Saturday, December 8, 2018

Advent Reads Day 8: Stupid Christmas by Leland Gregory

Read for: Advent Reads/ Mount TBR

Synopsis: "A new collection of outrageous, laugh-out-loud anecdotes about the weird and wacky things that happen during the Christmas holidays, by the author of New York Times best-sellers Stupid American History and America’s Dumbest Criminals.

From absurd 911 calls to presidential philosophizing and foolish felons, Leland Gregory generates the best laughs by exposing the worst of human nature. Following up his New York Timesbest-selling Stupid American History, Gregory sets his sights on the holidays as he exposes mind-numbing mistletoe maladies in Stupid Christmas: Idiots under the Mistletoe. 

Perhaps it's the spiked eggnog or the multiple family members gathered around crazy-colored, twinkly lights, but the holidays are rife with idiocy by the daft and the dumb. Inside this latest collection, Gregory offers more than 200 accounts of holiday-induced stupidity, including:

* While smoke billowed out of the store, firefighters had to physically restrain enthusiastic shoppers from entering a Great Lakes Mall store during an electrical fire.

* In 1995, officials debated over whom to invite to the city's Christmas tree ceremony: President Bill Clinton or the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

* As a joke, Andrew Jackson sent formal invitations to his Christmas ball to a well-known mother-and-daughter prostitute team in Salisbury, North Carolina."

My Review: I picked this one up to have a good laugh during the holiday season. There were definitely some funny bits in here but it wasn't fall off my chair funny the whole way through. Some if the stories felt a bit repetitive and similar, maybe a smaller selection would have made the book as a whole more funny. It was entertaining and to think that these are actual stories of real human stupidity during the holidays. Might be worth picking up for a quick laugh or two to break up that holiday stress.

My Rating: This would be a good one for small doses, just to pick up and read a page or two (it would also make for an entertaining book for bathroom reading for guests). It is definitely not a book to read cover to cover as it gets a little repetitive and looses that comic relief.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Advent Reads Day 7: Bedtime Story: Robin Hill School Secret Santa by Margaret McNamara

Read for: Advent Reads & Early Reader Challenge

Synopsis: "It is Secret Santa Day at school, and Katie is wearing her special Christmas sweater. But Andrew makes fun of her outfit, calling the reindeer on the sweater a raccoon. When it comes time to pick names from the Santa hat, Katie hopes she doesn’t pick Andrew’s name. But she does! How can Katie give Andrew a gift when he’s been so mean to her?"

My Review: We have really come to love the Robin Hill books, they are perfect for young readers as they feature kids their own age and events that are happening in their own lives. Munchkin enjoyed reading this one and it was a great conversation starter about being kind to others even when they are not kind to you. And of course it was great as the kids at school will be drawing names shortly for their own secret Santa event.

My Rating: I love how the Robin Hill School books are perfect for Munchkin's reading skills and for what is going on in his own life at school. They are a great way to connect books with real life and pull those lessons out too. We give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Advent Reads Day 6: Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

Read for: Advent Reads/ Mount TBR

Previous Books in the Christmas Hope Series

Synopsis: "When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love. 

Christine Eisley is the mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use. When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy.” Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for. 

The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day."

My Review: I have been slowly working my way through the Christmas Hope series after discovering the first book Christmas Shoes a couple of years ago. This like the other books has a good chunk of a time lapse between it and the previous book, but it has finally become easier for me to connect the side characters to previous books. I enjoyed this story and really connected with Christine, even though I am not a single mother like she is, I do recognize the constant struggle to keep on top of things with working and kids and holidays. I did not like Jason at all in the beginning but did really appreciate the way his character developed, even though it was accelerated to fit in a single book, it still seemed natural. Of course the fantastic cast of side characters really brought the book to life. This is definitely one to pick up if you are looking for those Hallmark like warm fuzzy feelings.

My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, and am glad that I was able to make connections with the rest of the series even after a year.  I really enjoyed the character and story development in this one, it is really inspiring and heartwarming, perfect for cold nights during the holidays.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Advent Reads Day 5: Homer and the Holiday Miracle by Gwen Cooper

Read for: Advent Reads & Requested Review/Netgalley

Synopsis: "Fifteen years earlier, doctors had warned that Homer—a tiny, sightless kitten—was unlikely to survive and probably wouldn’t have much of a life even if he did. Miraculously and against all the odds, however, Homer grew into a feline dynamo who scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease, saved his human mom’s life when he chased a late-night burglar from their apartment, and rose to global fame—paving the way for other special-needs animals once considered “unadoptable.”
Now, only two weeks before Christmas, with doctors once again decreeing that Homer didn’t have much time—that he wouldn’t even make it to Christmas Eve—Homer showed everyone that he still had one more miracle left in him. The heroic blind cat proved again, once and for all, that hope and love aren’t things you see with your eyes. You see them with your heart.
Humorous and heartwarming, Homer and the Holiday Miracle will leave you filled with the true spirit of the season. It’s the ideal stocking-stuffer for the cat lover on your list—and the perfect holiday treat for yourself. Read and rejoice!"

