Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bedtime Story: Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara Gavin

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "Bear and his duck family do everything together. That is, until winter arrives. Bear is supposed to hibernate this time of year, but he doesn’t want to miss out on any of the fun. But can Bear really stay awake all winter long? Gentle humor and endearing illustrations bring a delightful twist to a bedtime routine that children and their parents will easily recognize."

My Review: Munchkin got this in one of his BookU Boxes. It is a cute little book that is perfect for the fall and for talking about hibernation. The illustrations are adorable and the combination of the duck family and bear just added to the level of cute. I also like how the duck family kept bear involved even though he was sleeping, this might be good for showing a child that maybe has to go away to another family member for a while that they are still a part of the family.
My Rating: Now this was a hibernation book I was looking to find. Munchkin really enjoyed this book and this illustrations are very cute illustrations. We give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Fall Leaf Project by Margaret McNamara

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "The first-graders of Robin Hill School love to look at all the different fall leaves. When they hear that in some states the leaves don't change color, they come up with a plan to share fall with other first-graders."

My Review: I picked this book up for Munchkin as a good fall read. It was a perfect book, though meant for a 1st grade audience (but is a level one book). The story had great seasonal words and storyline. It matched perfectly with lessons at pre-K about the different colors of leaves and types of trees, so Munchkin loved knowing about them. It is also a great way to introduce different climates to young kids. This was a great book to read in the fall with those beginning readers.
My Rating: We really enjoyed this book and it was a great way to explain that the seasons are different in different parts of the country and world. We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Review of How to Grow a Beard by R. Graves

Read for: Because Military Members and Veterans are some of the most important people there are
Synopsis: "“How to Grow a Beard: A Military Transition Guide Back Into Civilian Life” is primarily based on 10-year Marine Corps veteran R.Graves' story on how he weaved back into the civilian life, but it is also the voice of every single veteran who has been thrown out to the wolves, to fend for themselves. Thrown out to learn the protocols of the civilian world and endure an—at times—intense mental battle. Thrown out to learn how to reintegrate with the real world again all over again.

This book covers topics such as reframing what sacrifice means to an individual, learning what we're worth in the civilian workplace, converting military service into civilian language for resumes and interviews, lessons on humility, integrating with friends and family again, and even lessons on swallowing your pride and allowing others to help out with our transition. Because transition will come—faster than you may realize. But, as ready as you are to start your new life, you will at some point find yourself in the situations introduced in this book.

With veteran suicide, and veteran homelessness at an all-time high, it is no secret that transition can be hard and overwhelming. Graves' intent with this book is to make the military transition as smooth as possible for his fellow veterans, by providing tools and lessons learned. Whether you are about to leave the service or have been out in the civilian trenches for a while, this book is the tool created for you to transition—successfully."

My Review: I originally picked up this book as a way to hopefully understand some of my own family members' transition back into civilian life and what they are facing and the struggles they may have. I found that this book is definitely written for the military member themselves to read, and they should really read it before they rejoin the civilian life. There are several tips that can help line up a service member throughout their military career to ease the transition in the end. It is set up very well and I like the way that there is a brief paragraph at the end of each chapter summarizing the main point that should be taken away from that chapter. It did have really great advice of what steps to take for the best advantage on moving forward and starting anew.
My Rating: While this wasn't quite the right book for what I was looking for it was a great book for the target audience. There is a lot of excellent information within this book and some of it may be common sense to every day civilians like me but to military members some of the day to day interactions and tasks are near foreign compared to how they have been living.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag!
Take time this Veteran's Day to thank a service member, remember those that have passed and thank and support those military members who are still serving.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

After Dark Review of The Doctor's Secret Bride by Ana E. Ross

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 ;)
Synopsis: "Michelle Carter has been down on her luck since the day she was born. So it comes as no surprise when through a series of unfortunate events, she finds herself jobless, penniless, and practically homeless. In need of a roof over her head, Michelle accepts a job as a nanny and finds it absolutely impossible to resist the sexual magnetism of her handsome, sexy billionaire boss—but resist she must, especially since she’s keeping secrets from him.

Believing that his late wife betrayed him, falling in love again is the last thing Dr. Erik LaCrosse wants to do. But fall, he does, and so hard, he secretly marries the alluring nanny from the wrong side of the tracks. However, when he unearths a horrible secret from Michelle’s past, Erik must choose between his loyalty to a dead woman and the love burning in his heart for one who is very much alive."

