Friday, January 27, 2017

Bedtime Story: I Love My New Toy by Mo Willems

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & We love Elephant & Piggie
Synopsis: "Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In I Love My New Toy!, Piggie can't wait to show Gerald her brand new toy. But will an accidentally broken toy accidentally break a friendship?"

My Review: We are big fans of Elephant and Piggie books now that we have discovered them, and while this might not been one of our favorites we still really enjoyed it. It has a couple of different messages contained in the story that will have your little one gasping and cheering. I love the way it ends with friends being more fun than toys anyway.
My Rating: This is a fun little book to help encourage kids to take care of their toys and especially toys that are not theirs. Maybe a little bit about reading directions too.  We of course enjoyed this one and give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of Moose and Mouse by Mary Packard

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: A level 1 reader about opposites and rhyming."
My Review: This was one of those books that I picked up at Target dollar spot and it was a surprisingly fun read. It is probably more a late level 1 or early level 2 book as there is more text and complicated words than expected. But it is a fun book to read with lots of rhymes and similar sounding words that will have the little ones giggling as they read. Munchkin had fun with this book and we really worked on recognizing the different words.
My Rating: This is a great early reader book, one young readers will enjoy between the rhymes and the silly opposites they will be asking to read it again and again.  We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review of Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Read for: Received in Dec. 2016 Novel Tea Box
Synopsis: "Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other."

My Review: I was so excited to read this book, like just about everyone else, and now this review is probably going to upset some people because I ended up being highly disappointed. I hate to say it but I found this story to be so poorly put together, the world building was very lack luster, the magic system was unexplained and thrown together, the characters were rather flat and unappealing, most of the sub-characters were toss away, the romance was also flat, and the plot lines were unimaginative, flat, and poorly developed. Denna starts off as a promising character, versed in politics, economics, book smart, but then she falls into a completely submissive role without even attempting to push for a place of respect or leadership. I enjoyed Mare for the most part, at least she pretty much continues to do what she believes in. I liked the large role the horses played in the kingdom but other than that it was a flop for me. The court intrigue was not intrigue at all, the villain was easily identified well prior to the evil plot being revealed which lead to an unsatisfying climax, never mind the conclusion. I honestly feel like this was a book thrown together in order to cash in on the recent push for diverse books featuring LGBTQ characters and themes.
My Rating: This book has me so frustrated! I actually gave it a few days after finishing to see if my opinions would change but nope I still feel like this was a sloppily put together book to cash in. Not only that but the writing was very simplistic, almost like a Middle Grade. I can't help but give this book a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.
Note: If you are looking for a fantasy book that features a f/f romance try Huntress by Malinda Lo  (and not that it was published in 2011 - I am a little tired of hearing that Of Fire and Stars is the first book of it's kind).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Underrated Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a group on Goodreads hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tome on Youtube.

Like I said before (HERE ) I really enjoy seeing all the Top 5 Wednesday posts and I don't participate nearly enough but I couldn't resist this topic because there are some books I am really passionate about that many people haven't even heard of or have never picked up, particularly in the fantasy realm. (Warning: I cheat a little because as with most fantasies, you can't read one book without reading the series).

Top 5 Underrated or Forgotten Books:

The White Magic Trilogy by Caitlin Brennan
I read these books years and years ago before I started the blog or even Goodreads because I love horses and fantasy.  If you enjoyed the Study series as it progressed into a more adult fantasy you should think about giving this trilogy a shot. It does mature with the relationships and there is a love triangle that may get readers frustrated but this was written before the major onslaught of love triangles in YA.  The first book has just over a 1,000 ratings on Goodreads and 52 reviews, the second book has less than 500 ratings and only 10 reviews and the final book has just over 400 ratings and only 9 reviews. Come on folks these books need more reading and more reviews! (I only have my ratings up because I read them before starting to write reviews but I think it is time for a re-read and full reviews).
This is another series I read before I started blogging or reviewing on Goodreads, I did end up re-reading them back in 2012 so I could add my reviews. I LOVED this series when I originally read it, I have always really enjoyed Arthurian Legend re-tellings and books in that world.  These books follow a few of the Knights of the Round on their adventures and their discovery of the women to stand by their sides. When I originally read this series, the 4th book was not released in the US and it was extremely difficult for me to get my hands on but it was so worth it!  I do suggest going through the effort of finding these original covers though, they are stunning (and so much better than the newer editions). The first book has just under 500 ratings and 48 reviews, the second book has under 400 ratings and 15 reviews, book three has under 300 ratings and only 9 reviews and the final book only has 158 ratings and 9 reviews! So sad, these books are a great combination of historical fiction, romance, Arthurian elements, action & adventure, strong females and fantasy!
Now this one was a pretty popular book at one time, though it is often overshadowed by Graceling (book 1) but in my opinion this book is the best of the series and deserves more attention.  I wish I could find a fandom for this book, but there doesn't seem to be as much love for it. Granted this is a much slower paced book and it is darker and more of an internal turmoil type book so it is not for everyone. I am still madly in love with this book and often re-read it each year. Brigan will always remain my book boyfriend.
This was a series from a couple of years ago and with the sudden growing popularity of Norse Mythology this one should be added to a few TBRs. It is a short and light series in the New Adult - Paranormal Romance genres. I rather enjoyed this series a couple of years ago and think that there are a lot more readers out there that would enjoy it as much as me! Book 1 has just over 2,000 ratings and 330 reviews, book 2 has under 1,000 ratings and 109 reviews, book 3 has less than 800 ratings and 79 reviews and the prequel novella has less than 500 ratings and 94 reviews.
For something a little more recent is the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet.  I read the first book last year and it blew me away, it had all the elements I love, fantasy, strong female characters and strong male characters (who butt heads and have fun banter), romance, mythology, it really has it all.  I am in the process of reading the second book now and am just as in love as I was with the first. The third book is expected out in January of next year (I know, such a long time to wait).  This series is picking up steam with the first book currently having just over 5,000 ratings and nearly 300 reviews and the second book having just over 1,700 ratings and 342 reviews but I don't hear anyone talking them or raving about them!
So there you have it, my top 5 underrated books (well I guess I really cheated and went with my top five underrated series). Have you read any of these books? Did you love them or not so much? If you haven't read them are you going to be adding them to your TBR (if not you should)? What are your top 5 underrated books?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review of Like a Closed Fist by E.H. Nolan

