love."

My Review: I really enjoyed this book, of course anything with shelter animals getting loving homes will touch my heart. I liked the format of three short stories that revolve around the same event and location, the interaction of the characters made for smooth transitions. The authors all worked so closely together you didn't notice the differences, which was great because I have been burned by these types of collections before. I honestly couldn't pick one story as my favorite, I enjoyed all the characters (including the animals), story themes and events. All in all a heart warming collection of stories for the holiday season.
My Rating: I have such a soft spot for books like this, even though I know reality isn't all happy endings.  This was a beautiful collaboration of the authors, they all meshed so smoothly.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

2014 Mount TBR Challenge - Wrap Up

This was my second time signing up for the Mount TBR Challenge hosted by My Readers Block.  You can see my original Sign up post and see that I signed up to read Mt. Kilimanjaro with 60 books.  I actually managed to read all of them this year (in fact I am still reading a few more, but wanted to get this post up).
Here are the books I read this year for the challenge:
3. Beauty
23. Hot as Hades
24.  Witch Song
25. War Horse
26. Show-Off
27. Track Record
28. Tithe
29. Life Lessons from a Ranch Horse
30. Ophelia
31. Dakota Born
32. My Liege of Dark Haven
33. Firelight
34. Perfect Match
35. Vanish
36. Gabriel's Inferno
37. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
38. Wednesday Letters
39. Dakota Home
40. The Secret's in the Sauce
41. Always Dakota
42. Tiger Lily
43. Stay
44. Rider
45. The Eighty- Dollar Champion
46. Blaze of Glory
47. Santa's Ninja Elves
48. The Note
49. The Cricket on the Hearth
50. Enchanted No More
51. Snow Kissed
52. Santa Wore Combat Boots
53. Maddie O'Brien's Christmas Donkeys
54. The Christmas Cottage
55. Kringle
56. Holidays On Ice
57. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
58. Christmas Kisses
59. Affliction
60. Dancing

Phew! That was a lot of books!! I had many more planned but of course the new shiny books always seem to distract me.  I have already signed up for 2015! Here we go again!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent Reads Day 22: A Cowboy for Christmas by Katherine Garbera

Synopsis: "Annie Prudhomme never expected to be back in Marietta, MT and her family is fond of reminding her that she left them and the town behind in search of better things. A humiliating divorce that cost her everything she’d gained has driven her back home and her family isn’t about to welcome her back into the fold. She’s in town to rebuild the old home that she inherited and to move on once again.
Carson Scott never forgot Annie or the way she left. Now that she’s back in town he’s realizing that the old flame still burns hot but he can’t risk his heart the way he did last time now that he has his son to think about it. Being trapped together during a December snowstorm gives them a chance to rekindle their romance but is Annie back for good or is she just looking for a cowboy for Christmas?"

My Review: I want to give this one a good review, but there were just too many flaws. There are a lot of repeated lines and repeated information. The author also didn't do a great job of keeping track of the events and storyline, one example was that the characters repeatedly said they hadn't kissed before, but clearly had just pages before. It was very frustrating as I did want to like the story, and while Annie was a little immature, I enjoyed Carson. The good thing about this series as the books are written by different authors so there is a chance to save it for me with the next book.
My Rating: I enjoyed parts of this book but not others. I was really frustrated with the editing issues so that is the first thing that threw me off. Also, the kid is conveniently shoved off on someone else while this romance takes place, sorry but that doesn't happen, I can't get 5 minutes with my husband let alone whole days and nights!  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

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

A Home for the Holidays
Reasons My Kid is Crying
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Christmas Cottage
Holidays On Ice
Full Exposure (After Dark)
Santa is Coming to Rhode Island (Bedtime Story)
A Christmas Carol (Graphic Novel)
Christmas Kisses

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

Pete the Cat: Wheels on the Bus
Do Kangaroos Have Mothers too?
Playing the Part
The Masquerade
The Seducer
An Otis Christmas
The Governess Affair
The Snow Queen
The Duchess War

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:

Harry Potter books 3 -7
Cold Stone Revenge


Interesting Tidbits from the Web:



Gosh, it still doesn't feel like the end of the year is coming but it sure as heck is marching this way quickly.  I have been working hard to put together my challenges and reading lists for next year. I have my little shelf upstairs full of the books I plan to read in 2015.   But that is all for next year, I am getting way ahead of myself and need to finish out this year first. 

I have less than 10 books left to read to get the full 365 books in a single year.  I feel like that is a huge accomplishment, but the non-readers I share this news with look at me like I am crazy and blow it off like it is nothing.  Granted many of the books were children's books, but still that is a book every day of the year! That is also on top of working a full time job, maintaining our house and taking care of Munchkin almost entirely on my own since Hubby works nights and isn't home or is sleeping when we are there.

Anywho enough of my ranting, Christmas is coming this week! I hope you have all been enjoying my Advent Reads event. I really tried to find a wide variety of books so there would be something for everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent Reads Day 21: Christmas Kisses by HM Ward

Synopsis: "How hard is it to NOT have sex with him? Lust has melted Holly Connelly’s brain and it’s all Ryan Darcy’s fault. He’s been ruthlessly flirting with her for the past three years. Ryan’s a sex god complete with sinful body, endless wit, and an orgasm-inducing smile. One sultry look from him will make her panties jump off her body. His endless string of one-night stands has Holly thinking she’ll be just another conquest. Since she actually has feelings for the guy, it makes it that much harder to put off his advances. When they get trapped together by a snowstorm, it’s all she can do to resist him. If Holly says yes, she’ll probably regret it. If she says no, she’ll always wonder what if."

My Review: It feels like your classic friendship kicked up chic flick kind of story. It is fun and flirty with some definite heat, but it is what you expect it to be. I do like the friendly banter and teasing, it feels comfortable. If you are looking for a fun little romance for the holiday season, this could be your book.
My Rating: While this one did feel very cliché it was still an enjoyable short holiday read.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.  Note: there is a little sex but it doesn't get overly graphic.

2014 Series Challenge Wrap Up

 I signed up once again for the Series Challenge. This challenge is hosted by Salacious Reads, which apparently is no longer visible unless you have been invited.  You can check out my original sign up post HERE. 
I had planned on reading 7 series last year and well plans change . . .  sometimes for the better.  While I didn't read all the series I was planning on I did in fact read 11 (yes you read that right eleven) series!
Here are the series and books I read (with links to the reviews)
Series #1: Secret of the Unicorn Queen - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6 - Series Complete!
Series #2: Rose Harbor - Book 1, Book 1.5, Book 2, Book 3 - Complete
Series #3: Firebrand - Book #1, Book #2, Book #3 - Series Complete!
Series #4: Gifted Series - Book #1, Book #2, Book #3 - Series Complete!
Series #5: 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 #6: Dakota Series -  Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4 - Series Complete!
Series #7: Vampire Warrior Kings Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 - Series Complete!
Series #8: Firelight Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 3.5 - Series Complete
Series #9: Woods Family Series - Book 1 (read previously), Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book .5 - Series Complete
Series #10: Hard Ink Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 2.5, Book 3 - Series Complete (at least for now - more books to come)
Series #11: Elsker Saga - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book .5 - Series Complete
So my question still remains does 3 books count as a series?  I will be posting a sign up for next year (as soon as I find a Series Challenge hosted on a blog)!