Saturday, March 14, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of To Serve a King by Donna Russo Morin

Read for: Mount TBR & RI Authors
Synopsis: "From her earliest days, Genevieve Gravois has known one fact above all: Francis I, king of France, is her enemy. Raised by her embittered aunt after her parents' deaths, Genevieve has been schooled in things no woman should know - how to decipher codes, how to use a dagger and a bow, and how to kill. For Henry VIII has a destiny in mind for the young girl - as his most powerful and dangerous spy.
When the time is ripe, Genevieve enters the magnificent world of the French court. With grace to match her ambition, she becomes maid of honor to Anne de Pisseleau, King Francis's mistress. Yet neither the court - which teems with artistry and enlightenment as well as intrigue - nor Francis himself are at all what Genevieve expected. And with her mission, her life, and the fate of two kingdoms at stake, she will be forced to make deadly decisions about where her heart and her ultimate loyalties lie."

My Review: I was very intrigued by the idea of a female assassin in the French court. Morin definitely did a lot of research before writing this book and I like how she intertwined actual historical figures and events with the fictional ones. The one thing I must say is that this is a book that you need to be able to focus on entirely, there are a lot of characters and little things to keep track of (I had to re-read a few pages because I tried to read it while sitting at the DMV). Also the list of characters is extremely helpful. I have to say the majority of the book moved slowly but towards the end things absolutely took off and you couldn't wait to see what was on the next page.
My Rating: I did enjoy this one, I just think it would have been more enjoyable if I had the time to really focus on this book and this book alone. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Friday, March 13, 2015

RI Author Feature: Bedtime Story: Tuggie The Patriot Pup by Lauren E. Kelley

Synopsis: "Tuggie, the Colonial Yorkshire Terrier, makes his way from Yorkshire, England to Providence, Rhode Island.  He gets to witness and participate is some important events leading up to America's independence, becoming a patriot."
My Review: I picked up this book at the Rhode Island Authors Convention last year. It is a fun children's book filled with pictures and the story of many events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, including the destruction of the HMS Gaspee. The story is told from a young pup's point of view so keeps kids interested in the story. It also includes a glossary and some facts about the events in the story. It is a little advanced for Munchkin but would be great for 1st grader age group.
My Rating: It is a great way to teach history using animals, it seems to be a little more captivating for young kids. This book can be read aloud or at a later time a young reader can read it to themselves. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of The Glassblower's Apprentice by Peter Pezzelli

Read for: RI Authors/ Mount TBR
Synopsis: "Fabio Terranova is a brilliant dancer. Young, handsome, and enormously talented he is desperate to leave his little hometown in the mountains of central Italy. With dreams of one day making his mark on Broadway and Hollywood, he has made plans to travel to Milan to enter a dance competition he hopes will be his springboard to fame and fortune in America. All is set until the eve of his departure when a night of wild celebration with his friends ends in tragedy. Left broken in body and spirit, his dreams of dancing shattered by the events of that night, Fabio descends into bitter darkness. Fearing for her son, his mother, Liliana, makes a fateful decision. She sends Fabio across the ocean to live with her uncle, Rick Vitale, who runs a small glassmaking operation in a quaint New England village. Rick lives in solitude, his own reasons for abandoning Italy years earlier long shrouded in mystery. He takes Fabio in and sets about teaching him the art of glassblowing. Relentlessly driven, ever laboring by the searing heat of the furnace, Fabio learns to create dazzling works of glass. The endless hours of toil, however, provide him no solace and he remains tormented by the past, a past he can't bear to face. Now, with the days growing short and the darkness of winter closing in, it is up to Rick to show his nephew the way back to the light. But it is a long journey through the deepest chambers of the heart, one that Fabio must ultimately make on his own if he is to learn that the best days of his life may yet lie ahead..."

