Saturday, March 28, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of The Scot, The Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair

Read for: Mount TBR and RI Authors
Synopsis: "Despite her best attempts at denial—"I am so not a witch"—Victoria Cartwright has inherited a legacy of magic, along with the key to a mysterious wardrobe, in Blair's third Witch novel (following the bestseller My Favorite Witch). Upon her beloved grandmother's death, Vickie receives the magic key to grandmother's old wardrobe—never before opened—and a promise that it contains Vickie's destiny. To Vickie's puzzlement, her destiny turns out to be an exquisitely preserved antique carousel unicorn. Though it's oddly familiar to Vickie, the unicorn is recognized right off by Scotsman Rory MacKenzie, a handsome loner, when Vickie appears with it on a television antiques show. The unicorn happens to be the handiwork of Rory's ancestor and the key to ending his family curse. The two meet and immediately set to bickering, first over Rory's manners—Vickie quickly concludes that he's "a lack-wit shoddy-mannered Scot with more beards than brains"—then over his designs for the unicorn. Of course, they're just working their way toward confronting their mutual attraction, but sassy dialogue, rich sexual tension and plenty of laughs make this an immensely satisfying return to Blair's world of witchcraft."
My Review: Well it was better than the previous book in the series but it wasn't a great one. It was tolerable but not a book I would pick up again. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what I dislike. I have a feeling it might be the dialogue, at times it feels quick and disjointed, almost like a rough draft instead of a filled out final copy. At times the characters allude to something but you have no idea what it might be, you often feel like you are the new person in a group of friends sharing inside jokes.
My Rating: This was really a middle of the road one again. I am definitely drawing the line here on at least these types of books from this author.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, March 27, 2015

RI Author Feature: Bedtime Story: Grandpa and the Truck 2 by Colleen Keller Mellor

Synopsis: "In Book 2, Story 1, Grandpa (as young trucker) learns the power of nature when a mighty hurricane wallops the seaside town of Biloxi, Mississippi, blowing the roof off the hotel where he's staying. In Story 2, "Girl Truckers," two young women prove that people should choose careers based on their interests and abilities--not on whether they're boys or girls."

My Review: This is the second book in this series and is a great continuation of the stories and lessons given by Grandpa. There are two stories and both are brief with full color pictures. They are great to be read aloud to young ones or even for those beginning to read on their own. Each story is followed by questions to bring on conversations, vocabulary, facts from the story and even maps to identify the locations of the stories. As I said with the previous book, I love how these books can grow with a young, curious reader.
My Rating: This is a great second book and I am looking forward to more of the coming out, as I know Munchkin is as well! We give this one a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of Aure the Topaz by Rich Feitelberg

Read for: Mount TBR & RI Authors
Synopsis: "Twenty-five years ago, invaders captured Andropolis, the capital of Thalacia, and ended the rules of King Leonard. According to prophecy, the invaders can be ousted and the royal line restored only by wielding the Aglaril, seven elven gems of unprecedented power.

However, the circlet in which the gems were set was destroyed millennia ago and the gems lost. At least, that was the common belief. Evan Pierce, a priest of St. Michael, discovered one of the gems belongs to the town jeweler. He also uncovers a plot to steal the gem and does what he can to keep it safe. But it is not enough.

Now, Evan must recover the gem by relying on a motley group of adventurers for help. Together, they must overcome a series of obstacles or humanity's one hope for restoring the royal line will be lost forever."

My Review: Possibly one of the best books I have read so far this year and the best fantasy I have read in a while. This book read surprisingly quick, it is easily appropriated for younger readers even early teens but it still very much so appeals to adults. There wasn't a lot of detailed world building that you normally expect, it just naturally flows and you learn as you read but don't feel lost at any point. There are a wide variety of characters, each with their own clear back story. There are several storylines going on at once but they mesh so well you don't feel you need to keep track of them. This was a very well written fantasy novel and now I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series!
My Rating: I really can't tell you how excited I am about this book and series. It was truly fantastic for me. I have to give this book a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of My Favorite Witch by Annette Blair

Read for: Mount TBR & RI Authors
Synopsis: "New from the author of the surprise hit "The Kitchen Witch"
"The Kitchen Witch" author Annette Blair serves up a charming tale of a beautiful witch--cursed by her ex-boyfriend--who is appointed to work with a former hockey star, the one man who can melt the ice around her heart."

