Saturday, November 11, 2017

Review of Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

Read for: Recent Purchase & Veterans Day

Synopsis: "Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.

Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians."

My Review: The Code Talkers were only briefly mentioned in my history classes back in school but since hearing about them I have been intrigued. This was quite a dramatic story that follows a young Navajo from a difficult childhood up through serving in the marines for the very special service of code talker. I found it very interesting and eye-opening, and while it brought realities of both life on the reservation and WWII, it wasn't too gruesome and graphic for younger readers, even an interested Middle Grade reader could pick this book up. I almost wish that I was in school while reading this, I would have enjoyed the discussions, but I do look forward to Munchkin reading this one in a few years.

My Rating: This was an intense read that did need to be read at a slower pace but it was so worth it to learn a little bit more about these previously secret heroes.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Go thank a Veteran today for all they have done for us and our country!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Bedtime Story: Can You Snore Like a Dinosaur? by Monica Sweeney

Read for: Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "From the bestselling author of CAN YOU YAWN LIKE A FAWN? comes the adorable follow-up, CAN YOU SNORE LIKE A DINOSAUR? This stunningly illustrated bedtime book from Monica Sweeney and Laura Yelvington uses clinical sleep strategies with comforting, soporific language to tell the story of drowsy dinosaurs settling in for the night. Follow the recommended bedtime routine from Certified Sleep Consultant Lauren Yelvington to create a calming, restful environment as you and your child read the story of sleepy prehistoric creatures readying themselves for dreamland. The tranquil, repetitive language and serene illustrations will have your little one sleepy and relaxed as the story closes, making for a loving, comforting way to end the day and a calming bedtime routine. "

My Review: I thought this would be a fun book to read with Munchkin at bed. I think it would have been better to read this one to a child who was a little younger and would take the direction of the book a little easier (maybe 2 or 3), Munchkin didn't quite get the concept even after reading a few times. With that said even though we aren't quite using it the way intended, he has enjoyed reading it and seeing the pictures of all the dinosaurs.

My Rating: This would be a great book to start at a young age and always have it to fall back on when your little one is having trouble sleeping.  We did really like it and have read it a few times.  We give it a rating of Three Paws.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of Me Too, Woody! by Heidi Kilgras

Read for: Early Reader Challenge

Synopsis: "When Jessie tries to join in the fun and games with Woody and Buzz, she finds out that some games are simply meant for two . . . until the gang rounds up a game that everyone can play—including Jessie! In super-brief, super-simple text, this book promotes the power of inclusion."

My Review: Munchkin has recently come to love the Toy Story movies so this was a great one for him to pick up. This is a great level 1 reader, the sentences are very short and easy with easy words. It also has a great message behind the story that allowed us to start a conversation about including other kids.

My Rating: This was a great one, it has all the favorite characters and yet doesn't follow the story line of the movies.  We give it a rating of Three Paws!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review of Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Read for: Recent Purchase & Audio Book

Synopsis: "Michael Crichton's recently discovered novel—an adventure set in the Wild West during the golden age of fossil hunting.

The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.

Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions. With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William’s newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West’s most notorious characters."

My Review: As soon as I saw this book was coming up I got very excited, I loved the Jurassic park books as a teen and picked Dragon Teeth up as soon as it was released. I loved the setting of this book and the plot line of it. The time period was an exciting one and obviously a lot of research was conducted while putting this book together to fit all the pieces together. I also appreciated the more honest description of the area, the rough and tumble people who lived out west during the gold rush and the unforgiving terrain and weather. With all that said it really feels incomplete, like it was outlined in detail but clearly he intended to go back and fill in some of the story but it didn't happen and those who discovered the manuscript just couldn't compare to the original. It is still a great story and one I did enjoy just don't expect it to hold up to previous books.

My Rating: I loved the setting of this book and it was one of the reasons I picked it up (other than it was Michael Crichton).  It was okay, I loved all the historical facts interwoven with the story and the danger and suspense but there was a disconnect, it wasn't as polished as his other books (obviously he hadn't published it for a reason).  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017 Boston Teen Author Festival Experience & Giveaway

Boy am I late getting this post together and up, but back in September I attended the 2017 Boston Teen Author Festival in Cambridge.  It was definitely an experience and was so exciting to attend.

