Saturday, May 21, 2016

Graphic Novel Review of Love: The Lion by Frederick Brremaud

Read For: NetGalley/Requested Review & Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis: "The third volume in the lavishly illustrated series of wildlife graphic novels, each following a single central animal through an adventurous day in their natural environment. Each tale depicts genuine natural behavior through the dramatic lens of Disney-esque storytelling, like a nature documentary in illustration.
Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, this volume focuses on a solitary Lion as it wanders the plains of Africa, handling the daily hunt, and vicious rivalry, without a Pride of its own. The circle of Life takes center stage in a world where predator and prey trade places on a regular basis, and Family is something worth fighting -- and dying -- for. This exciting tale, written by Frederic Brremaud, is told without narration or dialogue, conveyed entirely through the beautiful illustrations of Federico Bertolucci.
A beautiful, powerful tale of survival in the animal kingdom that explores the all-too-identifiable, universal concepts of Life, Courage, Aging, and ultimately Love."

My Review: I was very intrigued with this graphic novel. The synopsis says it is Disney-esque but I would say more of reading a National Geographic special. It is entirely wordless, but with vivid artwork that needs no explanation. It is a story of life on the Savannah, life, death and survival. I enjoyed it and will be searching out the other novels in this series (Tiger & Fox).
My Rating: I really enjoyed both the artwork in this one and the way the storyline progresses. There really was no need for words or narration in it.  Also, I often avoid reading graphic novels in digital format because they just don't read the same for me, but I had no issues with this one in digital format.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you would like to find out more about Frederick Brremaud and his work please check out his Goodreads Page.
Love: The Lion is expected to be released on July 12th but can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bedtime Story: I am Helping by Mercer Mayer

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "Little Critter is a good helper. He gladly helps wash the clothes, he helps make the beds, he even helps weed the garden. As a reward, he gets to help make a pie--and help eat it, too!"

My Review: We love Little Critter books and this is a great way to get the little ones to help out around the house. Munchkin really enjoyed this book, he kept saying 'hey, I do that' and was so proud that he helps just like Little Critter. This is also a more simple book compared to some of the other Little Critter books that can help with learning to read or sight words.
My Rating: This is a great book to share with young ones, especially to get those chores done but still be fun!  We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Clifford Sees America by Norman Bridwell

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Clifford sets out on a trip around America! The big red dog loves the lights of Times Square, races in the Indy 500, and licks the faces of Mount Rushmore. In San Francisco, Clifford blows us away by saving the day!

Young readers will love learning US geography as they follow along with Clifford on his trip across the country."

My Review: Clifford comes back in a level one reader. This is a great level one as the sentences are short and simple. Some of the words might be difficult as they are names of cities and states throughout the US. It is not only a good book to aid in learning to read but also some geography. 
My Rating: This is a great beginning reader book for heading into summer vacation and a lot of road trips. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

After Dark Series Review of His Wicked Games by Ember Casey

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 ;)
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!
Synopsis: "Trapped with a billionaire in his mysterious mansion... Can she beat him at his own game?

Lily Frazer would do anything to save the Frazer Center for the Arts--even take on the infamous billionaire Calder Cunningham. When Lily breaks onto the Cunningham estate, she only wants to find and reason with Calder. (All right, all right, she wants to punch him in the face, too, but that's Plan B.) As it turns out, the arrogant billionaire is willing to give her the money he promised, but there's a catch: she must win it from him.

Lily isn't about to give up the money without a fight (or let some haughty bastard seduce her), but she quickly discovers that there might be more to the brooding Calder than she initially perceived. As their games of cat and mouse become increasingly intense, she suddenly finds herself confused by her own emotions. Can she deny her attraction long enough to win the money she needs?"

My Review: So it is going to be very hard to review this book without giving any spoilers away. I think this was recommended to me quite sometime ago by my friend Jessica from Thoughts at One in the Morning, but I just kept putting it off, now I wish I hadn't. It was so deliciously good that I had to read all the books immediately! This book was a perfect example of building up that tension (again and again). In my opinion the heat was off the charts. But you know what, it wasn't just about the steam, this book also has some very interesting characters and a storyline that is taking a little bit of a different twist on the billionaire romance stories. I do however feel like I need to make some renovations to my house now.
My Rating: Boy what a way to kick off this short series! I was instantly engrossed in this book and boy the tension and steam were off the charts! I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Synopsis: "After their passionate weekend at the Cunningham estate, Lily and Calder have decided to take their relationship to the next level. But love in the real world isn't all fun and games--especially when it becomes clear that Calder still harbors his share of secrets.

