Saturday, July 30, 2016

Graphic Novel Review of Blood of the Empire: Star Wars: Old Republic Vol. 1 by Alexander Freed

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis: "After hundreds of years, the Sith Empire has returned to the galaxy, determined to crush the Republic that sent them into exile. For young Sith Teneb Kel, this is his only chance to rise above his lowly beginnings as a slave and prove his worth to the Dark Council. "

My Review: I have always been a fan of Star Wars and have enjoyed some novels in the past but this is my first attempt at a GN. While I really enjoyed the art and the various characters, it was a little confusing, it seemed like there were some jumps in timeline that weren't accounted for clearly. There is also some backstory that is missing even though I started at Volume One of this series, I guess I will have to see if there is another series I should have read previously. I did however enjoy the concept, the classic battle of good and evil both with in battles and internally.
My Rating: While this one wasn't quite up to par I will continue with the series to see where it goes. You have to start somewhere right?  I give this one a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bedtime Story: Winnie the Pooh's A to Zzzzz by Don Ferguson

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "Each letter is accompanied by a cheerful rhyme, as Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and other Hundred-Acre Wood friends charm their way through the alphabet."

My Review: This was a surprisingly good book, I wasn't sure how it would go as a lot of the ABC books that I have come across are rather disappointing. This book was great, the familiar characters and illustrations, the same simple rhyme that Pooh comes up with and it encourages letter sounds. Munchkin had a really good time reading this book along with me, even sounded out some of the words for me.
My Rating: This is such a cute book and one of the better alphabet books I have come across. We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Can You See What I See? Nature by Walter Wick

Read For: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Bestselling author/photographer Walter Wick presents a Level 1 reader series with lots of photographic search-and-find fun--especially for beginning readers!

From the photographer of the bestselling I Spy books and creator of the Can You See What I See? series is a new rhyming, search-and-find reader series--especially for the newest reader! Readers can use the picture clues to search for dozens of hidden trinkets and toys!

This book builds confidence in new readers and provides hours of fun as well!"

My Review: What a great way to start with reading and sight words, by turning a book into a game. Kids will not even know that they are learning new words as they search for items in the picture. Some of the pictures are actually pretty hard to find. There are images of the items you are searching for along with the words so kids can associate them. The excitement for kids to not only sound out their new words but to also find the items hidden in the picture will keep them reaching for this book again and again.
My Rating: This is a fun book to learn sight words and beginning to sound out words.  The fun part is after learning some of them you can make your own I Spy game to go along with it.  We give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

After Dark Review of The Surrender of Persephone by Selena Kitt

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 & I enjoy Hades/Persephone Retellings
Synopsis: "Sheltered Persephone, Goddess of Spring, never gets to do anything- thanks to the suffocating love of her mother, Demeter. Sephie is being carefully groomed to follow in the footsteps of the two -virgin- goddesses, Athena and Artemis, and while they sure do have a lot of fun together, she longs for something deeper-and darker. When Aidon, the God of the Underworld-generally known as Hades-appears in his chariot to claim Persephone for his bride, the young goddess gets more than she wished for.

Held captive in the Underworld, she suddenly longs to return to the safety and security of her mother-s protection, but the dark and commanding Aidon binds her to him, claiming her bit by glorious bit as his own. Her coming of age is one of sexual awakening as she learns the bondage her new master imposes fulfills her darkest desires. Persephone finds herself submitting to and obeying Aidon-s command and discovers being taken and consumed in the heat of passion by a man-a god-is what she was truly made for. Persephone can-t deny her own nature, or her growing feelings for Aidon, as she submits to his domination and surrenders as his wife and prepares to rule as his Queen."

My Review: I am an avid fan of Hades/Persephone retellings and downloaded this one for free without reading too much into it. I was hoping for something new and interesting, but there really wasn't any new ideas presented in this book other than being much more explicit and interweaving BDSM into the myth. I realize that a love the myths involving the gods and goddesses present them as rather promiscuous beings but this book takes it to a whole new level. If you are looking for a straight up steamy read, this is the book for you, if you are looking for something with a little more plot I would look elsewhere.
My Rating: This was just an eh book for me, I might have enjoyed it more if I had picked it up purely for the steam and not for the story. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Pen to Paper: Asking Questions - Mail Tags


