Saturday, January 6, 2018

Graphic Novel Review: Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess

Read for: This Stunning Art & Graphic Novel Challenge

Synopsis: "From renowned artist Gregory Manchess comes a lavishly painted novel about the son of a famed polar explorer searching for his stranded father, and a lost city buried under snow in an alternate future.

When it started to snow, it didn’t stop for 1,500 years. The Pole Shift that ancient climatologists talked about finally came, the topography was ripped apart and the weather of the world was changed—forever. Now the Earth is covered in snow, and to unknown depths in some places.

In this world, Wes Singleton leaves the academy in search of his father, the famed explorer Galen Singleton, who was searching for a lost city until Galen’s expedition was cut short after being sabotaged. But Wes believes his father is still alive somewhere above the timberline.

Fully illustrated with over 120 pieces of full-page artwork throughout, Above the Timberline is a stunning and cinematic combination of art and novel."

My Review: As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I had to have it. The artwork inside did not disappoint at all, it is absolutely stunning! And the story is also quite an adventure. It is a little outside of my normal reading genres and is an interesting combination of adventure, dystopian and a touch of futuristic steampunk. It took me a bit to get into the story itself, it is told using narration and several journals of characters and it does jump around a bit in the timeline so that was a bit confusing. Once I started putting the pieces together it was really a page turner. I enjoyed the setting and the way the world is built with a variety of belief systems and societies all woven together in a rather believable way. Definitely a book I am happy to have on my shelf!

My Rating: I was all for the art in this book when I started but was unsure of the story but it ended up being a pretty engrossing story that I was happy to enjoy.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Bedtime Story: Early Reader Review of Snow Dance by Erica Farber

Read for: Early Reader Challenge & Snow is what Munchkin wishes for

Synopsis: "Down comes one flake.
Down come some more.
See the snow, snow!
Huckle has a shiny new red sled—but what he doesn't have is snow. After many funny attempts to find a solution to his problem, Huckle and his pals decide to do a “snow dance.” And guess what? It works! This Level One story will delight beginning readers even as it teaches them to sound out simple words."

My Review: This is a great book for this time of year (at least here in the US) and it had Munchkin dancing for snow, which works I guess since we are currently snowbound. I love the classic characters in this book and Munchkin loved the story. It was also a great level one book for us because it wasn't overly simple but it was still easy enough for a young reader to be able to recognize several words and sound out the others.

My Rating: Munchkin really enjoyed this one and telling Huckle that snow and ice are not the same thing.  It was a fun book to read this winter.  We give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Note:  Since Munchkin is growing older and beginning to read more and more on his own I have decided to change my bedtime stories slightly.  I will now be alternating between early reader books and picture books for Bedtime Stories.  I know that Bedtime Stories are some of my most viewed posts and I hope that this is still okay with all of you.  If you would prefer something else or if you like what you see, please don't hesitate to let me know!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Books of 2017: Stats, the Disappointing, the Surprises and the Best of the Best (& Giveaway)

I guess it is about time I wrap up my 2017 reading year since we are well into 2018 already (like I said I need an unassigned week between the years to wrap things up and get set for the new year).  So you can see my Stats Least Favorite Books and Favorite Books of 2016 in those three posts, but since I am behind schedule this year, I thought I would cram them all together in one post.

2017 Reading Stats:

In 2017 I read a total of 330 books (give or take a couple that aren't on Goodreads)
broken down that is 51,233 pages and
335:13 hours (13 days, 23 hours and 13 minutes) of audio book time

of those books:
28 earned 5 star ratings
156 earned 4 star ratings
116 earned 3 star ratings
27 earned 2 star ratings
3 were DNFed

68 were Children's Books
54 were Early Reader Books
28 were Middle Grade Books
62 were Young Adult Books
30 were Graphic Novels
46 were Romance
75 were Fantasy
35 were Audio Books 
26 were by local Rhode Island Authors

Biggest Disappointments:
For this I am not including the 3 DNF books (NeverwhereThe Book of Bera and The Mating).  This does not mean that these books were terrible, it just means that they did not hold up to my expectations.

