Saturday, November 5, 2016

Graphic Novel Review of Mouse Guard (& Other Stories - FCBD 2012 & 2014)

Since these were both a little short and I went in mainly for the Mouse Guard stories I thought I would just review them together.
Read for: Graphic Novel 
Synopsis: "The book features six short stories from some of our all-ages-friendly titles: Mouse Guard, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, Dapper Men, and Cow Boy. Exclusive to Free Comic Book Day 2012"

My Review: I had to really work to track this down, but I have really loved the Mouse Guard series and it was worth it. I loved the story of Baldwin and the way it was presented as a puppet show, it was a nice little read between full books. I did mainly pick this up for the Mouse Guard title, I did read the rest of them. It was an interesting selection, most seemed to be fantasy type stories. I have been wanting to read Cow Boy and now I think I will have to pick up some volumes. I also liked the Labyrinth story and the intro to Rust.
My Rating: I really enjoyed the Mouse Guard story and some of the others were intriguing. It was a good selection to feature together. I give it a rating of Three Paws.
Read for: Graphic Novel
Synopsis: "In 2012, Archaia published the first-ever Free Comic Book Day hardcover to widespread critical acclaim.

Now, experience some of the most original voices in sequential storytelling as Archaia proudly presents the second volume of its Free Comic Book Day original graphic novella hardcover anthology series.

Featuring all-new, never-before-seen stories from the worlds of David Petersen's Mouse Guard, Roysen Lepp's Rust, Jim Henson's Labyrinth, The Jim Henson Company's Farscape, Sean Rubin's Bolivar, and Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison's Will O'The Wisp."

My Review: Another one I really had to track down and wait to get my hands on, but so worth it. I am a big fan of Mouse Guard and was not disappointed in the story in this collection. I loved the tone it set for Rand in the story of the three sisters. It also sets up nicely for me to start reading the Black Axe books. I was a little disappointed with the other stories in the collection, they weren't quite as fitting as in the 2012 collection. I did still enjoy the Rust and Labyrinth stories.
My Rating: While I didn't like the selection as much as in the first one, I think I might have liked the Mouse Guard story even better. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bedtime Story: Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
My Review: "In this very special train, all the sleepy animals are snuggling up for long wintertime nap"

My Review: I figured this would be a great book for the fall and help Munchkin understand hibernation. It is a cute book and ours came with an audio CD too, but it wasn't quite at the level I was expecting. This seems like it would be better for younger audiences, maybe 2ish. You really also need the pictures for the story, otherwise the words don't make a whole lot of sense (we read it in the car, so I only heard the book while Munchkin looked at the book), it was definitely written to discuss. It is cute but just didn't work well for us.
My Rating: This book really didn't work for us, it was too young for Munchkin and the story didn't make sense without the pictures.  We give it a rating of Two Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Secret Agent Mater by Melissa Lagonegro

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Just in time for the Fall 2011 DVD release of Disney/Pixar Cars 2, this Step 2 reader starring Lightning McQueen and Mater is sure to be a hit with boys ages 4 to 6."

My Review: Munchkin loves Mater so he picked this book out at the store. This is a level one book for young readers, it has short sentences and easy words to sound out. It is great for fans of the second CARS movie but if you are not familiar with it you might be a little lost. We only have the first movie so Munchkin kept asking what Mater was doing or how he got somewhere or who the other cars are but I couldn't answer any of the questions and it isn't clear in the book either. So if your young reader really loves that movie then this will be great it but if not I would maybe skip this one.
My Rating: This is a great book if you are really familiar with the movie and can answer all the questions that will pop up about Mater, but if you aren't it might be a little frustrating for both you and your young reader.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

After Dark Review of Knights of Stone: Mason by Lisa Carlisle

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: Because Gargoyles!
Synopsis: "Gargoyles, tree witches, and wolf shifters have divided the Isle of Stone after a great battle twenty-five years ago. When Kayla, a tree witch, hears about the unconventional rock concerts in the gargoyle’s territory, she sneaks from her coven and into their territory to see for herself. Night after night, she returns to see one in particular shift into human form and play guitar at these unconventional shows.

