Saturday, May 20, 2017

Graphic Novel Review of Huck, Book 1: All American by Mark Millar

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
Synopsis: "What if the person you least expected had an amazing secret?

In a quiet seaside town, a gas station clerk named Huck secretly uses his special gifts to do a good deed each day. When his story leaks, a media firestorm erupts, bringing him uninvited fame. As pieces of Huck's past begin to resurface, it's no longer clear who his friends are -- or whose lives may be in danger.
Collects HUCK #1-6"

My Review: I wasn't too sure what to expect in this graphic novel, but I had read a short Huck story in one of the bind ups and really enjoyed it. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised with this one. I have heard that this is a reimagined Superman, but honestly while there are similarities, I think Huck is different enough to be its own story. I really adore Huck as a character, he has such a sweet soft side even with all the strength and abilities, even when offered so much more, he still retains that goodness about him. I like that this is a super hero book without being just like every other super hero book out there. While I really enjoyed this one and as much as I would like to read more of Huck and see where the storyline takes him, this is the only one out so far.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, more than I expected. It is a super hero GN without being overly super hero or having to wade through too much backstory.  I also really liked the art style of it too.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bedtime Story: One Cent, Two Cent, Old Cent, New Cent by Bonnie Worth

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "THE CAT IN the Hat puts to rest any notion that money grows on trees in this super simple look at numismatics, the study of money and its history. Beginning with the ancient practice of bartering, the Cat explains various forms of money used in different cultures, from shells, feathers, leather, and jade to metal ingots to coins (including the smallest—the BB-like Indian fanam—and the largest—the 8-foot-wide, ship-sinking limestone ones from the Islands of Yap!), to the current king of currency, paper. Also included is a look at banking, from the use of temples as the first banks to the concept of gaining or paying interest, and a step-by-step guide to minting coins. A fascinating introduction is bound to change young reader’s appreciation for change!"

My Review: I picked this book up for Munchkin to try to help teach him a little bit about money and saving it. Unfortunately, this book wasn't quite what I was expecting. While I do appreciate a good non-fiction book for kids, this one took it a little too in-depth for really young readers. The pages were long and there was a lot of information that will bore children. The rhymes are very creative though and make things a little more fun. This would be a better book for a classroom or if your child is really into money and different types, not so much if you are just trying to get the basics across to them.
My Rating: While I appreciate the amount of effort it must have taken to keep the classic Dr. Seuss rhyme and rhythm for this book, there is just a little too much info crammed into this book for young readers. It would be more appropriate as an early chapter book instead of styled like a picture book.  We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of The Garden that We Grew by Joan Holub

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "It's spring and that means time for gardening! Carefully tended seeds grow to become buds, then plants, then pumpkins filled with seeds-ready for planting all over again! With eye-catching illustrations and fun-to-read texts, these latest additions to the Viking Easy-to-Read series are sure to get rave reviews from new readers."

My Review: I couldn't decide based on the title and synopsis if this was a good spring read or fall read. I think it turns out to be better for late summer and fall, during harvest time. This is a good level 2 book, it has a nice story to keep the reader interested with some more complex sentences and words. While we enjoyed the story, I was hoping it would involve more than just the pumpkins on the cover, but it turns out it doesn't involve more plants in the garden. Munchkin seemed to enjoy this one but we haven't picked it up again.
My Rating: I was a little disappointed in this book, I was hoping for more than just pumpkins.  There are already so many books about pumpkins, what about some corn, or beans, or peas and lettuce?  Anyway, it was a good book but not what we wanted.  We give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Series Review of the Watersmeet Trilogy by Ellen Jensen Abbott

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: "From her birth, Abisina has been outcast--for the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother's status as the village healer has kept her safe. But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina's life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and the home she has never known. In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies."

My Review: I have had this series of books sitting on my shelf for ages and figured it was about time I picked them up. I believe that this was meant to be a YA book but the writing is pretty simplistic and more appropriate for a middle grade book. It was quite an expansive world to build with a variety of mythical creatures and cultures but unfortunately it wasn't developed quite enough to really immerse yourself in the world. The characters also fell a little flat for me, there honestly wasn't a single character that I cared enough about. I do appreciate that Abbott attempted to tackle some very tough subjects, religion and racism, and she does a great job of showing those subjects. But there just wasn't much to build around them. These are fairly short books so I will continue the series.
My Rating: I was a little disappointed in this book, it was slow and flat, I had no connection to the characters or story. It is a complex book with the world building and all the variety of races and belief systems.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Synopsis: "Abisina had found a home in Watersmeet--the community her father led until he was killed by the evil White Worm. But now, Watersmeet is as divided as the village she fled as an outcast. The land faces a new threat, and an uneasy alliances between the humans and the creatures will have to be formed to survive. If Abisina doesn't become the leader Watersmeet needs, she may lose everything. But can she take her father's place?

