Saturday, January 25, 2020

Date Night Review of Mister Black by P.T. Michelle

Read for: TBR Book

Synopsis: "When Talia crashes a masked party, the charismatic and dominant Mister Black is the one man who can either help or expose her. Neither can deny their attraction, but what happens when one hot night together turns into so much more...

We all have someone who crossed our path and fundamentally changed us. That one person who blew through our lives, their presence forever stamped on our psyche. They linger in our thoughts, in our hearts, and in the decisions we make. A soul crusher or a dream maker, depending on the perspective.

My person is MISTER BLACK.
I didn’t know him by that name when I first met him.
I didn’t know him at all, but the impression he left behind was just as powerful as the name I call him today.

He is Black: a deadly enforcer and masterful seducer.
I am Red: a justice bleeder and willing participant.
Together we are passion. Colors colliding through each other’s lives.

When our secrets converge in a passionate encounter,
stepping out of the shadows just might be worth the risk.

NOTE: MISTER BLACK is meant for readers 18+ due to mature content. This is part 1 in the IN THE SHADOWS series and is 154 print pages. The series must be read in the following order: MISTER BLACK (Part 1, 154 print pages novella), SCARLETT RED (Part 2, 275 print pages novel), and BLACKEST RED (Part 3, 371 print pages novel). All three books in Sebastian and Talia's epic love story are now available in eBook, print and audiobook formats."

My Review: I have had this ebook sitting on my TBR for several years so I thought I should give it a try before downloading the rest of the series. I enjoyed the second chance romance, it isn't often I reach for this type of romance. I also enjoyed the bit of investigative story line, it adds a touch of danger to the story, just enough. I loved Sebastian and I think I will continue with the series just to keep reading about him. Talia was okay, I felt like she is a bit flat in this first book but there is definitely some room for character development throughout the series. I was a bit disappointed in the issues with lack of communication, it felt like it was a bit of a fabrication and unnecessary to keep certain secrets, might be one of my pet peeves. I do have to say that while this starts off pretty tame, it takes quite a turn and gets very steamy very fast!

My Rating: While I wasn't a fan of the all too common conflict trope of failing to communicate, I am intrigued by Sebastian's character enough that I will most likely be picking up the next book.  I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Bedtime Story: Brushalot: The Tale of the Tooth Fairy by Ian Wilms

Read for: Children's Books/ Netgalley/ Requested Review

Synopsis: "In a magical, faraway land the Tooth Fairy is busy making healthy big teeth for children after collecting their baby teeth. But one person doesn't like what the Tooth Fairy and the people of the Pearly White City are doing: the evil Prince Plaque, who lives in Cavity Castle. Can anyone stop Prince Plaque and his Tartar Troopers from breaking down the teeth walls of the Pearly White City and destroying the Tooth-Making Factory?
Never fear-Sir Brushalot is here!
Find out what happens when Sir Brushalot (the Tooth Fairy's brother), his horse DEN-TIST, and the Knights of Floss defend the Pearly White City against the evil Prince and his Troopers. This fun, award winning book is sure to encourage children of all ages to take good care of their teeth!.."

My Review: Munchkin just had another dentist check up and has been loosing teeth like crazy, so I thought this would be a fun book to check out. I love that this gives readers something other than the more girly toothfairy to read about. This is a fun way to get kids a little more into brushing their teeth, especially the boys, by turning it into a battle against germs and plaque. There is also some great resources about baby teeth and adult teeth and more fun activities for the kids. All in all it is a really fun and unique book.

My Rating: This was such a fun and unique book that really encourages kids to take an active role in their dental hygiene.  We give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion. 

You can find out more about Ian Wilms and his books on his Goodreads Page.

You can obtain your own copy of Brushalot in either print or digital format from Amazon or in print format from Barnes & Noble or you can request it at your local library or favorite bookstore.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Review of The Drum That Beats Within Us by Mike Bond

Read for: 2020 Additions

Synopsis: "First published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in City Lights Books, Mike Bond is an award-winning poet, critically acclaimed novelist, ecologist, and war and human rights journalist. Based on his own experiences in many dangerous and war-torn regions of the world and in its last wild places, his poems and novels portray the innate hunger of the human heart for good, the intense joys of love, the terror and fury of battle, the sinister conspiracies of dictators, and corporations and politicians, and the beauty of the vanishing natural world."

