Saturday, April 6, 2019

Graphic Novel Review of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint, Griffin, Justin & Travis McElroy & Illustrated by Carey Peitsch

Read for: Borrowed Books & Booktube SFF Shortlist

Synopsis: "Welcome to the Adventure Zone!

SEE! The illustrated exploits of three lovable dummies set loose in a classic fantasy adventure!

READ! Their journey from small-time bodyguards to world-class artifact hunters!

MARVEL! At the sheer metafictional chutzpah of a graphic novel based on a story created in a podcast where three dudes and their dad play a tabletop role playing game in real time!

Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided ("guided") by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it's based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.

With endearingly off-kilter storytelling from master goofballs Clint McElroy and the McElroy brothers, and vivid, adorable art by Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: Here There be Gerblins is the comics equivalent of role-playing in your friend's basement at 2am, eating Cheetos and laughing your ass off as she rolls critical failure after critical failure."

My Review: I picked this one up from the library because it made the Booktube SFF shortlist this year. I had honestly never heard of it and I am a little glad I was able to borrow it over the high cost of purchasing. I was not familiar with the podcast that I guess this revolves around and maybe if I had been it would have increased my enjoyment. It is written as though it is a table top roll play, which I have never played, only online role playing in limited amounts, and if you aren't familiar you may have a difficult time with it. I was not really a fan of the characters, yes characters each need their strengths and flaws but these seemed way over pronounced and I found them all very annoying. I think this is great for a rather narrow group of readers who enjoy RPG and are familiar with the podcast, but those of us on the outside will most likely struggle.

My Rating: Sadly, this one did not work for me, though it is more due to my lack of familiarity with RPGs than about the book itself.  I give it a rating of Two Paws but if RPG is your thing, maybe give it a try.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Blog Tour & Bedtime Story: The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood & Illustrated by Hannah Marks

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & Requested Review

Synopsis: "The critically adored, New York Times bestselling Deborah Underwood delights with a hilariously meta celebration of storytelling out of control.

Every story needs a problem.
But Panda doesn't have a problem.
Unless . . . Panda is the problem.

The New York Times bestselling author of Here Comes the Easter Cat and The Quiet Book loses control of the narrative in the funniest, most exuberant, most kid-delighting way in this adventurous ode to what makes a story--and what makes a story great."

My Review: Even though Munchkin is getting a little old for picture books, we still enjoy them from time to time, and he especially loves silly books. This is such a fun book for young children, the pictures are bright and simple, the story is silly and yet there is a lesson wrapped up in it too. This is especially fun to read with a young reader, you can each take a role and read it together, you will both be laughing in no time. I really loved how story structure is worked into it (and how the structure rules don't always apply) and it shows where imagination can take you in a story.

My Rating: Both Munchkin and I really enjoyed this one and have read it several times.  We have had loads of laughs and Munchkin even used it for a book report at school. Definitely a fun book to read and not one to pass up.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The above is my honest opinion.

Author Bio
Deborah Underwood has worked as a street musician and at an accounting firm but for years has been a full-time writer who occasionally plays the ukulele. She is the author of several picture books, including New York Times bestsellers The Quiet Book and Here Comes the Easter Cat, as well as Monster & Mouse Go CampingInterstellar Cinderella, and Bad Bye Good Bye.

You can find out more about Deborah Underwood's books on her Goodreads Page or Website

Illustrator Bio
Hannah Marks is a self-taught illustrator and designer, who often gets her best ideas after eating cake. She lives in England with her husband, three children, a bonkers cat, two gerbils, and a teeny-tiny Roborovski hamster. The Panda Problem is her U.S. picture book debut. Find her on Twitter @Hannah_Marks, on Instagram at hannahmarks_, and on Pinterest at hannahemarks.

You can find out more about Hannah Marks and the books she has illustrated on her Goodreads Page or Website

Don't forget to stop at the other blogs as part of this tour for more Panda Problem Fun!
April 1 – Dotters Picks Blog
April 2 – Story Mamas 
April 3 – Gravity Bread 
April 4 – Maistorybook 
April 5 – Eastern Sunset Reads 

The Panda Problem was just released this week, so you can now pick up your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or ask for it at your local bookstore or library!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Reviews of The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King by Holly Black

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!

So I finally gave into the hype and read both Cruel Prince and Wicked King. I had heard so many great things and people have been raving about this series,  I gave in so much that I even ordered a Hangover Kit from Faecrate before I read either book.  So what do I think?

Synopsis: "Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself."

My Review: I know I am much later to this party than most YA fantasy readers, but I wasn't sure if I would be interested, but of course I caved. I have to say that nearly all the characters in this book are unlikable, but oddly enough I am okay with it. The brutality of the Fae world is clear in this book and it keeps up throughout and I appreciate that element. I do find the attraction between characters to be awkward and I don't really see why it is necessary to the plot. The subtleties of the court and the intricacies of the spoken and written word was fantastic to read and one of my favorite parts. I will continue and read Wicked King but I can't say that it is high on my list.

