Saturday, March 2, 2019

February 2019 Challenge Update & March TBR

I am not liking how fast February went by, I hope this isn't how the year is going to go for me.  While it was a really great reading month, it hasn't been the greatest of months in other areas of life, but we all keep trudging on.  Why don't we get into the good news, all the books I read this month! (Note: I am a bit behind on reviews so some of these won't be linked yet, just check back on my main challenge page later.)

Children's Books
30-40 books
4. Where Horses Run Free
5. How Many Tow Trucks can a Tow Truck Tow

Early Reader Books
30-40 books

Graphic Novel
25 books
3. Jim Hensen's The Storyteller
4. Aquicorn Cove

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
6. Love That Dog
7. Be Mine

15 books
2. Warprize
3. Warsworn
4. Warlord
5. Warcry

Beat the Backlist
75 books - (Novelknight hosted) - only using books I already own
6. Uprooted
7. The Thief
8. The Queen of Attolia
9. The King of Attolia
10. A Conspiracy of Kings

The Never Ending Series
Warland Chronicles: Book1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4,

Requested Reviews
No more than 25 new acceptances (& catch up on old requests)
4. Princess Puffybottom and Darryl - (Netgalley)
5. The Dysasters (Direct Request)

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./Feb.) *
4. WarDance (Jan/ )
5. Warsong (Jan./ )
6. The Only Harmless Great Thing (Jan/Jan. )
8. Lost Boy (Jan/ )
9. Year One (Jan/ )
10. Girl Who Drank the Moon (Jan/ )
11. King of Scars (Jan/ )
12. Dactyl Hill Squad (Feb./)
13. The Darkdeep  (Feb./)
14. Voices (Feb./Feb.) 
15. Wicked King (Feb./)
16. Lord of the Fading Lands (Feb./)
17. Crown of Feathers (Feb./)
18. Argos: The Story of Odysseus as told by his Loyal Dog (Feb./)
19. 100 Hugs (Feb./ Feb.) *
20. Binti 2: Home (Feb./)
23. Binti 3: Night Masquerade (Feb./)
24. Artificial Condition (Feb./)
25. Rogue Protocol (Feb./)
26. Trial of Lightening  (Feb./)
27. The Last (Endling) (Feb./)
28. Aquicorn Cove (Feb./Feb.) *
29. Thick as Thieves (Feb./ Feb.)

January Reading Stats:
I read a total of 24 books this month
3,184 pages read and 3 days, 2 hours and 26 minutes of listening

Resolutions Check in:
1. Borrow More Books: I didn't do as well with this goal this month, but at least I did borrow 2 books. - CHECK
2. Purchase Less Books: Last February I had discovered BookOutlet and purchased 24 books, Yikes! So I did better this year with 18 but that is still a lot of books but I count it as a win. - CHECK
3. Read Big Books: I did not get a chunky book in this month, I read a lot of shorter books and audio books but nothing over 500 pages.  - :(
4. Re-Read More: I definitely tackled this goal with 4 re-reads this month! - CHECK
5. Put Less Pressure and Stress on Myself: I have been a little out of it overall this month, between stress at work and home, the loss of Valerie, sick kid and school vacation. I still managed to get a lot of posts up but I definitely was slipping back into the putting pressure on myself to read and post constantly. I did manage to DNF one book this month and removed several off my TBR that just don't appeal anymore so a small win but it counts.  - CHECK


So February went pretty well and I read nearly everything I wanted too off my overly ambitious TBR, so why not be an over achiever again this month?  So in addition to my Middle Grade March TBR I have a pretty lofty list of books to read.

Homer's Odyssey * Currently Reading
Queen's Shadow
Wicked Saints
The Wicked King
The Snow Gypsy
Wardance & Warsong
Artificial Condition
White Magic Trilogy
Beyond a Darkened Shore
Queen of Camelot

So I am probably way over estimating what I can read this month but March is a long, dreary month so why not spend it reading?!   What will you be reading to pass the month of March?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Bedtime Story: Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

Read for: Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "This irresistible sequel to the New York Times bestselling How Rocket Learned to Read is "a perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers," according to a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can't think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story. Declared a best children's book of the year by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, this book is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians."