My Review: This was an intense story, I am not sure what I expected going it but it was definitely different. I really enjoyed the journey Fabio is on and the way that Rick dealt with him. Fabio really had a healing process to get through both physically and emotionally and the outlet of an art form was a great way to show the developments. I also enjoyed the local flairs and the personalities of those Fabio comes in contact with over those couple of years, it really captures the lifestyle and mentality of those in this tiny state. I was really invested in the story and emotions throughout and the return home got very emotional for me. Like I have said before if a book is able to pull some tears from it then it is beautifully created.
My Rating: I must admit I have a fascination with glassblowing and have watched endless videos on youtube, that is what originally drew me to this book. It turned out to be so much more. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

RI Author Feature: Interview with Christine DePetrillo & Giveaway

Today I have Christine DePetrillo with us for a quick interview.  I just recently read the first book in her Maple Leaf Trilogy, More Than Pancakes, you can see my review that I posted yesterday.  Stay tuned after the interview for a little giveaway ;)
So let's all welcome Christine and get this interview started . . .
Ang: First off, it looks like the setting for a lot of your books are more remote places. Are you a country girl at heart? 
Christine: I’ve lived in Suburbia all my life, but yes, give me a more natural setting and I am right at home. I love wide open spaces, wandering in the woods, and having animal encounters. As a child, my family vacationed up north (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) every summer, so I grew up thinking those were places a person went to unwind and have fun. I still think that and love to drop my characters there.  
A: If you could pick anywhere, other than our own fantastic state of Rhode Island, to live where would it be?
C:Vermont. I have a place up there already and will most likely end up living there in the future. I just “fit” there. Many of my books are set in Vermont. I find the mountains and woods very inspiring. Plus there are lots of lumberjacky types around, which is always a good thing for a romance author.
(beautiful view in Vermont from Christine)
(Maple tap lines, an inspiration for More than Pancakes)

A: Mmmm, lumberjack men!

A: I saw on your website that your backyard is a National Wildlife Federation-certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.  That sounds both soothing and inspirational.  What do you find is the best weather for you to write in? Are you more inspired when the sun is shining down or when the cold, snowy weather keeps you inside and cozy?
C: I do the bulk of my writing in the summer. During the other three seasons, I am hard at work educating fifth graders. While I do write during the school year, the summer is the time I truly live the writer’s life. In comfy tank tops and shorts—and usually barefoot—I write during the long, hot days out on my patio, officially deemed The Outdoor Writing Office. I sit in an Adirondack chair my husband made with my laptop and a tall glass of lemonade and write, write, write. Birds visit my feeders. Cats roll in my catmint. Squirrels chase each other along the fence. Butterflies and dragonflies swoop down to my butterfly bushes. A ginormous German Shepherd sloshes around in my pond, trying to keep cool. This is when I’m at my happiest. Just my characters and I drinking in the July and August sunshine.

(Christine's writing corner in Vermont)
A: That sounds so inspirational, no wonder your books feature a lot of outdoorsy settings!

A: Of course you need sustenance while working, I see that you are a pizza lover, as am I.  Where is the best pizza in Rhode Island that you have found?  I am a little partial to the arugula pizza at Coal Fire Pizza, but the taco pizza at Cowesett Pizza is fantastic as well, I love their crust. 

C: I’ll pretty much eat anything that is called “pizza,” but my favorite in Rhode Island is actually Uncle Tony’s. I usually order a well done pizza with cheese and black olives. In Vermont, I had what they call a Green Mountain Pizza, which has bacon, spinach, red onions, green peppers, and MAPLE SYRUP on it! I never would have put those ingredients together on a pizza, but it was one of the tastiest pizzas ever. Highly recommend.  Isn’t everything better with pure Vermont maple syrup, really? My characters, Rick and Lily in More Than Pancakes certainly think so.
A: I would have never thought to put Maple Syrup on a pizza! I guess pizza is one of those wonderful foods you can be creative with and create something to your own tastes.
A: I am saving up for a big book shopping spree, as a writer I am sure you are also a reader.  When you go to the book store do you browse or head in prepared with a list?  Where is your favorite place to book shop in the area?
C: I am a BIG reader. My husband always jokes that every time he turns around, I have a new book that I’m reading. He’s totally right. I once told him that if we were ever short on money, I’d cut things out of the grocery list before I cut back on books. He laughed. I didn’t.
I do a lot of Kindle shopping nowadays. I love one-clicking my way to the next fun read, but I do go to Barnes & Noble in Smithfield every chance I get. I almost never have a list of books. I browse or take a friend’s recommendation. I also know many other authors, so I like to read their books. I never can understand people who have trouble finding something to read. For me, there are a gazillion books to read, and I’m just working my way through them one page at a time. I mostly read romance because I can’t resist a happily ever after.
A: One final question, since I just featured More Than Pancakes, which by the way made me crave them and I ended up making them more than a few times over that week (Munchkin had absolutely no objection), do you have a special recipe or way you like to eat your pancakes? The apple cinnamon ones mentioned in More Than Pancakes sound delicious.

