Saturday, September 19, 2015

Graphic Novel Review of Swamp Thing by Brian K. Vaughan

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis: "In this series from 2000, writer Brian K. Vaughan kicked off a new SWAMP THING series that starred Tefé Holland, daughter of Swamp Thing and Abigail Arcane. As a human/plant elemental hybrid, Tefé has incredible power--but as a hot-headed teenager, can she learn to control those powers and use them for good? Vaughan's sensitive stories send Tefé across the globe to play an unexpected role in remote regions threatened by ecological disasters."

My Review: An old black and white swamp thing was the first horror movie I ever saw, so it holds a special place in my heart. I have also loved so much of Vaughan's work in graphic novels. Unfortunately, this one just wasn't my cup of tea. The story line was so obscure from what I was expecting that it threw me for a loop. The storyline also does a lot of jumping around to different points as well as different characters that it was hard to keep track of the story in my head. I will say though that the illustrations were outstanding.
My Rating: I normally love Brian K. Vaughan but I think this idea was just a little too far outside what I was expecting. It was still an interesting and unique idea with amazing illustrations. I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bedtime Story: The New Bear at School by Carrie Weston

Read for: Children's Challenge
Synopsis: "Boris the bear is new at school--and all the other animals are afraid of him! Pitch-perfect writing and delightfully charming illustrations will make this a treasured starting school story.

It's hard enough being the new kid at school, but when you're a big bear like Boris, it's even worse! Poor Boris tries his best to be gentle, but his sharp-toothed smile scares away his classmates. In the end, the animals find they love having Boris on their side!

With a heartwarming story and charming illustrations, THE NEW BEAR AT SCHOOL will touch anyone who has ever felt left out."

My Review: I picked this book up for Munchkin since he had to start a new preschool. I thought it might help him adjust to being the new kid. It is a cute story but I don't think it really helped with our transition. Boris is a little scary and actually ended up giving Munchkin nightmares instead of easing his way into a new school. It does have a nice idea about just being yourself instead of trying to fit in but it just wasn't the book for us.
My Rating: This is a cute book but best not read it if your child has any fear of bears. I think it would maybe be a little more appropriate for a little older audience (maybe 1st graders). We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pen to Paper: Write to People You Know

So did you write to someone you haven't heard a response from in a while? I did, though I don't know if it was I who didn't respond to the last letter or my pen pal, but hopefully I am reopening this line of communication for us.
I know when I initially started doing these Pen to Paper posts that I talked about who to write letters to briefly. I want to take a couple of weeks to go into more detail about who to write to and ways to find more pen pals.  So of course we will start with the obvious people to send your letters to and that would be people you already know. 
There is the obvious way to pick and that would be to pull out your address book. You know those people you send an annual holiday card to? I bet they wouldn't mind hearing about what is new in your life throughout the year too, and chances are these people are family members and friends so there is no need to go through awkward introductions, just jump right in and say hi.
Another way is to go to that Facebook friend list, yes you may have an old friend on there that you follow and maybe you like or comment on their posts every so often and they do the same for you, but have you really reconnected? Maybe send them a quick message asking for their mailing address and send them a real letter. Maybe you can find things that you have in common now (not in high school) and rekindle that friendship again through snail mail.
Another option is to start writing to friends you have made online with common interests.  A vast majority of the people I write to are in this category. I write to my fellow book bloggers *waves*, I write to friends I have made in the pony collecting community, and more recently to people I have met through art, ATCs and Pocket Letters. You know you have something in common that you can chat about endlessly, you have already made that friendly online connection so why not brighten up their mailbox with a friendly letter.
I bet you have a boatload of new people to send letters to on your list now! So get started writing . . .
Your Mission This Week: Send someone on that Christmas Card list an actual letter. Do it now so that they know you are actually thinking about them, not just simply going down the list and filling out addresses on cards. I bet they will really appreciate the thought before the rush of the holiday season.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review of Broken by Annie Jocoby

Read for: Requested Review
Synopsis: "Nick O'Hara is, for lack of a better word, a man-wh***. Look in the Urban Dictionary under that word, and his name will no doubt be mentioned. The only qualifications that he looks for in a bed-mate is that the person is hot and breathing. Mainly hot. He has no desire for an emotional connection with another person, and that's the way he lives his life. He has his fabulous wealth and his reputation as a premiere architect, and that's enough for him.