Read for: Requested Review
Synopsis: "It was harmless enough: her best friend's wedding. But for California girl Phoebe, forty-eight hours in North Carolina changed her life.
No one is more surprised than Phoebe when she falls hopelessly in love with her dad’s much older, very married friend. Although she wants nothing more than to jump headfirst into an affair with Mitch, he refrains, telling her she’s just a kid.
Determined to prove him wrong, young Phoebe learns the irony of best laid plans. She travels to North Carolina for a wedding and accidentally falls head-over-heels for two very different men: Mason, the hotel concierge, and Frankie, a captain in the Merchant Marines. Throw in two old flames and a hunky masseur and you’ve got a most complicated love hexagon in this cautionary tale of love, sex, grief, and growing up."

My Review: I have enjoyed a previous historical romance from the same author so thought I would give this one a try. This is more of a contemporary/ New Adult book, which isn't my most beloved genre but thought I would give it a try anyway. I must say that I was not a fan of Phoebe, but that is pretty normal for me in NA books, I find a lot of the characters to be immature for their age because I grew up and took responsibility much earlier. There is also a lot of possible triggers throughout the book including promiscuity, abuse, cheating, drugs, etc. I did like Bruce, he was a good solid and patient character that moved the story along. It took quite some time but it was nice to find the character finally maturing in the last 50 pages or so. I will say that this book doesn't have happy ending or everything wrapped up in an unbelievable conclusion, which was refreshing.
My Rating: This was one of those books that may not have been quite a good fit for me. I really struggle with immature characters that make irrational decisions, though I was happy to see Phoebe really develop as a character, not because of any outside source like she was searching for but from something a little closer to home.  I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about E.H. Nolan and her work on her Goodreads Page or Website.
Like a Closed Fist was recently released in December, 2016 and you can obtain your own copy in digital or print format from Amazon or in print format from Barnes & Noble.

Monday, January 23, 2017

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

The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy (After Dark)
Dinotrux To the Rescue by Emily Sollinger (Early Reader)
All By Myself by Mercer Mayer (Bedtime Story)
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (Graphic Novel)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Closed Like a Fist
Ice Like Fire
Moose and Mouse
What to Do with a Box

Currently Reading:

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka - print - on page 78 of 392

 Books to be Read Soon:


Pages Read/ Time Listened
23:54 Hours Listened (12:58 listened this week)
3,817 Pages Read (460 this week)

Books Added to Shelves This Month
Be Like a Bird by Monika Schroder
Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Maria Bradley

Books Read From My Shelves
Ice Like Fire

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Ugh! Cold season is the worst! Thankfully the nasty head cold Hubby brought home and shared was fairly fast moving, by Friday last week I was nearly better and an extra bonus was that Munchkin didn't catch it (thanks to my every functioning free moment being dedicated to disinfecting).  As a result of being so out of it and all the cleaning, I didn't get nearly as much reading done as I would have hoped. Can you believe it is almost the end of January already?!

This week is a big week for us, we have a lot going on, we have to prepare for the upcoming Super Bowl party and Hubby's birthday.  We have a meeting and tour scheduled for one of the 2 kindergartens we are considering for Munchkin (I cannot believe that he is starting kindergarten this year)! Munchkin has also requested to learn how to ski, so we will be starting that venture hopefully on Sunday, depending on weather and health. So mixed in with my reading I will have a full schedule but it should be an exciting one!

Hope you all have a great week!