Friday, June 24, 2016

Bedtime Story: Let's Go for a Drive by Mo Willems

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.
In Let's Go for a Drive Gerald and Piggie want to hit the road. But the best-laid plans of pigs and elephants often go awry."

My Review: This was the perfect book to read during our trip. Gerald is so much like me and it made Munchkin laugh when he would point this out. This is another great Elephant and Piggie book to build on the first one that we already love. The story is simple, fun and silly and it is also easy to add in personality and voices. We had a lot of fun reading this and introducing Elephant and Piggie to my little nieces as well.
My Rating: This was another fun Gerald and Piggie book, Munchkin really had fun with it. We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Bees and Wasps by James MacLaine

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "The latest title in the popular Beginner's series explains how these fascinating insects build their nest, communicate and work together. It also covers pollination, how they defend themselves by stinging and how honey is made and collected."

My Review: So I originally picked this book up to help teach Munchkin that bees are not that scary, but at the last minute I decided not to read it with him. I am glad I didn't because I don't think he is ready for this level of book and I have a feeling that all the close up pictures would have given him nightmares. Anyway, this is a good level 3 reader, it has short and simple sentences but with quite a bit of new vocabulary and it is rather long too. It is very informative though and would be great for those nature and science or bug lovers.
My Rating: While it wasn't quite the right book for Munchkin I think it is still a great beginning reader book.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

After Dark Review of Night After Night by Lauren Blakely

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 ;)
Read for: Mount TBR Digital
Synopsis: "Their world was sex, love, and lies.
He intoxicated her. Commanded. Consumed.
With a dirty mind and a mouth to match, Clay Nichols is everything Julia never knew she wanted and exactly what she cannot have. He walked into her life one night and unlocked pleasure in her that she never knew was possible. Possessing her body, captivating her every thought. Which makes him way too dangerous for Julia to risk her heart, given that she has a price tag on her head. She ran after one mind-blowing week with him, but now he's back, and determined to make her his own.
No matter the cost.
She was a sexy drug to him. Fiery, unforgettable, and never enough, Julia is an enigma, and Clay isn't willing to let her go without a fight. But she's got dark secrets of her own that threaten to destroy any chance of happiness. She's a wanted woman—the stakes are high, her every move is watched, and yet the lure between them can't be denied. Can two people burned by love trust again when desire and passion are met by danger at every turn?"

My Review: This book has been sitting on my kindle for ages and I finally got around to read it. It definitely opened with a bang and I really found myself loving Julia and wanting to know her secrets. As the story developed I found myself leaning towards liking Clay more. They were both interesting characters that kept you reading. This book certainly had plenty of steam between the two characters as well. It was a quick and fun read, but be warned, there is quite the cliffhanger ending.
My Rating: I found this to be a easy steamy read but with enough interesting elements to make it stand out a little bit. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review of The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley
Synopsis: "An Orphan's Throne

Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer--she's a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne's ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…"

My Review:  I originally put in for this book on Netgalley after seeing the cover and reading the synopsis, it sounded like a book right up my alley. I then saw that it was book number 4 in an ongoing series and was a little hesitant to start it, worrying that I would be lost without reading the previous 3 books. Thank goodness I still decided to read it! While it would have been helpful to read the other three books in the series, it is not entirely necessary. I was able to figure out at least a rough idea of what happened in those books, enough to identify characters and backstory. I absolutely love Dafne, she is the perfect character for fantasy/ fantasy-romance bookworms to love, she is known as the librarian and has a very logical mind. I did find the so called 'barbarian king' to not be as brutal as one would expect, but a different culture entirely which was presented wonderfully. I also appreciate the way the language barrier was handled, while not entirely realistic, it was handled very well in the scope of a novel. There was a lot of great foreshadowing throughout the book and some nice twists to keep you guessing. This is one of those books that leave you with a hangover and counting down the days to the next release. I do think I will also go back and get the original 3 books in the series too.
My Rating: I really can't recommend this book enough, it will be right up there with some of my top books of 2016 without a doubt.  I can't help but give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!!
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Jeffe Kennedy on her Goodreads Page or Website.
The Pages of the Mind was just released on May 31st, so you can pick up your copy in digital or print format from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tasty Attempts; Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

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 was again on Pinterest looking for a simple casserole dish and came across one for Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole.  It was a pretty simple dish to make, I used canned chicken and deli ham and swiss cheese.  The sauce was super simple to make. I have had horrible luck with panko bread crumbs in the past but this method of using butter melted in the microwave worked out perfectly, it was nice and crispy at the top. 
It did take a little too long in the oven to have on a regular week day as by the time it was all done, it was past Munchkin's bedtime.  It was pretty good, a little bland for Hubby but then he tops everything with hot sauce or crushed red pepper.
And now I realize how much I really cook chicken, I promise to try to get some different protein and meatless dishes!

