Saturday, March 10, 2018

Series Review of Ree Varekai by Marie Brennan

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!

I have really enjoyed many of Marie Brennan's books and thought I would give this duology of novellas a try.  As far as I know there are only these two but it has definitely been left open for more. 

 Synopsis: "The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.
And so, in reply, there is a woman.

At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.

This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war—and of fate."

My Review: I have read Marie Brennan's work in the past and am currently reading the Lady Trent series, but I saw this short duology and thought it would be a nice quick read. It kicked off quite abruptly and you are left in the dark along with the main character for much of the book. Usually, I am not a big fan of books like this as it usually leads to a big info dump at the resolution, but this one while there is a bit of an info overload near the end it wasn't quite as abrupt and the development of the story and the character were intriguing enough that it didn't matter in the end. I also think that the withheld information really allowed you to get to know the character and the setting better without any distractions of backstory and extra world building. It was definitely an interesting story and I do look forward to reading the second story, but I don't know if it would suit all readers (but it is super short so give it a try if you are up for something unique).

My Rating: This was an interesting read, and while it was a bit confusing, it was still very unique and interesting. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.


 Synopsis: "At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

Once, there was a call--a binding--and so, a woman appeared, present in body but absent in knowledge of her past self. Making the ultimate journey of rediscovery was not without its own pitfalls--or rewards--and now Ree, a roaming Archeron, spirit of legend and time and physically now bound to her current form, has yet to fully uncover her true identity.
Ree has spent her last innumerable seasons on the move--orbiting, in some sense, the lands of her only friend in this world, Aadet, who has become intricately involved in the new post-revolution politics of his people. Swinging back from the forests surrounding Solaike, Ree falls in with another wandering band, some Korenat refugees searching for their own protection on a trade route besieged with the fallout of the recent uprising. The Korenat's plight might not have striken Ree so deeply, but they are accompanied by their own Archeron, who seems to know much more about Ree's own origins than she ever dared to hope." 

My Review: I have to say this was a very bazaar story to read, the first book while meandering made a little sense, and this one does too at times but there is just so much open. I enjoyed the characters again, both Ree and Aadet, they were both how I came to know them in the first book but also more. I also appreciated that there was a nice time gap between the first book and the second book, a time when the revolution took place and while that might have made for an interesting story, I appreciated the focus remaining on the characters. This was also obviously left open for a possible third book but I don't think it would be necessary, there is an open ending and you can fill it in as you see fit. 

My Rating: This might have been even more odd than the previous book, but on its own it was still interesting.  I would have liked it wrapped up a little bit more or at least have a little clarity.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.


Series Review: This was so bazaar to read, you are left in the dark a lot along with Ree. The world is mostly unknown to you but the events throughout the series are quite adventurous and you can't help but want more.  So far there are only these two books in the series, and while it has  been left open for more down the road, I don't seen anything coming down the pipeline yet on Goodreads or her website.  I would like to know more about Ree and Aadet but by the time another one is released I may have lost interest.  I give the series a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Early Reader Bedtime Story: Gabe: The Dog Who Sniffs Out Danger by Thea Feldman

Read for: Early Reader Challenge

Synopsis: "Meet Gabe, a real dog who worked with the United States military, in this Level 2 Ready-to-Read based on one of the winners of the annual American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards!

Meet Gabe. Gabe had an important job: He used his canine sense of smell to find weapons before they hurt anyone. Gabe saved lives! When he wasn't sniffing out explosives in Iraq, Gabe spent his time cheering up wounded soldiers in the hospital and visiting schools across the United States! Read his action-packed story to find out more about what he did and what made Gabe a hero dog!

Emerging readers will love discovering the inspiring, action-packed story of a different heroic dog in each book of the Hero Dog series."

My Review: I figured this would be a great one for Munchkin, he loves non-fiction books and dogs, and his uncle recently joined the Army. I like the way that this story is illustrated, the style gives it a taste of real without getting so real that it may cause issues for young kids with family serving (we do get to see an actual picture of Gabe at the end). The sentences are simple and the words are easy to sound out and are repetitive for those emerging readers.

My Rating: Munchkin really enjoyed this book and it sparked a lot of questions and discussions. We will definitely be tracking down more of the Hero Dog books.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pen to Paper: Bullet Journal

Hello there everyone. I know it has been ages since I posted a pen to paper post, and this won't be like the others.  I have decided that I need to work other types of posts into the Pen to Paper besides just letter writing (something I do need to catch up on).  Today I wanted to share my bullet journal with all of you.  I know this is a big trend right now, but there doesn't seem to be much for the heavy reader/blogger. 