My Review: I had picked this up a while ago and re-discovered in on my shelves, even though Munchkin is a little old for picture books we read it anyway. It turned out to be a great book to read even though he is older, the way that the concept of how to write a story is presented is fantastic. I like how it is broken down to just putting words together and using things that Rocket found interesting. This is a really cute story with adorable illustrations and so much to learn!

My Rating: For some kids like Munchkin, it is hard to figure out how to write a story but this book breaks it down nicely and makes it seem fun at the same time. We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blog Tour: The Dysasters by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Read for: Requested Review & I loved the House of Night Series

Synopsis: "Foster Stewart knows she's different. Her life has never been "normal." Talking to plants and controlling cloud formations aren't things most seventeen year olds are into. Tate "Nighthawk" Taylor is perfect. Star quarterback and all around dreamy boy next door he never thought about his "extra" abilities. What quarterback wouldn't want night vision? That's not weird, right? It's cool! 

But on the night of their first meeting a deadly tornado brings them together and awakens their true abilities - the power to control the element air. Unbeknown to Tate and Foster, they are the first in a group of teens that were genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements. Which truly sucks for Foster, as she has to face the fact that Dr. Rick Stewart, her beloved scientist father, betrayed her and now wants to use her and the others for his own nefarious world domination plot. 

Foster and Tate must stop Dr. Stewart and his minions before he destroys their lives and the world."

My Review:  I really enjoyed the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, so jumped at the opportunity to read the first book in a new series from them. We jump right into the story and it did take me a bit to settle in and get used to know the characters and what was going on, I would have preferred a little more lead up information. The characters do all have very bold and vibrant personalities, each with individual quirks. I honestly wasn't a fan of Foster's attitude but it does improve throughout the story and I grow to like her. There is also quite a diverse cast of characters and that is nicely blended with the story. The best part was the various pop culture references, and they are from several different generations, including Star Wars, 90s cartoons, Motown and more; I about died of joy when they started singing Rockin' Robin! It was a fun first book in a series and will be a great book for fans of Super Hero books.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention it has illustrations throughout, in a comic book style, which really worked with the theme of the book. 

My Rating: I did enjoy this one, it was a fun combination of X-men like story and a variety of pop culture references.  I did find that it read a little simplistic, if it weren't for some of the violent events and darker references I would almost say it could be a Middle Grade book.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

A special thank you to Wednesday Books and St. Martin's Press for sending me a complimentary copy of The Dysasters, the above is my honest review and opinion.  

About the Authors

#1 New York Times & #1 USA Today bestselling author P.C. Cast was born in the Midwest, and, after her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, Booksellers' Best, and many, many more. Ms. Cast is an experienced teacher and talented speaker who lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Facebook: @pccastauthor
Twitter: @pccastauthor
Instagram: @pccastauthor

Kristin Cast is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the wildly successful House of Night series. She has editorial credits, a thriving t-shirt line, and a passion for all things paranormal. When away from her writing desk, Kristin loves going on adventures with her friends, family, and significant other, playing with her dogs (Grace Kelly and Hobbs the Tiny Dragon), and is currently obsessed with her baby.

Twitter: @KCastAuthor
Instagram: @kcastauthor

The Dysasters was just released on Tuesday, February 26th so you can now purchase your own copy at any of these book providers:

And for more fun along the tour check out #TheDysasters on all social media or 
follow Wednesday Books for the latest

Facebook: @WednesdayBooks

Instagram: @WednesdayBooks

Twitter: @WednesdayBooks

(an example of the art style throughout the book)

Finally don't forget to enter for your chance to win a hardcover copy of The Dysasters!

Fine Print Rules: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia or Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age 13 years of age or older. Entry period begins at 12:00 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, February 24, 2019 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit Sponsored by St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave 10010.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Series Review of The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

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 seen this series around for a while but never was really interested in picking it up. I had heard that it was really dense reading and honestly the original covers were not very appealing. But last year I had seen an interview with Megan Whalen Turner posted (I think on Goodreads with the cover reveal for Return of the Thief) and became really intrigued.  I started picking up the books here and there as I found them with the new covers.  I finally got around to reading them this month, I did end up reading the print versions along with borrowing the audio books from the library.  I recommend the audio books, they are great but to keep track of all the little nuances in the writing, I suggest the print books so you can flip back when you hit those ahha moments.  So on with the reviews . . .

 Synopsis: "The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.That Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses."

