Saturday, September 28, 2019

Date Night With a Book: Review of The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Read for: Recently Added

Synopsis: "Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love."

My Review: This and Kiss Quotient have been on my radar but not a priority, then I received this book in my Baecrate and it seemed like a perfect, light summer read. I was not disappointed, as soon as I picked it up I was completely invested in the story and the characters. I read the book in one day, I just couldn't put it down! I loved My/ Esme, she was sweet, a hard worker, brave and so caring. Khai was fantastic as well, I loved his character and the way he developed as the story went on. I really appreciated the depiction of sensory disorder (as someone who has a family member who needs firm touch and another who can barely stand even the faintest brush, it was great to see an example of this in a book). I was completely invested in the story, I was laughing with them, crying with them, frustrated with them, and I found them completely endearing. I now need everyone of Hoang's books right now!

My Rating: I so enjoyed reading this book, even a couple of months later I am still thinking about it and loving the relationship and character developments made throughout the book.  I can't help but give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Early Reader Bedtime Story: Clark the Shark and the Big Book Report by Bruce Hale & Illustrated by Guy Francis

Read for: Early Reader Challenge

Synopsis: "Be bold, be smart, and speak from the heart! Clark the Shark is ready to present his book report to the class. But at the last minute, Clark gets stage fright and clams up in front of everybody. With a little help from his teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, will Clark be able to overcome his fears?

With easy-to-read text and Clark’s trademark rhymes, this shark tale will prepare beginning readers to take a big bite out of reading! Also included are Clark the Shark’s Bite-Sized Facts, real facts on shark communication, behavior, and more!

Clark the Shark and the Big Book Report is a Level One I Can Read, which means it’s perfect for children learning to sound out words and sentences."

My Review: This was a great book for those young readers heading back to school and who may have to give a report in front of the whole class. It was easy to read with simple sentences and a lot of sight words. The story was interesting and with the familiar Clark the Shark characters. It was great to see a character be so confident in their work but then struggle once in front of the class, it can happen to the most outgoing of kids. Munchkin really enjoys Clark the Shark and relates to a lot of the struggles that Clark comes across, including this one.

My Rating: While this might have been a little easy for Munchkin to read, he really did relate to Clark and what happens when it comes time to give the book report.  It is a great way to start a conversation about being confident and also about not laughing at those who struggle in front of groups.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Review of Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

Read for: Recently Added & Auto Buy Author

Synopsis: "As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape."

My Review: I absolutely loved the Lady Trent series, but didn't realize this book was coming out until right before the release! This is a companion to the Lady Trent series as opposed to a continuation of the series, which I appreciated, it takes place a couple of generations later as the Draconians are integrating into human society. While this story didn't capture my attention quite the way the Lady Trent series did, I was still really intrigued and enjoyed reading it. I had loved Isabella's personality so much in the original series that I really struggled with Audrey, who while she seeks to embody her grandmother, she doesn't quite accomplish it. I did however love that we are discovering lost Draconean myths along with the characters. Also, with the addition of Kudshayn as a character we get so much more than observations of the society and history. I don't want to give away too much but I really enjoyed this book and the fact that it takes place so many years after the series, we get to see progress but also the painfully slow way society and opinions change and progress.

My Rating: While I wasn't as thoroughly engrossed in this book as I was in the Lady Trent series, I still really enjoyed it and appreciate what Brennan did with this story to give us a bit more.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag!  Oh and I did listen to this on audio book while looking at the print book when I had time and I honestly think it might have been better as a print book. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Top 5 Wednesday: Series I Won't be Finishing

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

Sam is still on hiatus so I get to come up with my own topic again, this one was sparked by last week's topic of the Top 5 Series I want to Finish this Year and I thought I would review the recent series that I have started but will not be continuing. 

I barely made it through this first book, I could not stand half the main characters, the chosen one trope (even though it is kind of flipped a little) and the lack of a whole lot of action left me with major eh feelings.  Even though I had already purchased the second book because everyone raved about it, I will be passing on this series.

I made it through the first two books of the Cruel Prince series earlier this year after hearing everyone rave about it, and I just don't get it.  Is this the first time everyone has read about actual cruel fae? For me there are so many better Fae stories out there.  I thought I might continue with the series to find out what happens to Jude but after thinking about it, I just can't bring myself to care enough to pick it up.

Again there was so much hype around this book and while I did enjoy some of the characters, the over abundance of name dropping and descriptions of wealth that I just can't picture or even follow left me a little blah.  I am sure this is something I would enjoy more on screen. So I will not be reading anymore in this series but I will be watching at least the first movie.

I was super intrigued by this story, especially being inspired by Joan of Arc and I really enjoyed the first half of it even though it was a bit slow moving but it really got confusing towards the end and a lot of the magic and dynamics weren't clearly developed or explained. I think I will pass on the next one, I could be convinced but only if I hear really rave reviews from people I trust.

I feel a little sad about this one because Applegate has become one of my autobuy authors, but I really struggled with this book. I think Middle Grade fantasy just isn't my thing.  I think it is a great series for the appropriate audience but it just didn't work for me, so sadly I will not be picking up the next book in this series.