First off, I went to this only 3 days after returning from Florida (and Disney) and was not exactly prepared. Second, the friend I was attending with cancelled last minute so this ended up being one of the first events I have gone to alone (and definitely the first of this magnitude).  I have also never driven alone in the Boston area, and can't parallel park to save my life. So yeah it was definitely an anxiety inducing event (especially when you look at the list of authors in attendance), but it was totally worth it!!

So the morning started off with a Q & A with all the authors and what a crowd it was! Some of the questions included, the synopsis of your book in a single sentence, what would your character wear to the prom, 3 things in your character's locker and would you have been friends with your character at 17?  

Next I attended the panel Their Dark Materials featuring Traci Chee, Linsey Miller, Amanda Foody and Rin Chupeco.  (my whole reason for going to the festival was to meet Traci Chee & Linsey Miller).  In this panel the authors discussed what defines a book as Dark Fantasy and it really sparked some very interesting conversation and ideas from both the authors and the audience. Some of the statements made that I jotted down were (and I am paraphrasing here a bit since my handwriting is awful and it has been a couple of months). . 
Linsey Miller - when a character must do this bad thing to protect the good (referring to what pushes a book into the realm of dark fantasy and the morally grey areas in connection with the sub-genre).
Rin Chupeco - no one person is universally good or universally bad (in reference to how the authors write their characters, both antagonists and protagonists).

 Next was a panel called Lens Crafters, about creating books with multiple point of views, that featured authors Lisa Maxwell, Cinda Williams Chima, Tara Sim and Victoria Aveyard. In this panel they discussed how they came to write multiple POVs in their stories and the reasons for needing those other POVs.  Some of the reasons included when characters get separated and both sides need to be told, or when there is an action scene and one character has a better view of what is going on.  This also led into a discussion about defining voice of those different characters and how even small quirks can help to define that voice. Tara Sim gave some great examples of this with her book since one of her characters is non-human and how she used that to help define their voice from the other POVs. 

The final Panel I was able to attend that day (there were only 4 panel time slots with 4 panel options at each time - there was actually only 2 groups of panels but repeated) was Out of Character where the authors Jason Reynolds, Leigh Bardugo, Ashley Poston and Kerri Maniscalco discussed writing re-tellings and revisiting already created characters.  This was probably the most entertaining panel as it was a great group with a sense of humor that played off each other really well.  They discussed the types of research they had to undertake in order to refresh old stories and tell them in a new light including not only the character themselves but also cultural and historical influences to those characters and stories.  

After that final panel I purchased some new books, (does anyone else fall in love with an author after hearing them talk and then immediately want all their books?!) and got into the insanely long signing line! They had so many authors in that one single room that it was a case of organized chaos!

I have to admit that I did a really poor job of taking pictures, and it was a trial juggling all my books, and weaving through the crowd to various lines.  My first stop was Linsey Miller, I had just read her book Mask of Shadows the previous month and was somewhat obsessed!  I then was able to find Sarah Nicole Lemon for her to sign Done Dirt Cheap, and then on to Rin Chupeco after having to pick up Bone Witch after her panel, the same went for Kerri Maniscalco and both her books Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula, next stop was Ashley Poston after reading Geekerella earlier in the summer.  I also managed to pick up The Last Magician and have Lisa Maxwell sign it for me. Somewhere in the middle of all this I manged to stop at Traci Chee's table and have her sign my copy of The Reader, I honestly had a little bit of a fan girl moment (and ended up taking a not so great picture but I don't care, I got to meet Traci Chee!

I unfortunately wasn't able to get all of my books signed and the line for Leigh Bardugo was far too long (I only had my parking meter paid until 4:30 so had to run before then).  All in all it was quite the experience, especially for someone as shy as me, I did get to talk to a few people (and even initiated some of those conversations) so I was pretty proud of myself for everything experienced and accomplished on this day.   
Would you like to see my haul now? Of course you do!
First is a little bag of goodies that were handed out at the welcome table.

I was a supporter on their Kickstarter and received a tote bag full of ARCs and this beautiful quote necklace. 