My Review: I have a thing for these million and billionaire hero books so this book was a no brainer. I like the variety of social/economic classes represented in this book, the variety of backgrounds really lent to some unique characters. It was a little longer than I expected and it seemed like a really long time to read even though it progressed the way I predicted. It follows a lot of the familiar plot lines of contemporary romance novels, the down fall for me was the keeping a secret trope that is so often the 'conflict' placed in romance books. I find it extremely frustrating when one character keeps something a secret and when the other one finds out the world comes crashing down, but as is typical it all ends up wrapped in a pretty little bow. I did really enjoy the sub-characters, especially Robert and Mrs. Hayes and I look forward to more books in the series.
My Rating: It was a very long read, enjoyable but long especially when you can clearly predict each turn of events.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Pen to Paper: Holiday Shipping Deadlines

I am a little late getting this post up today, but I am blaming it on the space cadet feeling I get when I am sick and taking meds.  Anyway, I wanted to  make sure I got this post up because the holidays are coming and some of the international shipping deadlines are coming even faster.  So while I am marking my own calendar I figured I would share these dates with you so you can mark yours.
For mail within the US via USPS
The standard post deadline is December 15th
The First Class deadline is December 20th
The Priority Deadline is December 21st
and the Priority Express Deadline is December 23rd
Now if you are like me and have friends internationally here are a couple of deadlines to keep in mind too. The dates do depend on location but the dates I am posting are the earliest dates (for some countries you might have a couple more days)
First Class & Priority International deadline is December 1st
Priority Express International deadline is December 8th (Africa & central/South America is the 1st)
Global Express deadline is December 15th (Africa & Central/South America is the 8th)
And please don't forget our men and women serving in the military! We have already passed the standard post deadline but you still have time to get your care packages to them.
The First Class and Priority Mail deadline is December 9th (in most cases)
The Priority Mail Express Military Service deadline is December 16th (in most cases)
You can also use UPS services for packages
The 3 Day select deadline is December 19th
2 Day Air deadline is December 21st
Next Day Air is December 22nd (unless extra is paid for Sat. Delivery then 23rd but please avoid doing this, as Christmas Eve is on a Saturday and it isn't very often the drivers get so spend this day with their families).
So mark your calendars because holiday shipping season is coming very quickly, I know I like to get things sent ahead of the rush so I will be working on this over the weekend and next week!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review of Jesper Jinx's Best Friend by Marko Kitti

Read for: Requested Reviews & this is a great series!
Synopsis: "Jesper Jinx is eleven, and probably the unluckiest person in all of Puffington Hill. Everything he touches seems to end up in sweet disaster. Hence his nickname 'Jinx'.

Every great hero needs a sidekick who’s ready to laugh at their silly antics. And Oliver has been just that for Jesper on countless pranks since the day they were born. But now Jesper’s sister Melinda has set her sights on Oliver and even worse, he doesn’t seem to mind.

Add to this horrible dilemma the fact that there is a heatwave in Puffington Hill. The air is now so hot that birds are falling from the trees and grandpas and grandmas are forced to wear bikinis. It all adds up to sweet disaster for Jesper.

How far is he willing to go to save his friendship with Oliver?"

My Review:  I have been a big fan of the Jesper Jinx series since it first started and had no doubts that this book would stand up to that level. I was not disappointed at all! As a mom of a little boy who is becoming an avid book fan, I am really appreciating books that appeal to young male readers, and the joy of this series is that it will appeal to boys and girls of all ages. The series as a whole has had a very fun, prankster tone to it and this book is no different but it has another level that I hadn't noticed in the previous books. This one brings in an element of when friends disagree and go their separate ways, which is all to common for the audience age group. I think it handled it really well and still managed to keep the fun in the story. Of course the secretive conversation voice of the story with the narrator also adds another fun element to the book, and the ending leaves you wondering about the next book.
My Rating: I have really loved this series so far and while it has mostly been fun and games this book in particular has a really relatable subject matter, but of course is done in a fun way. This series just keeps getting better and better! I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
I was sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. To find out more about Marko Kitti and his work you can visit his Goodreads Page or Website (which is now mobile devise friendly) or sign up for his Newsletter.
Jesper Jinx's Best Friend was recently released on October 10th and you can obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or in print from Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tea Time Tuesday: Hot Tea Weather Has Arrived

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?)
Well there was officially frost when I woke up in the morning late last week. The time has come for fuzzy socks, cozy blankets, toasty sweatshirts and of course hot tea. Instead of reaching for the iced tea in the fridge I now find myself reaching for a mug while water heats in the tea kettle.
And with the changing season my taste in tea also changes.  I tend to lean more towards spicier and more robust teas in the cold months. I will rarely reach for white tea, green tea or light fruity teas and instead will be reaching for black tea, red teas and tea with apple, orange or vanilla flavors, and of course lots of spice from cinnamon, cloves, and even black pepper.
So do your tastes change with the season too? What are some of your favorite cold weather teas? I am going to be stocking up soon so would love to try some of your picks!

