Friday, October 9, 2015

Bedtime Story: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean

Read for Children's book and Munchkin is a HUGE fan!
Synopsis: "Pete the Cat is back in New York Times bestselling artist James Dean's picture book Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, written by Kimberly Dean. Pete the Cat wakes up feeling grumpy—nothing seems to be going his way. But with the help of some magic sunglasses, Pete learns that a good mood has been inside him all along. Fans of Pete the Cat will love watching him take his positive outlook and transform a grumpy day into an awesome day!"

My Review: Munchkin is a huge Pete the Cat fan and this was a book he picked out as a reward. It has taken me a while but I am finally getting a hang of reading in the jazzy Pete the Cat style and Munchkin loves it. This was another great book with fun style, quirky characters and a great message. It has already been established as a favorite and won't even make it to the shelves.
My Rating: This is definitely a fun book, we have read it countless times. I haven't been able to get the video to work on my cell phone though. We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Dixie by Grace Gilman

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Emma and her puppy, Dixie, are inseparable after-school friends.

But when Emma starts preparing for her class's production of The Wizard of Oz, Dixie feels left out. She wants to romp and play, but all Emma wants to do is memorize her lines in peace and quiet. Dixie does not understand.

Dixie, the mischievous puppy who is trying to be good, will be embraced by beginning readers."

My Review: This is a good level one book for beginning readers. The sentences are a little more complex but still contain a lot of familiar words. The story is interesting and may be relatable to some children. The images don't always prompt the more difficult words one the page but are still fun and lend to the entertainment of the book.
My Rating: This was a fun book for a level one reader but you should definitely assist with the reading, there will be some words that they will need help with. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pen to Paper: First Letter to a New Pen Pal

Hello all! How are you? Did you find a new pen pal to send a letter to and did you send that letter? I sent a letter to one of the names given to me by the International Pen Friends website I told you about last week.  If you haven't sent out that new letter, hopefully I can help you through any nerves you may have today!
Yup, today I am going to chat at you a little bit about that ever important first letter you send to a new pen pal. If you are anything like me, it is insanely stressful to get to know someone new. There are all kinds of hesitations that can throw road blocks in your path of potentially finding a life long friend and pen pal. So here are a few tips to get you through that first letter.
Most important, introduce yourself and how you got their name and address (it will add a little comfort to them knowing exactly how you came upon this information). In your introduction you might want to tell them a little bit about yourself, like your name, where you live, how old you are (or rough age range), etc. This information will give them a brief over view of you while they continue to read the letter.
Family & Friends
You might also want to introduce significant players in your life (you can always leave out names and ages for security reasons until you have a friendship established). The reason for this is that these are the people you will most likely be talking about in your letters (besides yourself of course) and it would be good for your new pen pal to know at the beginning.
Interests & Hobbies
Talk about some of your favorite hobbies and interests, because this is the meat of what you will build your pen pal relationship and hopefully future friendship on. No need to go completely overboard, keep it between 2 and 4 of your favorites, over time you can learn even more about each other.
Letter Length
The first letter can tend to get a little long as it is you first introduction, but if it gets too long your new potential pen pal may get bored or not have the time to read that long of a letter. Unless you have otherwise agreed to write long letters, try to keep it to 2 or so regular sized pages or 3-4 smaller stationary sized pages. If throughout your pen pal relationship you find that you both enjoy the longer letters than go for it, but for the first one keep it a little under control. 
Pen pals are a friendship thing, on paper of course but still an informal, casual friendship.  No need to break out the fancy formal wording of an invitation or a business letter. You want your new pen pal to get to know you, so write like you would speak to your friends. This not only goes for your wording but also your stationary and pen choices, if you are a fun, quirky person, you may not want to choose a monogramed ivory paper for your first letter, granted you might not want to go way to the other direction either, but stick to you and much as you can.
If you want to create a relationship with your new pen pal, you need to get to know them too. The only way to do that is to ask questions. Ask them about where they grew up, where they live, or about what they love about where they live. If you are a book reader ask them about any books they recently read. With the current shift in season, ask them about their favorite things about it, or any favorite traditions they have. If you don't ask them questions and pull them into the letter, there is a chance you may not get a response.
Other Tips
~ Make sure your letter is legible, it doesn't need to be perfect but your pen pal needs to be able to read it.
~ Put your address at the end of the letter. Sometimes mail gets beat up and that address can get smudged, scratched or covered, so best to put it inside so your new pen pal knows where to send a response letter.
~ Be patient. Some people are really fast at responding and others sometimes are busy or like to take their time responding. I have had some pen pals take over 2 months to respond.
~ Also be prepared for disappointment. The risk of writing to someone completely new to you is that you may never get a response. You may also get a letter back from the person stating they would rather not become pen pals, this could be for a multitude of reasons (ie: too much in their life, maybe they don't share the same interests, etc.).
I hope these tips help you along in sending that first letter to a potential new pen pal!
Your Mission for the Week: If you haven't sent out that letter from last week, do so now. I hope you have the courage and now the tools to send out your first pen pal letter. Pen pals can become such amazing friends and you never know when you find your new friend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dewey's Fall 2015 Readathon Sign Up

