Friday, July 10, 2015

Bedtime Story: The Sandcastle by M. P. Robertson

Synopsis: "Jack loves to build sandcastles, but no matter how strongly he builds them, the sea always sweeps them away. Then one night, a seagull outside his window wakes him up and calls him down to the beach. There he finds the sandcastle he built the day before — only life-sized! Jack marches across the drawbridge and embarks on a magical journey filled with jesters and musicians, feasting and dancing, a beautiful girl, and a magic shell. M. P. Robertson weaves a fun tale of fantasy and excitement with beautiful illustrations that capture the wonder of a little boy’s amazing adventure."

My Review: This book was okay for us. Munchkin loved the beach, sandcastles and the beach but was immediately bored and confused when the story took a turn for imaginative. It also scared him a little when the water takes the castle away. The illustrations were lovely though and beautifully colored.
My Rating: While this is a great book to read for those summer beach days, it was also a little scary for Munchkin. If your little one isn't as easily frightened as mine (with a history of nightmares about the mundane and night terrors) it might be a great book. I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

After Dark Review of Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston

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: "He's big, burly, and way smarter than your average shapeshifting bear. He's also about to get trapped by own his game. . .

Lou Crushek is a reasonable, mellow, easygoing kind of guy. But once someone starts killing the scumbags he works so hard to bust, that really gets under his fur. Especially when that someone is a curvy she-tiger with a skill set that's turning Crush's lone-bear world upside down--and bringing his passion out of hibernation. . .

As a member of an elite feline protection unit, Marcella Malone has no problem body-dropping anyone who hunts her kind. But Crush is proving one major pain in her gorgeous tail. The only reason she's joined forces with him is to track down the wealthy human who's got her entire species in his ruthless sights. It sure isn't because Crush's stubborn and contrary attitude is rubbing Cella in all the right ways. ."

My Review: Again it was difficult to place the main characters at the beginning. You start reading from the view point of a character that was maybe mentioned once in the series, and just in passing. The other main character is completely unrecognizable because she was originally portrayed as a lethal killer not a fun loving, carefree character. So I had to really put my previous experience with Cella completely out of my mind in order to enjoy the book, once I did that I really had a good time with Cella and Crush. I also enjoyed the developments in the storyline, Laurenston continued the trend set in the previous book to bring the story more to the front instead of just the characters and bedroom scenes (but don't be mistaken, those are still prominent).
My Rating: I really enjoy seeing how Laurenston has grown as an author throughout this series.  There is so much more substance to this book than there was at the beginning of the series.  I particularly enjoyed this one. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Series Review of the Bluegrass Series by Kathleen Brooks

I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!
For this series review I read the Bluegrass Series by Kathleen Brooks, it consists of 3 books and a novella. This series can be followed by the Bluegrass Brothers Series as well (and should probably be read before the novella).
 Synopsis: "McKenna Mason, a New York City attorney with a love of all things Prada, is on the run from a group of powerful, dangerous men. McKenna turns to a teenage crush, Will Ashton, for help in starting a new life in beautiful horse country. She finds that Will is now a handsome, successful race horse farm owner. As the old flame is ignited, complications are aplenty in the form of a nasty ex-wife, an ex-boyfriend intent on killing her, and a feisty race horse who refuses to race without a kiss. Can Will and McKenna cross the finish line together, and more importantly, alive?"

My Review: This was a short and entertaining read. It has a nice mix of both romance and suspense. The long flashbacks were a little awkward at times because they were suddenly there and were so long. I really enjoyed the setting and especially the horse element and small town atmosphere. Also, I adored Will and his whole family, the Rose sisters were fantastic and of course the whole small town gossip. I wasn't a huge fan of McKenna, she seemed a little fake at times and also not completely aware of danger considering what she had witnessed.
My Rating: This was a good introduction to the series, you learn a lot about the setting and storyline as well as start to get to know the characters. The suspense was a little lacking though, I give it Three Paws.
Synopsis: "Danielle De Luca, an ex-beauty queen who is not at all what she seems, leaves the streets of New York after tracking the criminals out to destroy her. She travels to Keeneston, Kentucky to make her final stand by the side of her best friend, McKenna Mason. While in Keeneston, Danielle meets the quiet and mysterious Mohtadi Ali Rahmen, a modern day Prince. Can Mo protect Dani from the group of powerful men in New York? Or will Dani save the Prince from his rigid, loveless destiny?"

My Review: This was definitely a great second book in this series. You obviously get to revisit favorite characters and the small town setting, but also get introduced to some new characters. I really enjoyed both Dani and Mo, they are both fantastic and fun characters with very interesting elements to their back story and personalities. In this book you are much more aware of the constant danger and the suspense is built up a little better, and good gordy, talk about a cliffhanger ending! I did not hesitate to start the next book immediately because I had to know what happened next!
My Rating: This was so much better than the first book, the suspense and action was ramped up and I enjoyed the characters so much more, not to mention the ending! I give it a rating of Four Paws!
 Synopsis: "Paige Davies finds her world turned upside down as she becomes involved in her best friends' nightmare. The strong-willed Paige doesn't know which is worse: someone trying to kill her, or losing her dog to the man she loves to hate.

FBI Agent Cole Parker can't decide whether he should strangle or kiss this infuriating woman of his dreams. As he works the case of his career, he finds that love can be tougher than bringing down some of the most powerful men in America."