Just a little background, I haven't been doing this all that long, I started with a very basic bullet journal in about June of last year. I used a nice notebook journal I had been given and just started because I couldn't seem to find a planner system that worked for me.  Sometimes I get a little artsy in my bullet journal but not very often, I also have terrible handwriting and make a lot of mistakes but I don't really mind too much as long as I can get all my plans and notes down.  

So first I have some of my basic reading pages (what others call collections), I have these pages set up in the front of my journal, right after the full year of calendars for future planning.  I do have a couple of pages I didn't add because I haven't done much with them yet, I have a page set up that looks like a bookshelf that I plan to draw in my favorite books of the year.  I also have a page for favorite book quotes that I currently just have sticky notes stuck to until I can transfer the quotes.  If you guys want to see those pages filled out just let me know.
I start off with my ratings and page count pages.  I will be assigning each month a different color to mark the ratings and page counts of the books I read in that month. I currently have January and February marked here.  I also noticed that I didn't really allow for audio books so I have been adding an A in the slot equivalent to the page count of that book in print (it clearly seems I have a sweet spot for audio books).

Next I jump into the challenge pages.  On each page or section I list the challenge with a quick note below with my goal.  I then list the title of the books I read, along with the rating and month it was read.  I will also be highlighting the number of the books read in each month with the color of the month (I forgot to add the color for February before taking pictures)

For my Recently added books I have a slightly different method.  I list the books as they come in and highlight them with the color of the month they were purchased and note the month in which they are read (I think I might go back and highlight the rating in the color of the month they are read so I get a better picture at a quick glance as to how long it takes me to read the books).

Next I have my anticipated releases, which I haven't filled out yet but I wanted to share so you can see how I set up the key for it.  I have all of them noted on a separate piece of paper and hope to fill them in soon. (again if you want to see this filled out just let me know).

After that I start with my Monthly layouts. I only took pictures of March prior to ink, but if you want to see a glance of each month after it is done let me know and I might share it here or on instagram, just tell me what you like.  For March I picked Dr. Seuss as a theme because I love Dr. Seuss & celebrate his birthday every year.
I start with a cover page to break it up and make it a little easier to spot when flipping through.

Then I have a month at a glance, here is where I add in any appointments or important dates and birthdays. 

Then I have my Reading and Blog calendar for the month.  I add in the books I read throughout the month, any specific readathon/challenges, sometimes I will add in instagram challenges too. In the calendar portion I write in my blog posts (and in pencil I will plan out future posts throughout the month).

Then we have what is referred to as Habit Trackers.  I don't track a lot of things. For me my stress is a huge deal and so I have been tracking my stress level each day, my spending each day (I think the two relate and so I am trying to pin point that), I also have a self care tracker for how I help myself combat the stress.  I also have my monthly task list of things I need to accomplish and then a small exercise tracker, I note the exercises I am focusing on (mostly from Physical Therapy and Chiropractor) and then highlight the days I get them in.  I must admit that I am not always the greatest at filling this one in.

Then I go into my weekly and daily spreads.  I think I set this up a little differently than some others do but I have been using this set up for about 4 months now and it works really great for me. I have my weekly appointments on the top left, next to a monthly calendar. Then I have the weekly tasks and my reading to track the books I finish each week and finally a little coming up next week section because I don't always look at this over the weekend.  For the weekly I list each day with the daily tasks below and the images to fill in are my water intake (another thing I am working on).

For this month because I have so many challenges and readathons running I have a page between each of the weeks to track my progress on them and make updates or note quotes.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that you may have found it helpful.  If you want to see more posts like this or have any questions please let me know!  If you have a bullet journal, I would love to see or hear about it. How do you make it work for you?  Do you enjoy it?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I am Pre-Ordering

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

Today was a freebie topic, any past topic you wanted or something else you wanted to post about.  I have been meaning to post about the books I am so excited about that I want to pre-order for a while but just never seem to get the post together.  Since I have already received 2 of my pre-orders for the year (Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet and Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston), I figured I better get this post up before the spring release rush starts!  This isn't exactly a comprehensive list, I may add a few more as the year goes on but these are ones that I have already planned and budgeted to be pre-ordered.

So we will start with the releases coming the soonest.

