Saturday, March 14, 2020

Date Night with a Book: Last Couple Standing by Matthew Norman

Read for: Anticipated Release/ Netgalley/ Requested Review

Synopsis: "A couple determined not to end up like their divorced friends try a radical experiment—and get in way over their heads—in this hilarious, heartfelt novel from the author of We’re All Damaged.

The Core Four have been friends since college: four men, four women, four couples. They got married around the same time, had kids around the same time, and now, fifteen years later, they’ve started getting divorced around the same time, too. With three of the Core Four unions crumbling to dust around them, Jessica and Mitch Butler take a long, hard look at their own marriage. Can it be saved? Or is divorce, like some fortysomething zombie virus, simply inescapable?

To maximize their chance at immunity, Jessica and Mitch try something radical. Their friends’ divorces mostly had to do with sex—having it, not having it, wanting to have it with other people—so they decide to relax a few things. Terms are discussed, conditions are made, and together the Butlers embark on the great experiment of taking their otherwise happy, functional marriage and breaking some very serious rules.

Jessica and Mitch are convinced they’ve hit upon the next evolution of marriage. But as lines are crossed and hot bartenders pursued, they each start to wonder if they’ve made a huge mistake. What follows is sexy, fun, painful, messy, and completely surprising to them both. Because sometimes doing something bad is the only way to get to the heart of what’s really good."

My Review:  When I saw this book coming up this year, I knew I had to read it. Being someone approaching middle age, in a long established relationship with a kid and a house and a steady job, surrounded by friends in a similar situation, it is refreshing to find a book that I can relate to so much. I found this to be a both sobering and an entertaining read. I can't tell you how many times it had me laughing out loud, a fun and realistic look at trying to make a marriage work while so many others have called it quits. I loved the cast of characters, they were all well developed and unique. The story has some great ups and downs, and while you know where it is going, you stay fully invested and keep the pages turning. Such a real look at life but in a fun refreshing way that will make you want to revisit it.

My Rating: I had so much fun reading this book, I could relate to so many elements in this book, the constant struggle to find a way to make it all work, and yet the most stand out moments are how those struggles lead to memorable moments.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

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

You can find out more about Matthew Norman and his book on his Goodreads Page or Website.

Last Couple Standing releases on Tuesday, March 17th but you can pre-order your copy today in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or independent bookstore.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Bedtime Story: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro & Illustrated by Jared Lee

Read for: Bedtime Story/ Children's Books

Synopsis: "There was an old lady who's ready for school!

That lovely old lady has returned just in time for the first day of school. Now she's swallowing items to make the very best of her first day back. And just in time for the bus...

With rhyming text and funny illustrations, this lively version of the classic song will appeal to young readers with every turn of the page--a fun story for the first day of school!"

My Review: I used to read all these Old Lady Who Swallowed . . . books to Munchkin when he was little and came across this one when clearing out the shelves. I honestly think these books got weirder and weirder as they went on. Munchkin still gets a laugh out of them but this one didn't roll off the tongue the way previous books in the series did. On top of that the ending really didn't make a whole lot of sense. I guess it is time for us to move on from these books.

My Rating: This series was fun the first 3 or 4 books we read but the idea gets a little old.  Munchkin still enjoyed parts of it but he has definitely started to outgrow these books and it probably won't be picked up again.  We give it a rating of Two Paws.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Review of The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

Read for: Borrowed Books/ Booktube SFF Shortlist

Synopsis: "Britain, the not-too-distant future.
Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.
He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.
How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?"

My Review: I picked up this book because it was on the Booktube SFF Shortlist for this year. I didn't know anything about this book, I didn't even read the synopsis before I started the audio book. Boy was I shocked, the audio book was so difficult to listen to, not because of anything negative about the writing or narration but because of the content. It was shocking and traumatic, but in a good way. It seems like current fiction at first but then you are hit with such a twist that it really messes with your mind, and the twists just keep coming. The most shocking part is that you could picture people going to these extremes for the advancement of their own career or notoriety, really opens your eyes to the way we treat people as we climb those social and career ladders. This is definitely a must read and I highly recommend the audio book!

My Rating: This is why I try to read the Booktube SFF shortlist books, you never know the gems you will find!  I have found the short/novella works to be my favorite category and this is just an example why.  I didn't know what to expect but I was totally blown away. It is a short read, the audio book only took about and hour and a half but I had to stop everything to just listen because it was that captivating.  This is without a doubt a Four Paw and a Stump Wag read and may end up on my top books of the year!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Can't Wait for . . . A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hoste at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

I have been waiting, maybe a bit impatiently, for the fourth and final book in the Ember in the Ashes trilogy by Sabaa Tahir and we finally have a title, a cover, a release date and pre-orders open.  All which was announced this last Monday (March 2nd) and I don't think I have ever pre-ordered a book as fast as this one!