C: My favorite pancakes are blueberry cinnamon ones. I like to use fresh blueberries and really load up on the cinnamon. Cinnamon is an aphrodisiac you know. Helpful tip. :)

The best pancakes I've ever eaten out are at Polly's Pancake Parlor in New Hampshire. They serve them hot and in two rounds of three pancakes each. The cornmeal ones there are incredible. 
Of course all pancakes I eat must be doused in pure Vermont maple syrup. None of that fake stuff. Bleck. 

Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview and allowing us to get to know you a little better Christine.

To get to know a little more about Christine DePetrillo and her books you can visit her Goodreads Page, Facebook page or Website.

Christine DePetrillo tried not being a writer. She attempted to ignore the voices in her head, but they would not stop. The only way she could achieve peace and quiet was to write the stories the voices demanded. Today, she writes tales meant to make you laugh, maybe make you sweat, and definitely make you believe in the power of love. You can connect with her on her website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @cdepetrillo. 

So I thought I would have a little giveaway in honor of Christine and her book More Than Pancakes.  I decided to giveaway a little local pancake package, it includes Kenyon's buttermilk & honey pancake mix and maple syrup made right here in Rhode Island.

Of course with anything else we have rules
~You must be 18 or older to enter (though there is nothing adult included)
~This is only open to the US due to the liquid maple syrup
~Giveaway ends midnight on the 30th, winners will be announced the next day (I will be contacting you via email after the announcement for shipping information)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of More than Pancakes by Christine DePetrillo

Synopsis: "Book One in The Maple Leaf Series

Lily Hinsdale spends her California days designing extravagant hotels for Utopia Resorts. Her nights are filled with the glitz and glamour of upscale parties. Until her grandmother dies and leaves Lily property in wretched Vermont. The woods mean only one thing to Lily—nightmares. When Utopia wants the land for development, Lily is forced to travel to a place she’d rather forget.

Rick Stannard makes maple syrup and builds barns in the peace and quiet of picturesque Vermont. Noisy New York City nearly killed him a few years back, and now he lives a calm, simple life with his coyote, Poe, and his beloved book collection. It’s the only way he’s guaranteed to wake up each morning.

When Lily marches her expensive boots onto Rick’s land and proposes turning it into a mega resort, the serenity of the woods is shattered. Lily always closes a deal. Rick never intends to sell. They’ll need to compromise, or someone else will do it for them. Someone who is not afraid of the woods or the city.

Or spilling a little blood."

My Review: Okay, so who wouldn't love a rugged outdoorsman? Rick is totally drool worthy even with his faults and gruff attitude. I honestly wasn't as keen on Lily, I never understand the socialite, city girls, I also couldn't seem to connect with her fear even though that is huge part of her backstory and personality. That set aside I truly enjoyed the rest of the cast of characters, Hope, Sage, Joy, Poe and Sam are all such fun personalities to be around (I could really picture hanging out with them joking around). The storyline was a little slow to develop, the spilling a little blood bit was missing a good portion of the book and you don't get that heart pounding thrill until late in the book, but this long storyline did give plenty of time for a more believable connection to be built between characters. This was a great ready to keep cozy through all these winter storms, but it is kept clean for those who prefer their own imagination.
My Rating: I really enjoyed the cast of characters in this book and am looking forward to the rest of the series (so far Hope & Sage's stories are out). I enjoyed the time allowed for the story and connections to develop.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Monday, March 9, 2015

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
Nubiana by Kristen Calenda
What I Fought For by Dave Mann
Grandpa and the Truck by Colleen Kelly Mellor
Sand Dollar by Sebastian Cole
Every Sunday by Peter Pezzelli
Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