I am always excited to see an upcoming readathon, especially Dewey's 24 hour ones, but for some reason the fall one always lands on insanely busy weekend. This year was no different and I had to decide between participating in the readathon or going to the RI Children's Book Festival.  Since Munchkin is still a little young for the festival I decided to participate in the readathon since it may be one of my last fall ones for a few years. To find out more and to sign up yourself visit Dewey's Page.
My last Dewey Readathon in the spring went really well, I did a lot of reading (even managed over 18 hours of just reading time). I did not get to participate in the social side as much as I would have liked but that is okay too. This time around I don't anticipate getting to participate in either as much as I like.  After a week of me being away from home Hubby is going to want me to take over with Munchkin a bit. I also have a minor surgery coming up next week and I need to get the house ready for that too. 
I have made some adjustments in my planned reading list to have shorter books and ones I can share with Munchkin. Would you like to see my books? Silly question huh? That is the whole reason you are here!
My Book List:
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi for Re-Read Challenge
Bunnicula for Re-Read Challenge
A Dog Named Christmas for Mount TBR, Reading Across the States & Advent Reads
When Will it Snow for Children's Book & to share with Munchkin
The Gingerbread Man for Children's Book & to share with Munchkin
Corduroy's Best Halloween Ever for Children's Book & to share with Munchkin
Her Christmas Bonus for Advent Reads
Deck the Holls for Advent Reads
A Christmas Jar for Santa for Advent Reads
Picturing Christmas for Advent Reads
Message in a Bauble for Advent Reads
In the Clear for Advent Reads
I will also continue with the audio book of The Help
Potentially also whatever book I am on in the Daughters of the Glen Series or Throne of Glass Series.
Of course, this is just a preliminary list, I will work on the details and narrowing the list in the days before the readathon. Of course I will also have to work on a menu for the readathon (last time I made way too many snacks).
A Couple Goals:
I don't think I set any specific goals last time but will this time.
1. Read/listen for 10+ hours
2. Finish 13 books
3. Read at least 700 pages
4. Update regularly on Twitter
5. Post updates here every 6-8 hours
6. Read and have fun, of course!
So are you going to read for the readathon? Any special books planned? What are your goals?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Re-Read Review of Highland Guardian by Melissa Mayhue

Read for: Re-Read Challenge, Series Challenge
Synopsis: "SARAH DOUGLAS is a successful thirty-eight year old romance novelist with big problems. She's come to Scotland on a three month working vacation hoping to recapture her muse - who's deserted her - and resolve the issue of her strange 'feelings' - the ones which allow her to sense the emotions of everyone she touches.

From the moment she arrives, however, her problems only intensify. She's being stalked, but by whom? Is he real or only a figment of her imagination? What about the darkly handsome owner of the cottage she's leasing? How is she ever going to deal with her growing attraction to a man ten years her junior? She knows from bitter experience men - particularly men who look like Ian - aren't interested in women like her.

IAN MCCULLOUGH is neck-deep in troubles of his own. As a half-mortal descendent of Faeries, he's a Guardian, sworn to protect both the mortals of this world and the Portals leading to the Faerie Realm. After six hundred years, he's confident he knows what to expect in just about every situation and exactly how to handle it. But he never counted on a woman like Sarah showing up in his life; a woman who intrigues and charms him. A woman who turns out to be of Faerie descent herself, although she has no idea of her heritage and no belief in any Otherworld beings.

When he's assigned to protect her, Ian finds the job is tougher than he could possibly have imagined. Oh, he can handle the stalker and the ex-husband and even the renegade Faeries trying to kidnap her for their own purpose. It's falling in love and forsaking his status as Guardian, a position he swore to honor at his father's deathbed, he's having trouble with.

Both Sarah and Ian struggle to battle the demons of self-doubt and their individual pasts. In the process they learn that healing will take the strongest magic of all, the true love that occurs only between two souls fated to be together."