This powerful and moving fantasy deals with timely issues about identity, prejudice, and war. The Centaur's Daughter is the sequel to Watersmeet, which was an IRA Young Adult Book Award Notable and a YALSA Teens' Top Ten Nominee."

My Review: While this book was a slight improvement over Watersmeet in some manners it was pulled back in others. I like how the series picked up not exactly where it left off but allowed for a little time to pass, but with that it left some important matters up to you to figure out. The world building still needs a lot of work and it has gotten to the point that I really need a map. I do like how this book has transitioned into more of a internal and coming of age type of book for Abisina, she is trying to find her place in her world as her body changes as does her roles. With that said I think to make the book more appealing some love triangles were thrown in but they weren't well done and I did not care for them at all. Again this was a book that fell flat for me, it really kept me at arms length and I didn't get emotionally involved with any of it.
My Rating: There was a pretty big time gap between this book and the first and while it did allow for some development off page, it also made it difficult to re-establish where everything was standing (especially after all the world building).  I did connect with the character more but not enough to really care what happened. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Synopsis: "Abisina is ready to embrace her destiny and become the Keeper of Watersmeet. But the survival of the land depends on the north and south—the centaurs, dwarves, fairies, humans, and fauns—joining together to confront a gathering evil. The rift that opened in the mountains has continued to spew forth terrible creatures. Abisina knows that the most powerful creature of all has arrived—though what shape it will take is still a mystery.

She sets out to bring the folk together, but the land has never been more divided, and, Abisina doubts if she has the strength to be the leader that Watersmeet needs. Even the power of the Keeper's necklace doesn't seem to be enough—and then that is taken from her. Can Abisina's faith in the power of love, acceptance, and unity survive this final test?

This is the exciting conclusion to the acclaimed fantasy trilogy that began with Watersmeet."

My Review: I kind of struggled with this final book in the Watersmeet trilogy. I still really did not care for any of the characters or what happened to them. The story did progress down a darker path compared to the previous two books and there was a lot more danger in this one, and less hope. While I am glad that this series is over, there were a lot of big questions left unanswered and was a little unsatisfying in that aspect. It was also a very slow moving story as a whole, with not a lot of action. I feel like the author had a lot of things to say about hot button issues, like racism, and kind of used this trilogy as a way to voice those, not that they were bad or wrong but I feel like it kind of took over the story. This just wasn't the book or the series I had hoped for when I first picked it up.
My Rating: I thought with this would be better since there was more action and a lot darker feel but since I already kind of didn't care about what happened to the characters it was a bit of a struggle to get through.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Full Series Review: I have had this series sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, I was originally attracted to the Centaur character. I think that Abbott took on a lot with this series, there is a lot of world building required, especially with such a variety of character types and religious beliefs, she also tried to tackle many tough subject matters throughout this series.  It seems like it is meant of a middle grade to early young adult audience but with how slow and complex the series is I don't think many in that target audience would sit through the entire series. It is clearly a plot driven storyline, which if done right can be fantastic but unfortunately this one just fell flat for me.  I have also come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of "the chosen one" or "destined to save everything" tropes, which this was clearly (but more about that in another post).  I give this series as a whole a rating of Two Paws.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review of Martha the Blue Sheep by Gabrielle Yetter

Read for: Requested Review
Synopsis: "When an accident made Martha's coat blue, her world turned upside down. She was no longer like the rest of the flock. She stood out and she didn't like it. She wanted to fit in.
But a series of surprising events and the help of an unexpected friend showed Martha that being different could be a blessing, not a curse.

Martha, The Blue Sheep is a story about acceptance, tolerance and diversity. It's a charming story to inspire children not to be just one of the flock, but to celebrate being an individual who brings richness and colour to the world."

