Saturday, October 15, 2016

Graphic Novel Review of Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis "Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, Monstress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivors of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind...and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken..."

My Review: I picked this graphic novel up completely on whim, from what I could see on the cover the art looked fantastic and even though I am not a fan of steampunk I thought I would give it a shot. I am so glad I did because this was really good. I loved the art and the story was great as well. It was not as steampunk as I expected it to be and honestly more fantasy than anything so it was easy for me to slip into and grasp. There were a few gaps that were confusing but were slowly filled in as the storyline moved along, I think more will be revealed in the next one. I did find some of the characters to be a little too similar so difficult to decipher. With that said there were also a vast variety of characters, I absolutely adored Kipa and the cat (I can't remember his name right now). Honestly, this was way better than I was expecting, and can't wait to read continue with the series. Oh and if you are looking for a dark and somewhat creepy read for October, this is a great choice.
My Rating: I was very pleasantly surprised with this one, and just a lesson that sometimes outside your comfort zone is just as good as inside.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bedtime Story: Fly! by Karl Newsom Edwards

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Munchkin received it in his BookU Box
Synopsis: "A charming read-aloud picture book about learning to be yourself, filled with movement and including a page with fun facts about bugs!
Fly can't wiggle like a worm. He can't jump like a grasshopper. And he can't swing like a spider.
Don't give up, Fly! Keep trying, and with a little help from your garden friends, you'll find your own special talent.
From acclaimed illustrator Karl Newsom Edwards, this is a story about self-discovery through perseverance that encourages toddlers to get up and move to their own buggy groove!"

My Review: This was a fun book that was included in Munchkin's personalized BookU subscription box. It is simple to ready for those ready to start sounding out familiar words, but it is also a great way to learn about different bugs and movements. Munchkin had a great time with this book trying to correct fly on what he isn't supposed to do. It certainly led to a lot of laughter.
My Rating: Munchkin had a lot of fun with this book as well other young kids. Kids will love making sounds, or even wiggling, hopping or crawling like the bugs.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Apple Picking Day by Candice Ransom

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Who doesn’t love to go apple picking at the first sign of fall? A sister and brother celebrate autumn with a trip to a local apple orchard in this simple, rhyming Step 1 early reader.

The kids bound with glee through the rows of trees, and race against other children to pick the most and the best apples. The story of their day is bright, fun, and full of light action. It’s told in easy-to-follow rhyme, ensuring a successful reading experience.

Step 1 Readers feature big type and easy words. Rhymes and rhythmic text paired with picture clues help children decode the story. For children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading."

My Review: This was a great level one Reader for the fall. Munchkin and I both enjoyed it, there is a nice storyline about a family adventure, the sentences are short with short words and some nice rhymes. It was fun to read and now all Munchkin talks about it apple picking!
My Rating: This was a great book and one that Munchkin has sought out again and again. It is also so perfect for the fall and to coordinate with a family outing.  We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

After Dark Review of The Teacher's Billionaire by Christina Tetreault

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: Meeting her soon & After Dark
Synopsis: "This is a Contemporary Romance. It contains love scenes.

Callie Taylor's life is turned upside down when she learns the truth about her birth following the death of her mother. Not only is her father alive, but he's none other than presidential candidate Senator Warren Sherbrooke.

Billionaire and confirmed bachelor, Dylan Talbot, is devoted to his family. When his stepfather Warren Sherbrooke receives a letter from a past love telling him they have a daughter together, Dylan is instantly suspicious. In order to keep the media vultures away and protect Warren's political aspirations, Dylan convinces Warren to let him handle the situation.

As Callie and Dylan spend time together, they can't resist the feelings that blossom between them. However, when Callie learns the real reason he has been spending time with her their fledgling romance is put in jeopardy and only complete honesty can save it."

