Saturday, September 3, 2016

Graphic Novel Review of Cinderella by Beth Bracken

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis: "Cinderella's wicked stepmother won't let her go to the ball. But with a little help from a Fairy Godmother, she'll be getting there in style. There's just one catch. At midnight, her magical gown will turn back into dirty old rags."

My Review: This one has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, so I finally picked it up. This is a very short graphic novel that really condensed the Cinderella story, but not in a bad way. It would be easy for young readers to pick up and enjoy. The art style is a little dark for my liking but it is a style that appeals to a lot of others. I think the best part was all the extras at the end, it has a glossary of potential new words, it also has a brief history of the story of Cinderella throughout history and some great discussion questions.
My Rating: The art isn't my style but I do appreciate how Bracken combined a few versions of the tale to make this one.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Bedtime Story: Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin & James Dean

Read for: Children's Challenge/ Kids heading back to school
Synopsis: "Pete the Cat is back—and this time he’s rocking in his school shoes. Pete discovers the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and lots of other cool places at school. And no matter where he goes, Pete never stops moving and grooving and singing his song . . . because it’s all good."

My Review: Yet another reason to love Pete the Cat! This is such a fun book to read, I love the rhyme to the book, it really captures little ones attention. It is also a great way to help those kids getting ready to go to school and may be nervous about it to ease into the idea. Thankfully Munchkin doesn't have that problem but he still had a lot of fun and even started singing the school shoes song with me.
My Rating: This was such a fun book and sure to soothe those first day of school nerves. We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Desk by Lucille Colandro

Read for: Early Reader Challenge & Kids are headed to school now!
Synopsis: "A quirky teacher swallows a desk and multiple other items to decorate a classroom."

My Review: Munchkin has been coming home from daycare singing the Old Lady Who Swallowed a fly song, boy did it bring back memories (but I can't for the life of me remember all the words). I then remembered we received this book as a freebie with a scholastic book order some time ago. It was a fun book that might make going to school a bit more fun. The rhyme was good but I just couldn't quite get the same rhythm down to really get into the book. There was also a big jump between the last couple of pages that kept making me think I had missed a page but I guess the story just jumps right into the end. It was still a fun to read and Munchkin found it funny.
My Rating: It didn't hold quite the same magic as the original song/rhyme but it is still a great beginning reader for those kids headed to kindergarten or 1st grade.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

After Dark Review of The Landscaper by Robin Stone

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: After Dark Reviews & Meeting Robin Soon
Synopsis: "She said her husband was at work. He wasn't.

Kyle enjoys working outdoors as the owner of a small landscaping business. Most of his customers stay inside while Kyle and his crew take care of their yards.

But not Tracy Dawson, the rich housewife who lives on the hill. Tracy spends summer afternoons beside the pool, watching Kyle from behind her dark sunglasses. Her flirtatious banter and low-cut bathing suits fuel Kyle’s fantasies.

Tracy invites him into the guest house for a little afternoon delight. But when Tracy admits her husband was watching, Kyle gets ready for a beat-down. Instead, Mr. Dawson makes Kyle an offer he can’t refuse…

This is a 12,000 word story about a landscaper who has sex for pay. This is book one in The Landscaper Series."

My Review: I picked this book up since Robin Stone is expected to be a conference I will be going to soon, I always like to be familiar with an author's work before meeting them. This was an interesting one. It really wasn't my cup of tea but it definitely plays to other's fantasies. There is plenty of steam to it as well but there wasn't much story building or character building. I did enjoy Kyle throughout the story, he seems like a real stand up guy and thankfully doesn't fall flat on his face.
My Rating: This one wasn't quite my cup of tea. It definitely leans more towards erotica than erotic romance like I normally prefer. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Pen to Paper: Favorite Sites to Follow and Visit

