Saturday, August 29, 2015

Graphic Novel Review of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marane Satrapi

Synopsis: "Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love."

My Review: This was an interesting one for me. It didn't really capture me but the subject matter wasn't really something that interests me a lot. There is quite a history presented in the graphic novel and I wonder how much is truth and maybe what was embellished upon. It does do a great job of showing the drastic changes that were happening in Iran over that particular time period and how quickly people were expected to adjust to new laws and rules (and also how they managed to keep some of their favorite activities in secret). As far as the style, it was a little overwhelming, the whole thing is black and white with tiny boxes of text and images. It would have been nice to have a little color to break up the pages, with the at times dark subject and the art style and text it made it hard to keep focused.

My Rating: While I do occasionally enjoy memoir graphic novels, this was too much dark for my liking (between the subject matter and the art style). I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bedtime Story: There's No Place Like Space by Trish Rabe

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & it is of course a space story.
Synopsis: "Au revoir, Pluto! In this newly revised, bestselling backlist title, beginning readers and budding astronomers are launched on a wild trip to visit the now eight planets in our solar system (per the International Astronomical Union’s 2006 decision to downgrade Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet), along with the Cat in the Hat, Thing One, Thing Two, Dick, and Sally. It’s a reading adventure that’s out of this world!"

My Review: This was a fun book for Munchkin in his outer space/ astronaut obsession. It reads like a Dr. Seuss book, even though it is obvious it isn't one of his, so that familiar rhyming and rhythm really falls into place as you are reading the book. It gives simple yet realistic descriptions for planets, stars, sun and constellations. It was a fun book to read and we have read it a few times in the past couple of days.
My Rating: This was a nice change up from the strict non-fiction books, while this is still facts it was put in fun rhymes and illustrations.  We give it a rating of Three Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Living in Space by Katie Daynes

Read For: Early Reader Challenge & to feed Munchkin's hunger for all things astronaut
Synopsis: A non fiction book about astronauts and what they do in space.

My Review: This was a great book for Munchkin, we have been on the hunt to find books about astronauts since that is what he has decided he wants to be when he grows up. This was a very informative book, and a step up from the other book we recently read called Astronauts. This book takes the same information and elaborates on it for more detailed education. Munchkin really enjoyed reading it and often reminds me of some of the things he learned from this book.
My Rating: This was a good step up in the reading for Munchkin, it reviewed some information we learned in an earlier book and went into more detail. Munchkin really enjoyed it and even sat through the whole book.  We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pen to Paper: Stationary Subscriptions

How did your mission go last week? Did you find a quote to include in your letter? I have been in fall mode for some reason and so I made a cute little card with a quote on it for a fall themed pocket letter.
On to our discussion about stationary and where to get it. I discussed last week some of my favorite places to get my stationary from, but one method I didn't discuss (because I felt like it needed its own post) was subscription services. The past few years I have noticed a huge trend in monthly subscription boxes, for beauty products, books, and even food.  I have come across a few subscription boxes for stationary as well. I have subscribed to (or at least ordered a single month to test) three different ones. I thought I would share a little of my experiences and tell you about them so you can decide if they are right for you.
The first is the Letter Bee Box available at Further More Press on Etsy.
Patty's monthly Letter Bee boxes are stuffed full of goodies for working on letters and other snail mail projects. She always includes beautiful stationary and envelopes, notecards, post cards,  as well as stamps (both current and vintage), little artwork to keep or share with pen pals, and delicious tea and goodies. She offers a full sized box and a petite box (which sticks more closely to paper goods).  I have ordered her full size Letter Bee box several times and am so happy every time I get one of her boxes (the next one should be coming soon). I will tell you though the full size boxes sell out very quickly but the petite boxes are often available.
Another one I have tried out for a single box was Brimbles Box offered by Miss Brimbles.  I think I got the June Box.  I enjoyed the selection she included, it works great if you are into decorating your letters, there was some cute princess paper, washi tape, colored pencils and some stickers. I have seen some of the other boxes she puts together and they are always very cute, though often a little girlie or frilly for my personal tastes. This would also be an excellent option if you are over in Europe, the price of shipping to the US was pretty steep, so I haven't ordered another box.
The most recent one I have tried is La Papierre Stationary Subscription Service.  This one is relatively inexpensive and allows you to select the subscription size based on how much paper you go through. Here are a couple of pictures of my first delivery
I love the variety of paper they included and have already used several sheets of it. I look forward to seeing what they send each month now. My only complaint with this one would be that they don't include envelopes, it is strictly the paper and you need to find your own envelopes (more on that next week).
So there you have it, I am sure there are a lot more subscription services out there but these are just the three that I have tested out. The thing to keep in mind with subscription services is that these are often 'blind boxes' meaning you don't get to pick what you get. There will be times you may not like a stationary sent (but I still hold on to it incase there is someone I am writing to who would enjoy them).
Your Mission for the Week: Include a found item in your next letter. Be it a lucky penny found on the ground, a beautiful flower you can press in, or maybe a lovely seashell, pebble or feather. Found items don't cost anything and can be used as a lovely writing prompt for your letter, tell the person about where you found it or what you were thinking when you found it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review of How 2 Live Life by John Vorhaus