Audio Book Review of The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Read for: Audio Book Challenge
Synopsis: "An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole."

My Review: Straub's books only recently came to my attention as great summer books, so I thought I would give this one a shot. I listened to the audiobook version and it was the perfect length. I found it very relatable and interesting, especially coming back from my own family vacation. I love how the family dynamics were shown, it wasn't pretty but it was more real than most I have read in the past. It was fun watching the ups and downs as the family reacquainted themselves with each other, it is all love and happy at the beginning but the longer family is together the more ugly truths come out and are forced to be acknowledged and resolved.
My Rating: This isn't a book I would normally pick up but I did because Emma will be attending a book function I will also be attending tomorrow. I rather enjoyed this book and liked the fact that it wasn't all happy and lovey but at the same time the discord didn't feel made up or forced, it was very much so how close friends and family interact. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 20 - Dingoes at Dinnertime

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 20 sends Jack and Annie Down Under for the final gift to break the spell on the dog they named Teddy.  They encounter a lot of wildlife and must do what is right when faced with a wild brush fire.
My Review: A great 'down under' adventure for Jack and Annie. They are on the final mission to get a gift to release the dog from his spell. I like that in this one they are forced to use their research more than in the past and on their own problem solving skills instead of relying on someone they find along the way. I really enjoy the facts at the end of the book and the longer explanation of the folk lore used in the story too.  
My Rating: I am still really impressed with this series, it is very approachable for young readers and the short 4 book segments allow them to pick up or leave off with the series at almost any time. I give this one a Four Paw rating.

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

Tigers at Twilight by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (Audio Book)
Let it Out: Journey through Journaling by Katie Dalebout
Playing for Keeps by R.L. Matthewson (After Dark)
The Ice Cream Shop by Jennifer E. Morris (Early Reader)
Goodnight Loon by Abe Sauer (Bedtime Story)
The Best Dad in the Sea by Amy J. Tyler (Early Reader)

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

Night after Night = 3pts
The Vacationers = 3pts
Tale of Birle = 5pts
Dingoes at Dinner Time = 5pts
Pages of the Mind = 3pts

Currently Reading:

Princess on the Brink by Meg Cabot - Audio Book - 36%

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
 229 points + 19 points earned + 10 points (24 hrs listened) - 165 points spent =  93 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 692
Total Points Spent this Year: 609

Pages Read/ Time Listened
122:27 Hours Listened (6:40 listened this week)
23,835 Pages Read (1,194 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Holiday Princess by Meg Cabot - 15 points spent
Perfect Princess by Meg Cabot - 15 points spent
The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin - 15 points spent
The Hutt Gambit by A.C. Crispin - 15 points spent
Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin - 15 points spent
The Adventures of Lando Clarissian by L. Neil Smith - 15 points spent
The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton - 15 points spent
First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain - 15 points spent
The Secret of Nimh by Seymour Reit - 15 points spent
The Dragon in the Driveway by Kate Klimo - 15 points spent
The Han Solo Adventures by Brian Daley - 15 points spent

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Finally getting everything back on track, I am mostly caught up on the house cleaning, caught up in the office, mostly caught up with the blogging and reading.  It is so nice to get my life back in some kind of order, we still aren't sleeping much but with things getting back to routine it is easier to do on autopilot.  I did get to read some fantastic books this last week, I have a review of Pages of the Mind coming up on Wednesday and you will have to check it out! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beginning Reader Review of Best Dad in the Sea by Amy J. Tyler

Read for: Father's Day!
Synopsis: "Before you see Disney/Pixar Finding Dory in theaters on June 17, 2016, relive the magic of Disney/Pixar Finding Nemo with this Step into Reading leveled reader! This Step 1 Reader starring Nemo the clownfish and his father, Marlin, is perfect for boys and girls ages 4 to 6 just learning to read on their own."

My Review: This was a very good Level 1 beginning reader, and of course ties in to both Father's Day and Finding Dory that comes out this week. Munchkin enjoyed pointing out the different sea animals. The sentences were simple but more complex than some of the other level one books I have read but with being familiar with the Finding Nemo movie won't be too difficult.
My Rating: A great Level 1 book, ties in the movie but with some uniqueness to set it apart.  Also a great book to read with those special men! We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Happy Father's Day to all those Dads out there, including my own Dad, Father in Law and of course my Husband who is the father I always knew he would be!