My Review: This book seemed to loose a lot of the momentum from the previous book. While there was still a lot of danger, it didn't feel as prominent, maybe this is because the main storyline was being drawn down to a conclusion. It was nice to see that some of the major things are resolved slowly and not just brushed over in an epilogue. I absolutely adored Paige but most of the time I wanted to bash Cole over the head and knock some sense into him.
My Rating: The suspense dropped dramatically with this one, I still really enjoyed most of the characters and did like getting to see the main storyline drawn to conclusion. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
 Synopsis: "It wouldn't be Christmas in Keeneston without a party! Everyone's invited, even Santa…
Kenna's court docket is full, Dani's hiding from her in-laws, Paige and Annie are about to burst from pregnancy, and Marshall is breaking up fights at the PTA Christmas Concert. The sweet potato casserole is made, the ham and biscuits are on the table, and men are losing their shirts - and not because of bets placed with the Rose Sisters! All the while, the entire town is wondering one thing: who is the Secret Santa that showed up with special gifts for everyone?"

Re-Read Review (7/6/15): After reading the 3 books in the Bluegrass Series this was listed as a final novella. I was still a little lost at the beginning, some of the characters were familiar but obviously you need to read the other series (Bluegrass Brothers I think) in order to really be familiar with the events that took place before this book. It is a rather emotional read with some pretty big events that really could have been a full length novel. I did enjoy revisiting those favorite characters from the Bluegrass Series and seeing what has occurred since the end of the series.

My Rating: I wish that it had been indicated on Goodreads that this novella should be read after reading the other series. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but some of the favorites are still great.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Series Review: This is a pretty enjoyable series to read. The setting is wonderful and the mix of suspense and romance was a nice balance. It would definitely be a nice beach read, and can be read in just a couple of days on vacation. There are a lot of characters but they all have individual personalities so they aren't difficult to keep track of, not to mention some of those personalities are pretty strong. The novella was a little awkward, it is listed on Goodreads as a part of the Bluegrass Series but clearly is set after the Bluegrass Brothers Series (I think the two series are at times side by side in the timeline and the Brothers one goes a little after the Bluegrass one).
Overall, this was an enjoyable series to read and pretty quick. I give the series as a whole a rating of Three Paws (it could have been more but that novella kind of pulled it down).


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tasty Attempts: Stovetop Meatloaf

Last year I had started posting What's For Dinner. While I really enjoyed those posts, it was hard to keep up with a weekly post, especially since Munchkin is getting a little more picky about his diet and we are having a lot of repeat meals (sometimes the same thing several times a week). I still wanted to keep posting tasty recipes but include a little more variety (like the appetizers and desserts that I make for various parties). So I am now posting Tasty Attempts every other Tuesday. The posts will include a variety of recipes, maybe some of them turn out tasty, maybe others are failed attempts.
I saw a friend of mine post this recipe on facebook and I happened to have all the ingredients in my pantry. It was so quick and easy to make just mix all the ingredients together and put in the bundt pan and throw in the oven.
This was seriously one of the best meatloaf recipes ever, even Munchkin ate it and he isn't a fan of any ground beef.  It is moist but also because it is in a bundt pan it has a wonderful crust on all sides! Of course next time I will have to add mushrooms because what is a dish without mushrooms in our house? Though this is definitely not a healthy recipe with all that sodium in it but it is oh so delicious!

Monday, July 6, 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
Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis
Howl for It by Shelly Laurenston (After Dark)
This is My Town by Mercer Mayer (Beginning Reader)
Curious George Gets a Medal by HA Rey (Bedtime Stories)
Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (Graphic Novel)

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

What's that Mittens = 1pt
Dixie = 1pt
An Age of License = 2pts
Bear Meets Girl = 3pts
Persephone = 3pts
New Bear in School = 1pt
Mittens at School = 1pt
Octonauts and the Undersea Eruption = 1pt
Mr. Slow = 1pt
Bluegrass State of Mind = 3pts
Risky Shot = 3pts
Ratha's Creature = 3pts

Currently Reading:

The Turncoat by Donna Thorland - Audio - 43%
The Untouchables by Eliot Ness - Print - on page 13 of 256

 Books to be Read Soon:

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner (Mount TBR/ Series)
Sphinx's Queen by Esther Friesner (Mount TBR/ Series)
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes (Mount TBR)


Total Points Earned
   173 points + 23 points earned + 10 pts (completing Early Reader Challenge) = 206 points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
33,935 pages read (1,722 read this week)
95:17 listening time

Books Added to Shelves

Unmasked by Cassia Leo - BookBub Freebie

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



We had a much less busy week this week. Munchkin did start a new preschool this week. In anticipation for this (and the potential need for cuddles and reassuring) I made sure most of the chores were done ahead of time, and all the dinners were quick and simple.  This of course led to much more time for reading, both with Munchkin and on my own.

Also a wonderful day off when Munchkin was able to go to work lead to a lot more reading and craft time! I am happy with the amount of reading I got done this week and can't wait to read more this week!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

June Nail Art Share

So after a month off in May, I started getting back into my nail art. I did end up with a lot of solid colors throughout the month so only have a couple to show you.
These are probably my absolute favorites so far this year. I used a Julep color for the blue and made some white clouds. They were so simple, yet so cute! The best part was that I tried out the Julep oxygen basecoat and these nails lasted a full week without chipping!
Then I thought I would try to match the yellow and black purse I have been using (a wonderful Kate Spade purse that was a gift - I am not much of a purse nut but this is beautiful and well made).  I definitely need to work on the spacing and consistency of my polka dots. I do really like the look of that super thin tip but need to work on that too. Unfortunately it seems that the Julep base coat only works amazingly well with their own nail polishes because this one chipped after only a few days.
It is fun to start experimenting again and even though I have had less time lately I hope to try a few more techniques this month.