Last year I read Tethered Mage in the fall of last year and found it to be very unique and intriguing so I am really looking forward to this next book in the series! The Defiant Heir is scheduled for release on April 19th according to Goodreads, but April 24th according to Amazon, not sure which it is but by the end of April I will have this book in my hot little hands!

Also being released on April 24th is Sky in the Deep and even though I have an ARC of this one I am still going to pre-order it because #1 look at that cover and #2 Vikings! 

Reaper at the Gates is one of my most anticipated releases of the year, though I am a little frustrated with the cover change and kind of want the UK covers (the first one) but don't want to wait the extra time to get my hands on the book.  I will probably pre-order the audio book and wait for the UK cover (but I love the original covers of the first two books so will end up having mismatched covers). Anyway, this is the 3rd book in the Ember in the Ashes series which were my favorite reads of 2016 and I cannot wait for more Elias and Laia and Helene!!

August 1st cannot come soon enough!! I am so excited for the conclusion of the Mask of Shadows Duology, Ruin of Stars!  You better believe I am going to do everything I can to get my hands on an ARC of this so I don't have to wait that long for more Sal but either way I will definitely be pre-ordering this one!

(Cover not released but check out the sneak peek on Traci Chee's Facebook)
And finally, November 1st the final book in the Sea of Ink and Gold Trilogy, The Storyteller, will be released!! Both the previous two books were in my favorites of last year, this is such a carefully woven and built story and I am dying for the final book!!!

So there you have 5 of the books I am pre-ordering this year! I cannot wait to have all of these gracing my shelves and taking me off on grand adventures!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review of And Every Morning the Way Home gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Read for: Library Borrow/ Love the Author

Synopsis: "From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove,My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime."

My Review: After reading A Man Called Ove, this was the very next book of Backman's that attracted my attention (unfortunately the library waitlist is super long for all of his books, so I only just now got to read it). I listened to the audio version of this book, thinking that I would find the same connection with it that I had with Ove. Unfortunately, this time I think it would have been better to read in print. This was a short novella and it deals with a character who has alzheimer's disease. At first I really struggled to connect with the story or characters, there was a bit of confusion with the setting, there was quite a bit of symbolism and metaphors used. The MC also interacts with a few different characters, Ted and Noah and due to his failing memories it is not often clear who exactly he is speaking with at the time. While I understand that this is part of the narration to give you a glimpse of the character's struggles, it also made it very difficult to follow. I think the print version would have been better, with the use of page breaks to indicate moving on to a new scene/time. With that said by about halfway through I had figured things out and quickly became invested in the story and the struggles for all of the characters. I, of course, became a bit emotional towards the end of the story, because how could you not.

My Rating: While it was a little difficult to get into at first, which is unfortunate for such a short book, but it ended up really working in the long run. As I sad in my review, this may be easier to read in print. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, March 5, 2018

March Read-Along/ Read-A-Thon/ Challenge Check In #1

So as you probably know, I went a little crazy this month with read-alongs, readathons and challenges.  I figured I better have a weekly check in post to dedicate to all these events. I haven't really had any discussion posts with the groups yet, most of the first ones will be happening later this week and over the weekend so expect a little more chatty check in for next Monday afternoon!  For now this is just a status check.

Anne of Green Gables Read-Along

So the goal for this read-along was to read through Chapter 13 by the 11th of March.  I started out reading the digital version of the book but was so utterly bored and easily distracted by chapter 2 I thought I would try the audio book version (the narrator came highly recommended).  I have to say that I find Anne to be so insanely annoying that I can barely stand her.  She is far too talkative and easily distracted for my liking.  I definitely am much more like Marilla and find Matthew to be my favorite character so far.  Matthew is quite, yet thoughtful and intelligent, he is also very kind. I am glad that I have a group to read with (and who are telling me better things are to come) otherwise I would have probably put this one down.

The Selection Buddy Read

Not very many people in my life are readers so when I finally convince one of them to pick up a book I loved, I kind of feel like I should read along with them to keep up the interest.  So my Sister-in-Law finally decided to pick up The Selection after talking about it for nearly a year (she had given me The Crown for Christmas the previous year and found it a little intriguing).  She has read to Chapter 9 and so I joined in.  I have to say it was super hard to stop reading because this book just flows so nicely that you don't notice the pages turning.  I did manage to stop after Chapter 11.  I have to say that I once again took an instant dislike to Aspen, he is so self centered and all over the place that he really needs to grow up (yeah yeah I know he supports his family financially but that is it).  I am okay with America so far, and while she isn't the nicest person in the world, and a little immature she at least has stuck to who she is so far.  I read the initial meeting of Maxon and while he is kind at the very beginning, he is still very stiff and formal (until the official first meeting, then I really like him).