Read for: Requested Review
Synopsis: "Life is a problem? Sure, sometimes. But guess what? Life is a problem you can solve! All you need are some simple, insightful ways of looking at yourself, your world, your philosophy, your feelings and goals. Using the same plain-spoken, exercise-driven approach of his many successful writing books, including The Comic Toolbox and Creativity Rules! John Vorhaus gives you no magic, no mystic wisdom, just practical methods for advancing your self-awareness, acquiring self-acceptance and closing the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. If spiritual matters are of interest to you, if you want to make your life rise, and if you wish to gain a better grasp of the questions that daunt us all, this little book will have a big impact on you."

My Review: This one is quite outside my normal comfort genres, but when John contact me regarding a review, it struck me a just the right time (not to mention I have enjoyed the previous books I have read by him). This was really a unique read and experience, it is meant to be read as an interactive book to guide you into some understanding of yourself and the way you go through life. I participated as best I could and found it actually very useful and inspiring (of course it also helped that he spoke to my list making obsession). One of the first lists he asks you to make is of the things you would not do any longer if you had less than 6 months to live, I found this interesting since so often people think about the things you would try to fit into that time. One of the things I wouldn't do any more is drive, I hate driving, I get horrible road rage and my frustration and stress rises every time I get behind the wheel. He then takes those items and dives further into why you wouldn't do those things and ways to either eliminate them or make them not so hated. Granted there are many more elements to this book but that is just an example of what I gained and used throughout the book. It was a great book to pick through and use as you see fit in your own life and it would be interesting to revisit a few years down the road to see how it has changed in accordance to your life. I really enjoyed how he used personal examples with his own findings, it made it a less clinical book. It did ramble a little much some times and I would find myself zoning out but then there would be a quote or a question that brought me right back.

My Rating: This was an unusual read, it wasn't quite what I was expecting but it was good. I have definitely taken pieces of the book and applied it to my own life and gained a little perspective.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Favorite Quote: "Writer’s block, I have discovered, takes place
at the intersection of too much fear and not
enough information. Whenever I find myself
that malfunction junction, I never try to
write. Instead, I go gather new information.
Once I’ve tipped the balance back in
information’s favor, I find that my fear goes
to sleep and I can go back to work."
How to Live Life was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
If you would like to learn more about John Vorhaus and his work please visit his Goodreads Page or Website.
You can also obtain your own copy of How to Live Life in both digital or print formats from his website or Amazon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review of The Sun Tea Chronicles by Quinton Blue

Read for: Reading Across the States & Mount TBR
Synopsis: "After being fired from a dead-end government job in Chicago, Jimmy Sparrow retreats to Indiana and tries to rediscover his Potawatomi Indian roots. But it's the 1980s, an era hostile to Thoreau-like values. As America overdoses on success and ambition, Jimmy secedes from the work world to become the unofficial mayor of a small apartment building filled with misfits. "The Sun Tea Chronicles" is a collection of sharply etched vignettes with a comic undertone."

My Review: Unfortunately, I am so glad this book is done. I was so disappointed in it but pushed through only because it was a book for my Reading Across the States challenge. It was a book about nothing, kind of like Seinfeld but at least that show was funny. This book claims in the synopsis to have comic undertone, but I didn't get that, for me it was dull and boring. It tried to be funny but just didn't work for me.
My Rating: I didn't mesh with this book at all, I was looking for the snarky comedy but it just didn't work for me. I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bout of Books #14 Readathon Wrap Up

I participated in the Bout of Books Readathon #14, 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 21.5 hours reading last week.
I read a total of 1,348 pages in that time period
I finished reading 4 books including:
Nostromo the Dwarf
Summer Haikus
Searching for Perfect
How to Live Life
I also read but didn't finish
62% of Searching for Beautiful
96 pages of 224 of True Grit

I didn't quite meet all my goals this Bout of Books but I did get all three requested reviews read and managed to read 1,300 pages. I am actually pretty happy with how much reading I got done considering how much else I had going on this last week.  I even managed to participate in 2 mini challenges, I don't think I have ever done that with a Bout of Books read-a-thon before.
How did your readathon go? Did you meet all or goals? If not are you planning to do something different next time? I hope you all had fun and will participate again, because I certainly will!