My Rating: I enjoyed the brutal reality presented in the story and how blows are not softened and characters are not sugar coated.  I am intrigued by where this could go. I give it a rating of Three Paws.


Synopsis: "You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world."

My Review: Well, I read it. I have to say I was okay with Cruel Prince and had already ordered this book so figured I might as well read it. I do enjoy that the brutality of the world is kept intact and doesn't wain as the series continues. I also appreciate all the minute manipulations and strategies with in the world. The issue I have is I really don't care for the characters, I don't care what happens to any of them. They are completely unreliable. All in all I appreciate what has been done with this world but I am not drawn in or passionate about it or those within.

My Rating: I do appreciate what is done with this series, unreliable characters, brutal world, no happily ever after (so far) but at the same time, it would be nice to have someone to care about and root for otherwise what is the point.  Sadly, I give this one a rating of Two Paws.


Overall Review: Well, I do really like to see authors pushing for darker books with not so happy endings but if we aren't enjoying something then there is no point in reading.  I didn't like any of the characters, none of them seem to have any redeeming qualities. I am glad that others are enjoying it so much but it was just not for me.  I give it an overall rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag. I may read the next book in the series next year when it comes out but it will not be high on the priority list and will probably be forgotten by then anyway.

If you enjoyed the series, what did you like about it? Or do you agree with me?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Blog Tour: Review of Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Read for: Request Review/Netgalley & Anticipated Release

Synopsis: "A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy."

My Review:  I was pretty excited about this book, especially with the reference to Joan of Arc as an influence. It started out really great, we get to know Nayda and what she stand for and a bit about her power early on. The world building is great in the beginning, learning about it a little at a time as needed, it does get lost later in the book. I also enjoyed the slower pace at the beginning allowing for plot and characters to develop but things really get rushed about halfway through and about the last quarter of the book all pacing is lost and things get very convoluted. By the end of the book we loose sight of Nayda's power and values. We also end up with, I think, 3 different perspectives but they are very closely connected and often in the same room seeing the same things. The climax of the book also really starts skipping around and I felt like I missed whole chunks of what was occurring and why. The romance was really underdeveloped and kind of thrown in with out much payoff. I was a bit disappointed with this book, it really did start out great but the second half just kind of fell apart and became rushed.  I do also hope in the finished copy there is a list of gods/goddesses, map and a pronunciation guide.

My Rating: I was really looking forward to this one, and I am glad I read it. I did really enjoy the world with all the darkness and power, but it just got so confusing near the end. I do think this would make a good audio book.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

I received a complimentary copy of Wicked Saints from the publisher via Netgalley. The above is my honest opinion.

Wicked Saints is now available and you can obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check your local bookstore or library (if they don't have it they can probably get it for you).

Emily A. Duncan was born and raised in Ohio and works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. She is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Check out her Goodreads PageWebsiteTwitterInstagram or Tumblr

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Dewey's Spring 24 Hour Readathon - Sign Up & TBR

Spring is in the air so it is once again time for Dewey's 4 Hour Readathon!

While this year it is a little earlier in the month, April 6th, it still lands on a busy weekend. But with that said I will be participating, just not for the full 24 hours and I may not be able to read as much as I would like.   As a result of being busy I won't be updating the blog on that day but I will on Instagram (@Easternsunset9)

Some Goals:
Read for at least 10 hours
Read 7 books total
Read 1,200  Pages

TBR Pile
I have a selection of short books that I can pick up and read between chores, errands and events. I always feel more accomplished when I can check off completed books. I will also be listening to a current audio book while I have things going  (either Malice or Outlander)
Animal Adventures - 112 pages
School Days -112 pages
Laura Nellie - 112 pages
Red Thorn Vol. 1: Glasgow Kiss - 112 pages
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Vol. 2 - 144 pages
Saga Vol. 8 - 146 pages
Saga Vol. 9 - 160 pages
Wastelander; Awakening - 253 pages
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow - 465 pages

 Are you participating? What are you reading?

March 2019 Challenge Update & April TBR

I really cannot believe that we are already a quarter of the way through the year.  The past three months have flown by in a whirl wind of activities, books and illnesses. I am actually pretty happy to see spring even though it means we will be getting even busier.  I am still having to lean on audio books pretty heavily due to everything I need to get done, multi-tasking is a must anymore. So let's take a look at how my challenges are stacking up . . . 

