Saturday, July 15, 2017

Graphic Novel Review of Local by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge

Synopsis: "From Brian Wood (Demo, DMZ, Northlanders) and Ryan Kelly (Lucifer, American Virgin) comes Local, a collection of twelve interconnected short stories. Crossing genres as it crosses the country, Local examines Megan McKeenan, a young woman who sets off from Portland, OR with nothing but a backpack and a bad case of wanderlust. Each emotional vignette is a self-contained story that represents one year in the life of this young vagabond as she struggles to find a place to call home, both physically and spiritually."

My Review: This book came highly recommended by a trusted friend and I was not disappointed. I was a little confused at first when starting the story but quickly grew to really enjoy Megan as the chapters and years passed. She was an interesting character who really changed and developed throughout the story. It was definitely a book to make you stop and think about where your life has taken you and how your choices have made you into who you have become.

My Rating: This was a bit confusing to wrap my head around at first but it slowly grew on me and in the end really packed the punch that was promised.  It is a bit chunky but it reads pretty quickly, and is worth the time and effort.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bedtime Story: Big Frank's Fire Truck by Leslie McGuire

Read for: Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "Illustrated in full color. Ride along with Big Frank and the rest of thecrew as they race to the scene of an accident, inspect the local KwikShop,demonstrate fire safety at Niceview Elementary School, and battle a ragingbrush fire! In between calls, hang out at the firehouse with Big Frank and thegang. It's all in a day's--and night's--work for our firefighting friends."

My Review: This book follows Big Frank on a full shift as a firefighter. It shows the ups and downs of a long shift and the different things that firefighters do to keep people safe. I really like the touch at the end to show that firefighters, while heroes are still family to someone. Munchkin really liked this book and talking about things he already knew about firefighters and fire trucks. This is a great one for fans.

My Review: Munchkin really enjoyed this one and I appreciated some of the unique and small details that this book included about firefighters.  We give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of The Berenstain Bears are SuperBears by Mike Berenstain

Read for: Early Reader Challenge

Synopsis: "The Berenstain Bears discover the true power of lending a helping paw in this exciting addition to the classic New York Times bestselling series.

When Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear pretend to be their favorite superhero characters, the whole neighborhood joins in on the game. It s fun to fight evildoers, but when a young neighbor falls off his bike, the Bear siblings get to be real-life heroes!"

My Review: This was a fun book, and a great level one reader. The sentences were fairly simple and introduced a few new words but still had a great story to read. This was great because the Bears were using their imagination and learning how to be helpful and kind, something that kids will also benefit from reading about. Munchkin really liked that anyone can be a super hero and now wants a cape so he can pretend too.

My Rating: So far the Berenstain Bears haven't really sparked much interest with Munchkin but this one really got him. It was a fun story and one he can begin reading on his own soon.  We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pen to Paper: Yikes! It has been a While

Hello everyone, boy has it been a while since I posted a Pen to Paper! I guess when life gets busy, like it has been for me in the past couple of months, something gets dropped.  It ended up being my pen pal letters, temporarily, for me.  I have received a bunch of pen pal letters over the past couple of months that I need to respond to . . .

I have started responding to some of those letters, I hope to be caught up again by the end of the month.  Part of the problem was time (Munchkin & Hubby's schedules have kept me hopping) and part of the problem was desire (when I get stressed, I just hide out in my books and avoid anything social including events, texts, phone calls and letters) and the final part of the problem was organization (my old planner system has broken down and I dreaded even looking at it, but I have started a new set up that should help).  Sometimes these things happen and hopefully true pen pals and friends will understand that and be a little forgiving while I play catch up.

In other fun pen to paper news, I discovered a Notebook and Pen exchange that looks like a fun way to swap notebooks, pens and try something new and maybe even make a new friend.  The 2017 Notebook and Pen Swap is hosted by The Paper Trail Diary,  sign ups only last until next Wednesday (July 19th) so if you are interested be sure to sign up soon!

Have you been writing letters while I was MIA? If not I hope you will join me in trying to get started again! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Children's Books

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

So this weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is one that is near and dear to me, Children's Books.  If you have checked out my blog at all you will know that I read a lot of Children's books with my nearly 5 year old son, but even before he came along I was reading them and posting reviews here regularly.  So I thought I would post 2 different top 5 lists, one of my favorite books from my childhood and Munchkin's top 5 picks as well. Just to let you know too, I am sticking with picture books and very early chapter books too keep this simple, I am not including middle grade at all.

So here are my top 5 favorite children's books from when I was a kid (in no particular order):

I loved the Catwings books so much, I read (and still have) all of the books, I adored the little winged kittens adventures and really wanted one of my own!

