Friday, November 15, 2019

Bedtime Story: In November by Cynthia Rylant & Illustrated by Jill Kastner

Read for: Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "In November, the air grows cold and the earth and all of its creatures prepare for winter. Animals seek food and shelter. And people gather together to celebrate their blessings with family and friends.
Cynthia Rylant's lyrical language and Jill Kastner's rich, cozy paintings capture the cherished moments of this autumn month--the moments we spend together and the ones we witness in the world around us."

My Review: I just happened to stumble upon this little gem at the library and couldn't resist. It is a short but simple story about November, not early fall or anticipation for December and winter, just November. The chill in the air, the nights coming early, the cozy feel of the fire and heat, the love that fills the room as family and friends gather together. It was so simple yet so beautiful. The illustrations are all done in a soft watercolor to add to the cozy, sentimental feel of the book. Definitely the perfect book to cozy up with under a warm blanket with the little ones!

My Rating: I absolutely loved the cozy feel of this book, the beautiful illustrations and simple story are perfect for cooler fall days leading up to family gatherings. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

TBR Thursday (6)

So I stumbled upon this feature at Purple People Readers (I am totally in love with the blog name LOL) and was originally created by Kimberly Faye Reads.

As you may know, I like so many other book lovers out there am struggling with a towering TBR.  I have been currently working on narrowing it down a little. But I thought I would also bring that idea to my blog, where you can get a bit of a say in what stays on my TBR and what books it may be time to let go.

So let me know, should I keep it on my TBR, prioritize it, or let it go.  Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts on . . .

Title: Clariel
Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen Series - Book 4 of 5 (plus some novellas)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Length: 382 pages
Average Rating on Goodreads: 3.82 Stars
Time on TBR: Since April 22, 2016
Synopsis: "Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her - and it is herself she must question most of all."

So I was obsessed with the Abhorsen series in middle/high school and consumed the first 3 books at that time.  Now many, many years later Nix has extended the original trilogy to include a few more books.  I am not sure how I feel about later extended series but I did really love the first 3 and they hold a special place in my heart. 

Should I give it a try and hopefully continue my love for this series? Or is it going to ruin all the nostalgic feelings I have for it?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Review of The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Read for: Beat the Back List TBR

Synopsis: "When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But their solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom."

My Review: The first chapter of this book really hooked me into it with the suspense element but unfortunately it didn't continue with the intensity. This is a more sci-fi style dystopian with a lot of scientific elements but none of them are really explained to the extent I would have liked. There is also some interesting political and societal elements at play but again we really just get a surface glazing. The romantic elements are really pushed to the front when the situation doesn't really call for it. I did appreciate the family element though and the difficulties and choices that are forced upon them. I almost gave up about half way through because I just wasn't getting that heart pounding intensity that was promised with the beginning. I did see it through to the end in hopes of a big climax but again was disappointed. Sadly, this one just wasn't for me.

My Rating: Normally I complain that Sci-Fi gets too technical but in this case, if you are going to have science influence a good portion of your plot, you better be able to back it up with at least some detail.  I also wanted so much more digging into the politics.  This seemed like a first book in a series because there was a lot to build from, but it looks like it is a standalone, so ended up being a lackluster book.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It's Not Monday Reading List

Since it was a special holiday yesterday, I delayed my normal reading list until today.

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

The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors
A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington
Postcards From the War by Vanita Oelschlager (Bedtime Story)
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (Graphic Novel)
Boots on the Ground by Elizabeth Partridge

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

Boots on the Ground
Catching Christmas
Klaus Vol. 2
A Walk One Winter Night

Currently Reading:
Valor by John Gwynne - Print/Audio - on page 187 of 680
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White - Ebook/Print - on page 178 of 352
Nocturnal by Wilder Poetry - Print - on page 35 of 88