Middle Grade March Read-A-Thon

I have a huge pile of Middle Grade books to read this month for Middle Grade March and I did get a bit of a start on them.  Obviously, I started Anne of Green Gables.  I also read The Lost Stone, which is an early middle grade book, more of a first chapter book but Middle Grade spans such a wide chunk of books.   I also started reading Letters From Wolfie.  I hope to finish at least 3 or so more books by the end of the week.

Try a Chapter Challenge
I have a total of 22 books from subscription boxes that have been sitting on my shelves for a while now, so figured that to start the month I need to Try a Chapter in one book a day.  So far I have tried 5 books that were from the early Bookworm Box and BookCaseClub romance boxes from well over a year ago (nearly 2 years ago).  I ended up saying no to 4 of them and 1 is a maybe that I will try again later.  I have a few more of those older romances to go and then it will be on to the OwlCrate YA books.  

Frankenstein Read-Along
I have saved this one for last because it was the one I am most excited for and putting the most effort into.  We are supposed to have up through Chapter 3 read by March 9th.  I am planning on reading 2, possibly 3 different editions for this; the popular edition which was published in 1831, the originally published version from 1818 and then also the original written by Mary Shelley before edits by Percy Shelley and publishing. I started with the 1818 version as I didn't want the one I am familiar with to overshadow this version, I have read the letters and Chapters 1 and 2 so far.  I know that it starts out a bit slow for many readers but I love the way we are drawn into the story with the letters from Robert Walton to his sister, the relating of the story of his mysterious lost soul.  I am loving marking some of my favorite quotes and the great bits of foreshadowing in the early chapters.  I will be reading the pre-edit and publishing version next and followed by the 1831 version later this week.

So that is it for my check in so far, only 5 days into the month and I am pretty well on track for all my challenges and read-alongs.  I can't wait for the discussions to start this week!!

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

Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan (Series Review)
Scrambled Eggs Super by Dr. Seuss (Bedtime Story)
Jim Henson's Labyrinth Tales by Corey Godbey (Graphic Novel)

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

Tess of the Road (DNF -read 190pages)
Within the Sanctuary of Wings
Heaven on Earth
Every Little Thing
Editorial in the Falchester Weekly Review
Lightning in the Blood
Scrambled Eggs Super
The Lost Stone
Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Gabe the Dog that Sniffs Out Danger

Currently Reading:

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery - Audio - 18%
The Selection by Kiera Cass - Print - on page 134 of 336
Frankenstein (the original 1818 Version) by Mary Shelley - Print - on page 28 of 165
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff - Print - on page 68 of 437
Can't Buy Me Love by Marie Force - Audio - 19%
The Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne - Print - on page 28 of 624

Pages Read/ Time Listened
125:50 Hours Listened (19:25 listened this week)
6,979 Pages Read (711 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Moonsilver by Kathleen Duey
Silver Thread by Kathleen Duey
The Silver Bracelet by Kathleen Duey
Mountains of the Moon by Kathleen Duey
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Gods of the North by Lucy Coats
We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson
Life Changing Manga of Cleaning Up by Marie Kondo
To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi
Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley
Letters from Wolfie by Patti Sherlock
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
Luck Love and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds
Smuggler's Run by Greg Ruka
The Lost Stone by Jordan Quinn
The Scarlet Dragon by Jordan Quinn
Sea Monster by Jordan Quinn
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Heaven on Earth by Jayne Rylon and Mari Carr
Into the Fire by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
Into the Fire by Jayne Rylon & Mari Carr
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Reflections of Yesterday by Debbie Macomber
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne
Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson


Wow, I feel like I am already well into March, trying to get on top of all my readathons/readalongs and challenges for the month, but it is only the 5th!  It was a bit of a crazy week last week with the end of the month and all that goes with it.  We also had a crazy nasty storm here on Friday and Saturday, luckily we made out okay at my house, we never lost power and no damage to our house.  Though all around us several neighbors lost shingles and fences and trees came down causing damage to vehicles and sheds but again no houses in our area.  But because of the storm we didn't get to go to any of the Dr. Seuss events near us.  Though we did spend some time at home enjoying some family time (and reading of course).