I was a HUGE unicorn fan as a kid (and really still am) and some of my favorites were Whisper the Winged Unicorn.  The books were small but so beautifully illustrated and they came with stickers! I have the ones I had as a kid still but have been trying to round out my collection but gosh it is hard to track these down!

Again with the unicorns, Misty Morgan and really the entire Serendipity collection were very much adored when I was a kid (and honestly I still love these stories and the artwork). Sadly, my childhood Misty Morgan book has gone MIA but I have been working hard to complete my collection of Serendiptiy books, but again these are rather difficult and at times pricey to track down.

I couldn't have this list without Dr. Seuss on it. I have a very hard time picking a favorite and though the Sneetches and Zax are among my favorites now, as a kid Horton Hears a Who topped my Dr. Seuss list.

Looking back at my first summer reading program lists, I checked out Pickle Pickle Pickle Juice repeatedly.  I have been trying to track this book down but it is hard to find and pretty expensive when I do find a copy.  Something must have been great about it though, and I do love pickles!

Some honorable mentions: 
Of course on top of those books listed above, I also loved the books that came from my favorite TV shows and movies like: Care BearsStrawberry ShortcakeMy Little PonyHeathcliffRainbow Brite, etc.


And now for Munchkin's picks, he really surprised me with a few of these but being a 4 year old likes change like a fly's path . . .

I picked up Milo Armadillo because I am slightly obsessed with armadillos, but it ended up being a really cute book about loving uniqueness and appreciating gifts received, especially those made with love.

I never expected that Gruffalo would become a favorite the first time we read it but Munchkin is obsessed with The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child (and we really enjoy all other books by Julia Donaldson).  Munchkin's 4th Birthday was even Gruffalo themed (his choice).

The owner of our favorite independent bookstore recommended The Book with No Pictures to us, the first time we read it Munchkin didn't quite get it but it quickly became a favorite. He laughs so hard when we do read it!

Little Critter books were a favorite from my childhood and my husband's so it is so great that Munchkin loves them too. What a Bad Dream is his favorite of the series so far.

Of course there had to be an Elephant and Piggie book on this list, I was a little surprised that he picked I Love My New Toy but like all of them it is a fun story to read and with a great message.

Some honorable mentions because some of the books he requests to read all the time were left off his list: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction SiteCat in the HatVery Hungry Caterpillar, & Llama Llama Mad at Mama.

What are some of your favorite children's books?  Do you read them as an adult? Have your favorites changed over the years? If you have kids in your life what are some of their favorites?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Series Review of A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J. Maas

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!

So to give you a little background story on this, I first read Maas' other series, A Throne of Glass series and I disliked it so much that I gave up on it.  But before getting to that point she had made an appearance at our local Barnes and Noble and I purchased the first two books in this trilogy and got them signed.  So I kind of felt like after that I really had to at least read them.  I put off picking them up until near the third books release.  Well, this is how I felt about them  . . . 

 Synopsis: "When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever."

My Review: I know how everyone has raved about this series and I am somewhat late to the game (but at least I won't have to wait long for the final book right). Anyway, I was on my way into a reading slump but this book really pulled me back out quickly. I was a little hesitant to read this one as I was not a fan of the Throne of Glass series. I quickly latched onto the world and the characters in this one though. While Feyre wasn't my favorite character in the world I do appreciate her strength and determination. I also really enjoyed the familiar Beauty and the Beast storyline and elements but the changes Maas made in her re-telling were great, it made this story unique and set it apart from the original. I did find that the story started to slow down and draw out a little too much in the middle but it was easy to push through until it picked back up steam. Knowing that the second book has some Hades and Persephone elements in it, I found the transition from one re-telling to the next was carefully crafted and a smooth transition. I am really looking forward to the next book because (like so many others) Rhys!

My Rating: I absolutely loved the way that Maas took the story of Beauty and the Beast and made it completely her own and then the transition into the next story was great. I loved the characters and the story line. I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!


Synopsis: "Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights."

My Review: This was an interesting read for me, I went into this series not expecting much because I wasn't a fan of the Throne of Glass series, but then after inhaling the first book and absolutely loving it I kind of expected this one to blow me away. I had heard that this was a bit of a Hades and Persephone re-telling, which just so happens to be one of my favorite myths, so I was very excited to read this book. I did find that while there are elements of the myth in this book, it was very loose compared to the first book's re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. While I was a little disappointed that it wasn't more of a re-telling, that did not by any means reduce my enjoyment of the book. As I said in my review of book one, I was immediately a fan of Rhys, and my love for him only grew as we got to know more of him and his Night Court. I also love the way that Feyre developed as a character, she went through some extreme highs and lows throughout this book, I appreciate the time that was taken to allow her to develop as a character. While I did enjoy the story, it wasn't blowing me out of the water and I was a little confused as to some of the raving reviews I have seen, that is until I reached the last couple of chapters. The ending totally blew me away, not at all what I was expecting and the multiple twists at the end make me glad I waited until now to read it so I only have to wait 2 or so weeks for the final book! 