My Review (5/31/2012): Wow! So I thought I loved the first book of the Daughters of the Glen series, but my oh my that has been surpassed! It was actually a little nice that it didn't just pick up where the first book left off. You are introduced to a whole new set of characters, at first I didn't think I liked the idea but I fell in love with Sarah and Ian even more than Cate and Connor (who by the way did make an appearance). I do have to say though it was a little odd going from the first book which was a time travel/historical/fantasy romance to this one which was a modern time & fantasy romance, not at all what I was expecting but I think Melissa Mayhue is doing a great job of keeping things fresh and giving us new things to dig our toes into. Anywho back to this book, I loved the characters, Sarah was a little weak and fragile compared to my normal favorite female characters but it really suited her and the story. Melissa really knows how to create a hunky male character for us to drool over, Ian is fantastic!! Not to mention the sub-characters, Danny, Nessa, and Will make an adorable family (honestly who would love that little boy?!) as well as the Fae characters, and Henry, I loved them all! I also like how we finally got to see how this book was tied to the first when we see not only Cate and Connor but also Pol. The story takes so many twists and turns, you think you know what will happen next but you are never quite sure. Another great book and I can't wait to start the next one in the series!

My Re-Read Review: I wasn't as over the moon with this book this time I read it, I still enjoyed it quite a bit though. Again I had some issues settling into this story, completely new characters, settings and plot line. We only had a tiny glimpse of Cate & Connor from the previous book and it was almost as an after thought (like Mayhue didn't realize that this would end up being a series until she went back with final edits). The book wasn't tied back to the first solidly until the epilogue so it will be interesting to see how they work with the rest of the series. I still did enjoy both Sarah and Ian, and again Mayhue did a fantastic job with creating intriguing and well rounded sub-characters as well. The one nice thing about this book is that you could potentially read it as a standalone novel, or as part of the series.

My Rating: My original rating would have been Four Paws and a Stump Wag but after this re-read it didn't capture quite like the first time reading the book.  I am rather curious how everything will be incorporated. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Monday, October 5, 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

Pontoon by Garrison Keillor
Mr. Slow by Roger Hargreaves (Bedtime Story)
Northlanders Vol. 3 Blood in the Snow by Brian Wood (Graphic Novel)

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

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas = 3pts
Crown of Midnight = 3pts
Hard as Steel = 3pts
Soul of a Highlander = 5pts

Currently Reading:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Audio - 16%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas - Mount TBR/ Series Challenge


Total Points Earned
 14 Points + 14 points earned = 28 points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
45,608 pages read (1,047 read this week)
162:16 listening time

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:

I loved this awesome post on Fantasy Book Critic Blog about the Epic Fantasy Genre



By the time all of you read this I hope to have kicked off my week long getaway with my best friend. I am so looking forward to this time with just us two girls. But don't worry, I have not forgotten about all of my wonderful online friends either. I will be sure to take pictures (if this hurricane allows us time to enjoy the views). I have also schedule some reviews and other exciting posts for this week until I can get back to all of you.

Last week was a busy week but I also made sure to take some time for myself to get some more reading done. I also plan on getting some more read this week, thankfully one of the many interests I share with my best friend is our love of quite reading time.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Crafty Times: ATCs

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!
It has been a few months since I last posted a Crafty Times for just me. I guess it is true no matter how hard you try, after becoming a mother that is all you do. Almost everything I do anymore revolves around Munchkin (not that it is a bad thing, but I am one of those people who need some me time).  I have still been making quite a few Pocket Letters and some ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) over the past few months.  I thought I would share some of those with all of you.
These are a set I made for an ATC swap, I have a recent obsession with birds for some reason.

 I made this one for one of my new pen pals, I can't get over how cute this little fox is.
 These are from a Black Cat Pocket Letter Swap I recently sent out.
 I absolutely adore this one (and wish I had done something more with the background). I used water colors and cut out each individual leaf to get the fun pile for the mouse to jump into.

 On of my favorite pocket letters I made so far was a Dr. Seuss one, and here are a couple of my favorite ATCs from this one.
I also made a cute Winnie the Pooh Pocket Letter (almost exclusively to have a reason to use this insanely cute stamp)
I also wanted to see what I could do with something larger than 2.5"x 3.5" and made a full size paper scene using distress inks blended and then some other stamping. I was really happy with how it came out but had already agree to make it into a pocket letter (it was almost sad to have to cut it into pieces).

So there are just a few of my crafty projects I have been working on lately. I have some plans for homemade ornaments, and customized notebooks over the next couple of months. Have you been making anything crafty recently? I would love to see what you have created!