Friday, March 10, 2017

Bedtime Story: Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo by Mike Sundy & Jonathan Sundy

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & I will read anything with an armadillo in it
Synopsis: "Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo is an epic Western tall tale about friendship that's a hoot to read aloud. Pancho Bandito is a giant kid cowboy in the Old West who longs for a horse of his own. He travels to Texas to sell some cattle but runs into the greatest challenge he's ever faced: the monstrous Amarillo Armadillo. Can Pancho save Fort Worth from the beast and make a friend along the way?"

My Review: I picked this book up for free and I am so glad I did. I love the tall tale feel of this book, the story is bigger than life and very entertaining. The illustration style is great and fits the story perfectly. I am looking forward to more Pancho Bandito stories and of course seeing more of the Armadillo! 
My Rating: I so enjoyed this book and Munchkin while he didn't quite get why Pancho was so big still really enjoyed it.  I can't wait for more books in this series! We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of Fire Truck to the Rescue by Sonia Sanders

Read for: Early Reader Challenge & Munchkin is a fan of Firemen & trucks
Synopsis: "There's a fire in LEGO City. The firefighters are in their fire truck and on their way. With their tall ladder and the very best equipment, they'll save the day. Full color."

My Review: I haven't been too sure about all these Lego shows or books, but Munchkin is really getting into Lego sets, especially the fire ones. This is a really great level one book, it features some of the actual lego sets so Munchkin got really excited about that. It also has short sentences with many familiar and easy words. The pictures are bright and vibrant. The story is great and moves along nicely and will keep young readers interested.
My Rating: We really enjoyed this book and it had Munchkin very into the story and even the words.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pen to Paper: Incoming and Outgoing February - March

Hello everyone, boy I have not been very good at scheduling these posts huh? Oh well, I guess that is part of my slightly more relaxed take on blogging. I have been slowly but surely catching up in my letter writing, I am still a little behind but I am definitely getting there.  So I have a few of the incoming and out going letters to share with you.
Incoming Mail:
A very sweet package from a friend with local candies for me and a very fun book to share with Munchkin.
this Christmas letter from Germany seems to have gotten lost in the system but it did find its way to me eventually!

Another letter from Germany full of goodies, I love the postcard and munchkin has already snagged the little picture.

A long letter from the UK that was full of news from Christmas through the new year.
Outgoing Mail: 
It has been a while since I used non-fountain pen stationery but this one was calling to me and a shimmery purple gel pen was perfect to use on it.

A winter themed letter to respond to a Christmas letter, we are expecting snow this weekend but my days of using snow and winter themed paper is quickly running out!

This is a very, very delayed letter, a response from way back in November.  I decided to make my own stationery with some sloth stamps, it seemed very appropriate!
Here is a better look at the sloth paper I made (I used Tome paper - a fountain pen friendly paper) and stamped with the My Favorite Things Sweet Sloth set using Stazon ink and colored with water color pencils but didn't use water because I wasn't sure if the paper could hold up to it.
So what has been coming in the mail to you? Have you been sending letters recently?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Review of Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle

Read for: Requested Reviews
Synopsis: "My name is Calvin Sinclair, I'm eleven years old and I have a confession… ...I killed my brother.

It's the summer before grade six and Calvin Sinclair is bored to tears. He’s recently moved from a big city to a small town and there's nothing to do. It’s hot, he has no friends and the only kid around is his six-year-old brother, Sammy, who can barely throw a basketball as high as the hoop. Cal occupies his time by getting his brother to do almost anything: from collecting ants to doing Calvin’s chores. And Sammy is all too eager - as long as it means getting a "Level" and moving one step closer to his brother's Eagle status.

When Calvin meets Aleta Alvarado, a new girl who shares his love for Goosebumps books and adventure, Sammy is pushed aside. Cal feels guilty but not enough to change. At least not until a diagnosis makes things at home start falling apart and he's left wondering whether Sammy will ever complete his own journey...

From Ant To Eagle."

My Review: When I was first contacted about this book, I had been looking for more Middle Grade books to read, especially ones that would appeal to young boy readers, and I like the bit of nostalgia brought on by the mention of Goosebumps. This book ended up being so much more than I ever expected, it was more than a boy growing up and coming into his own, more than friendships and family, it was all that and the unfair and difficulties of reality. The journey is an emotional one (I wouldn't suggest reading it at work like I did) and it will take you on many highs, lows and moments of absolute beauty. The emotions the characters endure are so raw and real, I really found the anger to be so honest that it really hit home. I adored Sammy and while Cal was not always the nicest he was still a caring and great big brother. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
My Rating:  I really enjoyed this book and it was great to see things from a sibling point of view. The relationship between the brothers is so well depicted, the love, annoyance, the disappointment, the anger, and the unbreakable bond. I cannot recommend this book enough but prepare yourself for all the feels.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Alex Lyttle and his work on his Goodreads Page or Website.
From Ant To Eagle is scheduled for release on April 1st, but you can pre-order your copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or check with your favorite bookseller.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Series Review of the Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

 I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!

 Synopsis: "Ignore the stirrings of war. Let the carriage to a royal ball wait. There is a story to be told: of a starless night, a mother and her sick son, and a mortal who falls in love with the snow god, and will do anything to have her..."

My Review: I have really been enjoying this series so of course jump at the chance to read more in this world. While so far (at the beginning of book 3) it doesn't seem to be necessary to the series but it is a nice addition. I liked the look more into the Harani folk stories and beliefs. I really enjoyed it and wish there was more.