My Rating: This was such a consuming read, I again adored the characters, especially some of the newly introduced characters.  The story sucks you in and keeps you turning pages.  Was it the most perfectly written book, no, but it was certainly entertaining, on the verge of causing a book hang over.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!


Synopsis: "A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places."

My Review: After the ending of A Court of Mist and Fury, book 2 in the series, this was definitely a much anticipated read. While I did purchase this the day it came out, I didn't read it right away, I left it to chill on my shelves for a little bit. I am kind of glad I didn't pick it up right away because I feel like i would have been even more disappointed in it than I already ended up being. The book kicked off really great with a lot of plotting, undermining, and just plain ruthless Feyre paybacks, which was awesome! Then things started to dissolve into a mass of rushing, action that doesn't do too much, characters doing things out of character, etc. The cost of the battles and war just wasn't what it should have been, the romances that developed mostly seemed forced, and while it was all wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end, it just wasn't satisfying. I will continue to read the companion books in the future because I do still really love all the characters, especially Azriel. All in all while not quite up to the standard I was expecting, still a very good book and a quick read.

My Rating: While this book was still completely consuming, and I still loved the characters, it does show what happens when editors and critics and current publishing trends get between an author and their story. While things were setting up to go a certain way for some characters, they went in a completely different direction, abruptly and poorly developed, to conform with current market demands.  Also, as I have started to notice with so many YA fantasies, the conclusion isn't taken far enough, the stakes are not quite high enough.  Anyway, unfortunately this rating dropped from what it was expected to be after the previous two books down to Three Paws and a Stump Wag.


Full Series Review: This series started out so fantastically well, it was on point to becoming my favorite of the year but unfortunately the final book really brought it down.  I really think that Maas should have stuck with her original plot lines and character behaviors even though there were demands and critiques for more diverse characterization. Instead of changing an already established character and story arc, this diversity could have been added in (and was to some degree) with new characters in the branch off companion books instead of being poorly thrown in.  I was also a little underwhelmed with the final battle scenes, support that couldn't be found suddenly appeared all to conveniently.  The stakes weren't high enough either,  you can't tell me that in a battle where their side was being utterly destroyed that all of the inner circle just happened to be able to survive, there needed to be a dramatic death (without a reincarnation). Anyway, now that I have probably spoiled everything for you, my final rating for the series as a whole is Four Paws. Even with the numerous flaws it was still a very enjoyable series to get lost in and you couldn't help but become attached to the characters throughout the series.  I will probably continue with the companion books and see what happens but I doubt Maas will be able to get back to the level of the first and second books in this series.

Have you read this series? What was your favorite book or scene? Do you have a particularly favorite character?  What is your opinion on authors altering their original plot lines to appease the current market demands and wishes?

Monday, July 10, 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

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Transformer Rescue-Bots: Meet Heatwave the Fire-Bot by Lisa Shea (Early Reader)
Catch Crusher (Blaze and the Monster-Machines) (Bedtime Story)

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

Finding Wonders
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel
Sir Pete the Brace
Berenstain Bears are Superbears
Northern Exposure
Big Frank's Firetruck

Currently Reading:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman - Print - on page 213 of 435
Pax by Sara Pennypacker - Audio - 43%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Pages Read/ Time Listened
126:03 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
32,904 Pages Read (630 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently TBR
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Saga Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English
New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins
World Mythology in Bite Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels
Eliza and Her Monster by Francesca Zappia
Turning Pointe by Katherine Locke
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
Frogkisser by Garth Nix
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel by Calliope Glass
Northern Exposure by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
Southern Comfort by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
Eastern Ambitions by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
Western Ties by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Books Read From My Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


Well I guess my second half of the year reading slow down has already started! It was a struggle to read last week, partly due to the holiday on Tuesday and all the BBQs. Munchkin also started in the Kindergarten room and unfortunately there are no more naps and he is really struggling with not getting that extra rest.  I have also transitioned from my traditional planner into a bullet journal and that took quite a bit of time to set up.   We are really enjoying the summer though and this nice weather has been such a blessing, almost every night now Munchkin and I take Niko for a walk in the neighborhood to enjoy a quiet end to the day.

Luckily, we do not have anything big planned for this week so hopefully we can finish up a couple of big projects and I can get a little more reading time in.

Hope you are all having a great start to your weeks!