Hello my fellow mail lovers! I hope you are doing well this week.  I am a little late getting this post up, it has been another crazy week at work and that is the only time I have to work on the blog. Anyway, on to today's chat.  I wanted to share with you some of my favorite places to get inspired by mail.   There are so many wonderful snailmailers out there who share their beautifully written, decorated and packaged mail and they always inspire me to write more letters and to send something that will make a person smile.  So here are some of my favorites . . .
From Instagram
She only has a few pictures so far but they are always beautifully composed and she has some great ideas for her letters.
So much mail love! I love how many ideas and variety of mail on this page, ranging from intro letters to postcards and flip books and snail mail starter packs.
I love all the bright colors and she puts together some really adorable gift packages for her pen pals that will definitely inspire me for the upcoming holiday season.
From Pinterest
I love the variety from simple to elegant and plenty of DIY ideas for goodies and mail.
So many unique ideas for items to send and some printables as well.
Beautiful mail art and ways to spice up you letters with little inserts or different styles of envelopes.
So many flipbooks! I love looking here when I want to really get creative!
From Youtube
She has such great tutorials and ideas, I really love how she explains the best products too (like the best glues for paper) and I really love her accent, so fun to listen to.
She posts once a week a video called Bringing back paper, it features hauls, stashes, organization etc. all for pen pal letter writing.
She has some great tips on pen pal letter writing, what to do if you pen pal stops writing, tips for hard subjects, and first time letters and so much more!
Her giggles may get a little annoying to me but she has so many great ideas and tutorials for crafty pen pal letters!
From the Blogs
Some great ideas and tutorials, and she also posts about books just like here!
If you love more elegant letters this is the place to go, she has beautiful handwriting (with tutorials) and I love her posts on historical letter writing.
Some more very beautiful letters, her posts always make me want to get a wax seal.  ***She also matches up pen pals a couple of times a year, you can sign up now until Sept. 4th to receive a pen pal but only series requests!
So where do you go for letter writing inspiration? Do you have sites you like to visit?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ARC Review of Destined for a King by Ashlyn Macnamara

Read for: NetGalley Requested Review
Synopsis: "Though she is intended for the king, Calista Thorne picks up a crossbow to defend her ancestral home, Blackbriar Keep, from a gang of landless knights. She even manages to sink a poison-tipped arrow into their commander, who survives long enough to conquer the Keep and claim Calista for his own. Now, with her father’s life at stake, Calista must nurse the brigand back to health, and the strangest thing happens: She finds herself fascinated by his tautly muscled body, and enthralled by his hotly whispered demands.

Ever since his father’s death, the fearsome warrior they call Torch has been consumed by his quest for revenge. Taking Blackbriar Keep is the first step in that plan, and—by the three gods—it won’t be the last. But after taking one look into Calista’s smoldering gray eyes, Torch discovers a passion nobler than retribution. He will fulfill his destiny and take her from the usurper king, even in his weakened state. For with Calista’s love, no man has ever felt more powerful."

My Review:  I have been really enjoying a lot of fantasy romance lately and was excited to read this one, unfortunately the fantasy element and the romance element were minor throughout the book. This reads more like a historical fiction with hints towards fantasy. I think that the fantasy/magical part was introduced but not expanded upon enough for a first book. Also the romance element is present but with the love/hate relationship and the development between Calista and Torch felt awkward and forced at times. Torch also seemed weak to me, the character is supposed to be seeking to regain his throne but he fails in strategy and always seems to need rescue. Thankfully Calista is a strong character that can support a good portion of the story. I don't know if I would continue the series, I do enjoy historical, fantasy and romance books, of which this series hints to contain but it just didn't capture me the way I had hoped.
My Rating: I was definitely drawn in by the cover and the genre, but unfortunately it wasn't quite what I had hoped. I appreciate the strong female character but was a little disappointed. It is still a good book and leaves a lot open for the rest of the series to build on.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Ashlyn Macnamara and her novels on her Goodreads Page or Website.
Destined for a King will be released on September 6th, 2016.  It is available for pre-order in digital format from Amazon or Books A Million or Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tasty Attempts: A Gruffalo Feast

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 this last weekend was Munchkin's 4th Birthday Party and he requested a Gruffalo Party based on his favorite book. 
So of course Momma will deliver!
Thankfully the story made the menu so easy to come up with, here is the Gruffalo Feast from the party . . .
Roasted Fox Tails (hot dogs)
Knobbly Knees (Sourdough Pretzels) and Poisonous Warts (Green Grapes)
Scrambled Snake (Homemade Mac & Cheese with spiral pasta)
Orange Eyes (Cheese Ball Puffs) and Purple Prickles (Blue Corn Chips)

Mouse on a Slice of Bread (Bologna sandwiches cut into mouse shapes)
Gruffalo Crumble (Apple Crumble) and Owl Ice Cream (vanilla ice cream)

In case you wanted to know, the invites were from the Gruffalo Shop and the cute food tent labels are from an Etsy shop called Kaboo Studio.  Food was enjoyed by everyone. Over the weekend I will post more pictures of the party fun!

Bout of Books #17 Wrap Up

Bout of Books
I participated in the Bout of Books Readathon #17, you can find my sign up post with all the daily updates HERE and be sure to check out the Bout of Books Blog for updates on upcoming readathons.