My Review: I picked up this book in anticipation of meeting Christina at an upcoming book conference. It was a fairly quick read with relatable characters. I loved that the setting was so familiar as a Rhode Islander. I enjoyed the pacing of the story and really liked Callie's personality and the way she remained true to herself throughout the book. I also enjoyed Dylan and the development of his character, though he didn't even seem like such a bad guy to begin with. The story moved along well, though I found the ending to be a little sudden and felt like the last chapter could have gone a little differently and still kept the same epilogue, but it was still a very enjoyable read and I plan to continue with the series.
My Rating: I rather enjoyed this quick read and liked the characters, even the sub-characters and look forward to more books in the series! I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Pen to Paper: Greeting Cards

I just wanted to post really quickly (and late today), I had planned a longer and more detailed post but it has been one totally insane week here.  Anyway, I wanted to chat with you a little bit about keeping greeting cards in your stationary stash.  While on Pen to Paper I talk about more extensive letters but greeting cards are still important to have on hand.  Things happen between letters, sometimes it is a month or more between sending your letter and receiving one in return, and we want our pen pals to know we are thinking of them in happy or difficult moments in life. 
Some examples of time you might want to send a quick card to one of your pen pals:
Birthday between letters
Engagement, Wedding, Anniversary
Retirement or New Job
Graduation or some other similar moment in life
New Home
Challenging Moment (big test, job interview, big decision)
Loss of a Loved One
These are all moments that it may be best not to wait until your next letter, particularly with the big events. The reason I wanted to post this was because just this past week I encountered several times when I was waiting for a letter response and something happened (or in one case received a letter with some sad news and thought it would be best to send out something immediately instead of waiting to write a full letter). So don't forget about keeping some greeting cards, or at least some blank cards that you can send out quickly if needed by your pen pal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Audio Book Review of A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Read for: Audio Challenge and I love this series so far!
 Synopsis: "Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both."

My Review: As soon as I finished An Ember in the Ashes, I knew I had to read this one too. I really love the audio book versions of both these books, with a cast of narrators, one for each point of view, it really helps distinguish them and draws you into the story. And boy did I get drawn into this story, I think the audio book is 15 hours long and it certainly seemed to fly by far to quickly. I enjoyed how the story developed from where it left off in the first book and while there wasn't constant action, the storyline kept moving at a steady pace. I also really liked the addition of Helene's viewpoint because I wasn't a fan of hers in the first book. Sabaa Tahir also did not pull any of her punches and threw some twists into the story that leave you gasping, some with joy some with pain. Elias still remained one of my favorite characters, though the way his character developed wasn't what I had hoped to see. I was also worried that the romance element hinted at in the first book was going to overtake the plot line as it does so often in these YA books, but I was thrilled to see that it really took a back seat and I really like how Tahir handled the love triangle that developed. All in all if you love fantasy, you really need to check out these books, but it might just kill us all waiting for the next book that isn't due for release until 2018!
My Rating: I really loved this book, I don't think it was better than the first but definitely on an equal level! I highly recommend the audio version of this book (though I will be obtaining a print copy to grace my shelves as well). I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tasty Attempts: Crock Pot Chicken Alphabet Soup

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 a couple of weekends ago it was just Munchkin and me and the fall weather had fully set in with cold, wind and rain. Munchkin was also feeling a little under the weather so I couldn't think of a better dinner than some chicken soup. But I didn't want to have to keep an eye on it on the stove while we built our fort. Luckily I found a recipe on Pinterest for Slow Cooker Alphabet Soup
It was super tasty, though the veggies were still a little too crunchy for Munchkin (but it was perfect for me). It made a ton, but it was even better reheated than it was the first time around with more time for all the flavors to meld together!

Review of Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Read For: Because it sounded like a great book and didn't disappoint
Synopsis: "A novel in verse, Paper Hearts is the story of survivial, defiance, and friendship. Based on historical events about a group of girls who were slave laborers at the munitions factory in Auschwitz."