This book might be one of the most beautiful to hold in your hands, the cover is stunning, the synopsis sounds amazing and those deckled edges! But it just didn't hold up, the story was blah, the romance was blah, the imagery was blah.

I have heard so many people rave about this series and how it is a great tale of sisterhood and not romance.  I really had to push through this one and even though I had also purchased the second book in the series I ended up unhauling both books! The world, characters and magic system were all underdeveloped and confusing. 

Yup, I had to put this up there.  I cannot believe I wasted so many hours on this series to have such a anti-climatic ending. Someone significant needed to die in the end and not he who should not be named. 

On that trend this one also needs to be listed, but I did enjoy this book for the most part. The bits thrown in to appease the crowds and the lack of consequences of epic battles just left me feeling cheated.

And speaking of pandering to the masses, this book was so hyped, a standalone fantasy (which is now a trilogy) with a female/female love story.  To me it ended up falling short on the world building, character development and story line to cash in on the sexual diversity push.

Biggest Surprises:
These may not be in my favorites but these are ones I picked up not expecting anything in particular but finding I held a gem in my hands.

This book sat on my TBR shelf for over a year after receiving it in a subscription box, I finally picked it up when I saw the cover for the second book. This is such an awesome high fantasy with great world building and story to it. I cannot wait to read the second book this year!

This was quite the surprise at the end of the year, a unique magic system and a not so happy hunky dory relationship between the characters makes it so much more multi-dimensional.

I was so disappointed in the Throne of Glass series that I was really hesitant to pick these books up but I am so glad I did! I absolutely loved the way the inspiration (Beauty and the Beast & Hades and Persephone) was interwoven into the story and of course like everyone else I completely fell for Rhys (but I must say that Azriel might have the bigger part of my heart).

I have heard some really great reviews and some really ranting reviews of this series but when I found it available from the library I thought why not give it a shot.  It started out really rough and I almost didn't continue but I am glad I did, I ended up loving the mental games played and both the Laurent and Damien wormed their way into my heart.

and finally
The Best of the Best Books in 2017:
Here are my absolute favorite books that I read in 2017! This is entirely my opinion, I pick my favorites not only in my enjoyment of them at the time but also on how they have stood out to me in the mix of 330 books from this year.

You would think that one of the first books of the year would be easily forgotten, but Cat and Griffin have haunted me all year waiting for their conclusion (Heart on Fire was just released yesterday). I love this second story in the series, especially Cat's spunky attitude and Griffin's solid determination.

When I saw the cover of this book I knew I wanted to read it and was approved on Netgalley, but then I saw the synopsis and that the main character was gender fluid and I got really nervous that it would be a disappointment like Of Fire and Stars. Thank goodness I decided to read it anyway! It was an intense story full of plots, brutality and a main character that you can't help rooting for, I seriously can't wait for the next book in this Duology!!

Again, The Reader is a book that sat on my shelf for nearly a year. I finally got the urge to pick it up and good gordy am I glad I did! If you read my review earlier this year, you know that this may not be a book for everyone but if you have the patience for this slow building and super intricate story, it will be so worth your time! The Speaker definitely continued to build on the first without that second book slump and more pieces are put together but still some don't quite fit yet. I am anxiously awaiting the next book and hoping it will come out this year!

And finally the best book I read this year, A Man Called Ove! I had seen a few people raving about this book and on a whim decided to pick it up even though it isn't in my usual reading genres. Wow! I was raving about this book even as I was currently reading it.  I could see so much of myself in Ove and I ended up adoring everyone in the neighborhood. You will laugh, you will cry, you will probably end up loving this book too!

So there you have my final wrap up of my 2017 reading year. As you may know, in previous years I have given away my top favorite books.  I am still planning to do that but I am trying to line up interviews and guest posts with some of those authors for a little extra treat for all of you.  In the mean time, I will have a giveaway for A Man Called Ove to hold you over.