My Review: I was drawn to this book by the cover, it reminds me of home so much! Like all poetry collections, it was really hit and miss for me. I actually almost gave up but pushed through and discovered poems I liked more towards the end of the book. I was expecting a lot of poems around nature and Native Americans and while there were a few of those, there were also many focused on city life and other countries. There wasn't the connection and flow throughout the whole book as I had hoped, at times I would start to see a connection between the poems only to come across one that didn't quite fit with the others. While I appreciate poems that stand on their own, but when I purchase a book like this I am looking more for poems to have some cohesiveness throughout the book. While some really resonated with me, overall this collection wasn't what I was expecting or looking for at this time.

My Rating: I am a little disappointed that this was my first purchase of the year and one of only limited books I can pick up this year.  I guess in the future I will have to be a little more cautious with my poetry collection purchases as this one didn't deliver what it appears is promised.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2020 Reading Challenge

So for the past several years I have taken on many reading challenges, from Graphic Novel to full Series challenges.  I have found that I am not really challenged by most of them and I don't find much drive in them any more.  So this year, while I will be tracking my reading, I won't be participating in specific challenges.  Instead I will be focusing on my TBR, specifically the books I have tracked as purchased the last 3 years.  I have gone back on my purchase lists from 2017-2019 and have found all the books I purchased but have not read or unhauled.

 There are 230 books on my TBR from purchases in the last 3 years, this doesn't include books that were previously on my TBR and I may have missed a few, but that doesn't seem like an over the top number considering I usually read over 250 books each year.

In addition to focusing on these books I am also going to try to limit my book purchasing even further than in year past.  I am going to try to limit it to 1 book a week (Saturday counting as the end of the week).  There will be a few exceptions which include gifts and special occasions like birthday, Christmas and anniversary.  I am also giving myself an incentive that with every 15 TBR books I read, I can purchase an extra book but only if I am mostly caught up reading the books I have purchased in 2020.

So that wraps up my challenge for 2020, a little unusual for me but I am hoping with less of a focused challenge year, I will have more freedom to pick up these TBR books.  What are the challenges you will be participating in this year?  Are there any books on my TBR that you have strong feelings about? Is there something I should prioritize or skip all together?

Books Added to TBR in 2017
Of the 234 books I purchased in 2017, these 69 are the ones that still remain on my TBR.
Beauty and the Beast
 Dawn Study
Name of the Wind
 Wise Man's Fear 
World Mythology in Bite Sized Chunks

 The Beast's Garden
 Also Known as Elvis
The Invisible Library 
Saints Blood  

 The Secret Loves of Geek Girls 
The Prince of Fools
The Nothing Girl
 Tortall and Other Lands
 Wild Magic
 Wolf Speaker
 Emperor Mage
Realm of the Gods
The Winter King
 Before She Ignites
The Last Magician
 Bone Witch
 Phantom Traces
 Dear Margaret
The Staying Kind
 Christmas Joy
Hearts Unloched
Passion's Palette
Never Dare a Dragon
 Vampire King of New York
A Shot at Love
 Moment of Fate
The Promise
Recipes from Raine's Roast
 Caught up in Raine
Redeeming the Billionaire
 The Billionaire's Best Friend
 A Billionaire Playboy
Dinosaur Lords
Dinosaur Knights
Christmas at Thompson Hall
 Traitor's Blade
Christmas Carol
Ink and Bone
 The Grace of Kings
 The Wall of Storms
The Dinosaur Princess
 Hidden Figures
The Fall of Arthur
The Reluctant Queen
 Pay it Forward
The Dragonet Prophecy
 The Lost Heir
Hidden Kingdom
Dark Secret
 Brightest Night
Gathering Blue
The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr
 Taran Wanderer
The High King
 Fablehaven: The Complete Series
Paper and Fire

Books Added to Shelves in 2018:
Of the 219 books I purchase in 2018, these are the 48 that remain on my TBR
Terrier (Feb./ )
Jedi Search (March/)
Caging Merrow (March/)
The Fifth Season (March/)
The Scandalous Mackenzies (March/)
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (March/)
 The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (March/)
Hard to Serve (March/)
Mastering Her Senses (March/)
Theirs to Take (March/)
Nightblade's Vengeance (April/)
 The Wolf (April/)
 Defiant Heir (April/)
The Sorting Room (May/ )
Lost Stars (May/ )
 Frankenstein Dreams (May/)
 The Belgaraid (May/)
 Death Sworn (May/)
The Queen of Sorrow (May/ )
 Fight for Everything (May/)
 Sweet Tea & Sympathy (May/)
 Half Drowned King (May/)
The Orphan Queen (June/ )
 The Mirror King (June/ )
Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein(June/ )
 The Bird and the Blade(July/)
The Slow Regard of Silent Things(July/) 
Unhooked (August/)
Isle of Blood and Stone (Sept./)
Not Even Bones (Sept./)
 Phoenix Empress (Oct/)
Monster: The Story of a Young Mary Shelley(Nov./)