Until Scotty James.

Scotty is a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City. She's broken from traumatic experiences from her years in foster care and homelessness. She has a vulnerability that is intoxicating to Nick, because, deep down, he knows that he is as broken as she.

When Nick pursues Scotty, it seems that she is the only woman who doesn't want to be with him. At first she's a challenge, but Nick soon finds himself falling in love for the first time in his life. With a woman who wants nothing to do with him.

Can Scotty overcome her trust issues and fear to let Nick in? Or will she prove to be too broken to trust?"

My Review: Several of my blog followers really enjoy the New Adult genre, and I have enjoyed a book or two in the genre as well but would like to branch out a little more. So I jumped at the opportunity to read this book. The book started out a little confusing, jumping around a bit and it took me a while to settle into the characters and storyline. There are some pretty intense issues and even trigger issues discussed in this book, but unfortunately I feel like they were glossed over. I understand not wanting to drag the story down but at the same time there is the need to dive into those emotions to connect and care for the characters on a more personal level. I am not sure if it was this issue or the characters in general but I felt a pretty big disconnect with the story and characters on a whole. The viewpoint of the story also jumped between characters but I don't feel like the voice changed enough to distinguish that change. Maybe this book will connect better with someone closer to the age of the characters or situation but for me there was a little too much disconnect, I would have preferred to feel more with the characters.
My Rating: Unfortunately this book and I didn't work well together. With such tough issues I really want to feel but I didn't feel with or even for the characters. I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Broken was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Annie Jocoby and her work on her Goodreads Page or her Website.
You can also obtain your own copy of Broken in digital format from Amazon (hint: it is currently on sale and free to download)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tasty Attempts: Little Caesar's Breadsticks

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.
So I have had these 2 cans of Pillsbury pizza crust sitting in my fridge for a while, I had planned on making pizza at one time but have since used all the ingredients. I was browsing pinterest looking for a really quick way to use these crusts. I came across this recipe for Copy Cat Little Caesar's Breadsticks, I of course had to make them. 
A little backstory, there were no pizza places in my hometown when I was growing up but we have always been a pizza obsessed family. So every once in a while we would grab take home pizzas and breadsticks from Little Caesar's in the next town over. We were never allowed to eat in the vehicles so we would have to smell those delicious goodies the whole 50 mile ride home. Even though it was usually pretty cool by the time we got home it was still the best darn pizza and breadsticks ever!
So of course I had to make the bread sticks.  I was in a little bit of a rush so I didn't take the time to really stretch the dough and cut it into even pieces, so they aren't too pretty. These were still tasty and were pretty darn close if not exactly the way I remember those breadsticks from so long ago! They made the perfect compliment to the pasta dish I made that night and would be a good little appetizer with marinara sauce during football season.

Review of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Read for: Series Challenge, Mount TBR & because everyone is raving about this series
Synopsis: "After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined."

My Review: I know I can't believe it either, after having this book recommended so many times and getting such rave reviews, I just can't believe I didn't enjoy it that much. It was okay but for the most part I had to push myself to read it. I found the characters to be annoying as all get out and didn't act the way I would expect in their situations. Celaena was frustratingly vain and over confident even though I found very little proof of her being this great assassin, she was just talked up with no show. The concept was interesting but maybe a little too similar to other outstanding fantasy books I have read for it to really stand out to me. It really just blows my mind that I was not as into this book as I expected (of course expecting that I would fly through the book and die to read the next book I have already purchased all the books out) but I will still continue to read the series and hope it improves and that the characters show their actually skills.
My Rating: I can't tell you how much it blows my mind that I didn't enjoy this book, normally this type of book is at the top of my list but this one just didn't work. I think it is almost entirely due to the characters, the story idea is great. Unfortunately I can only give it a rating of Two Paws.

