Friday, July 27, 2018

Bedtime Story: Snail Mail by Samantha Berger

Read for: Children's Book Challenge and Munchkin's Love of Mail

Synopsis: "Nothing Says Love Like an Old-Fashioned Letter
A long, long time ago, before email and texting, the mail was delivered in a much slower way-it was called Snail Mail (because some thought it was delivered by a snail). Although it took much longer, everyone agreed that letters were a little more special when they were delivered by Snail Mail. They might be handwritten. They might include a drawing. They might even contain a surprise inside! One such letter was sent by a Girl to the Boy she loved, and it was up to four special snails to deliver her card across the country. The snails trek across the country-through desert heat and dangerous blizzards, across mountains and plains, through cities and forests-and along the way, they find that taking time to slow down and look around makes the journey all the more beautiful. 

Snail Mail's playful and educational story encourages kids to have slow living, and to approach life with determination and wonder. Julia Patton's rich illustrations showcase America's diverse terrain and national monuments from coast to coast. Kids and parents alike will delight in this celebration of America's beauty and the power of a simple handwritten letter."

My Review: Munchkin loves all things to do with the mail, the post office, getting mail, the mail trucks and the mail men (and women), so I thought this would be a fun book to read. It was great to see mail traveling across the country (even though it was brought by snails instead of the mail men). They also had the motto of the Postal Service in it which added another fun element and connection to the actual postal system. This illustrations were great as well, with more pastel colors and enough detail but not overly busy. We really enjoyed this book and have added it to our mail shelf. 

My Rating: We had a fun time reading this story and it has really sparked Munchkin to send out letters (mainly in hopes that he gets more mail back). The light tone and colors of the illustrations make it a great bedtime story. We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review of The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Read for: Tome Topple Readathon/ Buddy Read/ Recent Purchase and Highly Recommended

Synopsis: "Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil."

My Review: I finally picked this book up after hearing Sam from Thoughts on Tomes on Youtube mention it as one of her favorite books repeatedly. The cover is stunning and the synopsis was really intriguing, I found the setting (and Mongolian inspiration) to be really intriguing. I buddy read this book with someone from Instagram for the Tome Topple challenge and I am glad I had someone to discuss the book with as I read it! The book is written in a really beautiful almost lyrical way, the words just flow together like music. 

Admittedly, I had a few concerns when starting the book, first being the various names each characters is called, and this turned out to be a problem as they gain more names as the story continues and some of them are extremely similar (I highly recommend listening to an audio book to hear the pronunciations while reading, at least for a little while). Then next concern I had was that the beautiful writing would be the focus and we would loose the story or possibly even the character connections due to it; that ended up not being a problem, the beautiful writing only added to the story and heightened the intensity of the relationship between Shizuka and Shefali. In fact, the love between these two characters is so strong that it made my heartache and brought me to tears a few times. 

Even though I was aware that this is a fantasy, I honestly wasn't expecting the magical elements or the demons. While it did add a little to the story and it does become a major plot point, I like that the focus remained on their relationship and own personal character development. 

While the story is supposedly written as letters and present day moments, in truth it is one long letter to the point of being a book with brief moments of present day reactions of the one reading it. I was honestly expecting more of letters back and forth throughout the story but it is just one letter from one character and the other character reading and reacting. With that said I really think that it word well for this story. It is not often that a second person narration works in books and thankfully Rivera really pulled it off in this one. 

This book may not be for every reader, and not even for all fantasy fans. It does start off a little slow but it does pick up pace as it goes, but for an over 500 page book it can be daunting. I am beyond excited for the next book and have already pre-ordered it!

My Rating: I absolutely fell in love with Shizuka and Shefali and especially their love story. There were a few hiccups but all in all this was a beautiful story that really pulled me in and held me throughout.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

There were so many beautiful quotes in this story and I have been trying to get better about noting them so I thought I would share one with you. 

"I wept, Shizuka. I wept for you every night. So what if I'd lost an eye? An eye is not an essential thing. I was born with two; I can live with one.
But a person can have only one soul, and you are mine. Without you near me . . .
I cannot put words to the pain."

While I know this may not be the book for everyone, I hope you will give it a chance because the love they have is just so beautiful!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Road Trip Books

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

This week's topic is all about that summer road trip. I think this topic is kind of a wide open topic, you could take it as meaning books about road trips or good books for road trips.  Since I mostly read fantasy and not really contemporary which have actual roads and cars, I figured I would post a list of the top 5 "trip" fantasy books.  For me a road trip is more about how you grow as a person or as a relationship with others while on the road and not the destination. So I am featuring fantasy books where the characters really grew on their journeys and where it was about what happened on that journey rather than the end result.