The Carols of Christmas (Dec./)
 Carne the Ruby(Dec./)
 Wolf Kiss(Dec./)
Wolf Fire
  Wolf Vow(Dec./)
 Wolf Angel(Dec./)
 Waiting for You(Dec./)
All of Me(Dec./)
 Pangaea: Sunslinger (Dec./)
Pangaea: Revelations(Dec./)
 Wastelander: Awakening(Dec./)
 Come, Bos (Dec./)
The Promise: A Perilous Journey(Dec./)
Dashing Through the Snow(Dec./)
Santa Cruise(Dec./)

Books Added to Shelves in 2019
Of the 235 books I purchased in 2019, these are the 113 remaining on my TBR
 WarDance (Jan/ )
 Warsong (Jan./ )
 Year One (Jan/ )
Girl Who Drank the Moon (Jan/ )
Dactyl Hill Squad (Feb./)
Lord of the Fading Lands (Feb./)
 Crown of Feathers (Feb./)
 Argos: The Story of Odysseus as told by his Loyal Dog (Feb./)
 Shadow of Doubt (March/)
Gates of Stone (March/)
A Conspiracy of Truths 
 Viper (April/)
 Through the White Wood (April/)
 Descendant of the Crane (April/)
Dark Harmony (April/)
 The Unbound Empire (April/)
The Sea Queen(May/)
 The Mountain of Kept Memory(May/)
 Metamorphica (May/)
 Misfits of Avalon Vol. 1 (May/)
 Misfits of Avalon Vol. 2 (May/)
 The Sea King (May/)
 Ride Hard (May/)
 Ride Rough (May/)
 Ride Wild (May/)
 A Rogue by Any Other Name (May/)
 A Scot in the Dark (May/)
The Day of the Duchess (May/)
 The Pirate Bride (May/)
Man Made Boy (May/)
 Dear Santa (May/)
An Endless Christmas (May/)
Christmas Magic (May/)
 Falling Softly (May/)
 We Hunt the Flame (June/)
Dreaming the Bear (June/)
 Monsters (June/)
Ghostly Tales from the Lost Summer of 1816 (June/)
Honeybees and Frenemies (August/)
Master & Apprentice (August/) 
 The Chosen (August/)
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (August/)
Mortal Engines (August/)
 Evvie Drake Starts Over (August/)
The Bridge Kingdom (August/)
 Darkdawn (September/)
 A Crash of Fate (September/)
 Black Spire (September/)
The Warrior Moon (September/)
 Ink (October/)
 Molly and the Cat Cafe (October/)
Plum Crazy Vol. 2 (October/)
Plum Crazy Vol. 3 (October/)
Plum Crazy Vol. 4 (October/)
 A Family Under the Christmas Tree (October/) 
The White Christmas Inn (October/)
There Will Come a Darkness (October/)
Shadow Frost (October/)
How to Love a Duke in 10 Days (October/)
How to Catch a Wicked Viscount (October/)
 Faker (October/)
Three Days on a Train (October/)
Destiny of the Wolf (October/)
Leave the Lights On (October/)
Marshmallows and Mistletoe (October/)
Cocoa & Carols (October/)
 The Prince's Son (October/)
 At Last (October/)
The Last Huntsman (October/)
Forgotten Love (October/)
Mae's Cafe (October/)
Within the Captain's Hold (October/)
 Elusive Dreams (October/)
 Christmas & Cannolis (October/)
Fated Mates (October/)
Take My Breath Away (October/)
Stolen by the Viking (October/)
 Destroyed by Magic (October/)
 Abducted by Magic (October/)
 Rise Like a Goddess (October/)
 Out Like a Goddess (October/)
 Finding Her Dragons (October/)
Freeing Her Dragons (October/)
 When the Lady Lies (November/)
 The Bromance Book Club  (November/)
 Christmas Camp (December/) 
 Cowboy, It's Cold Outside (December/) 
 His Cowboy Heart (December/) 
 Pride and Prometheus (December/) 
Stone Cold Cowboy (December/) 
 Sugar (December/) 
 The Belgariad Vol. 2 (December/) 
The Mad Scientists Daughter (December/) 
 The Season of Us (December/)  
The Way Home (December/) 
 The Good Ones (December/) 
 The Christmas Keeper (December/) 
Royal Holiday (December/)  
 The Very Very Far North (December/) 
 Little Women (December/) 
Secret Sisters (December/) 
 Not the Girl You Marry (December/) 
 For the Killing of Kings (December/) 
 Something Red (December/) 
 Darien (December/) 
 Shiang (December/) 
 Spine of the Dragon (December/) 
 The Blackest Heart (December/) 
The Queen of Swords (December/) 
 The Stone in the Skull (December/) 
 The Winter of Ice and Iron (December/) 
Black Storm Comin' (December/) 
 Dragonshadow (December/) 
 Skinner Luce (December/) 
 The Summer Dragon (December/) 
Winter of the Witch (December/) 

