Saturday, July 23, 2016

Story Stacks: I Don't Get the Hype

So it has been ages since I have done a story stack, and I have decided to change it up a little bit. In previous Story Stacks I would post a list of Children's Books for a particular subject; now I am planning to use Story Stacks as a little discussion/ recommendation posts for books.
In this Story Stack I want to talk about books that have gotten a lot of hype, raving reviews, come highly recommended, etc. that I just don't get.  I have read these books (or at least some of the books in a series) but I just didn't enjoy.  Now I know for a fact that there will be some books on here that you love, and I mean no offense to anyone, I am just voicing my opinion, but please feel free to voice yours too just please keep it civil and respectful.
So let's kick this off . . .
I am going to start off easy hopefully and work up to the ones that are most beloved by others.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I know these are classics that are true to settings, but these two and only one other book were the only books of all the required reading throughout my years of school that I just could not finish.  I could not force myself more than half way through both of these books. I was bored out of my mind with both of them. Did you enjoy them?
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I couldn't even finish this book, and the worst part is that I bought the whole trilogy! It was so unbelievably bad that it has made me hesitant to read anything else by Stiefvater even though everyone raves about her Raven Boys series. I do own Scorpio Races, can you convince me to actually read it?
The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot
I really enjoyed both movies so I thought that this would be a fun series to read for my Series Challenge this year, boy was that a mistake! I seriously had to force myself to get through each and everyone of these books.  They are written for younger teen readers, but even if I had read these books at that age I think I still would have disliked them.  Did you read them as a teen? Did you like them or no?
The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I was so disappointed with the first book that I just couldn't pick up the rest of the series. It was such a dull book for me and while I could push through it super fast, I can only imagine how a young reader who keeps waiting for something exciting to happen would get discouraged by this one. Did you read this series? Did you think it was a great one for Middle Grader readers?
Pretty Much Anything by Jane Austen
I had to read Pride & Prejudice in school and could barely get through it, I tried to pick up Persuasion several years ago and had to put it down, and then a couple of years ago I finally had to pick up Mansfield Park because I had often been compared to Fanny (I honestly find myself a little offended by this comparison, I hope I am not as meek and naïve as she is).  Anyway I find these books to be so unbelievably dull and long to read. Which is your favorite and why?
Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James
Ugh! I finally read this whole trilogy last year because everyone kept raving about it and telling me I had to read it. What a waste of time, horrible writing, horrible characters, poor presentation of the lifestyle, etc. I could go on and on.  Did you read it? Did you think it was worth all the hype?
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
This series had a lot hype and I see so many people love it, me. . . not so much.  There are definitely enjoyable moments but I could not stand the inconsistency of the MC, the love triangle, etc. Did you read this series? What did you think?
Okay and now for the last one, I have braced myself for the outcry I am about to hear ...
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I know, I know, so many have loved this series, and I am truly glad that people found this series and it turned them into avid readers, but I just don't get it.  The books are so slow moving, the characters aren't really all that likable, and I have no idea how after the first book came out and there was a wait for the next one that anyone stuck with the series.  I must admit that I have stalled out on book 5, I just don't know if I can push through the rest of the books.  Can you convince me to finish the series?
So there you have it, the books that I just didn't get what the hype was all about. Some of them were okay but just didn't live up to expectations and others I was just left completely dumbfounded as to why so many told me I must read these books like they did!  What books were you disappointed with? Which ones didn't life up to the hype for you?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bedtime Story: The Fire Engine Book by Tibor Gergely

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Munchkin loves fire trucks
Synopsis: "Children will feel as though they are riding the big red fire engines and hearing the "clang, clang" of the bell! Large-scale, active pictures will transport young readers to the scene where they'll see brave firemen connect hoses and save the day. A Little Golden Book Classic!"

My Review: This is such a classic Golden Book, I remember reading it when I was a kid at my grandparent's house. Munchkin is huge into fire trucks so this was a perfect one to share with him. The old style of fire engine sparked some interest and may lead to a visit to a fire station museum. Munchkin enjoyed telling me his own version of the story and how the firemen were helping people.
My Rating: While this book isn't up to modern times it is still a fun classic story. I loved the vintage illustrations.  I think it will also go well with a visit to a Fire Station Museum we are planning a trip to soon!  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Curious George Fire Dog Rescue by H.A. Rey

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Curious George loves making new friends, and he really hits it off with Blaze, the new fire dog. But Blaze keeps running away from the firehouse, and the firefighters need George's help to get her to stay. When Blaze winds up in the animal shelter, George and his firefighter friend Sam learn how to keep her safe by putting a tag on her collar and making sure she's not lonely. Based on the Emmy Award–winning PBS TV show, this reader includes bonus activities and further information about pet care and animal shelters. For more monkey fun, check out for the latest books, promotions, games, activities, and more!"