For several nights, Mason has kept watch for the pixie-like female. He plans to seduce her, thinking she’s a visitor from another island. When he discovers she’s one of the tree witches, he retreats, attempting to keep his distance. The temptation is strong, but forbidden.

Kayla and Mason attempt to meet in secret, but other elements on the isle command their attention. A magical cloak created by the three clans on the island is thinning, leading to repercussions for all the clans. Kayla and Mason are caught in the middle of it, and their actions may change the fate for all."

My Review: I do love a Gargoyle hero and they are not so easy to find all the time. I found this book to be really interesting, there was quite a bit of world building mixed in with the story but it was nicely integrated. I loved the idea of a gargoyle rock band, I kind of want to see them now and Mason made a great hero. Kayla was a great character as well, though more innocent and naïve that I like my female characters, but it suited the story and setting. It is a great introduction to this series and does leave some unanswered questions and unresolved storylines that will have you reaching for the next book.
My Rating: This was a really quick book to read and had plenty of steam but did keep up the main storyline, which is left open at the end so you are going to want to read the next book pretty quickly.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Pen to Paper: Making Envelopes

Hello everyone, it feels like it has been ages since I last posted one of these posts.  Today I have one for you that I have been meaning to do for some time and it is perfect for heading into the holiday season.  Today I wanted to show you 3 different ways I use to make my own envelopes.  I have not perfected the process yet but I want to share with you how I go about it.  You certainly don't have to make your own envelopes but I find that it is often a nice way to match up your envelope with your stationery or if you can't find just the right envelope you can make one to fit. It is also a great way during the holidays to make it feel like your pen pal is receiving a little gift from you in the mail by wrapping it up in pretty paper.  So anyway, this may be a long post with lots of picture so I best get started.
I use 3 different methods for making my envelopes, depending on what I can find at the moment and how much time I have. I have the We R Memory Keepers envelope punch board (I picked it up at Joann's Craft store I think for $9.99 with a coupon), I also have a wooden template (I purchased mine on Etsy but have seen them on several of the paper goods websites but they are kind of pricey at $15-$20) one other thing to note is that these wooden templates come in multiple sizes from tiny to huge so make sure you keep that in mind when purchasing, and I also have an envelope that I really like the size and shape of so I just carefully pulled apart the seams to use as a template.
You will also need paper, I use pattern scrapbooking paper, but I think a good quality of wrapping paper would also work well, and I have seen others use maps or calendar pictures.  One thing to keep in mind is that you do want your paper to be somewhat flexible (this is where I am still struggling, sometimes the paper rips at the folds if it is too thick or stiff). These are 12" x 12" single sheets that you can buy at the craft store, just find a pattern you like or that matches the season or stationery. 
You will also need scissors, a board with a straight groove (either a scoring board or paper trimmer - more on that below) and an adhesive. I have seen all kind used but try to find a really strong one since it will be traveling through the mail. These are the ones I have found to be the best, I prefer the red double sided tape (I cannot remember the name of it but have seen it in all the craft stores).
We will start with the simple paper envelope method.  Carefully open the seams of an envelope you like, then lay it on the blank side of your paper.  Trace the envelope and cut out on the lines.
Then here is a trick I saw on youtube, I think, use the groove in a paper trimmer to score (I have struggled so much with my scoring board, I jump lines and can't get a straight score).  You need to kind of judge where the bend should be by lining up the indents on the paper and just do the best you can. Then add adhesive on the side flaps and secure. Envelope #1 is done, stuff and send to someone!
Then next method is with the wooden template, you follow the same instructions as with the paper template expect a line is drawn where you need to score instead of just eyeballing where the bend should be. Trace your template and cut out along the outer lines (the inside lines are where you score and fold).
Score along the inner lines, fold and add your adhesive.
And you have completed envelope #2.