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
Nostromo the Dwarf by Sam Carr
Servicing the Target by Cherise Sinclair (After Dark)
Little Critter Astronaut by Mercer Mayer (Bedtime Story)

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

Nostromo the Dwarf = 3pts
How to Live Life = 3pts
Summer Haikus = 3pts
Searching for Perfect= 5pts

Currently Reading:

Searching for Beautiful by Jennifer Probst - Audio - 62%
True Grit by Charlse Portis - PB - on page 96 of 224
Sun Tea Chronicles by Quinton Blue - Kindle - 15%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Friday Night Lights by HG Bissinger - Mount TBR/ Reading Across the States
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas - Mount TBR/ Series Challenge
Searching For Series by Jennifer Probst - Mount TBR/ Audio/ Series Challenge

Total Points Earned
253 points + 14 points earned - 40 points spent = 227 points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
39,868 pages read (932 read this week)
129:11 listening time

Books Added to Shelves

Searching for Always by Jennifer Probst - Audible Monthly download
Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens - Purchase -20 points
The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison - Purchase -20 points

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Okay, so this last week was a little more insane than I expected! I did participate in the Bout of Books read-a-thon and did so much better than I expected after looking at the crazy schedule (I will have my wrap up posted later today). This week isn't looking a whole lot better either.  Even though we got a ton of work done last week and over the weekend, we still have tons to do to prepare for Munchkin's birthday and our annual summer party. Not to mention it is going to be a crazy week at work since me & the boss will both be on vacation at the same time, for a whole week! Oh well it will all be worth it to see Munchkin have a blast on his outer space birthday party and to have a fun get together with all of our friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Story Stack: Get There with Vehicles

Welcome to Story Stack, a new meme here on Eastern Sunset Reads!
For Story Stack I will put together a list of books based on a common theme, probably mostly children's books since this idea arrived as I struggled to organize Munchkin's overflowing bookshelves.
Boy it has been a little while since I posted a Story Stack, since my last post was a stack of Construction Books I have for you now our top list of other vehicle books (in no particular order).
Little Blue Truck - This book was one of the first vehicle books Munchkin received and it is a cute little book. Also there are several other Little Blue Truck Books now too (I highly recommend Little Blue Truck's Christmas, it lights up).
My Truck is Stuck - is a fun book that combines a variety of vehicles, rhyming, counting, adding and subtracting in a fun way.
Katy and the Big Snow - for some reason this book isn't all that well know, it is overshadowed by the author's famous book Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. But in our house snowplows are a big deal!
I am a Garbage Truck - This fun shaped book talks about both garbage trucks and recycling trucks and what they do.
Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble! - This is a really fun book with lots of sound effects to make and loads of vehicles to look at, you even have to turn the book on the side and upside down to read it adding an extra fun factor.
Emergency Vehicles - This is a little advanced for Munchkin but he loves all the different emergency vehicles, fire engines, police cars, ambulances, etc. It even talks about coastguard boats and emergency vehicles in other countries.
Sesame Street Bus - is an insanely fun book for little ones. It has sound buttons to go with the story, it has wheels that actually spin and it has activities to take your bus book on, not to mention Elmo and other Sesame Street favorites.
Steam Train, Dream Train - Animals and trains, an interesting combination but a fun book to learn a little bit about trains. It isn't Munchkin's favorite but he seems to prefer it over other train books we have read.
Tow Truck Trouble/ Lights Out - a double book featuring Mater & Lightening McQueen from the Cars movie. Munchkin LOVES Mater so this is a fun book for him.
Sheep in a Jeep - This might actually be Munchkin's favorite vehicle book. We read it all the time. When we see a jeep on the road he even recites a page or two from the book "beep, beep, sheep in a jeep". It is a tongue twister but after enough times reading it you won't be able to get it out of your head!

So there you have it, some of our favorite non-construction vehicle books.
I promise to post Story Stacks a little more regularly and I have a few ideas that won't revolve around vehicles, I promise that isn't all we read (although I have been reading nothing but space books lately).