Review of Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel

Read for: Election Day!
Synopsis: "The votes are in--it's a Bad Kitty landslide!
It's time to elect a new president of the Neighborhood Cat Coalition! Who will win the election? The candidate chosen by the kitties on the right side of the street or the candidate chosen by the kitties on the left side of the street? When election time rolls around, one candidate (guess who?) will discover that she never bothered to register to vote and the entire election will be decided by a surprise, last minute absentee ballot sent by Old Kitty."

My Review: It is hard enough for us adults to understand the whole election process, never mind explaining it to children. Bruel really breaks it down nicely as Bad Kitty runs for president in her neighborhood. The book goes through the steps of running a good campaign (something adult candidates should read up on) as well as the electoral system and the voting process, and it is all done with a touch of humor. It is really a fun book to use in answering the questions that may be presented with this and future elections.
My Rating: This book really did a great job of simplifying the process (as much as possible anyway) and making it relatable for children. You can never start them learning about their own country too early. I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Don't forget to exercise your right and vote today!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 38 - Monday with the Mad Genius

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 38 Jack and Annie continue their search for the secrets of happiness to cheer up Merlin in the time of enlightenment. They spend a day with one of the great genius's of the Renaissance period, Leonardo da Vinci.
My Review: Another great book in this series, though it didn't seem as adventurous as most of the previous books, there really wasn't any danger and it didn't have the urgency I have become used to in the series. It was still a great book with a great story, I enjoyed how Osborne presented the many interests of da Vinci, with his oddities and brilliance. I don't know if it will really inspire further reading or interest in the young readers but I do like the secret to happiness they discovered.
My Rating: This was not one of my favorites of the series, the pace is much slower which may cause young readers to loose interest, but at least it is so far into the series that dedicated fans will continue.  I give this one a rating of Three 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

Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon
Knights of Stone: Mason by Lisa Carlisle (After Dark)
Secret Agent Mater by Melissa Lagonegro (Beginning Reader)
Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows (Bedtime Story)
The Mouse Guard (FCBD 2012) by David Petersen (Graphic Novel)
The Mouse Guard (FCBD 2014) by David Petersen (Graphic Novel)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Doggone Christmas = 3pts
Jesper Jinx's Best Friend = 3pts
Seduction = 3pts
A Pet for Pete = 1pt
Monday with a Mad Genius = 5pts
Mouse Guard FCD 2012= 3pts
Mouse Guard FCD 2014 = 3pts
Bad Kitty for President = 5pts
Fall Leaf Project = 1pt
Christmas Shoes = 5pts
Currently Reading:

Holly and Mistletoe by Susan Mallery - Audio - 32%
Telep the Diamond by Rich Fietelberg - PB - on page 36 of 408

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
    370 points + 32 points = 402 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 2192
Total Points Spent this Year: 884

Pages Read/ Time Listened
263:48 (10 days 23 hrs 48 mins) Hours Listened (2:23 listened this week)
41,731 Pages Read (1,291 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


After having such a rough time a couple of weeks ago, it was nice to get back into the swing of things this last week.  I got a lot of reading done and starting preparing for the holidays in earnest. Tomorrow is election day and  my office has been insane, I am looking forward to some quite time but that won't be happening anytime soon. With that said if you read my post yesterday you know what crazy phone days might mean for me, a little extra reading time. I have a few more requested reviews to read before the Advent Reads event kicks off in just a few short weeks and then before you know it the holiday season will be upon us.  I think next week or the week after I will start my series of holiday prep. posts including gift guides for book lovers (so send the link to your family members and significant others).

In the mean time, it is back to the grind. Hope you all have a great week!