My Review: Being an animal lover, I had to jump at the opportunity to read Homer and the Holiday Miracle. I admit that I haven't read Homer's Odyssey yet even though it has been sitting on my shelf for some time now, but I couldn't resist a holiday story. This one ended up being extremely difficult story for me to read, the story starts out with Homer getting sick and having his liver enzymes off the chart. My own black cat, Valerie, went through this exact situation a few years ago, so it was hard to relive the pain of not knowing whether the beloved pet would survive or not during the holiday season. Even with that sad and heartbreaking undertone, the story still had that warm, fuzzy feeling that I love during the holiday season. We get to see the remarkable connection between pets and their owners and the empathy pets manage to display. This book also manages to include both Christmas and Hanukkah traditions, stories and beliefs, making it a fantastic read during the holiday season.

My Rating: I really connected with this story, with everything we have gone through with our cat, Valerie's, health over the past few years. It was an emotional and heart-warming story, and perfect for pet lovers during the holiday season. I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

 I received a copy of this book via Netgalley, under no obligation or compensation, the above is my honest review.

You can find out more about Gwen Cooper and Homer on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Homer and the Holiday Miracle was released at the end of October this year, so you can get your own copy now in digital or print formats from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or ask about it at your favorite local bookstore!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books on My Christmas Wish List

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

So this week's topic is all about the books on our wish list (whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you can still have a book wish list). My family always exchanges wish lists just to be sure we have solid ideas for each other, and they never know what books I already have or still want. So here are a few books that I put on my wish list.

I haven't started this series yet but Wrath is the fourth & final book in the series, so if I can get this then I can binge this chunky series.

I have really enjoyed Marie Force's Green Mountain/Butler VT series, but I have read them all in digital or audio formats.  I would like them sitting on my shelves so I can feel like the Abbott family is there. Being a local author, there is a book store on Aquidneck Island that sells her books signed!

Letters from Father Christmas has been on my wish list for years!

If I don't get this one for Christmas, I am definitely purchasing it! This looks like so much fun!

Like with the Marie Force books, I love Katie Ruggle's and I have read all of them as Ebooks, and I would really like to have them on my shelves, especially since they have dogs on the covers!

So what books are on your wish list? Does your family usually get you books or do they give you gift cards and let you pick your own? Or do they sadly, ignore your love for books and give you sweaters?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Advent Reads Day 4: North Pole Ninjas: Mission Christmas by Tyler Knott Gregson & Sarah Linden & Illustrated by Piper Thibodeau

Read for: Advent Reads/Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "You may not know that Santa has a team of special elves, selected for their ability to help carry out top-secret missions that are all about helping, giving, caring, and listening. Anyone who reads this book is called upon to help carry out those top-secret missions with a bit of stealth and an open heart. The gorgeously illustrated picture book retells the legend of the North Pole Ninjas for new recruits. After reading the book, readers can print their own Ninja missions to carry out."

My Review: I picked this up on a whim for Munchkin from the Scholastic book order and it turned out the be one of the best purchases I have made in a while! We have recently been struggling with the "give me" and "I wants" thanks to the holiday season and commercials, so I have been looking for a way to incorporate random acts of kindness, but he hasn't shown any interest. Luckily, we have the North Pole Ninjas to the rescue, these secretive elves give kids secret missions of kindness to perform during the holiday season (and year round). With that fun element, Munchkin has been all about helping others. This kit comes with the book, a sensei elf doll, and a folder with an agreement for the kids to fill out and a bunch of missions to complete. The missions include things like: Take a bag of groceries to your local food bank, bring homemade goods to someone who needs a pick me up, hold the door for someone. They all seem relatively easy for young kids and families and gets the message across what the holidays are really about in a fun way for everyone. I highly recommend this one and get it early so kids have time to finish some missions!

My Rating: It is not often that you find the perfect book at the perfect time, but this was definitely one of those situations! This is a great book to bring the whole family together and help others. Munchkin is so excited to conduct some missions. We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Note: If you can't get the kit, you can download an ebook on Amazon and visit the North Pole Ninja Website to print your missions. They also have a hashtag to connect with other Ninja Helpers #northpoleninjas

Monday, December 3, 2018

Advent Reads Day 3: Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Read for: Recently Added & Advent Reads

Synopsis: "Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle's hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community--including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder's famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she'll be returning to reality and the career she's worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can't imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town--not even for a man she's quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love."