When Calder suddenly suggests they slow things down, Lily knows something is seriously wrong--and she's not afraid to pull out the big guns. She makes Calder a proposal he can't refuse: an ongoing match of Truth or Dare that she hopes will bring them closer together.

But as the contest increases in intensity, so do the stakes, and suddenly Lily and Calder have to face the question they've both been avoiding: what sort of relationship do they have when they strip away all the games?

*This novel is intended for readers aged 18+*
Approx. length = 70,000 words"

My Review: This was a great continuation of the first book. It wasn't quite as good but it was still very, very good. The story and the characters really developed a lot throughout this book. There is still a lot of great tension build up and steam but the plot line definitely takes front seat. I really like the direction Casey took the story, instead of your somewhat over done billionaire romance book it has a much different take. I like that some of the obstacles are rather difficult for the characters, while things are definitely easier that then would be in real life. Another great book and I have to read the next one immediately.
My Rating: This was another great book, however it wasn't as fantastic as the first book. I feel like the back and forth of the emotions were a little contrived but still a very enjoyable read.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Synopsis: "One night. One game. One wicked experience they'll never forget...

It's Lily and Calder's first night in their new apartment--and Calder proposes a romantic showdown that's certain to leave both of them breathless. In a game like this, things are sure to get intense--but neither of them can be prepared for the surprises that await them as their ultimate game unfolds."

My Review: Another great book, but I am really sad to say goodbye to these characters. I love the continued games that Lily and Calder play. I don't think the build up was quite as good in this one, maybe because it is a short novella and more of a transition to the next series. There was a nice twist that I wasn't exactly expecting but it is a great way to introduce new characters and a new series/continuation. I however don't think that I will continue with those next books simply because I really loved these three books so much that I don't want to spoil the experience with characters I don't think I will like as much.
My Rating: A little bit of what I loved about Calder and Lily was lost in this book due to the crunch of time.  It was a nice introduction to a branch off series though.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Series Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this series of books and consumed them in record time.  I wish that the series was longer because I really enjoyed the games and the way Lily and Calder played off each other.  There was a fantastic buildup of tension that I haven't found in a lot of books and even after the characters let off some steam, the tension is still there.  I really can't help but give this series a good solid Four Paw Rating!

Pen to Paper: Fountain Pens

Hello everyone! Can you believe I have been posting Pen to Paper for a year now?! It has really opened up a whole world for me and I have learned a lot of new things in the past year.  I hope these posts have done the same for you too!  I will have some new posts next month sharing with you some things I have learned and some new helpful hints.  But today I wanted to share with you a new love that is in connection with letter writing.
Fountain Pens!
I have always known about fountain pens but like many people out there I thought they were just the vintage pens, a pain to use and often dip style so possibly very messy. Then I watch this video from Paper Tams on Youtube and it opened me up to the idea of fountain pens.

So after watching that video I was really curious as to what one needs to really know to get into fountain pens and if it would be worth it to me.  I have found pens I like using (more on that next month) but my handwriting is still not so great and I also get hand cramps when writing a longer letter.  So I found this great set of Fountain Pen 101 videos by Goulet Pens. That were super informative and helpful.
So I went ahead and made the plunge into the fountain pen world starting with my first order, at Goulet Pens. Which consisted of the Pilot Metropolitan, various notepads, Noodler's Polar Green ink with the free Charlie pen, Noodlers George Peach ink and Sheaffer's Blue Black ink.  
I also then a short time later placed a second order for the Special Edition Lamy Dark Safari pen, Lamy Dark Lilac ink, deAtraments Lilac (a scented lilac ink) and some more note pads of various styles and sizes, because well I love purple and as soon as I saw this pen I knew I had to have it! I guess I got lucky on the ink too, I found out later that it sold out within a couple of hours of being available (more is coming though).
So I do need to still work on my handwriting but when using the better quality paper with the pens makes it so much smoother and easier on my hand. I am finding that you really need the better quality paper for the pens to work the best, and so far I haven't found the selection of stationery that I like in that quality. I love the color options for the pens and ink.  The maintenance so far hasn't been too bad, I try to clean and change ink colors on all the pens at the same time. 
I am definitely in love with fountain pens now, though I don't see myself taking it to the high priced levels or collecting but just enjoying writing a little more.
I do want to point out that this post isn't promoting any specific business or product, this wasn't sponsored in anyway. I just wanted to share a new love and what I have discovered so far.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review of Random by Lark O'Neal

Read for: Requested Review
Synopsis: "Life is random...