My Review: I don't know why I took so long to pick this series up, I had heard that the first book was long and tedious to read but it was actually pretty short and rather fun to read. I enjoyed Gen and the other characters, their banter was entertaining. True there didn't seem to be a lot of world building, you don't get a sense of the political dynamics until late in the book. Being a thief, Gen is a little bit unreliable as a character, he has a lot of secrets that seem to be slowly coming out. I honestly didn't see the twist coming and loved it! I am looking forward to continuing this series!

My Rating: Being my first introduction to the series and Turner's writing, I was a bit skeptical at first but it was so worth it. I love the intricacies and the little tidbits when you look back at the book after finishing it.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.


Synopsis: "The brilliant thief Eugenides has visited the Queen of Attolia’s palace one too many times, leaving small tokens and then departing unseen. When his final excursion does not go as planned, he is captured by the ruthless queen. The Queen’s Thief novels have been praised by writers, critics, reviewers, and fans and have been honored with glowing reviews, “best of” citations, and numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Newbery Honor, the Andre Norton Award shortlist, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Discover and rediscover the stand-alone companions, The Queen of AttoliaThe King of AttoliaA Conspiracy of Kings, and Thick as Thieves, all epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief."

My Review: I am really enjoying this series so far! I love all the tactical and political maneuvering in this one. The dynamics between the countries and they ways they are constantly trying to outwit one another is so fascinating to me. The great part is that with all the political and war happenings, we still don't loose the connection with the characters. Gen is awesome and constantly surprises you with how he reacts and what he is up to behind the scenes. His relationship with the various other characters is so dynamic. The details are all important, every look, every sentence, every historical detail comes into play somewhere along the lines, it really makes you pay attention and try to figure out how it will all come into play. I am immediately picking up the next book!

My Rating: Looking back, this might be my favorite of the series, I loved the dynamics in play between the countries.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!


Synopsis: "By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king's caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides."

My Review: I know Gen is a little bit of an unreliable character, but I have learned not to discount him. However Attolia is still new to me and I could see the path I was being guided down. I kind of felt like Costis, a little confused, lost and dragged from one side to the other, up and down tower stairs. I did find the inner court politics a little more difficult to follow as opposed to the political dynamic between the three countries. You really need to almost take notes to follow all the intricacies and follow all the names. It is hard to write a review without giving any of the twists away, but leave it at this, I will forever adore Gen, I have grown to love and appreciate Attolia and Magus is still the coolest character.

My Rating: I enjoyed this one, maybe not as much as Queen of Attolia, just because of trying to keep track of all the Barons and players in Attolia's courts (note: the print version I have with this cover has a full list of characters & a map at the back).  I give it a rating of Four Paws.


Synopsis: "After an attempted assassination and kidnapping, Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears. Those who care for him—including the thief Eugenides and the Queen of Eddis—are left to wonder if he is alive and if they will ever see him again. The Queen’s Thief novels have been praised by writers, critics, reviewers, and fans and have been honored with glowing reviews, “best of” citations, and numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Newbery Honor, the Andre Norton Award shortlist, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Discover and rediscover the stand-alone companions, The Queen of AttoliaThe King of AttoliaA Conspiracy of Kings, and Thick as Thieves, all epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief."

My Review: I have been consuming this series nearly back to back so I was a little surprised by the shift in perspective from Gen to Sophos, though I was really happy to see him on the page again. As much as I missed Gen, I really did enjoy watching Sophos' character develop in so many ways throughout his adventures. As with all the previous books in the series, you really have to keep your eye open for all the little tidbits that seem like toss off details, that later become intricate to the plot. As like with King of Attolia, there are a lot of barons to keep track of and try to follow the inner court politics that are unfamiliar but you do become familiar with the major players. I have to say though it was so satisfying when the hinted at crush from way back in book one and hinted at in the other books finally steps into the light. I did however expect that Magus would have played more of a role in this one, I was missing his wisdom, of course served with a a side of snark.

My Rating: While I missed seeing all that was going on with Gen, I did enjoy catching up with Sophos and seeing some of the early plot lines start coming together.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.


Synopsis: "Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance."