The Little Prince
I read this book last year, and while it wasn't my favorite book; I can't deny that it is an epic road trip where the character learns so much about himself and the world around him.

The Reader
The Reader has become one of my favorite books and is part of one of my favorite series, and while there is a lot more than a road trip going on in this book, I cannot deny how the journey Safia changed her as a person and her understanding of her roots and the world around her.

The Tale of Birle
Pretty much this entire book is about a journey and how Birle had to adapt and change as she traveled through foreign lands.  She also discovers how different the world is outside of the home she knew.

The Aglaril Cycle
The Aglaril Cycle is a series by a local author that I have been following since the beginning. It is very much like the classic fantasy books involving a great quest and an unlikely band of characters. I have really enjoyed this particular group of characters and how they have developed both as individuals and as a group in their journey.

The Hobbit
Of course you had to have known this book was coming right?! This is the ultimate fantasy road trip book.  Again an unlikely band of characters that grow as individuals and together as they travel on a great quest, is this not the definition of a road trip?!

So what are your top 5 road trip books?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Review of Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Read for: Requested Review & Received it in a Subscription Box

Synopsis: "In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything."

My Review:  When I first started reading this book it was giving me vibes like a combination of The Selection Series and Hunger Games all rolled into one with a good dose of Frozen too. I love that while there are romance undertones in this story, it doesn't over take the love Serina & Nomi have for each other. I also like how each sister is forced to understand each other's views and lives, I think it really allows for a lot of character development. While I did see the twist coming for Nomi, I wasn't sure where it would lead, so it definitely kept the pages turning. I will say though that I wasn't aware that this was going to be part of a series and the cliffhanger ending left me out of sorts (but I guess that is a good thing and what Banghart was striving for).

My Rating: If you like seeing the ladies making a stand against oppression, definitely pick this one up. I completely consumed this book in only a couple of sittings, it was so hard to put down. It is a fast read with an interesting world and some really great character development. I give it a rating of Four Paws!

I received this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Tracy Banghart and her books on her Goodreads Page or Blog.

Grace and Fury is scheduled to release on July 31st but you can pre-order your copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or ask your favorite book store to get a copy for you!

Monday, July 23, 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

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Series Review)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Series Review)
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Series Review)
Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
Biscuit Goes Camping by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (Early Reader)
Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner, et al (Graphic Novel)

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

No Pirates Allowed
Pirate Boy
Beneath the Sugar Sky
Polly and the Pirates Vol. 1
High Seas and High Stakes

Currently Reading:

Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller - Print - on page 36 of  416
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig - Multiple Formats - on page 162 of 464
Waiting for Unicorns by Beth Hautala - Print on page 87 of 240

Pages Read/ Time Listened
363:42 Hours Listened (4:15 listened this week)
24,755 Pages Read (887 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
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
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Reflections of Yesterday by Debbie Macomber
Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson
Eko by Loren Walker
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
Frankenstein Alive! Alive! Trio by Steve Niles
Frankenstein, Alive! Alive! #4 by Steve Niles
Hard to Serve by Laura Kaye
Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye
Theirs to Take by Laura Kaye
Nightblade's Vengeance by Ryan Kirk
Circe by Madeline Miller
Tomorrowland by Steven Kotler
The Wolf by Leo Carew
My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris
Beyond the Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso
True North by Marie Force
The Sorting Room by Angelina Singer
Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
Frankenstein Dreams by Michael Sims
The Belgaraid by David Eddings
The Rhode Island Short Story Club presents The Club
Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Sherlock Holmes and the Army of Dr. Moreau by Guy Adams
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
Prince of Persia by Jordan Mencher
Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett UNHAULED
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
The Marriage Arrangement by Jennifer Probst
Fight for Everything by Laura Kaye
Catching Stars by Cayla Keenan
Light as Air by Mari Carr
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper
Half Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
Pride's Spell by Matt Wallace 
Idle Ingredients by Matt Wallace
Guardian of Whills by Greg Rucka
Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Opal
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Frostbite by Joshua Williamson
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Pirateology by Dugald Steer
Polly and the Pirates: Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh
Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart
LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss


We are totally getting to the time of year that I think I have more time than I really do! There are so many books I want to read this summer but time is getting more and more limited. It seems there is always several events booked on the weekends and so little time for reading. I also have finally gotten started on a major project at work that will take me months but the first phase needs to be complete within 2 weeks, yikes!  Oh well, there will be less reading done but I will always read at least a little every day.

Do you read every day?