Saturday, January 17, 2015

Graphic Novel Review of Blankets by Craig Thompson

Read for: Across the States and Graphic Novel
Synopsis: "Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith"

My Review: This is quite the graphic novel. It reads like a memoir with beautiful artwork. A deep thinking coming of age where all things and emotions are put to question. Relationships are made and broke during this time period and our own values and personalities are developed. Thompson brought all of this together in a detailed and intimate manner.
My Rating: This is a huge graphic novel but it passed quickly. I loved the illustrations, so simple yet captures so much. I also love how he was able to capture that difficult time between childhood and adulthood where you struggle to find yourself.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bedtime Story: The Hat by Jan Brett

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "In Jan Brett's well-loved book, The Hat, Hedgie the hedgehog discovers the wisdom of the adage "Don't go poking your nose where it doesn't belong" only after curiosity gets this prickly fellow in a pickle. When Lisa's red-and-white woolen stocking blows off the clothesline, Hedgie finds it and sticks his nose inside, only to discover his prickles prevent him from pulling out of it. Soon all the farm animals are coming around to chuckle at silly Hedgie's stocking cap. But in the end, nimble-witted Hedgie gets the last laugh.
Now young fans of this glorious Scandinavian picture book can curl up with the illustrious Hedgie, himself! This fluffy 5-inch fellow, with long, lush, decidedly unprickly fur, sports the very sock--uh, hat--that got him in trouble. A soft body and cheerful smile guarantee many friends for this huggable guy. Packaged with the only available board book version of the award-winning The Hat, this delightful book and sweet plush toy set make a perfect gift any time of year! (Ages 3 to 8) --Emilie Coulter"

My Review: This is a cute classic story and munchkin enjoyed seeing all the animals and laughing at how the animals were wearing clothes. The illustrations seemed a little busy to me and Munchkin wasn't able to focus as well as usual. That said it is a classic story and perfect for the fall and winter weather.
My Rating: While this wasn't the greatest for me, many others cherish this book. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review of Calves in the Mud Room by Jerome O. Brown

Read for: Reading Across the States Challenge & Requested Review
Synopsis: "Wade Summers wants nothing more than to go on his date tonight with high school hottie Glory Schoonover.

Unfortunately, a fierce February blizzard has blown in and a couple of first-time heifers are calving early. Way too early.

And Wade’s never delivered a calf all by himself before. (His grandfather was always there to show him the way).

Simmering under the teenage hormones and unexpected birthing is a conflicted son who finally confronts the abuse of his shady stepfather and a betrayal by his somewhat disengaged mother.

Kirkus Reviews called this coming-of-age story “An exciting, elegant debut.”

It’s rough around the edges, full of brute hardship, raw strength, and pure heart."

My Review: I received Calves in the Mud Room from the author in exchange for an honest review. I grew up around a similar setting, though not exactly the same as described in this story so it was very easy for me to settle into it and understand the hardships Wade faced. High school is a tough time for anyone but especially when shouldered with so many extra responsibilities. I really enjoyed this book and from this perspective. The voice comes through very strong and while the format isn't quite what I am used to reading (brief sentences and abrupt thought lines and paragraphs), it really suited the character and storyline.
My Rating: This story packed quite a punch for me. It really took me back to my own roots and I hope it opens others eyes to the struggles of the ranching life combined with both normal teen struggles and family issues.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws.

Calves in the Mud Room was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Jerome O. Brown and his work on his Goodreads Page or Website.
You can obtain your own copy in digital or print format from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review of Gooseberry Island by Steven Manchester & 'Pay it Forward' Campaign

Read for: Requested Review/Netgalley
Synopsis: "They met at the worst possible moment...or maybe it was just in time. David McClain was about to go to war and Lindsey Wood was there at his going-away party, capturing his heart when falling for a woman was the last thing on his mind. While David was serving his country, he stayed in close contact with Lindsey. But war changes a person, and when he came home very little had the same meaning that it had before – including the romance that had sustained him. Was love truly unconquerable, or would it prove to be just another battlefield casualty?

Gooseberry Island is the most nuanced, dramatic, and romantic novel yet from a writer whose ability to plumb the depths of human emotion knows few peers."

My Review:  I absolutely love Steven Manchester's works, they are always emotional with plenty of ups and downs as well as situations that can be associated with. Gooseberry Island is definitely no different, as it tackles the results of war on our soldiers, something so many have either personally experienced or have witnessed. Once again you find that connection with the characters and you can't help but be pulled along in their journey. The struggles and pain in this book are impossible to ignore, it is the rollercoaster ride of emotions I have come to expect.
My Rating: I have really enjoyed all of Manchester's writing and this was definitely no exception.  This one really hits home for so many people who have not only experienced the battle with PTSD but those who have been close to or witnessed the struggle.  I give this book a rating of Four Paws!
I received Gooseberry Island from the author in exchange 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 Gooseberry Island in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Check out the below 'Pay it Forward' Campaign as well - $1 for every copy that is sold goes to the Wounded Warrior Project AND for every copy sold one is donated to a returning soldier! Definitely a worthy cause!
New from The Story Plant

A special request


Let's get viral.