Edit: So it is going to be one of those years where we really struggle through the winter.  Poor Munchkin came down with something else over the weekend. Had a fever all night Friday and Saturday, seemed to really turn the corner on Sunday until bedtime. Now we are full blown head cold and nasty chest cough. I guess we are going to catch every little bug that goes around this cold and flu season.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Reading Time: How Do I Read So Much?

After receiving this question many, many times over the past few years I thought I would answer this and a few other questions, give a few tips in a short little mini series of posts over the next couple of months.

If you are new here or unfamiliar, I read anywhere from 5 to 10 books a week and can sometimes read up to 30 or more books in a month. The books I read range from children's books all the way up through high fantasy novels and classic novels. And no, I do not sit around all day just reading, I work full time, am a mom on her own most of the time, maintain a house, this blog (which is almost a full time job posting twice a day most days) and a crafter. So how do I manage to read so many books? Well, that is what I am here to tell you.
I work 9 - 5 every day as a paralegal, I have been in my job for nearly 12 years now and am in a very small office.  I have the responsibility of answering the phones, maintaining both attorneys' schedules, the accounting and of course maintaining my own files (usually around 15-20 open at a time). I also have the responsibility and freedom to make my own schedule as long as I am available at all times for the phone and attorneys. So with that comes the freedom to fill any lulls in the day with reading. I have both the nook and kindle apps downloaded on my computer so I have access to half of my library at all times. There are times when the phone rings so much that there is no point in me attempting to work on files and be constantly interrupted so I will read through those periods. There are also days that can be slow where I am waiting for responses on my files and have caught up on other office tasks and am able to read more.  With that said, while I love the ability to read in the office, work comes first. There have been many times where I really want to read a book that I am super into but the office is too busy. Work always has the priority.
The next way I manage to read so much is audio books.  I never really listened to books until after Munchkin was born (when he was nursing I started listening and the time added up really quickly). We no longer listen to music in the car, we only chat or if either of is too grumpy we listen to audio books. Now I have to be very careful with my selection of audio books in these circumstances, they have to be Munchkin appropriate books. That time in the car each day can add up to half an hour or more just driving to and from preschool, work and home. If you add in a trip to the doctor or post office it is even more.
When I get home, I jump right on chores, cook and eat dinner with Munchkin. We work on his projects and discuss his day. By 7:30 we start bedtime, we read together for about 15 to 20 minutes each night. We usually read 3 books a night together. Yes I do count reading children's books in my book count, I only count them the first time because I can end up reading the same book multiple times a day and every night a week. (I will have another post on why you should count Children's books as well later in this series of posts).
After kids go to bed it is usually adult time in most house holds, for me it is time for chores. My husband works multiple jobs and works every night of the work week, it is on me to maintain the house, so I have laundry to do, dishes to do, lunches to prepare, bills to be paid, rooms to be cleaned, etc. every night of the week. Some people might watch TV while doing these chores, but I don't, I quit watching TV this last year and haven't missed it one bit. Instead I listen to my audio books again (hence the reason I have listened to over 30 this year alone).  Yes, there are nights when I decide that chores can wait because I am really into a book I am reading, that is on me, I will have to catch up on chores later in the week.
Between 10:00 and 10:30 every night I stop working, even if there are chores left to be completed. I used to go until I was done with my to do list every day but sometimes that would mean I was still going at midnight or 1am when Hubby would get home. That just got too exhausting and I wasn't taking enough me time and it wore me down. So now I just stop whatever I am doing (or wind down to complete by 10:30 at the latest), get ready for bed and pick up a book. I then read until I can't keep my eyes open (or Hubby gets home and gives me the talk about how tired I will be the next day), sometimes it is only until 11 other times it is closer to midnight. When you read at the pace I do, the pages really can fly by in that short period of time (again more on this in a later post).
I must add in here, that since the weekends are the only down time with the whole family, other than reading with Munchkin, I often don't read more than an hour all weekend long. Like work, family time takes priority. If we are having some down time or if Munchkin and Hubby are having their own time and I am caught up on chores, I might sit down with a book. Or if Hubby is watching one of his TV shows in the evening, I may pick up a book and read while he does that. But family always takes priority over my books.
So that is how I squeeze every ounce of reading into my day that I possibly can. Now obviously this wouldn't work for everyone, not everyone can read at work, not everyone gets that time after bedtime to do with as they please. For me multi-tasking, reading every chance possible, listening to audio books, and taking that me time are essential to me reading so many books.
So how do you find time to read each day? Do you read in stolen moments or do you set time aside each day to read?