Monday, September 14, 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

Jesper Jinx Goes Fishing by Marko Kitti
Going to the Sea Park by Mercer Mayer (Beginning Reader)
The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg (Bedtime Story)
Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst (Series Review)
Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst (Series Review)
Searching for You (Baby, It's Cold Outside) by Jennifer Probst (Series Review)
Searching for Beautiful by Jennifer Probst (Series Review)
Searching for Always by Jennifer Probst (Series Review)

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

Christmas Bakeoff = 3pts
Trapped in Toyland = 1pt
Baby Its Cold Outside = 3pts
Broken = 3pts

Currently Reading:

Silver Linings by Debbie Macomber - Nook - On page 29 of 400
Pontoon by Garrison Keller - Audio - 36%

 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


Total Points Earned
  265 points + 10 points earned + 10 bonus points (Challenge Complete) = 285 points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
42,417 pages read (978 read this week)
153:55 listening time

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Going back to work after a vacation is never fun, throw in a holiday weekend and then Munchkin and I both getting sick, it made for a pretty miserable week last week.  I did manage to somewhat keep up at work but my has sadly been neglected (other than the disinfecting of all surfaces).  So while I would love to spend the weekend relaxing and enjoying some reading time, I guess I will be cleaning the house.  I also have to get things ready for my parents to visit and then my best friend and I will be taking a road trip only 2 weeks later.  Gosh, it is hard to believe that September is already half over.  did I tell you that the second half of the year would fly by or what?!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Series Review of The Searching For Series by Jennifer Probst

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 review I read the books that are currently out in the Searching For series by Jennifer Probst (there is another book being released late November or December). This series so far has consisted of 4 full length books and 1 novella. You do encounter characters from her Marriage to a Billionaire series but it is not necessary to read that series first.
Synopsis: "Kate has given up on love—at least for herself. She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to sense a romantic connection between two people—a gift that her family passed down for generations. When Kate launches her own matchmaking company, Kinnection, with her two best friends in a cozy New York town, she has to put aside her own romantic disasters to make her business a success.

But when a furious man stalks into her office and accuses her business of being a scam, Kate is given the ultimate challenge to prove herself. Slade puts himself in her hands and asks Kate to find him love. Enraged at his arrogance but stubbornly eager to prove herself, Kate agrees, dedicating herself to the journey of finding him love... only to find herself falling for him along the way."

My Review: I have been a fan of Probst for a while now and I have been waiting for a time when I can read all the books in this series without having to wait. I do wish I had read it shortly after the Married to a Billionaire series because I did take a while to familiarize myself with some of the returning characters, but I was insanely excited when they did reappear briefly (I was especially excited with the Book of Spells). I found both Kate and Slade to be great characters with fully developed personalities and backstories. I did feel like Slade made some rather drastic changes but it is fiction. Of course Robert was adorable and I love how Probst always manages to squeeze a rescue animal into her stories. This was a really enjoyable read, perfect for summer relaxing.
My Rating:  I really enjoyed this book, it was a great kick off to the series and I loved the tiny bit of integration of the previous series (mainly because I loved it so much). I give this book a rating of Four Paws.
Synopsis: "The up-and-coming matchmaking agency Kinnections is the hottest thing to hit Verily, New York—just like Kennedy Ashe, social director for the service she owns with her two best girlfriends. A coach, consultant, and cheerleader rolled into one super-sizzling package, Kennedy creates dream dates, encourages singles to shine, and never refuses a challenge—not even Nate Ellison Raymond Dunkle, rocket scientist, nerd extraordinaire, and Kennedy’s newest client.

Kennedy vows to work her magic and transform this hot mess in a lab coat with a disastrous relationship track record into the most wanted man on the Verily dating scene. If only she could turn the wand on herself . . .

Though she radiates confidence and sex appeal, Kennedy harbors deep-seated insecurities from a tormented past and lifelong struggle with weight issues. When she realizes she and Nate are cut from the same cloth and might be perfect together, can Kennedy learn to let her heart lead the way? Or will her fears sentence her to the sidelines as Nate finds love—with someone else?"