My Review: I figured this would be a super fun book to encourage more reading for Munchkin, he loves fire trucks. There is an episode on the TV show matching this book, so it was hard to keep Munchkin's attention on the page. It is a great book for fans of dogs and Curious George though. It is also a very good Level 2 book, it has a little more complicated and longer sentence structure than level one books and it also introduces new words. There is also some fun age appropriate activities in the back, including how to draw a dog like Blaze.
My Rating: While this is a fun book to read for dog lovers and fire station/ fighter lovers. As long as they haven't seen the show it should capture young reader's attention.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pen to Paper: Little Gifts to send to Pen Pals

I am getting a little bit of a late start with things today, but I made it! So today I wanted to talk about things to put inside your pen pal letters.  This is NOT a requirement, but it is something people enjoy and it gives your pen pals a little bit more of a peek into what you like too.  I usually try to include one or two little goodies in my pen pal letters, they are all small and inexpensive but still appreciated.  The key is to keep them small so they will still fit in an envelope and be flat enough to send out with a stamp or two.
Some of my favorite things to include:
Postcards from a recent vacation or museum visit
washi tape samples
tea bags
journaling cards
sticky notes or mini note pads
fun paper clips (my favorite to send)
I usually include one or two but no more than three of these in a letter because it will then get too bulky, especially if it is a long letter.
Other ideas:
A music play list
vintage or country specific stamps
book reading recommendation list
something hand made
a small trinket from a vacation
a little piece of candy or chocolate (beware of sending these in the hot summer)
Drink mixes
Travel guides or maps from your location or country
So what are you favorite things to send or receive with your letters?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review of Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber

Read for: Netgalley/ Requested Review/ I LOVE this series
This is the final book in the series, to see my reviews of the rest of the books click the links below.
Synopsis: "The much-anticipated conclusion to Debbie Macomber’s beloved Rose Harbor series, set in the picturesque town of Cedar Cove, Sweet Tomorrows is a vibrant and poignant novel of letting go of fear, following your heart, and embracing the future—come what may.

Nine months ago, Mark Taylor abruptly left Cedar Cove on a perilous mission to right a wrong from his past. Though Mark finally confessed his love for her, innkeeper Jo Marie Rose is unsure if he’s ever coming back. The Rose Harbor Inn barely seems the same without Mark, but Jo Marie can’t bear to lose herself in grief once more. Determined to move forward, she begins dating again, and finds companionship when she takes on a boarder who is starting a new chapter herself.

Recovering from a twice-broken heart, Emily Gaffney, a young teacher, is staying at the inn while she looks for a home of her own. Having given up on marriage, Emily dreams of adopting children someday. She has her eye on one house in particular—with room for kids. Although Emily’s inquiries about the house are rudely rebuffed, her rocky start with the owner eventually blossoms into something resembling friendship. But when the relationship verges on something more, Emily will have to rethink what she truly wants and the chances she’s willing to take.

The inn seems to be working its magic again—Emily opening herself up to love, Jo Marie moving on—until Jo Marie receives shocking news.

With Debbie Macomber’s trademark charm and wisdom, Sweet Tomorrows brings to a close the journeys of cherished characters who feel like old friends. Macomber has created an enchanting place in the Rose Harbor Inn that readers will never forget."

My Review:  I have been following this series from the very first novella, and have loved the emotional journey every step of the way. This book is the conclusion of the series and that made it a very bittersweet book to read. I actually kept putting it off and would only read a few pages at a time because I didn't want it to end but then ended up binge reading it over the weekend. It was an extremely emotional book, I was a blubbering mess more than once throughout the book. I have to say that I enjoyed the appearances of several of the characters from the various books and the connection of Emily in the story. I must say though that I found Mark to be a much different character, I really loved his gruff, closed off, short answer personality, the brief chapters of his perspective were not what I remember him being like. This was definitely a great book to end the series with, plenty of ups and downs and emotional experiences. I do have a few unanswered questions but then if everything was wrapped up nicely in a bow I don't think I would have enjoyed it quite as much.
My Rating: While I wish this series could continue forever, I think that this was a beautiful conclusion.  I can't help but give this 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 Debbie Macomber, the Rose Harbor Series and her other works on her Goodreads Page or Website.
Sweet Tomorrows has not yet been released, it will be available on August 2nd, but it is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other book sellers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tasty Attempts: Salad in a Mason Jar