As always there are some rules:

~Open internationally (you are responsible for customs fees beyond shipping)
~ Must be 18 or over (or have your parent's permission as I will need your shipping address)
~ 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 January 11th at 12:00am EST
~Rafflecopter will randomly select the winner

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Reading Resolutions

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

Well this couldn't have come at a better time since I haven't even thought about what I will be reading in the new year.  I need a week between last year and the new year to wrap things up and plan because 2018 started way to quickly! I don't know if it is a good thing or a bad thing that I haven't planned my year to a T yet.  Anyway, I am really letting my control go this year (we will see how long that lasts) and going with the flow for a change.  I do have a few reading resolutions though . . .

1. Read Less Books! I know I said this last year but I want to slow down on my reading and take my time to enjoy each book that I pick up.  (2016 I read 398 and 2017 340, so progress) 

2. Be more aware while reading.  This works with the previous goal, I want to be able to absorb what I am reading better. I want to be able to note favorite quotes and recall characters and plot twists after reading.

3. Read my chunky books.  I have so many big chunky books sitting on my shelves and I have had the itch to reach for adult fantasy lately so this will go hand in hand. I plan to read at least 12 books over 450 pages this year.

4. Use my library/overdrive more.  I purchased far too many books last year, and often books that I could have borrowed from the library. So while I have used my Overdrive app for several audio and ebooks this last year, I hope to use it more throughout this year.

5. Purge & reorganize my shelves.  Not really a reading goal but my bookshelves are a mess even after having re-organized them a little over a year ago.  I have even purged a bit in this last year but I plan to go through my shelves more thoroughly. Any book that is questionable that I want to keep and read will get a 1 chapter try to be added to the TBR shelf or be donated to the library.

So I know these are a little different for me and not really set in any definite numbers but I think this is the direction I want to go this year. How about you? What are some of your reading goals for 2018?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's Not 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

Mistletoe Kiss by Marie Landry (Mini Review)
Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum (Mini Review)
I Want to Hold Your Hand by Marie Force (Mini Review)
I Saw Her Standing There by Marie Force (Mini Review)
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Mini Review)

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

I Saw Her Standing There
Above the Timberline
My New Friend is So Fun
Snow Dance

Currently Reading:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman - Print - on page 265 of 435
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - Kindle - on page 39 of 313
Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Audio - 35%

Pages Read/ Time Listened
335:13 Hours (about 13+ Days) Listened (11:30 listened this week)
51,233 Pages Read (360 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently TBR


Happy New Year Everyone! I hope that you had a safe holiday celebration and that this new year brings you all the happiness, health and love!   This is really my final wrap up of 2017 as all this reading happened earlier in last week.  I didn't get nearly as much reading done as I had hoped, we were shockingly busy in the office last week and due to animal health (my cat eats the fake christmas tree) I had to scramble to pack up all the holiday decorations last week.  With that said it is really nice to start off the new year with a clean house all ready for the new year.

Believe it or not I haven't even really thought about my plans for 2018, the year came up out of no where for me.  I will be working on my final wrap up of 2017 and plans for next year over this week.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mini Reviews: A Re-Read, Butler Vermont/Green Mountain & Last Minute Christmas Books

So with reading and reviewing so many books, I am running out of days in which to share them with you.  I am going to start posting Mini Reviews of books that I read through out the month but couldn't find the time to post on the last Sunday of each month.

So here are a few of the books that I read this last month, I really wanted to share some of these Christmas books with you but know I will forget before next year!

A sweet little fairy tale romance for the holidays. Four Paws

A great classic Santa origins story that I can't wait to share with Munchkin in years to come. Four Paws

Probably one of the most emotional books  I have read this year, I bawled numerous times! Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Great continuation of the series, though is a little dull after reading the second book! Three Paws and a Stump Wag

Book 3 comes out on January 2nd so I am re-reading my much beloved books again! Oh how I am going to miss Cat & Griffin when it all ends in a couple of days :( Four Paws and a Stump Wag!