19-year-old Jess Donovan knows better than most that life is random. Her mom is dead, and she's on her own, patching together a living as a waitress when a car crashes through the restaurant where she works. In two seconds, she loses her job, watches her best friend hauled away in an ambulance...and meets Tyler Smith, one of the hottest, most fascinating--and mysterious guys she's ever met.

Both for the good and the bad...

Within days, Jess is swept up into the mesmerizing force that is Tyler. Their every touch sizzles, every kiss dissolves them both, and the sex is...fierce. But there's more to Tyler than his hypnotic eyes. He's adrift, too, and his body--and his soul--are covered with scars. How can she find herself with a guy who is lost himself?

Until you take charge....

Jess is determined to find her way, and make a life that is better than the one she was given. But how?"

My Review: This was a different book, I really haven't bought into the New Adult genre much but decided to give this one a shot. I enjoyed the characters for the most part. But I did seem to have an issue with how the story progressed, it seems like we are supposed to feel so bad for Jess, how life keeps battering her down. We are also supposed to be impressed with her independence but that is only on the surface, there seems to always be someone to fix things for her. I don't know if that is supposed to be part of the 'Random' things but it really felt false to me. I must say though that the ending is not at all what you would expect, obviously there are more books in this series.
My Rating: Lark O'Neal is the pen name for one of my favorite historical romance authors so I thought I would give this ago. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea but that may be just that I am not a huge fan of New Adult. I give it a rating of Three Paws because it did offer some interesting twists.
I received this book as part of the Lark O'Neal, Barbara O'Neal, Barbara Samuel Inner Circle and in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Lark O'Neal and the Going the Distance series on her Goodreads Page or Website.
You can also get your own copy of Random in Digital or Print format on Amazon (it is also currently FREE there) or in Digital format on Barnes and Noble 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tea Time Tuesday: Tea Strainers/ Infusers

This is a new series of blog posts to share my love of tea and some discoveries I am making as I dive more into that love. (And honestly, what goes better with books than a nice cup of tea?)
So I thought I would talk a little bit today about Tea Strainers and Tea Infusers for those who enjoy loose tea.  I am relatively new to the loose tea world and am still learning as I go, I only have a few tea strainers but there is such a wide variety out there to let you make your tea suit your personality just right.
So from my limited experience and research I have come across a few different types of strainers and infusers.
First is the tea ball, it is usually ball shaped and made with mesh or stainless steel.  They usually have a chain or handle on them for easy removal. I believe that the novelty tea strainers also fall into this category for the most part as well even thought they aren't always round (check out this really cool selection I found).  The one thing I found out during my research is that you have to be careful to not over fill your strainer or it won't allow the tea leaves to open and release their flavor (something I am definitely guilty of).
Another type is the basket strainer, some sites referred to this as the mug strainer. It is a basket that rests in the top of your cup or pot and you pour the hot water over it.  The tea then floats in the basket until steeping is done. I only have one in a pot that I haven't tried yet, but from what I understand it give the tea more room to open and release the flavor.
There is also the french press, like you would use for coffee. I have never used one or even seen one in person but I have seen some really cool videos for one that you steep and then put on the top of your cup to strain it.

Of course there are also tea bags that you can either fill or make for loose tea, or even reusable ones like my silicone one. Just put the tea in and secure it closed and use like any normal bagged tea.
I have noticed with my loose tea and tea strainers though, you really need to use the right ones with the right tea. Some tea is made with large pieces of leaf or whole leaves and other is more ground up, so you have to pay attention to the size of the holes in your strainer.  All in all it is another fun way to enjoy a nice cup of tea.  I just recently received my Mr. Tea and there is some that makes you smile seeing this little man lounging in your mug of tea.
So do you have any unique tea infusers? What do you use for your loose leaf tea?

Audio Book Review of The Crown by Kiera Cass

Read for: Audio book Challenge & Series Challenge
You can find my review of the rest of the series HERE.
Synopsis: "When Eadlyn became the first princess of IllĂ©a to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined."