So what are some of the series that you have decided not to push through? Is it hard for you to call it quits with a series?  I really struggle with allowing myself to not complete the series, I have a harder time with this than I do with DNFing individual books but I need to start letting them go if I am not enjoying them.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review of The Thankful Unicorn Gratitude Journal & Coloring Book by Hayley Rose

Read for: Requested Review

Synopsis: "The Thankful Unicorn is filled with inspiring quotes, positive actions and whimsical unicorn scenes that will be sure to delight even the young at heart, leading to a more confident, kind and creative child.  
This innovative and uplifting book is all about building self-esteem, promoting positivity and inspiring creativity in young girls and boys."
My Review:When I received the message regarding this book being available for review, I knew I had to give it a try, honestly I will give anything with unicorns a shot. I received a sample of the book, a 30+ page paperback, I believe the actual finish copy will have a hard cover and many more pages. It has 10 repeating images of unicorns for coloring, and they have some detail but are easy for young kids or adults to color. On the opposite side of each page are gratitude and positive thinking prompts for journaling including: "Today I am thankful for", "My dreams and goals", "What I love about myself" and "My affirmations". Each prompt has 3 numbered lines and does not take long to fill out so you don't feel like it is another item on your to do list. Each page also has an open line for the date so you don't have to feel bogged down if you miss a day, just fill it in as you want. At the bottom of each page is also a little inspirational quote about gratitude, positive thinking and happiness. The pages are good quality, I tested them with crayons, colored pencils, gel pens and tombow brush markers; only the darkest of the markers had shadowing. I didn't test watercolor or alcohol markers because it didn't feel like it could quite stand up to that extent of use. This was a really great book and I love how it can be used for anyone, young kids, adults, boys (my 7 year old son loved it) and girls. 

My Rating: Both Munchkin and I had a good time testing this book out, the coloring pages are simple enough for young artist but still have enough going on to keep adults interested.  The prompts were easy enough that even the youngest readers and writers can use it and for us busy adults, it was quick enough to fit into the schedule no problem.  It was a great conversation starter for us and one I think we will continue using together. It will put us both in the right mindset as we head into the holiday season, to be thankful for what we have and give ourselves reasonable goals and expectations.  We give it a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book and the Author.  The above is my honest review and opinion.

To find out more about Hayley Rose and her books and journals please visit her Goodreads Page or Website

The Thankful Unicorn is now available and you can order your own copy from Amazon.

Monday, September 23, 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

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
Thunder Horse by Eve Bunting (Bedtime Story)
Red Thorn Vol. 1: Glasgow Kiss by David Baillie (Graphic Novel)

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

Kingdom of Exiles
Thankful Unicorn
Strange Star
Lunch or What's That
The Word Collector
The Princess, The Scoundrel & The Farm Boy

Currently Reading:
A Hero Born by Jin Yong - Audible - 13%

Pages Read/ Time Listened
458:25 Hours Listened (5:06 listened this week)
25,817 Pages Read (742 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Year One
Girl Who Drank the Moon
King of Scars
Dactyl Hill Squad
The Darkdeep
Lord of the Fading Lands
Shadow of Doubt
Gates of Stone
A Conspiracy of Truths
Vortex Visions
Through the White Wood
Descendant of the Crane
Holy Sister
Dark Harmony
The Sea Queen
The Mountain of Kept Memory
Misfits of Avalon Vol. 1
Misfits of Avalon Vol. 2
The Sea King
Ride Hard
Ride Rough
Ride Wild
Force of Attraction
Primal Force
Rival Forces
A Rogue by Any Other Name
A Scot in the Dark
The Day of the Duchess
The Pirate Bride
Man Made Boy
This Monstrous Thing
Dear Santa
An Endless Christmas
Christmas Magic
Falling Softly
Christmas Town
The Christmas Star
Gris Grimly's Frankenstein
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
We Hunt the Flame
Dreaming the Bear
A New Hope
The Monsters We Deserve
Strange Star
Ghostly Tales from the Lost Summer of 1816
Storm and Fury
Kingdom of Exiles
The Thankful Unicorn
Honeybees and Frenemies
Turning Darkness into Light
A Monster Calls
Master & Apprentice
The Chosen
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Mortal Engines
Evvie Drake Starts Over
Merciful Crow
The Bridge Kingdom
The Girl From the Other Side Vol. 2
The Girl from the Other Side Vol. 1
The Girl the Sea Gave Back
A Crash of Fate
Black Spire
Capturing the Devil
The Testaments
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World
Plum Crazy Vol. 1
The Missing Bookshop


It has been a pretty good reading week this week, even with all the chaos of school, soccer and construction.  I am so relieved that all went smoothly this weekend with removing a slider and installing a french door and a window.  We didn't even have to spend one night with a hole in the house! Thank goodness for amazing and talented friends!  Now I have a huge mess all over my kitchen, dining room and living room to clean up.  Luckily I have a bunch of audio books to listen to throughout the week. I have also been in the mood to do a major purge of the house again, so hopefully I can start tackling that this weekend too. 

I really need to start making a dent in this TBR pile, so over the next month or so I am going to be really focusing on reading the books I already have and other than pre-orders, I will not be allowing myself to pick up any more new books!  The only exception will be the romance event I will be attending in mid-October, but I am really going to limit it to the books I am definitely going to read and not just the FOMO on an author I may not get to see again.