The final method is with the envelope punch board. I love this tool as it allows you to make any size envelope you want, but it takes a lot of math (which I am not good at). I generally only use this method when I am well rested and haven't had any wine yet otherwise I make a bunch of mistakes in cutting and scoring.  Anyway first you find the size envelope you want and cut your base piece to the size indicated (I wanted the A-6 size and so needed a paper 8 3/4" x 8 3/4" - and I screwed that up so had to start again).
Once you have your paper the right size you line up the edge with the score line indicated on the size envelope. You punch and there is only a single groove to score on so you won't screw it up (just be careful if you are making a big envelope because it may go beyond the edge of the punchboard (I think the newer punch boards have an extender piece that pulls out to fix this issue))

When it is all punched and scored, just add your adhesive and you have complete envelope #3!


So there is how you can make your own envelope in three different ways, it only took me about half an hour to make all three of these, mistakes and photos included. Once you get the hang of it you can whip up a bunch to have on hand for busy times (like the upcoming holiday season).  Hope this was helpful and that you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review of The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Read for: NetGalley/Requested Review
Synopsis: "Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother's stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.
The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family's love songs and tragedies.
Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before."

My Review: This book came up as a suggested read based on my middle grade reads and I was thrilled to have received it through NetGalley. It is a slow moving story with not a lot of movement but what little there is really packs a punch. It is sometimes hard to remember this is a work of fiction and that the story and characters are made up because it is such a reality for so many people in the world. It was quite an emotional tale and while it didn't seem to have a happy ending that we are so used to getting in our books, it does have notes of hope throughout the book. I don't know if the target audience will be able to truly value this book but it is one I would highly recommend reading.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book and it was a quick read but it should be savored. Can someone please explain to me why it seems that Middle Grade books seem to be able to tackle these tough issues without bogging it down and make it enjoyable to read.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
I received The Bone Sparrow via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Zana Fraillon and her work on her Goodreads Page and Webpage.
The Bone Sparrow was just released yesterday and you can obtain your own on copy in digital or print format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tasty Attempts: Taco Calzones

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 had a hankering for Taco Tuesday a couple of weeks ago but Munchkin hasn't really been eating them lately but I came across this recipe on Pinterest while they call them Cheesy Taco Sticks, I found them to be more of Taco Calzones. I of course altered the recipe quite a bit by adding black beans to all of them, refried beans to hubby's and some black olives to mine and Munchkin's.  You could do so much, I thought about adding green chilies too but couldn't find our can.
My dough working skills are very much subpar so they may not look good but they were fantastic with some guacamole and sour cream.

Review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Read for: Mount TBR - Print
Synopsis: "It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen."

My Review: I was a little nervous about this book because I DNFed the Mercy Falls series by the same author, but anything with horses I really feel the need to read. I kept putting this one off and while I am kind of kicking myself for putting it off, late October when the weather was stormy really lent to the perfect atmosphere. It takes a little bit to get into the story, especially with jumping from Puck to Sean POV but it doesn't take long until you are invested in the story and characters. I really enjoyed how it is both thrilling, hopeful, horrifying and beautiful all at the same time. There is a bit of romance but I am very happy that it didn't take over the story, it was more of a slow burn in the background. It had my heart pounding and jumping at every noise at times and then at others had tears coming to my eyes. I am happy to see that the author has improved greatly from her previous books (and maybe got a better editor) and I will give her others a try in the future.
My Rating: I was so pleasantly surprised at this book, I wanted it to be good but after DNFing Shiver I didn't have high hopes. I am so glad I read this book it was intriguing, terrifying, and made me think. I give it a rating of Four Paws!
If you have read it can we please talk about the scene in the lean-to shed with Puck, her brother & Dove?! My heart was racing!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 37- Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne

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 37 sets off the next set of 4 adventures for Jack and Annie. Merlin needs help, he needs to find happiness again so Jack and Annie head to Japan in the 1600s to find one of the four secrets to happiness.
My Review: This book kicks off another mini set of 4 adventures for Jack and Annie. They are sent back to Japan, just a different time period from a previous book, they must find a secret to happiness. They can now use magic to help them along the way. They didn't use their research book as much as I like but they did have an master for a guide. I really enjoyed all the rich history and legends that were integrated into this story and also how smoothly poetry was introduced to the readers.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, especially the introduction to Haiku poetry and the simple beauty of the world. I give this one 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

Pumpkin Day by Candice Ransom (Early Reader)
Howl for Halloween by Nickelodeon (Bedtime Story)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Pete Katz (Graphic Novel)
Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Scorpio Races = 5pts
Twelve Days of Christmas = 3pts
Being Thankful = 1pt
Bone Sparrow = 3pts

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
    338 points + 12 points earned + 10 Points (10K pages) + 10 pts (complete Childrens challenge) = 370

Total Points Earned this Year: 2160
Total Points Spent this Year: 884

Pages Read/ Time Listened
261:25 (10 days 21 hrs 25 mins) Hours Listened (5:23 listened this week)
40,440 Pages Read (673 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


Boy did last week catch me off guard and throw off my whole schedule! I had so many creepy and monstrous books planned to share with you leading up to Halloween, not to mention a book event/giveaway I had planned. Oh well, family comes first and Munchkin sure needed some care this last week. He came down sick on Sunday night, and I had to take him in first thing Monday. He ended up with double ear infections, strep throat that progressed into scarletina. Thank goodness our doctor was quick to give us antibiotics for him and he recovered quickly. 

We also had a little shake up with Hubby's work, as some of you who have been with me a while know, he works 2nd shift while I work days so it is a little rough on all of us not having time together. So this last week there was an opening put up for a day job, not an ideal one but a day job. He signed the bid, but due to seniority rules he could get bumped, which he did at the last possible minute someone signed it and booted hubby out of the job (someone mind you who already has a great day job). So that was so disappointing and really crushing to have been so close to being a normal family. Day shifts are rare to come available and you have to wait for someone to quit or retire for a position to open, and it doesn't look like another one will open for another 8 to 10 years. This was a really hard pill for me to swallow but life goes on and I just have to keep moving forward.

With that in mind, can you believe that it is Halloween today?! November starts tomorrow and I will be kicking the holiday planning into full swing. I am going to try to get ahead in my scheduling of posts because I have some really fun holiday plans and gift idea posts planned. Not to mention it is time to really start reading for my Advent Reads event in December.

Hope you all have a safe and fun Spooky Halloween tonight and a great week!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review of Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

Read for Mount TBR - Print
Synopsis: "A new generation is creating a monster....

Giselle and Ingrid are the twin daughters of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, but they are very different people, and when they inherit his castle in the Orkney Islands, Giselle dreams of holding parties and inviting society -- but Ingrid is fascinated by her father's forbidden experiments."

My Review: Frankenstein is one of my all time favorite books and I have been searching out re-telling books or ones inspired by the original novel by Mary Shelley. I found this one in my son's scholastic book order and had to get it, I was very intrigued by the idea of secret daughters who take on his work. I was unfortunately pretty disappointed in it. The writing is pretty simplistic as is the storyline. The book doesn't really re-capture the gothic feel of the original work and there isn't the level of obsession I was looking for in it. The story is taken over quite a bit by frills and romance instead of the science, darkness and the creature that I was hoping to see again. It may be enjoyable by young adult or even older middle grade readers who have only read abridged and youth versions of the original tale but if you are looking for something along the lines of Mary Shelley's original work I would look elsewhere. I will say though that it did present an interesting idea that Victor Frankenstein was afflicted by a mental illness where he would black out and commit violent acts and replace them with the imaginings of the creature.
My Rating: I had such high hopes for this book and maybe that is why the disappointment is so great but it really was just a bit of fluff, it didn't get into the dark angst that I had expected.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.