We're Going on a Bear Hunt - 1pt
Little Red Caboose - 1pt
Look for the Lorax -1pt
Happy to Help - 1pt
Pony Brushes his Teeth - 1pt
Toe to Toe - 5pts
Little Heathens - 3pts
Korgi Book 2 - 2pts
Missing Ink - 3pts
Curious George and the Dinosaur Tracks - 1pt
Time Together: Me & Grandpa - 1pt
Jesper Jinx and the Turkish Pepper - 3pts
To Serve a King - 5pts
Danny and the Dinosaur - 1pt
The Lost Dinosaur Bone - 1pt

Currently Reading:

Buffalo Gal by Mary Connealy - Kindle - 28%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Aure the Topaz by Rich Feitelberg (RI Authors/Mount TBR)
My Favorite Witch by Annette Blair (RI Authors/Mount TBR)
One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin (Requested Review/Netgalley)
Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli (RI Authors/Mount TBR)


Total Points Earned
 44 (30 points earned this week)

Pages Read/ Time Listened
14,110 pages read (1,535 read this week)
25:42 listening time (9:25 finished this week)

Books Added to Shelves

The Novice by Taran Matharu - NetGalley/Requested Review
The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston - NetGalley/ Requested Review
Time Together: Me and Grandpa by Maria Catherine - NetGalley/ Requested Review
Jesper Jinx and the Turkish Pepper by Marko Kitti - Requested Review

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Well Munchkin ended up getting sick last week, hence the massive amount of reading and especially the children's books. 

I also kicked off my Rhode Island Authors month, I hope you are enjoying it so far, we have quite a variety of genres being written around here it was hard to pick what authors and books to feature.  I think this may end up having to be an annual event! We have more reviews coming this week as well as an interview and a giveaway so keep checking in daily.

In other news . . .  Happy Birthday to Me! Today is my birthday and I am a year older and a new undisclosed age ;) I am hoping for lots of gift cards to buy books (of course I will probably go negative in my points again but I will make it up again).  I also get to have my favorite meal tonight, biscuits and gravy, yum!

I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of Every Sunday by Peter Pezzelli

Read for: RI Authors & Mount TBR
My Review: "In Providence, Rhode Island, everybody knows Nick Catini. Street smart, with a quick wit and a larger-than-life personality, Nick is the go-to guy, the owner of Catini's Hardware who's there to score friends tickets to the big game or fix his daughters' problems. Every Sunday, Nick presides over the family dinner, dishing out sauce and advice with equal abandon. It is a time for family, for grandchildren, for men watching football in the living room while the women gossip and plan in the kitchen. It is a time to remember what matters most in life. Sunday is the best day of the week, and nobody can imagine it without Nick.

But when Nick is suddenly gone, that is exactly what they have to do--go on without him. For his girls--Maria, Nina, and Gina--it means learning to stand on their own feet while arguing about whether or not their mother, Teresa, can date again. For Teresa, it means trying somehow to keep her family together, even as she wonders what it would be like to find love again. And for her carefree son, Johnny, it means making good on his father's last request, a secret with the power to heal Johnny's guarded heart, if it doesn't destroy his family in the process.

Now, as the first leaves of fall stick to the wet streets of New England, as the winter snow melts into the pastel hues of spring, and everything seems new and different, the Catinis will be tested and changed as never before. For what seems like an insurmountable loss just may be the beginning of the best part of their lives...

At once both funny and heartwarming, with one of the most unique, unforgettable narrators to come along in years, Every Sunday is a warm, winning novel rich in hope, wisdom and the surprising strength of second chances."

My Review: This is a little bit of an unusual viewpoint, the whole story is narrated by the deceased character Nick as he follows his family for some time after he has passed. I must admit at times it was a little creepy. I did find the dynamics of the family to be very familiar and comforting, I am not from a big family but this one still felt very homey. I also really enjoyed watching as Johnny grew and developed after shouldering the responsibilities of the family and business while trying to find his way in life. It has moments of comedy, sadness, warmth and love. It is really a well rounded story that keeps the pages turning with the full personalities of the characters.
My Rating: I enjoyed the family connections, and while I found some of the discoveries about Nick to be a little uncomfortable and nothing I could condone, they did lend to an interesting story. I give it a rating of Three Paws.