Children's Books
30-40 books
6. The Panda Problem

Early Reader Books
30-40 books

Graphic Novel
25 books

Audio Book Challenge
50 books - (Caffinated Reader hosted)
11. The One and Only Ivan
12. Homer's Odyssey
13. The Crossover
14. Swindle
15. The Last
16. Artificial Condition
17. Warrior of the Wild
18. Queen's Shadow
19. The Wicked King
20. Hello Universe
21. City of Ghosts

Classic Books
5 books

Big Books
10 books over 500 pages
2. The Mountain's Call

RI Authors
20 books

Borrowed Books
30-40 books

15 books

Beat the Backlist
75 books - (Novelknight hosted) - only using books I already own
11. Homer's Odyssey
12. Refugee

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)
6. The Panda Problem (Direct Request)
7. Wicked Saints (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.)
7. Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego (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./March) *
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./March)
23. Binti 3: Night Masquerade (Feb./March) *
24. Artificial Condition (Feb./March)
25. Rogue Protocol (Feb./March)
26. Trial of Lightening  (Feb./)
27. The Last (Endling) (Feb./March)
28. Aquicorn Cove (Feb./Feb.) 
29. Thick as Thieves (Feb./ Feb.)
30. Aru Shah and the End of Time (March/)
31. Foundryside (March/)
32. Wundersmith (March/)
33. City of Ghosts (March/March) *
34. Saga Vol. 8 (March/)
35. Saga Vol. 9 (March/)
36. Warrior of the Wild (March/March)
37. Book Love (March/March)
38. Queen's Shadow (March/March) *
39. A Curse So Dark and Lonely (March/)
40. Shadow of Doubt (March/)
41. Gates of Stone (March/)
42. In Her Sights (March/)
43. Nevermoor (March/)
44. A Conspiracy of Truths 
45. The Wild Robot (March/March)  *
46. Resurrections (March/) 

January Reading Stats:
I read a total of 28 books this month
2,983 pages read and 3 days, 3 hours and 47 minutes of listening

Resolutions Check in:
1. Borrow More Books: I have definitely been using my library more and have finally starting putting holds on print books. - CHECK
2. Purchase Less Books: So March is my birthday month so I always tend to go a little overboard on books this month. Last year I purchased 31 books! This year I nearly cut that in half with only 16! Still not great but less than last month and definitely less than last year. - CHECK
3. Read Big Books: I did manage to read one big book over 500 pages, it was a re-read but still counts. I have also started one over 600 pages - CHECK
4. Re-Read More: I still managed to re-read one book this month - CHECK
5. Put Less Pressure and Stress on Myself: I didn't do as good on this goal but I did skip a few posts when I was sick. I also only DNFed one book but I should have DNFed another couple. It is a work in progress.  - CHECK


I had a really great month in March and I kind of want to keep the ball rolling. Unfortunately my TBR shelf didn't have a lot of titles calling to be read, so I had to do a little refresh and rotated so books in and others out.  I do have Dewey's Readathon coming up this weekend and Tome Topple coming up soon too. So I think a smaller TBR over all will be a good call for this month.

Wardance & Warsong
Beyond a Darkened Shore
Malice * currently Reading
In Her Sights
Pangaea: Sunslinger & Revelations Part 1
Holy Sister
The Storm Crow
Aru Shah and the End of Time
Nevermoor & Wundersmith
A Conspiracy of Truths
Crown of Feathers
Princess & The Fangirl
Saga Vol. 8 & Saga Vol. 9

While this seems like a lot, I think it will be a nice blend of quick reads and chunky books, audio books and physical books.

What are you most looking forward to reading in April?

Monday, April 1, 2019

Middle Grade March Wrap Up

All March long I have been focusing a lot of my reading on Middle Grade books for Middle Grade March, you can find out all the details in my sign up post .  I have so much fun with this month long reading challenge.  Middle Grade books seem to have the ability to tackle really tough subjects but do it in such a way that everyone can understand them.  I read so many great Middle Grade books this month and thought I should post a wrap up so maybe you can discover your next read. 

Here are the books I read for each of the challenges. 

1. A Nonfiction or based on true events 

2. Book with a Non-human MC

3. Fantasy

4. Book Written in Verse 

5. Diverse Read

In addition to all of those books I also read these . . .

I got to read so many great books this month! It is hard to settle on a favorite but both Munchkin and I loved The Wild Robot.  All in all it was a very successful Middle Grade March with a wide variety of genres and subjects. 

Do you read Middle Grade Books? Have you read any of these?

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

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
Refugee by Alan Gratz
How Many Trucks can a Tow Truck Tow? by Charlotte Pomerantz (Bedtime Story)
Book Love by Debbie Tung (Graphic Novel)

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

Night Masquerade
The Wild Robot
Exit Strategy
Wicked Saints
City of Ghosts
The Panda Problem
Wicked King
Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea

Currently Reading:
Malice by John Gwynne - Print - on page 58 of 672

Pages Read/ Time Listened
213:17 Hours Listened (16:36 listened this week)
8,942 Pages Read (1,239 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
The Snow Gypsy

I am in complete denial that it is already April! Usually the first few months of the year are nice and slow for me, I have time to curl up and read and relax, but that hasn't been the case this year.  Now we are already starting baseball season and starting yard work! Even though both Hubby and I were knocked down this last week with nasty head colds, I managed to read a lot this last week.  Now I need to get ready for Dewey's Readathon, and I believe Tome Topple will be coming up this month too.

Are you participating in any Readathons coming up soon?