Monday, January 20, 2020

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 Snow Bear by Holly Webb
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez  by Christiane Duchesne (Bedtime Story)
They Called Us Enemy by by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott & Illustrated by Harmony Becker (Graphic Novel)

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

Come Tumbling Down
A Plague of Giants
Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez
I'll Never Get All of That Done
The Drum Beats Within Us
Nils: The Tree of Life
Finding Her Dragons
Mister Black

Currently Reading:
The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-el - Print - on page 36 of 265
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannon - Audio/Print - on page 260 of 417

Pages Read/ Time Listened
41:26 Hours Listened (22:15 listened this week)
1,601 Pages Read (861 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
The Drum that Beats Within Us - READ
A Heart so Fierce and Broken
Nameless Queen - READ


This was a really fantastic reading week for me, one of the best I have had in a while.  Hubby and I are finally starting to settle into a bit of a routine at nights after so many years of him working nights and me having them to myself. Now we spend one or two nights a week watching something on TV, one night a week I listen to audiobooks while doing chores and the rest of the week we sit in bed and he watches videos, listens to music or reads magazines while I read or listen to audio books. We still get to be together and will sometimes stop what we are doing to chat about something or share something funny but we also get to do our own thing side by side.

Yet again, I am reading mostly ARCs this past week and this will probably continue for the next couple of weeks but then I will be able to get to some of my own TBR.  Speaking of which, I will be working on putting up my 2020 challenge post this week. Did you see my 2019 wrap up and stat/best book posts? While my TBR is overwhelmingly large, I am really actually very happy and satisfied with my reading life right now.  Looking at those stats, I have found a nice balance in my reading life that is so comforting without causing a reading rut. How do you feel about your reading life right now? Are you in rut or are you striving for a change or like me have you found a nice balance?

Today is a holiday for Munchkin and I, with the weather taking a cold turn, I think it will be a nice day to stay in and play a couple of games and read some books.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Review of 2019 Reading Year: The Stats, The Surprises, The Disappointments & the Best of the Best

I am finally getting around to wrapping up my 2019 reading year.  There were a lot of stats to calculate this time around since I didn't do such a good job of tracking throughout the year.

2018 Reading Stats:

In 2019 I read a total of 268 books (give or take a couple that aren't on Goodreads)
broken down that is 34,439 pages and
571:19 hours (23 days, 19 hours and 19 minutes) of audio book time

of those books:
15 earned 5 star ratings
147 earned 4 star ratings
77 earned 3 star ratings
17 earned 2 star ratings
1 earned 1 star rating
7 were DNFed

58 were in the 0-50 page range
48 were in the 51-150 page range
70 were in the 151-300 page range
60 were in the 301-400 page range
19 were in the 401-500 page range
6 were in the 501-650 page range
2 were over the 650 range

31 were Children's Books
20 were Early Reader Books
66 were Middle Grade Books
63 were Young Adult Books
88 were Adult Books

33 were Graphic Novels
67 were Audio Books
80 were Print Books
88 were Ebooks

47 were Romance
55 were Fantasy
19 were Sci-Fi

only 2 were by local Rhode Island Authors

Things I have discovered in 2019:

~ I have gotten extremely stingy with my ratings, so few books are getting 5 star ratings anymore. Books really have to wow me in order to get that rating and I am kind of feeling bad about it.
~ I am super happy with the balance of my reading in both formats and age groups. 
~ I am also happy that I continue to give Sci-Fi a chance and am able to find books to enjoy in the genre.
~ I have also discovered that I am a bit of a mood reader, I just have gotten very good at selecting my TBRs that I don't even notice I am selecting based on my predicted moods.
~ I also tend to read chunkier books and binge read series earlier in the year and later in the year tend to pick up shorter books and dabble with new authors and genres. 

Biggest Disappointments:
So besides the 7 books I DNFed this last year, there were a few disappointments. It doesn't mean that these were bad books, or even that I hated them, just simply books I felt were going to be fantastic but just didn't live up to my expectations.