Steven Manchester's next book will be out on January 6, 2015. Voted one of the Must Read Books of 2015 by Cyrus Webb PresentsGooseberry Island is sure to be the next hit from one of our #1 bestselling authors. The book looks at the budding relationship between Lindsay and David, who have to deal with David's deployment overseas and his recovery from the trauma he witnessed in the service of his country.

PTSD is one of the biggest problems facing soldiers as they return from war. As an experienced veteran himself, Steven Manchester understands that. That's why, during the promotion of this book, Steven and The Story Plant are going to be working toward helping returning veterans. And we need your help to do that.

From now until January 31, 2015, we will donate $1 to the Wounded Warrior Project for every copy of Gooseberry Island that is pre-ordered and sold. All you have to do is email us a copy of your receipt and we will make the donation. In addition to that, we will also donate a copy of the e-book to returning soldiers, one donation for each copy sold.

Here's the really important part - we need your help to spread the word about this campaign! Tell your neighbors, tell your family members, tell the person working the checkout line in the grocery story. Just tell as many people as you can and ask them to help spread the word too. We want this campaign to go viral! Let's do something good this holiday season and celebrate those who protect and serve our country!

You can read more about Gooseberry Island at our website. It is available for sale atAmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKobo, and IndieBound.

Curious about Wounded Warrior or want to make your own donation? Visit their websitehere.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review of Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Read for: Reading Across the States and Mount TBR
Synopsis: "The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket--and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor. A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive. Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar.Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship—and forgiveness—can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm."

My Review: While this book really seems to be almost about nothing, it still really captures you. You can't help but become connected with the wide array of characters and wish that you could get to know all of them as well. It is a simple yet heart warming story and I am surprised it took me this long to read it.
My Rating: I know I didn't have much to say in my review because I don't think I can really put it into words. I think you just have to read it to get out of it what you want.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bout of Books 12 - Wrap Up

I participated in the Bout of Books Readathon #12, you can find my sign up post with all the daily updates HERE and be sure to check out the Bout of Books Blog for updates on upcoming readathons.
In summary I spent a total of 24.75 hours reading last week.
I read a total of 2,413 pages in that time period
I finished reading 21 books including:
Because of Winn-Dixie
 The Hat
 T is for Touchdown
 Monsters Munch Lunch
 Shadows of Endor,
Gooseberry Island
 Athena the Brain
 Brave Dragon
 Snowy Day
 Dizzy Miss Lizzie
Persephone the Phony
 Kick Pass and Run
 Curious George in the Snow
 Owl Moon
 Aphrodite the Beauty
 Just Not Ready Yet
 Goodnight Football
 The Last Valentine
 Five Little Penguins Slipping on Ice
 Artemis the Brave
Throughout the readathon I also read
6% By The Sea, Book One, Tess

Good Gordy! I don't think I have ever had a more successful readathon or a reading week in general! I not only read every book that I had planned on reading but extras too. I think I accomplished nearly all my goals too. I almost managed to read for 3 or more hours every day (except for the last day), I read way more than 1,800 pages and 10 books. I also managed to finish 3 requested reviews.  With how successful this readathon was I am really looking forward to the next one starting on May 11th!
Did you get to participate? How did your readathon go? Did you get a lot of reading done or did you get to meet and chat with a lot of new friends?

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
Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
Jesper Jinx and the Sneezing Season by Marko Kitti
Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
Charlie's Snow Day by Ree Drummond (Beginning Reader)
No Two Alike by Keith Baker (Bedtime Story)
Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Because of Winn Dixie = 5pts
T is for Touchdown = 1pt
Shadows of Endor = 2pts
Gooseberry Island = 3pts
Monsters Munch Lunch = 1pt
The Hat = 1 pt
The Snowy Day = 1 pt
Athena the Brain = 5pts
Brave Dragon = 1pt
Nubiana = 5pts
Dizzy Miss Lizzie = 3pts
Persephone the Phony = 5pts
Curious George in the Snow = 1pt
Kick, Pass and Run = 1pt
Aphrodite the Beauty = 5 pts
Owl Moon = 1 pt
Just Not Ready Yet = 3pts
The Last Valentine = 3pts
Artemis the Brave = 5 pts
Goodnight Football = 1 pt
Five Little Penguins Slipping on Ice = 1pt

Currently Reading:

By the Sea, Book One Tess by Antoinette Stockenberg - Kindle - 6%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Locking Horns by MK Trent (Across the States & Mount TBR)
Poole's Paradise by John Vorhaus (Requested Review)
North of Need by Laura Kaye (Re-Read & Series)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (Mount TBR)

Total Points Earned

Pages Read/ Time Listened
3,681 pages read
6:21 listening time

Books Added to Shelves
Talented by Sophie Davis - BookBub Freebie
The Queen's Dagger by Merilee Andelin Saunders - Requested Review
Darkness by Ciye Cho - Requested Review
My Champion by Glynnis Campbell - BookBub Freebie
Paint by Jennifer Dance - Netgalley/ Requested Review



Boy oh boy I love the thrill of a new TBR pile combined with a readathon! I really can't believe how much reading I did this week!  I did manage to stay reasonably caught up on my chores but this week they are definitely going to have to take priority (along with my work at the office) so don't expect a week like this again for a while.

You will also be proud to know I haven't purchased or downloaded any books outside of my guidelines yet! At least I am building up plenty of points for when I can't hold back anymore!