My Review: I was again surprised by a new character's point of view as opposed to Gen's (and during such a critical time for him). While Kamet's character development throughout this book is interesting, he just doesn't have enough spark for me. I did like Costis in this one but again, I was missing that something extra that I have come to expect. We do still get some twists and ah ha moments at the tail end of the book but it didn't seem as intricate as previous books. With that said there are some pretty substantial developments in the overall series story arc that are pretty great. I am rather glad that I waited to read all of these books at once to keep the details and characters familiar, and I am ready for that final book!

My Rating: Another shift in perspective threw me off again, and I was not all that intrigued by Kamet or Costis, though the development of Kamet's character was interesting to follow, it just didn't capture me quite like the other books. I guess I was missing all the intrigue and politics, so I give it a rating of Three Paws. 


Full Series Review: I was so pleasantly surprised with this series, I don't know why none of you were pushing me to read it! I loved all the politics and war counsel moves, and the totally unreliable character of Gen.  I loved all the twists and the ah ha moments when all those little details that seemed so inconsequential came into play. While this series definitely isn't for everyone, those who are into those tiny details and political style books will really enjoy it.  I did notice that this series is written for YA readers, but honestly it didn't read as a YA book to me, it may be that the series started back in the 90s so it isn't like the YA books now that seem to need constant action and movement for readers to enjoy (don't get me started on the whole need for instant gratification mode making its way into our books).  Also, something I guess I didn't note in my individual reviews, Turner went to great lengths to develop this world, each country has a clear culture along with whole belief systems, interwoven throughout all the books are even full myths and folktales and rhymes for the countries! I would love a book of just those collected together as a novella for the series.  I have to say I am so glad I finally picked this series up, but I am relieved that I don't need to wait forever for the final book to come out next month (I already have my copy pre-ordered in both print and audio book)!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Middle Grade March Readathon/Challenge Sign Up

I am so excited to see one of my favorite reading challenges from last year back again, Middle Great March Readathon/Challenge.  I came across this challenge on one of my favorite Youtube channels, Life Between Words.  You can check out this year's Readathon announcement in her video HERE or her co-host's, Krista at BooksandJams, video HERE for all the exact details but here are the basics:

The Readathon runs from March 1st - 31st
The goal is to read as many middle grade books throughout the month of March as you can or like. 
There are a few live videos throughout the month on Instagram that you can find details for in their videos.
You can also use the hashtag #MiddleGradeMarch on Twitter and Instagram throughout the month

And of course there are some challenges:
1. A nonfiction or book based on true events 2. Book with a nonhuman main character 3. A fantasy 4. Book written in verse 5. A diverse read

So how about my TBR for the month:

For the challenges I will be using:
1. A Nonfiction or based on true events - Refugee
2. Book with a Non-human MC - The World According to Humphrey
3. Fantasy - The Darkdeep
4. Book Written in Verse - The One and Only Ivan
5. Diverse Read - Girl Who Drank the Moon

I adore Middle Grade books and find them to be some of the most influential and satisfying reads and this year Munchkin will be able to read some of these with me as well!

 I hope even if you aren't a big middle grade fan, that you will try at least one this month!   
I will post updates throughout the month here and more than likely on Instagram (@EasternSunset9) as well.

What is your favorite Middle Grade book?

Monday, February 25, 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

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander
The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate by Stephen Krensky (Early Reader)
Jim Hensen's The Storyteller by Various Authors & Illustrators (Graphic Novel)

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

Cruel Prince
Conspiracy of Kings
Where Horses Run Free

Currently Reading:
Warcry by Elizabeth Vaughan - Print - on page 96 of 293
Book Nerds & Boyfriends by Sarah Monzon - Kindle - 32%
The Dysasters by PC Cast & Kristin Cast - Print - on page 115  of 320

Pages Read/ Time Listened
128:39 Hours Listened (21:04 listened this week)
4,571 Pages Read (240 this week)

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

Ugh, another not so great reading week last week. It was school vacation week, which was good that Munchkin was able to work through his feelings not at school and also start to recover a bit from his cold.  The bad part was that meant he came to work with me every day, it was great when he was younger but now it is so distracting.  I was barely able to get my work done which of course meant no reading at the office.

In other news, can you believe February ends this week?! January seemed to drag forever but February has flown by so fast.  The good news is that March is my birthday month, and we often get to see some warmer weather starting, so at least we have some good things to look forward to coming up.

Hope you have some great reading adventures this week!