Friday, April 13, 2018

Bedtime Story: Zen Ties by Jon M. Muth

Read for: Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "Summer has arrived -- and so has Koo, Stillwater's haiku-speaking young nephew. And when Stillwater encourages Koo, and his friends Addy, Michael, and Karl to help a grouchy old neighbor in need, their efforts are rewarded in unexpected ways. 

Zen Ties is a disarming story of compassion and friendship that reaffirms the importance of our ties to one another. "

My Review: We had enjoyed the original book in this series, Hi, Koo! and it's introduction into Haiku poetry. This one has a couple in them but isn't written in it entirely, and without knowing that is how Koo talks from the previous book it would have been a bit confusing. I did like the message of the story, that Stillwater gives the children without actually saying anything specific. With that said it was much more enjoyable as an adult than as a kid, it was a bit too long for Munchkin and lacked much of anything to hold his attention.

My Rating: While I like the message behind the story and the touches of Haiku, it really lacks the ability to convey the message to young children with short attention spans.  We give it a rating of Two Paws.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pen to Paper: April Bullet Journal

Last month I had posted about my Bullet Journal and it seems to have appealed to some of you, so I thought I would share my monthly set ups with you.  I wasn't as great about using my bullet journal last month as I usually do, so I started out this month the same but I think it is time to change up at least my weekly layout in the future.

Anyway here is my April Bullet Journal set up. . .
Cover Page: I think I need to use a bolder color for the month but I like it.

April's Calendar, I am super happy with the simple designs I added.

My Book blog and reading tracker page.

My habit tracker page where I track my stress levels, spending, exercise and monthly master task list.

My weekly layout: mini calendar, appointments, weekly tasks, reading tracker, coming up, daily tasks and water trackers for each day.  I do like how this layout has everything that I need on one page and clearly laid out but I have become bored with this set up.

And just because it is fun to see, here is my ratings and page counts for the year so far including March.  Each month has its own color (Jan. is blue, Feb. is pink & March is orange).

I am really happy I found this planning system but I do need to use it more and I need to set up some brain dump and idea pages and use them more effectively.  

Do you have a bullet journal? How do you plan your life? I would love to see your ideas too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Auto-Buy SFF Authors

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

So this week's topic is a list of the Science Fiction/ Fantasy authors who you will automatically buy books by. Now this topic could easily get out of control for me, there are many authors that I auto buy from and I recently posted about some of those newer authors.  So I thought I would make it a bit more difficult and shine some light on some truly consistent favorites, so for my list not only to they have to be auto-buy SFF authors but I must have also read multiple books from more than one series. Some of my favorite authors (and auto buy authors) may not be on this list because I have only read one series or even only one book by them so far.  

Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce was the author who originally got me into fantasy and she has always had a special place on my shelves. I have read many series by her, mostly in the Tortall world but still multiple series.  I have gotten a little behind on her books but I have been picking up all her newest releases.

Garth Nix
Garth Nix was another one of those authors who really got me into fantasy, I read Sabriel shortly after finishing Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series, and it cemented my love for fantasy.  Again, being as there was no internet when I originally read him, I didn't realize how many books he had out, I have been slowly picking up backlist titles but I have definitely been auto-buying each new book he release, especially since he has returned to the Old Kingdom!

Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan has become one of those accidental Auto-buy authors, I didn't realize how many books I had read by her, granted 7 of them were in this year alone. She has quickly become one of my favorite fantasy authors, she has such a wide range of books and they have all been great so far.  Because she is newer to me I do have a lot of back list to catch up on but I will definitely be buying every new book she releases!

Maria V. Snyder
I am a huge fan of Maria V. Snyder's Ixian Chronicles, and granted I have only read series from that world and I haven't ventured into her SciFi series Insiders but I definitely love her fantasy and will be picking up her next book that comes out in 2019!

Kristin Cashore
Now you had to know this was coming, The Graceling Trilogy, Fire in particular, are ranked pretty high up on my favorites, so without a doubt Kristin Cashore is an auto-buy author for me no matter what she puts out.  Now admittedly I have not read Jane, Unlimited yet, it is on the shelf mocking me right now.

Honorable Mention: Robin D. Owens
I wanted to include Robin D. Owens because I absolutely loved these two series by her and would auto buy any new books in these series and would definitely try other books by her; however, her most recent series Mystic Circle was not for me and I can't say I would fully auto-buy from her because I won't be continuing that series which is the one currently in progress. I have also not read her other current series Ghost Seer, I might give that one a shot.  But everything else is definitely up for trying.

So who are your auto buy authors in SF/F? I am sure by the end of the year I will have a big list of new auto buy authors but am always looking for more great recommendations!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Read for: Recently Added

Synopsis: ""I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin"

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…"

My Review: I had heard a lot about this book when it was released last year and knew I wanted to read it. I am glad that I held off until now and can pick up the next book right away. It was a little slow to build and it had a few lulls in the middle that were a little difficult to push through but all in all a really captivating book. I enjoyed all of the characters and the way they have developed. It does seem to have a bit of a chosen one story line which I am not a fan of but it has been well handled and you aren't entirely sure who the chosen one is, and the twists keep you changing your mind. I also like how there is a lot of grey area, everyone has a bit of good and evil in them and human nature figures into the decisions that are made. I was thrown a bit by the glimpses of the future that pop up throughout the story, it pulled me out of the rhythm and it took a while to get back into the current events taking place in the story. I am really looking forward to reading Grey Sister and finding out what happens next.

My Rating: This is the first book I have read by Mark Lawrence but I had heard great things and I was not disappointed.  There were some lulls and a bit of a slow build but that is to be expected in an adult high fantasy series.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Monday, April 9, 2018

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

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Frankenstein (original 1818 version) by Mary Shelley
Ollie's Easter Eggs by Olivier Dunrea (Early Reader)
Hermes: Tales of the Trickster by George O'Connor (Graphic Novel)

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


Currently Reading:

Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne - Print/Audio - on page 354 of 628

Pages Read/ Time Listened
171:25 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
10,398 Pages Read (none this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson
To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi
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
Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly UNHAUL
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
Still Waters 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
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Here Comes the Sun by Marie Force
Hermes: Tales of a Trickster by George O'Connor
The Witch's Curse by Jordan Quinn
Emma's Dream by M. Lee Prescott
Eko by Loren Walker
Moving Targets by Cecil Castellucci
Caging the Merrow by Heather Rigney
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Opel
The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Greedy Pigs by Matt Wallace
Lustlocked by Matt Wallace
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
The Scandalous MacKenzies by Jennifer Ashley
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley
Ladycastle by Delilah Dawson
Frankenstein Alive! Alive! Trio by Steve Niles
Frankenstein, Alive! Alive! #4 by Steve Niles
The Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith
Hard to Serve by Laura Kaye
Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye
Theirs to Take by Laura Kaye
The Sapphire Affair by Lauren Blakely


I didn't get a whole lot of reading done this last week, it was a bit of a catch up week.  Catching up at work and at home.  I had all the Easter clean up to do and continue my house purging (with Munchkin's room which is always a major undertaking). I also had a bunch of appointments last week with Dentists and PT and then we went and toured a new school for Munchkin.  I have to admit I got a little emotional just knowing that my little man is going to first grade next year.  I do feel like I managed to get a little caught up for a change.  Now I will hopefully be doing a lot of reading and crafting this week!  I am so enjoying my current read that it is the only book I am reading right now!

I hope you all have a great week!