My Review: I am definitely enjoying this series so far, Probst never fails me. I wasn't a huge Kennedy fan in the previous book so it was nice to get to know her under the flawless cover. I really enjoyed Nate, he was a fun and quirky character (definitely a fictional crush), he might have almost been too perfect at times. Their journey was similar to Kate & Slade's but it did have its little differences, so it wasn't quite like reading the same story line again. Some of the sub-characters have me a little curious too, I would love to know what happens with Connor. All in all a good, fun, light romance, it is a great summer read.
My Rating: Another great installment to the series. I absolutely loved Nate and grew to enjoy Kennedy. I give this a rating of Four Paws.
 Synopsis: "Searching for You

Can a determined woman executive and a playboy billionaire survive being stranded together in a snowstorm? Jennifer Probst depicts an encounter almost too hot to handle..."
My Review (of the Searching for You Novella only - full book review to be posted later): I really enjoyed this novella (though as I have said before I hate when mid series novellas are combined with other authors and novellas).  While it is clearly part of this series, it feature characters outside of the series so it could be read entirely on its own. I also love the idea of the second chances/ the one that got away idea. It was fun and light and very enjoyable.
My Rating: I thoroughly enjoyed this one (and it kind of put me in the holiday spirit - a little early). I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Synopsis: "The highly anticipated third novel in the Searching For series from Jennifer Probst, “one of the most exciting breakout novelists” (USA Today), featuring a runaway bride and the man who wants to be more than just her best friend...

Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin...and flings her right into her best friend’s arms.

When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.

Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?"

My Review: First thing, I wasn't a huge fan of this cover compared to the previous 2 books. I usually like a whole series to be in the same format but with this one the covers are so drastically different it didn't appeal to me to have them on a shelf together (not saying that the cover isn't beautiful, it is just so different from the original 2). So I ended up downloading the audio version, it definitely wasn't a let down there. I enjoyed the narrator, she did a fantastic job with the different voices and tones of the story. This was a book that you just couldn't put down. Probst took on a much darker and more serious subject matter with this book than I am used to but she did a great job with it. I loved the development of both Wolfe and Gen as the story progressed. Might end up being my favorite of the series.
My Rating:  I can't rave about this book enough, I loved how Probst dealt with some really tough issues while still producing such an enjoyable read. I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
 Synopsis: "She’s an expert in helping others de-stress, but Arilyn Meadows is running on fumes. Along with her job counseling singles seeking soul mates at the Kinnections agency in Verily, New York, she’s a yoga teacher, animal shelter volunteer, anger management therapist, and helping hand to her beloved grandfather. No time to find Mr. Right—but after discovering her yogi boyfriend in a compromising asana, Arilyn would rather dog-sit for her honeymooning friend Kate than risk her heart on another downward dog. And when police officer Stone Petty—radiating masculinity and bad-boy attitude—is sent to her for mandatory lessons in cooling off when the job gets too hot, Arilyn vows to ignore his seductive glances and sexy grin. But there’s no halting their sizzling flirtation—a red-hot, high-speed chase that’s breaking all the limits."

My Review: Compared to the previous book (Searching for Beautiful featuring Gen and Wolf) this book was a little bit of a let down. I really didn't get a feel for the characters or their connection throughout the book. I was listening to the audio version and it was the same narrator as the previous book so it really wasn't her fault that the back and forth between the characters fell flat. Normally Probst blows me away and I can't stop reading, I enjoy every minute of her books but for some reason this book just really felt like it was skimming the surface and there wasn't a lot to work with while reading. It still had many of the same elements, opposing characters just drawn together by some force, the supportive friends, the shelter dogs and animals, and the eventual realization of the future together. It may be more enjoyable to other readers or maybe in a different mood but I just didn't connect with this one.
My Rating: I am really not sure what happened here, there was definitely a lack of connection, either with me and the book or with the characters in the book. I unfortunately am giving it a rating of Three Paws.
Series Review: Ever since I discovered Jennifer Probst's work I have loved everything by her.  I was a little stunned to find something that I didn't enjoy so much but on a whole the series was fantastic.  My one complaint was that the covers were so drastically different between the first two books and the rest and I ended up not liking them so much and purchased them in different formats.  This series is all about romance, there is substance in means of 'baggage' of the characters that give the stories some depth but these are definitely romance stories.  I also love how big Probst is on rescue animals, there is an animal or a shelter mentioned in most of her books and I know in the past with one of her book sales some of the proceeds went to a shelter (definitely something I can get behind).
I give this series on a whole a rating of Four Paws.