Hello everyone, I hope that you are all having a good week! It has been a little rough around here, Munchkin brought home a nasty summer cold and gave it to all of us. Oh well, it is what it is, thankfully it seems as if it is a short cold since he is already on the mend.
Anyway today I wanted to talk to you about asking your pen pal questions.  I have said before that questions are very important in letters, they are in any form of conversation really. Sometimes, especially when you are new to writing letters, it can be difficult to integrate questions into your letters.  I have a solution for you, it is something known in the snail mail circles as a Mail Tag.
Mail Tags are little tags or pieces of paper where you ask your pen pal a few simple questions for them to answer in their response to you.  The Tag doesn't have to be just a gift tag type paper, it can be a journaling card, sticky notes or cute little memo pads, or you can even just add it to the end of your letter.  I tend to prefer memo pads because you can find a wealth of cute ones and they have lines.
The questions are often simple and can be customized to your own relationship.  I usually start off with simple questions like 'What is you Birthday?' 'Favorite food/beverage?' standard get to know you questions.  As a relationship grows you can ask different questions that relate to both your interests or what is going on in your lives, like I have a pen pal that we have been talking about summer activities and one of my questions to her is 'what to pack in a picnic?' Since I love books so much, I tend to always ask at least one book related question, either about a current read, recent purchase or a book they are looking forward to.

Hope that helps in your future letters! You can find a wealth of ideas on Pinterest, there you will find lots of question ideas as well as some very creative and beautiful ways of dressing up your Mail Tags.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review of A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Read for: Netgalley/ Requested Reviews
Synopsis: "Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her."

My Review: I think I have definitely found my reading niche, fantasy romance. This book hit all the keys for me, action, adventure, romance, strong female, strong male, etc. It did have it's issues but while some of them tugged at me a bit, in the end I really didn't care. It relationship between Cat and Griffin is a little along the Stockholm syndrome lines, and Cat tends to be an active Mary Sue, constantly sacrificing herself even though she claims she doesn't care, but again it was such a thrilling and page turning read that I didn't mind. With that said, the constant banter between the all the characters was fun and entertaining.  The sub-characters are also well rounded and individual characters that stand out throughout the book. I did have a little struggle with the addition of familiar Gods and Goddesses in an unfamiliar fantasy world. There was already so much world building, backstory and action going on, it kind of threw me for a loop every time they were mentioned. I think maybe creating new ones modeled after them would have been a better option, but then it would have resulted in a lot more world building. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next book to be released (even though at the time of reading this one it hasn't even been released).
My Rating: This was a book that I just could not stop reading and so glad that I got the opportunity to enjoy it.  I can't help but give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Note: There are adult themes and situations contained in this book, it is not a YA fantasy but an adult fantasy romance.
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Amanda and her work on her Goodreads, Facebook or Website.
A Promise of Fire will be released on August 2nd, you can pre-order it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble  so you can read it right away!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tea Time Tuesday: Sweet Tea

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?)
I have a problem, I am addicted to McDonald's Sweet Tea! I have tried to make sweet tea before but it just never comes out right so I have kept getting McDonald's (especially on these insanely hot days like today). I think though that I have finally figured it out with the help of this recipe on Pinterest.
Apparently the trick is to use soda powder, just a tiny bit to cut the bitterness! I did cut down the sugar on the recipe to a little less than a cup, I like sweet tea but I don't want it so sweet my teeth hurt. It was perfect!
In other news, Hubby fixed my pitcher!! I don't know what he did but it isn't leaking anymore! Yay for handy Hubbys!

Mini Reviews of Princess Diaries Series Books 9-11 by Meg Cabot

I have finally completed the entire Princess Diaries Series, for the earlier reviews please click the links below.
Book 8 - Whining and drama to the peak level, the worst book in the series! One Paw
Book 9 - The drama continues with the added extreme levels of self-centeredness. I really cringe to think that teen girls read this and potential strive for this. One Paw.
Book 10- Thank goodness we got a break and skipped a couple of years of drama and Mia has matured slightly. Two Paws and a Stump Wag
Book 10.1 - Doesn't really fit into the series but presents some interesting holiday traditions and etiquette from around the world. Three Paws.
Book 10.5 - Again, it doesn't really fit in series it is more of a companion. It does have some fun comparison of both historical and fictional princesses. Two Paws.
Book 11 (and final book) - Another large gap in the timeline thank goodness and it is shocking how much Mia matured but she did retain some of her former personality flaws which I guess is good.  Three Paws.
Series Review: As a whole I found this series to be irritating and a waste of time. I have learned a valuable lesson though, read at least the first book before investing in the whole series (also sometimes the movie is better than the book). This series is definitely written to a very specific and narrow audience, even when I was in that target age group this series still wouldn't have appealed to me. It really kind of worries me that teen girls read this and think that these horrible examples of friendship, drama, selfishness, vainness and actions are something to strive for and mimic. It also makes me unbelievably happy that I have a son and won't have to deal with any version or depth of this behavior.
Have you read this series? Did you read it as a teen or an adult? Could you relate to it in any way or did you find it as annoying as I did?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 25 - Stage Fright on a Summer Night

