Friday, February 1, 2019

Bedtime Story: Pete the Cat's Got Class by James Dean

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & We Love Pete the Cat

Synopsis: "New York Times bestselling author and artist James Dean brings us a new story about the classiest cat around—Pete! This time Pete teaches us how to add and subtract our way to loving math in Pete the Cat’s Got Class—which comes complete with a poster, stickers, and a set of 20 punch-out flash cards that teach counting, adding, and subtracting.

When Pete’s friend Tom has a tough time with math, our favorite blue cat steps in to help him out. With good friends, fun learning tools, and some extra help, it all adds up. Pete the Cat knows you can’t hate math—you just don’t love it yet!"

My Review: I have had this book sitting on our shelves for a while, I pick up Pete the Cat books whenever I can. Munchkin decided to read it for a book report for school and it was a great choice as he has been struggling with math lately. It was a great story to show kids and adults there is more than one way to learn something and sometimes you just have to find a way to relate what you love to what you are learning. This book also came with a load of extras including a poster and stickers and math flash cards that all relate to the story.

My Rating: Another great Pete the Cat book and with some great tips that kids can use with their own homework. Munchkin really liked this book and uses some of Pete's tools in his own math homework now.  We give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

January 2019 Challenge Update & February TBR

Here we are at the first challenge update of 2019.  I feel like I am still in that mad rush and stressed out holiday season.  I did get a decent amount of reading done this month, several larger books that I have been putting off have been checked off the list but I am still kind of recovering from my slump at the end of last year.  Shall we see how I have done on my new challenges and goals this month?

Children's Books
30-40 books

Early Reader Books
30-40 books
1. Zog
2. Stick Man

Graphic Novel
25 books

Audio Book Challenge
50 books - (Caffinated Reader hosted)

Classic Books
5 books

Big Books
10 books over 500 pages

RI Authors
20 books

Borrowed Books
30-40 books

15 books
1. Catwings

Beat the Backlist
75 books - (Novelknight hosted) - only using books I already own
1. The Poppy War
2. My Lady's Choosing
3. I'd Rather Be Reading
4. Spinning Silver
5. Even the Darkest Stars

Requested Reviews
No more than 25 new acceptances (& catch up on old requests)
1. Nightchaser (2018 Request)
2. White Stag (2018 Request)
3. Ruin of Kings Sampler (2018 Request) - DNF

Recently Added to Shelves
Limited purchases (must total less than 200) and read soon

1. Dragon of Ash & Stars - (Jan./ Jan.) DNF
2. The Snow Gypsy (Jan./ )
3. Book Nerds & Boyfriends (Jan./ )
4. WarDance (Jan/ )
5. Warsong (Jan./ )
8. Lost Boy (Jan/ )
9. Year One (Jan/ )
10. Girl Who Drank the Moon (Jan/ )
11. King of Scars (Jan/ )

January Reading Stats:
I read a total of 23 books this month
2,775 pages read and 2 days, 15 hours and 4 minutes of listening

Resolutions Check in:
1. Borrow More Books: I think I definitely did that this month, I read 5 borrowed books that I did not own! I also have a big stack that we just picked up for the next three weeks.  While this is great, I think it has been at the expense of my owned TBR. - CHECK
2. Purchase Less Books: So last year in January I purchased 12 books, this month I purchased 11, just barely squeaked by but I managed! - CHECK
3. Read Big Books: My goal last  year was to read more books over 450 pages, if I had stuck with that page count goal I would have 2 but I upped my page count this year with a goal to read books over 500 pages and I did read Poppy War which comes in at 544 pages - CHECK
4. Re-Read More: This is going to take me a bit to get into full swing, and I plan to start really pushing on it this next month, but I did re-read 1 book so it counts! - CHECK
5. Put Less Pressure and Stress on Myself: This is going to be my hardest resolution to stick to and it is one that is hard to judge but I think I accomplished it this month. I missed a few days of posting but I didn't freak out about it, my every other week rotation of picture book and early reader reviews for Bedtime Stories got a little messed up and again I didn't freak out, I also allowed myself to DNF 3 books this month that I wasn't enjoying. It also took me a while to find my planner for the year and I am feeling much better now that things are somewhat organized on paper.  - CHECK


So what is on my TBR for February? I am definitely going to pick up more romances and I am going to keep working my way through the back list of Requested Reviews. Here is a rough list of books I want to read but I am not forcing myself to stick to it.