My Review: So I know I said at the beginning of The Heir that I wasn't really an Eadlyn fan, but throughout this book my opinion of her definitely goes up. I came to really adore her and the guys in her selection. With this book (as well as the rest of the series) I just couldn't stop listening, I have the audio book. It was totally engrossing and it was interesting to see how she handled each new challenge thrown at her, some times she faltered and sometimes she rose to the challenge. I liked seeing how her personality developed throughout the book. Oh and don't forget the guys, I came to love each one of them as Eadlyn did, but I am very happy to say she ended up with the one I picked right off the bat, so that made me happy. While I am very sad to see this series come to an end (which as far as I know this is the end), I am happy with the way Cass was able to draw things to a close. There are some plot points left a little open for your own conclusion but for the most part it was ended beautifully.
My Rating: I know this series really isn't for everyone, and oddly enough I have found similar books to be very tedious and annoying lately, but for who knows what reason (maybe the writing, maybe the developments throughout the books, or the characters) I really loved this series.  This book was a beautiful bow at the end of the series.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag.
Note: Aren't all the covers beautiful? I think I may just have to go buy them in print so I can have them on my shelves too!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 15 - Viking Ships at Sunrise

Welcome to Magic Tree House Monday!

Each Monday (other than when special events are planned) I will review one book of the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne.
Book 15 takes Jack and Annie to the Dark Ages in Ireland where monks toil daily to record and preserve books.  They also face raids from Vikings frequently.  Jack and Annie must use their Master Librarian skills and research in order to save one of those beautiful books before it is too late.
My Review: Another fun adventure for Jack and Annie. This one while it still had danger, didn't seem nearly as scary as some of the previous books. I really enjoyed the historical facts that are now at the end of the book for further learning. The basis of this story and how Jack and Annie encounter the Monks seems to give a little more to why we cherish books so much.
My Rating: This was another very enjoyable book in the series, it seem to have as much danger as previous books (at least the kind that might cause nightmares) but it was still quite the adventure.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Monday Reading List

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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

Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Anathema by Meg Jensen
The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi
A Tale of Two Dragons by G.A. Aiken (After Dark)
The Foolish Tortoise by Richard Buckley (Early Reader)
Little Cloud by Eric Carle (Bedtime Story)

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

Sinner = 3pts
Beauty Sleep = 5pts
The Grumble Bee = 1pt
Interrupting Chicken = 1pt
Return of the Jedi = 1pt
Force Awakens = 1pt
Party Princess = 3pts
Currently Reading:

The Fairy Boy of Calton Hill by Sean-Paul Thomas - Kindle - 16%

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
150 points + 15 points earned = 165 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 589
Total Points Spent this Year: 424

Pages Read/ Time Listened
105:17 Hours Listened (6:04 listened this week)
19,716 Pages Read (624 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Boy talk about a really crazy couple of months, I feel like I have been running nonstop since I got over being sick in March! Last week was not a great reading week but it was still a busy week. On Wednesday Sarah J. Maas came to our local Barnes and Noble for a discussion and signing.  While Throne of Glass wasn't my favorite series, the things I have heard about A Court of Thorns and Roses sounds a little more my taste. Of course it was a pretty big to do (and I will have a complete post on the book events later this month), and Munchkin had to come with me. I thought for sure he would throw a fit and we would have to leave but he was so unbelievably good and so many people around us were really impressed with how well he did and he wasn't even shy and talked to Sarah! For how much fun it was, it was a late night and an exhausting day for both of us.  The rest of the week was spent recovering and chores, and then a crazy busy weekend after.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sad Neglected Bookshelves

So I have been trying to spend a little time each month organizing a tiny piece of my world as part of my Resolutions.  I recently came to realize that my poor bookshelves have been horribly neglected! I don't think I have touched them other than to pull books off or thrown them on (anywhere they would fit) in over 3 years, at least.
Look how sad they are. . .

They are just such a cluttered mess!  Anyway, a local bookstore recently closed one of their branches and posted that they were selling the shelving units from the closed store for a low price. I begged my Hubby to let me get some (luckily I also got a bonus at work, just enough to cover the cost).  It took some convincing but he did finally go pick up two for me.  They needed a little bit of work, some sanding and recoating with black paint, but now look fantastic!

They are so big (and look rather naked without books on them).  Oddly enough Hubby even suggested we think about getting a 3rd one for our bedroom! Does he know what all this space would mean?! I don't think he does!  Anyway, now it is time to go through all my books and re-shelve them, which really isn't as easy as it sounds like it should be.
So how are your shelves? Are they carefully organized and maintained or are they a jumbled mess like mine have been?  I would love to see what your shelves look like too!