My Review: It has been a couple of years since I read the Kitchen Witch but I do recall really enjoying it. This one unfortunately didn't hit just right for me. I enjoyed some of the characters and I loved the setting and idea of the story, saving a floundering non-profit and little boys home. What set things off for me on the wrong foot was the beginning started out at such an odd point I felt like I was totally missing something. It went down hill from there with an inconsistency in the characters, and the awkward and jarring conversations between them. One minute they were flirting the next feuding and totally off dating, which can be entertaining but this just was too sudden. I do hope that reading the next book on the tail of this one will maybe make the final book in the trilogy a little smoother.
My Rating: The conversations with this one were just awkward and it threw me off with this book. I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

RI Author Feature: Review of The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair

(previously read & posted review)
Synopsis: "Sedate single dad Logan Kilgarven is somehow bewitched into helping his lovely downstairs neighbor, Melody Seabright, get her own cooking show at his TV station. How did that happen? Melody can't even cook. In her hands, potatoes lump, gravy boils over, and chicken explodes. Still, she's got showmanship, and the general manager can practically taste syndication when her show, The Kitchen Witch, takes off. Even as the boss's daughter sets her sights on Logan, he and Melody are making some hot magic of their own. Sure, opposites attract, but can they last?"

My Review: A very cute, fun, light romance. I personally loved Salem when I visited last year and loved how this book was based in Salem and really stuck to the atmosphere of the town. The characters were very endearing, I absolutely adored Shane, Logan, Melody and Jessie, and even Melody's friends. The story line was some what typical but it was still fun with the quirky personalities involved. I loved how Blair added in the cooking, it added an extra flare to keep the story exciting(and me being not the best cook either it made me giggle at some of the mistakes I have made).
My Rating: This was a light and enjoyable read when I read it a couple of years ago. It lead me to purchasing the rest of the trilogy when I met Annette Blair at the Rhode Island Author convention. This one earned Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring 2015 Bloggiesta - Sign up and Progress