The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner (5 books)
Warrior Wolves Series by Christine Depetrillo (5 books)
Chronicles of the Warlands by Elizabeth Vaughan (6 books)
Amber and Dusk by Lyra Selene
The Cruel Prince and Wicked King by Holly Black
Uprooted  by Naomi Novik  * currently reading

And I need to pick another book over 500 pages from my TBR shelf.

So how did your first month of 2019 go? Is the cold winter or hot summer keeping you indoors to read more?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review of The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

Read for: TBR/ Beat the Back List/ Audio

Synopsis: "When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late."

My Review: I have been seeing people raving about this book for about a year now, so I finally decided to pick it up. I chose to listen to the audio book while reading the ebook, I knew I would struggle with names and pronunciations in this one so the audio book really helped. I really enjoyed the first part of the book as Rin's determination comes out and she strives to succeed in all the challenges presented to her both for entering the school and within the school. I did find that the later part of the book wasn't as engrossing for me, Rin becomes not as sure of herself or of what is the right path to take, her moral compass seems to go for a bit of a spin as she is pulled from one leadership to another in battle. I am still intrigued with where the story will lead but I am finding that I don't have to read the second book right now. Just to give fair warning, this is a very dark book, some very gruesome scenes of battles and the after, it often involves women and children.

Note: This is definitely an adult Fantasy, if you have issues at all with violent and despicable things be forewarned nearly all triggers are contained in this one.  It is a dark fantasy and not for the faint of heart, remember it is fiction and no one is making you read it, if you have an issue with it don't read it or put it down. (okay enough of my rant that goes way beyond this book)

My Rating: As I said above, this book really had two different tones, I really loved the first half or so of the book but the second half dissolves when faced with the trials of war and difficult decisions about other's lives. I enjoyed it but it lost some of its appeal to me in the second half.  I may continue with the second book but it doesn't rank super high priority for me.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Top 5 Wednesday: Reasons I Will DNF a Book

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

This week's topic is a freebie, so I thought I would roll it into the Blog Discussion Challenge hosted on Feed Your Addiction and It Starts at Midnight.  I am really bad at posting discussions and mostly focus on reviews but not many people like seeing reviews all the time, so it is time crack down on myself and get a few of my discussion ideas down. 

So today I thought I would talk about the top 5 reasons I decide to DNF (did not finish) a book. It has taken me many years of reading to become more okay with DNFing books but in the past 2 years I have decided to put down nearly 20 books that I was not enjoying.  I have to say while it is a constant struggle to give myself that okay, it is also very freeing once I choose to put a book down in favor of something I would enjoy more. This month alone I have DNFed 2 books, so here are the top 5 reasons I finally decide (usually after 75-100 pages or 30% for bigger books) to put a book down. . . 

1. Didn't Connect with the Characters: Sometimes we just don't like or connect with the MC, but can find a side character to care about, other times we just don't connect with any of them. As a result of this, as a readers we really don't care what happens to them throughout the story.  This happened to me most recently with Words We Don't Say, I was originally intrigued by the writing style but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get me to continue the story where I just didn't care what happened.

2. Humor that I don't find funny: I really struggle with books that have humor in them, often it doesn't come across the page well, so I often prefer to listen to them on audio book and preferably narrated by the author. But often even then the humor just doesn't work for me, I really am not a fan of satire. One that I recently DNFed was Kill the Farm Boy which was meant to be over the top, but it was just too over the top for me, with constant references to bodily functions and boogers. 

3. Re-Tellings without enough of a twist: I am a fan of re-tellings but it better present something completely new; a new perspective from a side character, new outcome, etc. I am sure this can be difficult for authors but why write a book unless it is something people will enjoy.  I recently had this happen with Dragon of Ash and Stars which was clearly a re-telling of Black Beauty but even though it is told from a dragon's perspective instead of a horse's, there wasn't a whole lot new presented which led to a poor copy of the original. 