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 25 kicks off another four book set within the series.  This time Morgan sends Jack and Annie out to learn to be magicians through books and reading.  This first adventure sends them back in time to London where they meet the famed William and are called to help him on stage.
My Review: I didn't realize who was going to be featured in this book and was thrilled to find out it was Shakespeare. I really enjoyed this book and the way it was presented. They didn't use the research book a lot and there wasn't any danger but it was still a fun filled book. This is one that adults will also enjoy reading with kids, the hints at Shakespeare's other works and the historical facts were great.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, it really down played Shakespeare as he didn't really grow to the fame he holds now until later.  I enjoyed all the historical facts about the time that are integrated into the story so well.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag.

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

 Earthquake in the Early Morning by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber
Curious George Fire Dog Rescue by H.A. Rey (Beginning Reader)
The Fire Engine Book by Tibor Gergley (Bedtime Story)

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

Royal Wedding - 3pts
A Promise of Fire - 3pts
Stage Fright on a Summer Night - 5pts
A Bad Dream - 1pt
More than Pizza - 3pts
Resist- 3pts

Currently Reading:

Tale of Oriel by Cynthia Voigt - PB - on page 276 of 544
Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens - Audio - 31%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt
HeartMate Series by Robin D. Owens

Total Points Earned
100 points + 18 points earned + 5 pts completing a series = 123 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 802
Total Points Spent this Year: 699

Pages Read/ Time Listened
153:49 Hours Listened (9:21 listened this week)
28,283 Pages Read (1,025 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:

The Atlas of Beauty - this is a stunning collection of portraits of women from around the world and some really interesting interviews with them.



This was definitely a make up week for me, lots of work, lots of chores, catching up on pen pal letters and then squeezing in some reading time.  I did end up spending a little extra time over the weekend relaxing to make up for the loss last weekend.  I am hoping to get a lot more reading done this next week though, it is going to get very crazy very soon here! I am also trying out a couple new posting ideas, I have been really obsessed with BookTube lately and have gotten some great ideas for discussion posts on there and I hope to get a little more conversational here rather than just posting review after review.  With that said I have some very interesting reviews posted for this week, I hope you will check them out!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fun with Munchkin: Summer Fun

As part of my resolutions for 2016, I wanted to do more fun things with Munchkin and as a family.  I will be posting sporadically about some of the fun adventures we are having together.
So we haven't gotten to do some of the fun things I had hoped to do this summer but that hasn't stopped us from having fun, especially Munchkin.  Here are a few of the things we have been busy doing so far this summer. . .
We started out the summer with a trip to Minnesota to visit my family.  Munchkin got to learn how to fish with Great Grandpa and Grandpa gave him casting lessons.
He caught a total of 6 fish, 5 were sunfish and the last was a large mouth bass!
While we were there he also got to play with his cousin and lots of second cousins until both him and my little niece collapsed with exhaustion
He also got a lot of fun time with Mamaw & Papaw (my in-laws) and some of their friend's grandkids
Of course there was 4th of July.  Munchkin is not a huge fan of the big fireworks because they are too noisy but he had a lot of fun with the fountains and ground fireworks.  He really love the little racecars and the snaps that you throw on the ground.
Throughout the month of July we decided he needed to try swim lessons, we live in the ocean state and have beaches everywhere and so many of his friends have pools. Unfortunately, he HATES water and the swim lessons have been a true challenge, he screams and cries and clings throughout the entire lesson. We have given up and hope to try again next year.
(this is his start to the lesson, pouting getting ready to cry and cling)
Just last weekend some friends of ours invited us to their cabin in Vermont for a family weekend.  Munchkin had a blast going out on the canoe, kayaks and learning how to play badminton.

  I love the look on his face for this one.

All in all I think we have had a pretty fun summer so far, and still lots more fun planned.  We will be heading to Boston for a day, a trip to the zoo, his birthday and still a picnic with kite flying soon too!
What have you been up to this summer?