These were all the new books I picked up while there (and the bags they gave you to lug your new purchases around).

And here are all the books that I got signed while at the event! (Yes there are 2 copies of Mask of Shadows, one to be added to my shelf and on that will be added to one of yours at the end of the year)

So as with taking pictures I didn't do such a great job of picking up swag and goodies for you guys, but I do have a little bit of a giveaway for you (which I forgot to take to a picture of this morning).

Green Boston Teen Author Festival Bag (pictured above)
Boston Teen Author Festival travel water bottle
Paperback copy of When Dimple Met Rishi by 
Paperback ARC of Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Hard Cover Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Hard Cover The Reader by Traci Chee
Boston Teen Author Festival bookmark & button pin

Sound pretty awesome? Enter below in the Rafflecopter

~ Must be 18 (or have parents permission)
~ Must give me a mailing address to send them to (believe it or not I have had winners in the past who didn't want to give an address so was unable to claim their prize)
~ Giveaway runs from now through November 15th at 12:00am EST
~Rafflecopter will randomly select the winner. 
~ Due to the weight of the package, I am asking that any international winner pay for shipping cost over $12, this is the only way that I will be able to keep this open to everyone as the cost of shipping these books overseas could be quite expensive.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Happy Release Day for The Speaker by Traci Chee

You all know I don't normally post cover reveals or release days unless it is something I am really excited about, either the author or the book.  In this case I am so excited!! 

Today is release day for The Speaker, the second book in the Sea of Ink and Gold series.

If you haven't read The Reader yet, I urge you to go read it and then pick up The Speaker.
The Reader is a book that I picked up pretty quickly but then it sat on my shelf for several months, I wish I had read it earlier because it is one that has stuck with me since I read it back in May (link to my review). I am now ready to dive into The Speaker!

I will be posting my review later this month as a part of the blog tour for The Speaker, but in the mean time, why don't you read these two books and check out some of the other tour stops . . .

October 30 – Ex Libris – Review
October 31 – Bette’s Pages – Review with photos
November 1 – Never2Many2Read – Review
November 2 – ButtermyBooks – Review
November 3 – YA Wednesdays – Favorite Quotes
November 6 – FlyLeaf Chronicles – Review
November 7 – The Fox’s Hideaway – Review
November 8 – In Wonderland – Review
November 9 – Book Reviews Express – Review
November 10 – Brianna Book Binding – Review
November 13 – Readers Live A Thousand Lives – Excerpt and Review
November 14 – Good Choice Reading – Review with Photo
November 14 – Love Is Not a Triangle – Review
November 15 – Dazzled by Books – Review with bookish Candle
November 16 – A Belle’s Tale – review and Spotlight
November 17 – MelihYoutuber – Review
November 20 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review
November 21 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
November 22 – Bookshelves and Paperbacks – Author Interview
November 23 – Across the Words – Review
November 24 – Eastern Sunset Reads – Review

Monday, November 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

Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (Series Review)
Her Dark Curiosity  by Megan Shepherd (Series Review)
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (Series Review)
Piper by Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg (Graphic Novel)
Aaron Loves Apples and Pumpkins by PD Eastman (Early Reader)
I'm Not Scared by Dan Crisp (Bedtime Story)
The Shadow Glass by Aly Fell (Graphic Novel)

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

Code Talker
Me Too Woody
Every Little Thing

Currently Reading:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman - Print - on page 265 of 435
Luin the Sapphire by Rich Feitelberg - Print - on page 114 of 416

 Books to be Read Soon:

Pages Read/ Time Listened
258:20 Hours (about 10+ Days) Listened (8:17 listened this week)
46,469 Pages Read (272 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
Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
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
World Mythology in Bite Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels
Eliza and Her Monster by Francesca Zappia
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Frogkisser by Garth Nix
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth
Addie on the Inside by James Howe
Also Known as Elvis by James Howe
Viking Warrior Rebel by Asa Maria Bradley
New Leash on Love by Debbie Burns
Puss Without Boots by Shari L. Tapscott
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Saints Blood by Sebastien de Castell
P.O. Box Love by Paola Calvetti
Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by various authors
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
The Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
The Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor
Luin the Sapphire by Rich Feitelberg
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
Realm of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
The Winter King by CL Wilson
The Christmas Blessing by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Hope by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
She and Her Cat by Makoto Shinkai
Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima
Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
As You Wish  by Chelsea Sedoti
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff
The Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock
Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Every Little Thing by Marie Force
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Klaus by Grant Morrison
Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Lost Pony of Riverdale by Amanda Wills
Poppy's Diary by Amanda Wills
Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Piper by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg
Phantom Traces by Claire Gem
Dear Margaret by Pamela Ackerson
The Staying Kind by Cerian Hebert
Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle
Hearts Unloched by Claire Gem
A Family for the Rugged Rancher by Donna Alward
Passion's Palette by Peggy Jaeger
His Christmas Sweetheart by Cathy McDavid
Never Dare a Dragon by Ashlyn Chase
Vampire King of New York by Susan Hanniford Crowley
Crewel Work by Natalie Alder
Trouble Looming by Natalie Alder
A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger
Moment of Fate by Karen Stivali
The Promise by Jennifer Owen Davies
The Landscaper Series by Robin Stone
Recipes from Raine's Roast by LG O'Connor
Caught up in Raine by LG O'Connor
Kilty Pleasures by Nancy Fraser
Redeeming the Billionaire by Christina Tetreault
The Billionaire's Best Friend by Christina Tetreault
A Billionaire Playboy by Christina Tetreault
The House of Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
Warriors by Various Authors
Books of the South by Glen Cook
Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook
If You Find this Letter by Hannah Brencher
Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan
Dinosaur Knights by Victor Milan
Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan
The Speaker by Traci Chee
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Christmas at Thompson Hall by Anthony Trollope
The Nutcracker
Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum
A Merry Christmas and Other Stories by Louisa May Alcott
The Night Before Christmas
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu
The Traitor's Blade by Sebastian De Castell
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Phew! What a hectic week, it was so busy at the office and at home.  I think I have said earlier this year but I have really been working towards a whole house purge.  I was nearly down to two rooms left but I really felt like the original rooms I started with were getting out of hand again (particularly Munchkin's room), so I spent a better part of my weekend going through every corner of his room. It went a lot faster this time around and I think if I keep doing this about every 6 months or so with each of the rooms it will eventually get to the point I am hoping for.  Next week I will be tackling the bathroom again and our giant linen closet that collects crazy amounts of stuff.   I also got a good chunk of my Christmas shopping done over the weekend. I thought I was doing so good getting ahead of the game but now it looks like we may end up hosting Thanksgiving as well as Christmas :/

Anyway, I did get a little reading in, again mostly audio book but that is quite okay with me. I have some chunky books coming up on my TBR list this month but hopefully listening to them will help the process along.

Hope you are all kicking off your November with lots of fun!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Crafty Times: Fall Cards & Christmas Gift Tags

Crafty Times is a new thing I am trying on the blog where I can share some of the art and crafts I have created (you can too of course). I really dabble in a wide variety of crafts and hope you can find something that sparks your interest or inspires you!

It has been quite a while since I last posted some crafts, but I really haven't been creating anything in the past several months.  That all changed when my mom told me she booked an extra table at the local bazaar for my cards (and I had nothing made to sell yet).  I have about another week to get Christmas cards made but I thought I would share with you what I have so far!  Also, in case wondering minds want to know, I have a separate instagram set up now for my crafting since I would like to turn it into a business someday - @EasternSunsetCreates I have been debating setting up a blog or website as well (since I will not be selling on Etsy any longer) but that takes a lot of time that I don't have right now.

So here are the fall/thanksgiving cards I made, some of them came out so beautifully and exactly the way I had pictured!

I figured a good way to help my mind transfer over to Christmas mode would be to start out small. So I started off making gift tags.  After making 60 of them, I think I am ready to move on to Christmas cards! 

My Mom has her own quilting business and had been looking for something to send to her client's over the past year as a thank you and Christmas card.  Luckily, I had a plan but it certainly took a while to make all these cards for her!

 And this is why I have been listening to so many audio books lately! I am able to craft and read at the same time.  Now I better get back to work since I need to make about 18 Christmas cards and 6 Thank you cards by Thursday!