My Review: I picked up this book on a whim because I have really been loving books written in verse. This book while beautiful is unbelievably painful to read the way the girls suffered. Meg Wiviott did an amazing job finding the words that could describe the horrors they faced without sugar coating it but still fit into the beauty and flow that is verse. I am sure there are some liberties taken but the fact that it is based on the actual events and that the time was taken to seek out as many of the girls who were a part of the story and to stick as close as possible to the actual events was really appreciated.
My Rating: I was really happy with this book, I never expected it to be as good as it was and am surprised I haven't heard more about it from other readers.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 36 - Night of the New Magicians

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 36 sends Jack and Annie back to the late 1800s where they must discover some of the famous magicians of the time and discover their secrets before a sorcerer does, all during the World Fair in Paris.
My Review:This may have been my favorite of the Merlin Missions so far! I enjoyed how this one gave a hint of magic to new discoveries, that may encourage young readers to take an interest in science. Jack and Annie had to travel back to the late 19th century and the world fair in Paris, they get to meet some of the greatest inventors and scientists of our history. I also like how they really had to figure things out on their own. Though the research book wasn't used as much as I preferred in the past I think with all the educational elements throughout the book made up for it. There also wasn't much danger in this one, more of a challenge that took courage and determination to accomplish.
My Rating: I loved this one, and I think young readers will love it as well and maybe seek out other books that feature famous inventors and scientists. It certainly opened several new interests to those readers of the series.  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

Season of the Sandstorms by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch (Audio Book)
Orphan Trains: Taking the Rails to a New Life by Rebecca Langston-George
More Than Candy Corn by Christine Depetrillo (After Dark)
Bambi's Hide and Seek by Andrea Posner-Sanchez (Early Reader)
David Gets In Trouble by David Shannon (Bedtime Story)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

A Torch Against the Night = 3pts
Paper Hearts = 5pts
Strega Nona = 1pt
Apple Picking Day = 1pt
Woo Who = 1pt
Hibernation Station = 1pt
Night of the New Magicians = 5pts
Room on the Broom = 1pt
Teacher's Billionaire = 3pts

Currently Reading:
Moon Chosen by PC Cast - Kindle - on page 368 of 608

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
     243 points + 21 points earned = 264 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 2054
Total Points Spent this Year: 884

Pages Read/ Time Listened
238:54 (9 days 22 hrs 54 mins) Hours Listened (15:09 listened this week)
37,174 Pages Read (799 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



So last week I was supposed to be on vacation (well stay-cation) and had planned on having plenty of time to read. HAHAHA! What a funny joke! I ended up working a full week at the office, but it was nice to have Hubby home at night to do most of the cooking and take care of Munchkin so at least I got a little break from that end. Since today is a holiday we did get a little bit of a long weekend and did a couple of fun things as a family (more on that later) but didn't plan much because it looked for a while like Matthew was going to make its way up the coast and hit us too, thankfully we didn't get it (our thoughts are obviously with those who saw the storms anger). Hubby does go back to work today so I think I will start packing for my weekend away and Munchkin and I are going to read some.

I hope you are all having a great day where you are and have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Crafty Times: Planner Accessories & Re-Opened Etsy Shop

Crafty Times is a new thing I am trying on the blog where I can share some of the art and crafts I have created (you can too of course). I really dabble in a wide variety of crafts and hope you can find something that sparks your interest or inspires you!
So as some of you may know I have been a planner addict for a little over a year and have recently started making my own accessories like dashboards, page markers and clips.  I have also had the goal this year of getting my Etsy shop back up and running. These two things just go together, so I finally got my tush in gear and got some things photographed, researched and listed!
So here are a few of the things I have made so far, I must say I love making the little clips (they can be used as bookmarks too)! I used large paper clips with a variety of stickers, buttons, veneers, and other little goodies I could find that were cute and used a really strong glue to secure them.  I have a bunch more in the process too! The penguin one is the most recent and I am testing it still to make sure it will hold up because it is kind of delicate.


Then I made some planner dashboard/dividers and page markers to keep the fall look throughout the planner. I used scrapbooking paper, journaling cards, stickers, confetti and all are laminated and punched for a personal sized planner. I had a lot of fun coordinating and decorating these. I don't have a laminating machine so have to use self adhesive laminating sheets, but I am definitely adding a machine to my Christmas list!  I so love how the football set came out and the clear page marker with the leaves.

I have been testing all of them out in my own planner too, because I like them and I want to make sure they can stand up to the constant use and abuse.
So now that I have made all these and tested them, I have managed to mark a big project off my To Do list and re-opened my Etsy shop (shameless plug).  I have already started working on Winter/Christmas supplies and will be starting Christmas cards and gift tags soon too. I don't want to miss the window when everyone shops for those items so really need to get working on them!