I know, you can all lynch me now.  But honestly the hype was not worth it for me, I understand everyone is super thrilled with the love/hate relationships and the plotting and twisted fae world but for me it really didn't present anything new I hadn't seen before and it didn't do it better either in my opinion. I am not even going to finish the series.

Everyone who reads MG has been raving about this series, but I should have known better when they kept comparing it to Harry Potter. I barely managed to get through this one (and it is a shame both the books had such pretty covers).

I just didn't get it, maybe I am not aware enough of the rich & famous to recognize the name dropping of designers or describing of beautiful furniture and clothing. I just couldn't picture it and the constant referring to family ties without a family tree just got annoying for me. I think the movie would suit me better this time.

Biggest Surprises:
I read some books this year that I wasn't sure about or that sucked me in far more than I ever expected. Some pulled me into new genres and others introduced me to new authors and worlds.

When Munchkin picked this book out at the library, I thought it would be one we tried and ended up returning to the library unread, but we consistently read it every night for a month and really enjoyed the story. We liked it so much we picked up our own copy along with the next book.  Munchkin is already re-reading it.

This is what I thought Crazy Rich Asians would be! Someone trying to fit in to the higher class.  Not only was it that but it was so much more! I loved the representation in this one and the family ties were amazing.  I absolutely loved the writing style and will be reading more of Helen Hoang in the future.

This is a book I randomly picked up because it looked really cool and it was on sale. I had no idea what I was getting into, and honestly have no idea what I even read or what to believe about this book. But it was amazing and so unique. I really hope I can find more like it in the future!

2019 Honorable Mentions
I don't normally do this but I read so many fantastic books this year that I just had to mention some that just barely missed out on my top books of the year.

I loved the sudden rush of books inspired by Joan of Arc and I am so glad I got to read this one, it was a unique and well researched format and was beautifully written. Even if poetry or historical books aren't your cup of tea, give this one a try anyway!

This is a series that I will forever be raving about! If you haven't started it, definitely go pick it up! Usually I am not a fan of final books in a series but even though we knew ahead of time how this series would end, Chee did an amazing job of keeping the reader clinging to every page.

This was everything I want in a holiday story, a bit of Christmas magic, friends, a little love and a happily ever after ending.  I flew through this story but loved every minute of it and it definitely left me in an upbeat mood even in the midst of my own holiday chaos.

Speaking of Christmas, or more of an anti-Christmas romance, I randomly picked this book up right at the end of the holiday season when I was just a bit sick of the other Christmas books I had been reading and I loved the dark, snarky character and the sunny beach setting, so different from all the other holiday books I had been reading and it still stands out!

This series has been calling to me for quite some time, both from the shelves at the bookstore every time I visited and then again from my own shelves once I gave in, but they are just so darn large! I wish I hadn't been intimidated by the size because even though they are so big, they are pretty easy to read.  I get really drawn into the story quickly and the pages really fly, I regret waiting so long to read them and am really going to push to finish the series early in 2020.

and finally

The Best of the Best Books in 2019:

So here we go with my top books of 2019! I did not expect a single one of these to land at the top, but they have all clearly earned the right to be here. Much like last year, my favorite books have such a variety, and I love that about my reading, any book can become a favorite at any time no matter the target age, genre or format! So in no particular order here are my top books of 2019. . .

I was on a search for strong female role models in books and stumbled across this book at the library and thought I would give it a try, little did I know how inspiring it would be.  While I have very little in common with Ibtihaj, her determination, bravery and work ethic are so inspiring and so is her story and journey so far in life. Proud: Living My American Dream is definitely worth picking up!

I know, I did it again and put an entire series (at least so far) on my favorites list, but The Queen's Thief series so belongs here!! I had been eyeing this series for a while but so many other readers I trust either didn't like it or DNFed the first book.  But then I saw an interview with Megan Whalen Turner and saw the new covers and I just couldn't resist.  While this series might not be for everyone, it is a bit slow moving and has a very intricate plot full of intrigue with even the smallest detail being possibly important in a later book.  I inhaled this series in a single month and am so beyond excited that the next (and I think final) book is scheduled to come out in 2020 *fingers crossed*

Another example of not picking your favorites until the year is over! One of the final books I picked up and read in 2018 ended up being a book that completely blew me away. This book is stunning with the handwritten calligraphy and simple sketched images, along with simple yet profound statements make this the most beautiful book I read this year and it might even earn it a spot in my all time favorite books!

So what were some of your favorite books of 2019? Have you read any of mine? Will you be picking any of these up this year?