In summary I spent a total of 15 hours reading last week.
I read a total of 1,136 pages in that time period
I finished reading 11 books including:
Cinderella (GN)
Rocking in My School Shoes
 There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Desk
 The Hike
 Everywhere and Every Way
 Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
 Summer of the Sea Serpent
 Orphan Trains
The Lion and Doe
I also read but didn't finish
9% of Ember in the Ashes
12 pages of 138 of More Than Candy Corn

I didn't quite meet all my goals this Bout of Books but I did read a lot more than I expected considering it was one of the busiest weeks I have had all year! I met my number of books goal, and one of them was a requested review so that was another goal met. I did come up a little short on the page count and the time spent reading, but I had set some lofty goals for myself.  I did manage to participate in 2 mini challenges and met a few new book lovers. All in all a pretty darn successful Bout of Books readathon!  The next readathon is in early January and one of my favorites with the rush of the new reading list and challenges!

How did your readathon go? Did you meet all or goals? If not are you planning to do something different next time? I hope you all had fun and will participate again, because I certainly will!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 30 - Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve

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.
In Book 30, Merlin calls Jack and Annie back to help save Camelot once again. This Merlin Mission book in the series is another fantasy adventure that combines a few myths and legends into one quest for Jack and Annie. They must face the unknown and think outside the box to save Camelot.
My Review: This is the second book in the Merlin Missions part of the series, and this new portion of the series really does mark a change. These books no longer seem to be part of a 4 book set within the series but stand individually in the series. This book is also a lot more fantastical than previous books. I do like how it incorporates myths and other stories into the book but also takes a different look. The one thing I noticed is it says in the beginning that it had been a years since the last Tree House adventure but Jack and Annie don't seem to be maturing enough for the time gaps.
My Rating: So far the Merlin Missions don't seem to be transitioning much from the earlier first chapter book format. Jack and Annie are still young, the adventures are just more imaginative. I give it a rating of Three 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

Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
The Hike by Steven Manchester
I Dream of Dragons by Ashlyn Chase (After Dark)
Brave Figherfighters by Walt Disney Company (Early Reader)
Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson (Bedtime Story)
Everywhere and Every Way by Jennifer Probst (Mini Review)
Savage by Kim Faulks (Mini Review - After Dark)
Angel of Fire by Tanya Anne Crosby (Mini Review)
Lion and the Doe by Kristen Strassel (Mini Review - After Dark)

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

Everywhere & Every Way = 3pts
Savage = 3pts
Rocking in My School Shoes = 1pt
Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve = 5pts
Summer of the Sea Serpent = 5pts
Cinderella GN = 3pts
There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Desk = 1pt
Orphan Trains = 3pts
Unexpected = 3pts
The Hike = 3pts
The Lion & the Doe = 3pts
Currently Reading:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - Audio - 7%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
    228 points + 33 points - 90 points spent = 171 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 956
Total Points Spent this Year: 789

Pages Read/ Time Listened
184:37 Hours Listened (10:19 listened this week)
32,754 Pages Read (882 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - 10 points spent
Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin - 10 points spent
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - 10 points spent
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren - 10 points spent
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - 10 points spent
Nim's Island by Wendy Orr - 10 points spent
Full Time Father by Susan Mallery - 10 points spent
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic - 10 points spent
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - 10 points spent
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - Audible Monthly Download

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Wow! What a week! Some how I managed to pull off one of my busiest weeks ever at work, getting the house ready and plans done for 2 parties, Bout of Books Readathon, company from out of town and fantasy football draft!! I have no idea how but everything came together better than I ever expected! I did reward myself with a little shopping spree, Audible was having an incredible sale, 20% off credits, plus then a huge sale where I picked up 9 audio books for $24!

Today my little Munchkin turns 4 and it is also his first day of Pre-K, my how the time flew! I am going to have a couple of posts later this week about his awesome birthday party, I think everyone had a great time!

No I am going to clean up from the parties today after work and then the rest of the week will be spent with my books and writing pen pals, I think I earned a little break!

Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mini Reviews: Angel of Fire, Everywhere & Every Way, & more romances

So with reading and reviewing so many books, I am running out of days in which to share them with you.  I am going to start posting Mini Reviews of books that I read through out the month but couldn't find the time to post on the last Sunday of each month.
Wasn't as engrossing as her previous series and took some time to get into but once it got going it was really good. Three Paws
Quick read, a much more brutal and dark take on a shifter romance. Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
**** Warning: Very adult content***
Fell pretty flat, point less characters, missing backstory, poor build up. Two Paws
Is there such thing as fan fiction of a fan fiction? Basically shifter copy of 50 Shades & Twilight. One Paw and a Stump Wag.
**** Warning: Very adult content***