4.  More Backstory Needed or Branch Off without knowing: I really struggle with a book that doesn't give you enough backstory (especially with fantasy) and you are just launched into a new world and expected to swim.  Sometimes this is a result of poor world building, other times it can be because of being a next book in a series or a branch off series. When that happens it needs to be really clear that you should read the previous books first. This recently happened with Tess of the Road, I was so hyped for this book but had never read the Seraphina books, it became apparent while reading that most of the world building happened in the previous series which left me, a new reader floundering.

5. Nothing is Happening: As a reader of fantasy, I have a high tolerance for slow moving stories, there is often a lot of build up that needs to happen but sometimes it is just too much. Sometimes this is because the story includes day to day stuff that I don't care to hear about or maybe because it is overly descriptive of everything, or sometimes things are continuously repeated. I couldn't get past all the rambling descriptions in We Have Always Lived in a Castle even though other readers loved it.

While there are many other reasons for me to DNF a book, these are the most common ones.  What are some of the reasons you will DNF a book? What was your most recent DNF?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Review of Snowhook by Jo Storm

Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review

Synopsis: "Hannah must rely on her survival instincts to endure a brutal ice storm and save her family. 

At first, when a massive ice storm traps fourteen-year-old Hannah and her family in a remote cabin, it feels like a game to practise the survival skills she's been learning. That all changes when an accident leaves her mother desperately low on insulin. With no power and no way to contact the outside world, Hannah steals away with the four family dogs tied to an old dogsled.

All she has to do is make it to the nearest cabin and find a working phone to save the day. But a wrong turn and worsening weather leave her in grave danger and saddled with an unexpected passenger. Hannah must use all her skills and resourcefulness to get help for her family — before they all freeze to death in the wilderness."

My Review: When I was younger, I was obsessed with dogsled teams and this book really cued into that love. I did struggle a bit to get into this one, I was not a huge fan of Hannah, throughout the book, even though it appears she is doing her best. The urgency of the situation and the dangers that she must overcome felt a little disconnected. I feel like this is a book that would have been even better in 1st person, to put you more in the situation with the characters. I was also very frustrated by the decisions made throughout this story, maybe it is because I am an adult reader but several of choices Hannah made were clearly not the correct decisions to make. I am also a little surprised by the fact that she is a city girl who visits the cabin only on holidays and vacations but somehow knows how to survive in blizzard conditions and all the dog psychology required to train new sled dogs. The ending is rather abrupt and doesn't fully close out the story or tie up any of the loose ends, honestly as an parent with a child potentially reading this book I want to see the families reunited, consequences handed down and medical attention delivered to all parties. It ended up being rather unbelievable as an adult reader, though I think that a younger reader who may not have the knowledge that I do may enjoy the adventure behind the story more.

My Rating: I really struggled with this one as an adult reader, though as a younger reader I probably would have enjoyed the survival/adventure elements of this book. I give it a rating of Two Paws.

I received this complimentary book via Netgalley, the following is my honest and unbiased opinion.

You can find out more about Jo Storm and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Snowhook was just released in Ebook on January 26th and will be releasing in print on February 19th, you can order your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday Reading List

It is Monday again, and time to update with what I read last week, what I am currently reading and what to look forward to next week.

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Aine's Winter Walk by Ana S. Coffey & Gregory Coffey (Bedtime Story/ RI Author Feature)
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur Vol. 1: BFF by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare & Natacha Bustos (Graphic Novel)

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

Deadly Identity
Spinning Silver
Only Harmless Great Thing

Currently Reading:
Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego by Rebecca Tinker - Audio - 36%
Dreadful Young Ladies & Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill - Print - on page 15 of 304

Pages Read/ Time Listened
58:37 Hours Listened (18:06 listened this week)
2,055 Pages Read (399 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Dragon of Ash & Stars
The Snow Gypsy
Book Nerds & Boyfriends

I am trying to control my book buying, I swear, but Audible had a great sale with several books only 1.95 to 3.95 so I had to pick up a couple. I am doing the book balance sheet this year and am supposed to read 5 books more from my TBR than I purchase and I don't think I am going to make it this first month! 

It was another busy week at the office and while I did get a good chunk of reading done, I didn't get quite as much read as I would have liked. We did a lot of running around this weekend, it was fun to spend some together as a family though, something we don't get to do very often. This week is looking like it is going to be pretty busy too, both Hubby's birthday and the Super Bowl, both of which we are throwing  a party for!  Thank goodness for audio books to keep me motivated while cleaning!