My Review: I try to always pick up Debbie Macomber's holiday romance, it is almost necessary at this point to feel like the holiday season. Starry Night has been my favorite so far, so I was really excited to get another one set in Alaska. I listened to this one on audio and I really did struggle, I found the voice for Palmer to be extremely irritating (Jack too). I also found Palmer to be rather needy and I like the love interests to be a little more gruff and standoffish but that is entirely my own opinion. I did like that there was some separation and it wasn't instant on Josie's side. It was a bit predictable, but that is what I have come to expect and enjoy with these holiday romances. It was a short and cute one but certainly didn't come close to some of her others.

My Rating: This wasn't my favorite of Macomber's Christmas stories but it was still really enjoyable.  I would suggest reading the print or ebook and skipping the audio book. I give this one a rating of Three Paws.

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

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
Berenstain Bears & the Wishing Star by Stan & Jan Berenstain (Early Reader)
Christmas Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Advent Reads)
A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg (Advent Reads)

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

Outrun the Wind
Christmas Secret
Christmas Around the World
North Pole Ninjas
Northstars Vol. 1.5
Secret Santa

Currently Reading:
Beneath the Same Stars by Phyllis Cole-Dai - Kindle - 15%
Royals by Rachel Hawkins - Audio - 13%

Pages Read/ Time Listened
591:58 Hours Listened (13:38 listened this week)
39,281 Pages Read (528 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi
Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Reflections of Yesterday by Debbie Macomber
Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson
Caging the Merrow by Heather Rigney
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
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
Hard to Serve by Laura Kaye
Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye
Theirs to Take by Laura Kaye
Nightblade's Vengeance by Ryan Kirk
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
Frankenstein Dreams by Michael Sims
The Belgaraid by David Eddings
Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Sherlock Holmes and the Army of Dr. Moreau by Guy Adams  UNHAUL
Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Fight for Everything by Laura Kaye
Light as Air by Mari Carr
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper
Half Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
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
Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely UNHAUL
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Words We Don't Say by K.J. Reilly
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth - UNHAUL
Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
The Christmas Light by Donna VanLiere
The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera
Royals by Rachel Hawkins
Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
Kill the Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson - DNF
Monster: The Story of a Young Mary Shelley by Mark Arnold
Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky
Anything but Okay by Sarah Darer Littman
The Storyteller by Traci Chee
The Carols of Christmas by Andrew Grant
Special Gifts by Cynthia Rylant
Pioneer Sisters by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Animal Adventures by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura & Nellie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
School Days by Laura Ingalls Wilder


Gosh talk about a whirlwind weekend! It was so busy but I got to attend the Rhode Island Author Expo for the 6th year in a row. I of course purchased a mountain of books (which I probably shouldn't have) but haven't yet listed it up above. I have a bunch of reading to get done this month if I am going to make my target of only 50 new books unread for the year.

We also did a ton of decorating this weekend, outside and inside the house. Munchkin was so excited to decorate the tree.  We also got to start our advent calendars, he has a 'magic mailbox' that has a holiday themed gift each day, usually a sticker sheet or Christmas book. He also has his Tsum Tsum advent calendar and we have a Peanuts picture one that gives us a fun holiday activity each day.  I have the Cushy Crate Advent box, you can follow my unwrapping each day on my Instagram.

Saturday kicked off my 7th annual Advent Reads event! I have some great holiday books to share with you this year and quite a variety too, so I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book you may discover!

If you are looking for a reason to get started reading some of these holiday books, today kicks off the Tis the Season Readathon (announcement on Super Space Chick's Youtube) or @Tistheseasonathon on Instagram.  I will also be participating in this readathon with a mix of holiday and non holiday books (I will be getting my post up tonight after work).

So that was my week last week, and a bit of my week coming up! I hope you all have a great week filled with new adventures.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Advent Reads Day 2: A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg

Read for: Mount TBR

Synopsis: "A new exquisite version of the beloved classic. The story of a young man's reluctant visit to an elderly aunt at Christmastime, and the unexpected joy it brings. A New York Times Bestseller, more than 1.5 million copies have sold. Delicate watercolor illustrations used throughout."

My Review: I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book, I picked it up on a whim just because of the words Christmas and Tea, it seemed like a perfect book. I really enjoyed this one, it is a prefect book for the holiday season, something to sit down with next to the tree, with of course a warm cup of tea. It captures the meaning of Christmas and being with those we love, even though it might be hard at times, in a short lyrical story. I definitely look forward to revisiting this book year after year during the Christmas season.

My Rating: I really loved this one, it was definitely something to think about but at the same time gives you the warm fuzzies. I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Is there someone that you have been meaning to call or visit? Why not take some time this evening to pour a cup of tea and give them a call.  I will be calling my grandparents.