My Review: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Now we have all seen books about someone who is different to encourage kids who might feel a little odd and left out, but those all usually have the character born different. This book is unique in the fact that Martha becomes different and that is one of the reasons I love it. Martha is just like all the other sheep, just a little shy, until one day she has an accident and ends up blue. She struggles with how much attention is on her because she is blue, but being blue and standing out ends up being a very good thing for Martha. I think kids who have something happen when they are older, like getting glasses, will really connect with this story. I also want to point out the illustrations, they are bold and unique, I love the expressions on all the characters faces.
My Rating: I really enjoyed the unique take this book took on a common story idea. Martha's story is one that could possibly help a lot of kids become more comfortable with changes in their lives and bodies.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about Gabrielle Yetter and her work on her Goodreads page or Website or you can check out their other website.
Martha the Blue Sheep was just released this month and you can obtain your own copy in print format from Amazon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review of Riders by Veronica Rossi

Synopsis: "Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?"

My Review: I have had this book sitting on my shelf for over a year and didn't really know anything about it other than it had a horse on the cover. This book was a really unique reading experience for me and there really isn't anything I can think of to compare it to. I found that I really enjoyed the way this is written and while it is a very straight forward, detail oriented narration style, it gives Gideon a very clear voice and allows you to really feel as though you are there. I also really enjoyed this different take on the Four Horsemen, and the way they work together makes it realistic in a sense. The one draw back for me is the way the book is left open for another (which there is a second book coming out soon), I feel like this should be wrapped up, I would hate for it to be more drawn out, I just get a feeling of mostly complete and not needing more. I don't know if I will pick up the next book, except it has another great cover.
My Rating: This was a bit of an odd book, it is presented as a detail oriented, unemotional debriefing so it was a little difficult to connect with the characters but the story is still very intriguing.  The pacing was a little slow as well due to the style of narration. I like that the MCs are pretty much all teen boys, you don't see that very often and I look forward to having another book for Munchkin to enjoy.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
As a side note, Seeker, the second book in the series comes out today!

Monday, May 15, 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 Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Fyre by Katherine Bogle
Transformer Rescue Bots: Meet Optimus Primal by Jennifer Fox (Early Reader)
Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm by Jonathan London (Bedtime Story)

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

Fan the Flames
The Reader
Meet Chase
Gone Too Deep

Currently Reading:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling  - Print - on page 414 of 652
Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong - Print- on page 46 of 358
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman - Audio - 23%
Book of Bera by Suzie Wilde - Kindle - on page 126 of 321

 Books to be Read Soon:


Pages Read/ Time Listened
103:01 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
23,939 Pages Read (1,324 this week)

Books Added to Shelves This Month
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Saga Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
Over the Garden Wall by Jim Campbell, et. al.
The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Books Read From My Shelves
The Reader
Gone Too Deep

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Another busy week, I didn't get as much read for Bout of Books as I had hoped, mostly because I keep putting off Harry Potter.  I am about ready to throw the towel in but at the same time I have pushed through almost to the end of book 6, I only have one left!  Curse my habit of finishing a series once I start it! I keep hoping I will find something redeeming about this series.  Anyway, it was nice to get back to a less chaotic posting schedule this last week. I have so many books I want to share with all of you that I have been reading.  What have you been reading? Any great new discoveries?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring Fun with Munchkin

I will be posting sporadically about some of the fun adventures we are having together.
Clearly I have dropped the ball with sharing the fun Munchkin has been having so far this year! I guess I have just gotten used to posting on Instagram (if you want to keep up with the latest fun we are having, books we are reading, hauls and other good stuff you can follow my instagram @EasternSunset9 ). So anyway we have been busy busy busy and Munchkin seems to be enjoying so much (in between our growing pains, attitude and independence spats).  I think I am going to have to break this up into a few posts over the next couple of weeks. 
For now how about a quick recap of some of the things Munchkin has been up to this year . . .
Had a couple of snow days and went to work with Momma (working on his "computer")
and crushed Momma at War several times (I think he has my competitive spirit)
Some Dr. Seuss Day fun

Went to a Beauty & the Beast story time at Barnes & Noble, made an enchanted rose

St. Patrick's Day green milk tradition!

A long weekend trip to NYC, he loved everything about the city, buses, subways, big buildings, people, shopping
One of his Uncles moved back home and has been so much fun

His first season of Tball kicked off, it has been a rainy one so not many games yet but he sure seems to like it!
After his first Tball game, he got to have his first Del's (a local specialty, frozen lemonade) of the season

Star Wars Day!
A police dog demo, I am surprised he went to pet the dog he is usually very timid around dogs.

 And last weekend we went to a Touch a Truck event. Lucky for Munchkin, on of the companies Hubby works for was there and he got to help take the equipment back to the shop!

So far it has been quite the year for Munchkin, he is growing up so fast and has made so many new discoveries and found new interests.  He is my little man and I can't wait to see what he will learn next!
Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!