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 am a big fan of salad in the summer, it gets too hot to eat a heavy meal but salad is always refreshing.  But I really don't ever have time to chop everything up in the morning and I also really dislike when some of the elements get soggy.  I have heard that you can prep an entire week of salad in a mason jar, I decided to try it out for just a couple of days.
I used a recipe I found on Pinterest for Spinach and Bacon Mason Jar Salad. I only had quart jars so my salads were MASSIVE! I will definitely have to invest is pint sized jars instead. I also was not a fan of the dressing, it was too heavy and it got stuck in the bottom of the jar.  But I am not a fan of dressing on my salads anyway, I am happy with just a little salt and pepper.
Everything did stay nice a fresh and crispy so that was good, I will be looking for a few different ones to try but I will be skipping any dressing in the future.

Review of Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Read for: Mount TBR Print
Synopsis: "Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.

For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny." An author's note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà's story."

My Review: I have been wanting to read this book for awhile now, and have heard a lot of great things about it. I finally did pick it up and am so glad I did, it was a beautifully written and moving tale. It makes me so happy to see such wonderful Middle Grade books out there that touch on difficult historical events and subjects and from different perspectives (especially from what we are taught in school). The flow of the verse was beautiful even when talking about painful events. I really like how the voice really fits with the age of character and how she viewed and experienced the world around her. This is a wonderful conversation starter for young readers, each will come away with a different impression of the book.
My Rating: This was a beautiful book all around, beautiful writing, beautiful cover and while the subject matter wasn't always beautiful it is still presented so beautifully.  I can't help but give this book a rating of Four Paws!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 24 - Earthquake in the Early Morning

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 24 takes Jack and Annie back to 1906 when San Francisco was shaken awake in an early morning setting off a major disaster for several days.  Jack and Annie must not only find their way back to the tree house after the quake and fires break out but the must also find the final special writing to help save the library in Camelot.
My Review: Another great book in this series! I really can't wait to be able to start reading these with Munchkin. Jack and Annie had quite an adventure in this one and it is quite heart pounding that will have young readers wanting to see what happens next. This book also concluded another mini set of four books in the series which means there will be a new mission starting in the next book.
My Rating: I really like these books, and I think even the most reluctant reader can find something in them to enjoy.  I give this book a rating of Four Paws!

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

Twister on Tuesday by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Tale of Birle by Cynthia Voigt
Delbert: The Reluctant Spy by Marko Kitti
Protecting His Own by Cherise Sinclair (After Dark)
Camping Out by Lisa Ann Marsoli (Beginning Reader)
The Grumble Bee by Kyle Mewburn (Bedtime Story)
The New York Four by Brian Wood (Graphic Novel)

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

Earthquake in the Early Morning = 5pts
Curious George and the Fire Dog Rescue = 1pt
Surrender of Persephone = 3pts
I am Sharing = 1pt
Delbert: The Reluctant Spy = 3pts
Thank You Book = 1pt
Inside Out and Back Again = 5pts

Currently Reading:

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot - Audio - 76%
Tale of Oriel by Cynthia Voigt - PB - on page 26 of 544
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Kindle - on page 38 of 432

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
 81 points + 19 points earned = 100 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 779
Total Points Spent this Year: 699

Pages Read/ Time Listened
144:28 Hours Listened (None listened this week)
27,258 Pages Read (801 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Boy! We just got back from a long weekend trip to a cabin in Northern Vermont. We went with several of our friends and their families and while it was a beautiful location and it was fun to see everyone, it was unbelievably exhausting (apparently I am the perfect person to pawn toddlers off on even though I was looking to get some momma down time too). I got very little reading done while there as a result of having 5 kids under the age of 5 to monitor and 4 dogs as well. Upon returning home we picked up our own dog, Niko (he isn't good with other dogs so couldn't come along) only to find out he had been sprayed by a skunk! UGH! There is nothing worse, I swear!

Anyway, I plan on just cleaning up after all these adventures this week and then diving back into my books for a while before the crazy month of August kicks off my super busy time of year!