My Rating: I really love when authors take so much time to build their world that they actual even create rituals, myths and history. This is not necessary to the storyline of the trilogy but it is still a wonderful addition to have, and I want more! I want a whole book of Harani legends.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Synopsis: "Winning what you want may cost you everything you love...

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart."

My Review: I have heard some great things about this trilogy so decided to pick it up, a choice I do not regret. I love the world that has been created and the constant plotting and maneuvering of the characters. I like how Kestrel is not a proper lady but at the same time balances the power she does hold. It is quite clear that romance is an underlying plot line of the story, it could easily take over but I like how it hasn't fully done so, the characters while attracted and occasionally act on attraction, it doesn't change who they are or the choice they make fully. This is definitely a series to binge read.
My Rating: This was a great kick off to the series, I am immediately drawn in by the world building and characters. There are hints of romance but it doesn't take over the story or alter the actions of the characters.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
Synopsis: "Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them."

My Review: I continue to inhale this series, it is a real page turner. If you like fantasy and political intrigue definitely pick these books up! I continue to really enjoy Kestrel, she is conniving but obviously not totally unfeeling. She has chosen a very tight rope that she must walk and I love each page, just waiting to see if things will tip one way or another. I have come to like Arin but find him not to be careful enough in his actions or words. You see the plot lines moving and you know the inevitable will happen but you just keep hoping it won't. I am starting to wonder when Verex will stop being a toss away character, maybe he will play more of a role in the next book. So much double speaking and court politics to work through but so well done you don't feel like you are having to think as hard as clearly Kestrel must.
My Rating: So much plotting and planning throughout this book, you knew what was going to happen, but you kept rooting for Kestrel to get away with everything. But that couldn't happen without her loosing so much, no matter what it is clear this will be a bittersweet series.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
Synopsis: "Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?"

My Review: What a fantastic conclusion to this series! I didn't want it to end but I also couldn't stop turning the pages. While the previous two books were a little slower to build, this one roared through like a wildfire. There was so much action and strategy throughout the book that it kept you glued to the book. While all of that was going on, you also got to know more of the characters and watch not only them grow within themselves but also watch the relationships between them grow as well. I love the way that Kestrel's mind is always working and always analyzing every situation from different angles. I still adore Arin and his quiet strength, but Rashar has completely stolen my heart. This is a series that I will be adding to my shelves and be revisiting often as I will definitely miss this world and these characters.
My Rating: GAH! Why is it over?! I feel like I already need to re-read this series, I will definitely miss this world and all the characters throughout the book. I really like how this series ended, it wasn't pretty but it was realistic in the reactions of the characters.  I give this a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Complete Series Review: Now I have seen this series throughout the book community and some people really like it, but I never really saw any crazy hype for it, and now I really wonder why! I am totally obsessed with this series and wish so much that there was more.   This series had a slow building romance, from opposing sides so there was a lot of back and forth. I think there characters reacted in a way appropriate for their world, stations and upbringing.  I also love that while there is a war building throughout the story that the main weapon used throughout is the mind. So much thought and maneuvering of the soldiers and even the creation of new weapons.   I listened to most of these books on Audio CD, and while in my review of the Snow Like Ashes series I really struggled with picturing the world, this time I really had no need for a map, I could picture it all.  The world building is amazing in this book, with such thought given to languages, myths and legends, artwork and history of the different kingdoms. With all of that you would expect some pretty big info dumps, but the world building was very carefully woven into the story that you don't even notice it building around you.  I will be buying the print copies to add to my shelf. I give this series as a whole a rating of Four Paws!!
Have you read any of the books or the whole series? If not will you be picking it up? Did you have a favorite character or moment in the series?

Monday, March 6, 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

Lord of the Mountains by Sabrina Jarema
Transformer Rescue Bots: Meet Blades the Copter Bot by D. Jakobs (Early Reader)
Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic (Bedtime Story)
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Graphic Novel)

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

Lord of the Mountains
Winner's Kiss
Today I will Fly
The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 1
The Rogue Pirate's Bride
Norse Mythology
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site
We are Growing

Currently Reading:
Hidden Presences by Jenna O'Del - Print - on page 156 of 328

 Books to be Read Soon:


Pages Read/ Time Listened
68:50 Hours Listened (12:00 listened this week)
11,626 Pages Read (1,914 this week)

Books Added to Shelves This Month
Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Maria Bradley
Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Bubble Trouble by Mary Tillworth
Blaze Loves to Race by Mary Tillworth
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
Heartstone by Ella Katharine White
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling
Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Library by Walt Disney Company
Trapped by Michael Northop
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner

Books Read From My Shelves
Rogue Pirate's Bride
Winner's Kiss
Norse Mythology

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Another really fantastic reading week! I have a new secret to how I read so much, I have started reading the same book in multiple formats so I can read an ebook at work, listen to the audio book in the car or while doing chores and then the print book in bed at night. It is helping when I am really into a book to be able to continue it with no breaks and just fly through them.  I also finished up two trilogies last week and both were so fantastic. In fact I think just about all the books I read last week were great books.

Winter has returned in full force here in RI, not so much snow but the bitter cold wind has been howling all weekend long.  The good thing was that I managed to get a bunch of house work done so that I can spend most of my evenings this week reading more books and hopefully getting a few crafts done too.