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: December 1, 2020


Synopsis: "Prepare for the jaw-dropping finale of Sabaa Tahir's beloved New York Times bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series, and discover: Who will survive the storm?

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off...

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory--or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life--and love--he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save--or destroy--all that he knows."

When is the earliest you have pre-ordered a book? Do you pre-order as soon as a book is announced and available for pre-order or do you wait until closer to the publishing date? Or do you wait until release day or after release day?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review of The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Anticipated Release

Synopsis: "What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due."

My Review:  This is one of those books that really piqued my interest, but wasn't sure what to expect from this debut author, so I was really excited to be able to read it early. Unfortunately, I really struggled with this one, it took me nearly a month to read and I was struggling so much with the ebook that I decided to try the audio book, which helped some, especially with pronunciations. The world is quite vast and encompasses several world that are connected some way, maybe like a portal/wormhole like way, but not a lot is explained. I am still confused as to the mode of transportation as well, I can't tell if they are airship like or something else. The descriptions of the characters also leave a lot to be desired, I really struggled to be able to picture anything in my mind, possibly Csorwe is an orc like character but don't take my word for it. With that said, the character interactions are great, I loved the relationship that develops between Csorwe and Sethennai, the way it develops and changes throughout the story was really appreciated. Unfortunately, that couldn't save the full story for me. It was rather tedious to read and I really had to push myself to continue reading, hoping for a payoff. Some issues are resolved but clearly it leads to another book in a series but I find myself hesitant to take on another.

My Rating: I really struggled with this one, if we had gotten more scenes of the learning part of Csorwe's life, or had a little better world/character building I think I would have really enjoyed this one.  Unfortunately, it didn't work for me and I give it a rating of Two Paws.

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

You can find out more about A.K. Larkwood and this book as well as upcoming releases on her Goodreads page or Website.

Monday, March 9, 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

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets and Other Disasters by Suzanne Kamata
How to Tie a Shoe and Other Big Adventures by Skip Hill (Bedtime Story)
Real Friends by Shannon Hale (Graphic Novel)

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

The Test
Queen of Nothing
Firefly Letters
Real Friends
Alekizou and His Terrible Library Plot
Elephant's Guide to Hide and Seek
The Book of Three
The Lifters
The Bear and the Nightingale
The Last Couple Standing

Currently Reading:

Last Man by Mary Shelley - Audio/Print - on page 105 of 432

Pages Read/ Time Listened
166:48 Hours Listened (24:44 listened this week)
8,516 Pages Read (1,325 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
White Rose
Stealing Thunder (gift)
The Eyes of Tamburah (gift)
The Wolf in the Whale
~~~~~~~~~~March Birthday Waiver Books ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Red Pencil
The Rain Dragon Rescue
The Order of the Unicorn
The Book of Boy
The Firefly Letters - READ
All the Wandering Light
Life on the Leash
George and Lizzie
Phoenix Unbound
The Library of Ever
Family Pets
The Last Man
Magic Bites
Fantasy Lover
Night Pleasures
The Midnight Lie
You Can't F*ck Up Your Kids  (gift)
Mary Shelley Monster Hunter Vol. 1
The Caged Queen
The Mum Who'd Had Enough
Ash and Quill
The Voyage to Magical North
I Needed a Viking
Smoke and Iron
Hurricane Dancers
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
The Test - READ
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~End Birthday Waiver~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This last week was a fantastic kickoff to my reading month.  I did continue to pick up a few more books here and there as part of my birthday spree. Some won't arrive for some time from Book Depository but I added all that I ordered to the list already.  I kind of wish I had written down all the books I was getting so I would see how quickly they added up. Oh well, I am really excited to read these books and they will keep me busy for a while now. Since today is my actual birthday, I am not going to feel any guilt over this little splurge, just work hard to get back to the limited purchases and use my library more.

With all that said, I am so happy with how my reading month is going so far! I have read 5 books for Middle Grade March so far, 2 Library books and 3 requested reviews.  While I am going backwards on my TBR goals, I still feel like I have accomplished a lot in this first week.  In other news, who else is ready for some beach reads?! It is over 60 here today and I am in the mood to sit outside and enjoy some sunshine!