Pages Read/ Time Listened
547:40 Hours Listened (4:57 listened this week)
30,254 Pages Read (520 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
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
Dear Santa
An Endless Christmas
Christmas Magic
Falling Softly
Christmas Town
The Christmas Star
We Hunt the Flame
Dreaming the Bear
Ghostly Tales from the Lost Summer of 1816
Storm and Fury
Honeybees and Frenemies
Master & Apprentice
The Chosen
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Mortal Engines
Evvie Drake Starts Over
Merciful Crow
The Bridge Kingdom
A Crash of Fate
Black Spire
The Testaments
The Warrior Moon
Klaus Vol. 2
Molly and the Cat Cafe
Plum Crazy Vol. 2
Plum Crazy Vol. 3
Plum Crazy Vol. 4
A Walk One Winter Night
Loving My Actual Christmas
The White Christmas Inn
There Will Come a Darkness
Shadow Frost
How to Love a Duke in 10 Days
How to Catch a Wicked Viscount
Three Days on a Train
Destiny of the Wolf
Leave the Lights On
Marshmallows and Mistletoe
Cocoa & Carols
The Prince's Son
At Last
The Last Huntsman
Forgotten Love
Mae's Cafe
Within the Captain's Hold
Elusive Dreams
Christmas & Cannolis
Fated Mates
Take My Breath Away
Stolen by the Viking
Destroyed by Magic
Abducted by Magic
Rise Like a Goddess
Out Like a Goddess
Finding Her Dragons
Freeing Her Dragons
When the Lady Lies
The Guinevere Deception
You Can Thank Me Later


Boy am I glad that I had pre-planned some posts for this month. Things have gotten a bit out of control in the rest of life this last week.  I am in crunch time with Christmas cards with 2 bazaars coming up this weekend and next weekend. I am not getting as much time as I would like to focus on the cards.  Part of that is due to the fact that my husband has been working nearly non-stop for the past month and I have been on my own managing the house and Munchkin's crazy schedule.  Speaking of Munchkin, I got the dreaded call on Friday that he was sick at school and I had to come get him immediately. Thankfully, it didn't end up being the stomach flu but he did have some kind of awful virus/head cold and we spent the past 4 days battling through it. He is on the mend now thankfully but he so kindly shared those germs with me, no matter how much I cleaned and disinfected the house, him and myself, it was bound to happen. But life goes on, especially at the office, where I am scrambling to catch up from Friday and then squeeze as much into this short week as possible.

On an up note, I started off Tome Topple with a good start, I did want to be to page 300 by now of my Tome Topple book, but with everything that has happened this last weekend I am pretty happy that I am nearing 200 pages.  My goal is to finish by then end of this weekend and then dive right into the next book and get close to completing the second book if not finish it.

With all of that said, are you following me on Instagram? I have been so inspired this month to take beautiful Bookstagram photos and have been posting far more often than usual.  I hope to keep that momentum going with all the beautiful Christmas books coming up.  I also hope to be posting a little more often with updates in general instead of being on here constantly. So if you aren't following me already, come check it out @EasternSunset9

Monday, November 11, 2019

Review of Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge

Read for: Requested Review/ Veteran's Day

Synopsis: "In March 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson sent troops into Vietnam. 57,939 American soldiers would be killed and seventeen years would pass before this controversial chapter of American history concluded with the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982.

The history of this era is complex; the cultural impact extraordinary. But it's the personal stories of eight people--six American soldiers, one American nurse, and one Vietnamese refugee--that form the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic medic rescues and evacuations, each individual's story reveals a different facet of the war and moves readers forward in time. Alternating with these chapters are profiles of key American leaders and events, reminding readers what was happening at home, including Kent State, Woodstock, and Watergate."

My Review: I have had this book sitting on my TBR shelf for far too long. I believe this is marketed towards Middle Grade readers and while it can be a great resource for them, I don't know if younger readers of MG would be able to fully grasp the scope of this book (maybe older readers 12+). With that said this is a really great, honest look at the war in Vietnam. If I remember correctly, this war was really glazed over when I was in school, basically all that was said was it was a long war that we shouldn't have been involved in at all and that the soldiers were ridiculed when they returned. This book dives so much deeper and takes a real look at why we were there and how it continued for so long. We get to see a lot of the political influences and the disruption of checks and balances that allowed for so many lives to be lost. We also get to see the effects on those soldiers who were there and the toll it took on them and those closest to them, as well as the return to the US and the further suffering they went through upon returning home. I love how we also get how as time has gone on, how the nation has learned to support the soldiers, never enough but at least to honor them and come to some understanding of the long term effects war has on them.

My Rating: In honor of Veteran's Day, I wanted to post a book that brings further understanding to what the men and women who serve our country go through, and have suffered in the past. I hope that you are all able to take some time today to thank those who have served our country!  Back to this book though, I really appreciate how much research Partridge did to put this book together, pulling from stories from individuals and White House records. She gave us such an honest but disturbing look at the war in Vietnam.  I can honestly say that I won't be forgetting this book any time soon.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

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