I almost missed the Bloggiesta this time around in the whirlwind that has been March but oh boy do I need it! I have so much to do around here on the blog and if you do to why don't you stop by and sign up at Bloggiesta.
On my To Do List:
  • Schedule posts (I have at least a dozen posts that need writing)
  • Respond to emails from authors, publishers, etc.
  • Update the layout (I am not a fan of my layout right now, it doesn't seem to user friendly)
  • Update Archive list or debate eliminating entirely
  • Work on my twitter usage
  • Try to get feedback and put out ideas for content (I feel like all I post is reviews and maybe that doesn't appeal to a lot of people)
  • Visit several new blogs and make some new friends
  • Participate in at least one twitter chat
  • Participate in at least 3 mini challenges
  • Back up Blog
  • Fix pictures on About Me Page
  • Add a separate page for Contact
  • Add Follow Me buttons for Pinterest and Twitter
  • Pin Bedtime Stories
So there you have my plans for this week. I would normally post daily updates but I don't want to clog things up with my Rhode Island Author Features so I will post daily updates here and potentially post mini challenges here too.
Day 1 Progress
Monday was a surprisingly productive day for me! It was a relatively quiet day at the office so I was able to get the ball rolling. I wrote and scheduled 18 posts so I am now up to 37 posts scheduled and into May!
I also worked on finding ways to use twitter better. I found an old mini challenge about using twitter to automatically link to posts, I will be checking this one out.  I also participated in the twitter chat yesterday about commenting, it was very informative and again encouraged the use of twitter to interact with followers and other bloggers.  During that twitter chat I also completed a mini challenge and tested out the Twubs chat app. It was actually very cool, you can set the speed you want the feed to go which was great to slow it down when posts were coming too fast. It took me a bit but I figured out how to RT, Reply and Favorite posts in the program too.
After the chat I started requesting feedback on the Archive dilemma I have. I think it is a handy way to keep track and for people to look back for maybe a favorite book or author in your reviews. My issue is that it is nearly impossible for me to keep up with the list. I am reading anywhere from 350 to 500 books a year and to alphabetize or categorize and link to each of those reviews is a little overwhelming. I do post all of my full reviews on goodreads which has search features, so I am thinking about just linking up with my reviews on goodreads and leaving it at that.
Another mini challenge that I started working on was the pinning author interviews.  I set up a pinterest account specifically for the blog to complete this challenge. I spent some time setting up boards and pinning to the boards. I will use this pinterest page for followers to see what is going on with the blog and what is coming up.
While working on the pinterest account I also came up with some ideas for different types of posts. I thought it was about time I work on that bucket list.  I do need to get back to What's for Dinner and then of course there are always Crafty Times and Fun with Munchkin ideas.  I am also debating a Picture post day as either a caption this, wordless day or writing prompt.
Well on to Tuesday and day two . . .  I will be working on clearing out my emails and review requests. I will also be working on a couple of page updates preparing for a layout update. Oh and look into Disquis as was discussed in the twitter chat.
 Day 2 Progress
It was another busy day around here on Tuesday. After the surge from day one I thought momentum might drop but it kept right on chugging. I started off the day responding to emails (which honestly I didn't have as many as I expected). Once that was done I found a few moments to also change the layout and format of the blog.  Granted it is one of the simple ones blogger provides but I like the simplicity of it, everything I want is visible, it is easy to navigate and not overwhelming. Someday maybe I will higher a web designer to make me a custom blog but at this point I don't feel like I need it.  After making the changes (there is still some tweaking to do) I also backed up the blog.
I also completed two more mini challenges. Both of them older but much needed.  I completed the Spring 2012 mini challenge Your Blog & Twitter where I linked the posts of the blog to my twitter feed so it automatically posts.  I have been needing this because I want to link them but don't always have time at the office.  The second mini challenge of the day was the Spring 2014 mini challenge Pinterest for your Book Blog. It coordinated with the other mini challenge of this year Pin your Author Interviews.  So I now have a pinterest account for the blog with several boards (some I am still working on).  Please feel free to follow me - Eastern Sunset Pinterest
The new pinterest boards have me really excited and given me a lot more ideas for posts.  I would love your feedback on some of these ideas (I will also be posting on twitter to get some feedback).
Post Ideas
Capturing the Moment Monday - a wordless picture post or request for captioning
What's for Dinner - bring back the weekly recipe post
Cookbook Review -  where I post each day for a week trying out recipes from one cookbook
Bucket List -  I know this is really popular but I only had a little list in my head of what I wanted to do but now have it firmed up a little more and would like to share some of those adventures.
Pen to Paper - I used to do this post about sending handwritten letters, I would really like to bring this back as a monthly theme (ie. stationary, handmade cards, post cards, where to find pen pals, writing themes - thank you cards, fan letters, encouragement, etc.)
of course I will continue with Crafty Times and Fun with Munchkin.  The only other question is how do I find the time (I don't like having more than one or two posts a day because it clutters things up in my opinion). Do I start only posting the top reviews? Do I limit the genres I post?
Oh and I have decided to no longer updated the Archive list. It is just overwhelming and all the reviews are posted on Goodreads which is searchable.  I will however leave the archive list up that I have but maintain a link to goodreads reviews too.
Still going strong but I think the next couple of days might slow down a little bit as I work on polishing up both the pinterest board and the new layout here.
 Day 3 Progress
I had another productive day on Wednesday. I was able to participate in the twitter chat about layouts and design of our blogs. It was very informative and after chatting with everyone it feels like I am on the right track now that I went back to my very basic layout.  It was also nice to be able to share our blogs with each other and give feedback.  I have already put some I received to use and adjusted the side menu and changed the background image so it isn't as busy. I hope you like it better now.   While I was making these changes I did see a few things that need fixing. I noticed that all my pictures on my About Me page are broken, so I will tackle this over then next couple of days.
My next project is going to be working on content and hopefully I can stay up late tonight for the twitter chat.  I really want to bounce a couple ideas off other people and also I have a burning question: At what point does your book blog stop being a book blog and become a general blog? I have a lot of ideas about other interest posts but I want to keep my main focus on the books. My other question is since I won't be able to share reviews of all the books I read how should I go about choosing the ones to post? I pride myself on being honest and I don't want to just share books I thought were good, I also want to give you all a heads up on the books I didn't enjoy and maybe discuss why others did like them.
Anyway on the theme of content I have decided I will definitely be bringing back Pen to Paper posts. After a little bit of pinning and brainstorming I have a full 3 years of posts outlined (yes you heard right 3 YEARS - one for every week). It has me very excited about the subject, almost to the point where it could take on its own life and become a separate blog, but I am going to see how it goes before I make any big jumps.
Speaking of Pinning and Pinterest, I have also been working on that as well. I spent a couple hours yesterday pinning all my graphic novel reviews on a board. I may try to do the same for the Bedtime Stories today.
Day 4 Progress
I said I was going to take it easy on Thursday but I continued to work pretty hard on the blog. I pinned Bedtime Stories until pinterest cut me off 'to prevent spam'.  I will continue again today, but with how many there are to go it will take me a couple more days to get them all pinned.  I also fixed all the pictures on the about me page and added a separate contact me page.  I also continued to work on my non-review content ideas. 
I stayed up late last night to participate in the twitter chat regarding content, I really needed this because I had so many questions.  The discussion focused more on the content that we should or shouldn't have in our review posts, which mind you was very helpful.  I will definitely be making a couple of changes to my reviews to hopefully encourage more interaction and discussion.  I was really hoping to touch more on non-review posts which were only briefly discussed in the last ten minutes or so.  I was able to discuss with a few other bloggers as to the book to non book content balance and while I have loads upon loads of reviews to share with everyone I am going to need to break it up more with non book content.  As I said yesterday I will be bringing back Pen to Paper.  I also thought that it would be good to work on bringing back From the Book (recreate activities, recipes or do something mentioned in a book) and I Saw the Movie First (where I read the book after seeing a movie, a rarity for me).   I will also try to work on having more Crafty Times posts and Fun with Munchkin.  Upon doing some browsing of other blogs I have found some fun little memes I would enjoy participating in on occasion as well.
I am still up in the air about What's for Dinner.  I can't decide if I would rather (or if you readers would rather) have a weekly recipe review that features only one recipe or a once a month cookbook review where I would feature 4-5 recipes from a single book and give a general review of that cookbook.  Any preferences?
 Day 5 Progress
Check out my to do list! Everything has been marked off, even the things I added as the week went on.  I am going to have a few additional items to work on over the next little while, I would still like to add Disquis at some point.   I will also be participating in one more twitter chat.  I did manage to finish pinning all the Bedtime Stories. I will be debating setting up boards for other genres or just stick with those two that I post the most and regularly.
I also participated in another mini challenge yesterday - Creating a Treasure Trove of Blog Post Ideas.  Boy once you get going with the post ideas it just doesn't slow down! I started off with simple brainstorming and came up with about 10 ideas in no time.  I also looked at popular posts on other blogs over the last couple of days and came up with a few more ideas.  I saw on one of the chats that people really enjoy seeing lists so I also brainstormed book list ideas.  I now have over three pages of post ideas and even potential weekly posts. It was great to sit down and just spend time brainstorming instead of trying to come up with ideas on the spot when I have an open day. I plan to spend about an hour every month brainstorming ideas so that my list doesn't end up used up and so I can update it based on popularity.
Day 6 Progress
Not much time today with Munchkin at home with me and hubby at work. I am going to participate in the chat today. I also snapped a couple of pictures for some post ideas.  I hope to have a few minutes over the next couple of days to schedule some posts and work on some of these new content ideas.
Good luck to everyone participating!!

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
Fish Perfume by Sammie Grace
Toe to Toe by Sammie Grace
Puma Sight Sails the Harbour by Muriel Barclay de Tolly (Bedtime Story)
Francesca's Kitchen Peter Pezzelli
Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Veil of Roses = 3pts
The Mane Event = 3pts
Aure the Topaz = 5pts
My Favorite Witch = 5pts
One of the Guys = 3pts
Fables are Forever = 2pts
Wright on Time: Utah = 5pts
The Mitten = 1pt
Oscar the Almost Butterfly = 1pt
Frogs! = 1pt
Curious George visits the Book store = 1pt

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:

I Loved I Lost I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci (Mount TBR)
If You're Reading This by Trent Reedy (Mount TBR)
The Scot the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair (Mount TBR/ RI Authors)
The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston (Re-Read/ Series)


Total Points Earned
 94 (30 points earned this week)

Pages Read/ Time Listened
16,954 pages read (1,793 read this week)
25:42 listening time (9:25 finished this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



We are heading into my final week of the RI Author event, time is running out to enter all the giveaways so make sure you enter!  This has been a big month for me and it was a lot more work than I expected to read, review, plan posts and conduct interviews but I think it was so worth it.  I am however looking forward to a little bit more relaxed reading month in April.

In other news it is Bloggiesta week, and I almost missed it. Good thing I spotted it because there is a lot of things that need work around here.  Let me know if there is anything you would like to see changed, added or eliminated. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Crafty Times: St. Patrick's Day Fun with Munchkin

Crafty Times is a new thing I am trying on the blog where I can share some of the art and crafts I have created (you can too of course). I really dabble in a wide variety of crafts and hope you can find something that sparks your interest or inspires you!
Another holiday means more craft opportunities. I just feel like I have been so busy lately that yet again I didn't get to do everything I wanted. Maybe because this has been the official sick month of this winter around here.  Munchkin and I did get to do one fun project for St. Patrick's Day though, rainbow fruit loop necklaces.
I remember making these so many times as a kid and I think a couple might still be hanging on my parent's bedroom door knob.
It takes lots of concentration to get that fruit loop on the lace!
Munchkin had a hard time even getting them on the string because he just had to eat them! We had a lot of giggles over this . . .

It is a good thing that I made one too because he ended up with only 2 fruit loops on his necklace hehehe
In not to long we will be tackling Easter egg dying! Note to self: get some plastic table clothes and drop clothes LOL