Saturday, September 19, 2020

Date Night with a Book: Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

  Date Night with a book is the new After Dark series of posts on my blog, books posted for Date Nights contain Adult  Romance themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for Date Night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)

Read for: Recently Added/ Audio Book

Synopsis: "First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?"

My Review: I have heard really great things about this book so finally decided to give it a try. At the beginning I wasn't so sure if I would like it, Alex wasn't my favorite character at first but I am so glad I continued with it. I loved the character development of both Alex and Henry throughout the book. You knew something big was going to happen, it kept building up to an utter disaster but I love the way it was handled with that big clash came. Seriously, Alex and Henry are total relationship goals! The family elements in this book, especially with the First family was great, the way they work together, argue and resolve issues even with everything in their lives, you could still see the love they hold for each other. I enjoyed the bits of political and campaign glimpses, along with the royal expectations. The amount that image matters in today's society is sad but so true. I believe this is a standalone but I need more of the White House Trio!

My Rating: This was such a fun book, I know everyone has been raving about it but I didn't believe the hype, until now.  It was cute, it was romantic, it was funny, it had turmoil, it had everything I could have wanted in a contemporary romance.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Bedtime Story: Penguin Problems by Jory John and Illustrated by Lane Smith

Read for: Children's Books/ Borrowed Books

Synopsis: "What?!

Oh, you're going to read this book? Somehow I seriously doubt that. I bet you won't even finish reading this flap.

Don't worry about it. Why would you want to learn about some penguin's problems when you have plenty of problems of your own? Just look around. The world's a mess!

Besides, you probably don't even like penguins. Heck, I barely like penguins and I am a penguin.

Seriously, I'll understand if you put the book back on the shelf. Go ahead. It's for the best.

I'm sure you'd just get a bunch of paper cuts, anyway. And you'd probably bend the pages. And you'd get your little fingerprints everywhere.

When was the last time you washed those grubby hands of yours? No offense.


Listen: I'm going back to bed. Read, don't read. Buy, don't buy. Whatever.

Just try not to wake me up.

I'm a light sleeper.

And I have a lot on my mind."

My Review: This is such a great book, for children and adults alike. It is a simple story but with a great message about how we look at the things around us. Our perspective on things can impact our moods. Penguin and Walrus do a great job of reminding the reader of simply changing the way you are looking at things can improve your day. The illustration style is also great, a bit like watercolor with softer edges. This makes a great bedtime story, soothing but it can also be a conversation starter and give something to think about.

My Rating: This was such a great book to read, even as an adult.  Even though Munchkin has outgrown picture books, I think this is still one I need for my shelves.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and Stump Wag.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Review of Red Hood by Elena K. Arnold

Read for: Recently Added/ Audio Book

Synopsis: "You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.

And the wolf is angry.

Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone."
My Review: I received this book as a gift earlier this year but Autumn seemed like an appropriate time to read it, and I was right. It was very atmospheric and eerie. With that said, it was so different than anything I ever expected. If you are looking for a good girl power book, this would be it, the characters of the book don't wait for men to figure out how to behave properly but took the power and safety into their own hands. There is definitely a lot of symbolism in this book, especially between the behavior of men/guys and wolves. It is clear this book speaks to the Me Too movement but it does take things a bit far, being a fictional story, it can do that. I do appreciate that there are a few good men represented in this book but I feel like it could have used more and maybe a tiny bit less man hating, but again being a work of fiction, liberties can be taken with the story. All in all, I do like the idea of the hunted becoming the hunter and protector of others. Women lending strength to other women and supporting them as they let their truths out.

My Rating: I know there are a lot of problems with this book, but if  you read it as a fictional story to be enjoyed as just that, a story, it was enjoyable.  I give it a rating of Two Paws. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Review of The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron


Read for: Anticipated Release/Netgalley/Requested Review

Synopsis: "When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths—one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it—in this thrilling new Russian inspired epic fantasy from Jon Skovron.

Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.

When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.

But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he's fighting for the empire."

My Review:  It took me quite a while to get through this book, but it was no fault of the book, it has just been a very busy time and it was hard to focus on an intricate fantasy world. And the world built in this book is intricate with rich religious/mythology systems. I struggled a bit with the terminology, it seems to have a Russian influence and I would have loved an audio book to help with proper pronunciations. The influence also carries over to the setting of the book, it is a dark and cold world filled with snow and forests and frigid tundra; it is a great book to read during the winter months. If you are looking for a darker fantasy that has Death Gods/Goddesses heavily featured, look no further. It includes both the magical influence from the Gods/Goddesses as well as elemental magic. I also really enjoyed the political and cultural push and pull throughout the story, there is definitely a current of unrest and upheaval in this one and it was intriguing to read the shifting views and loyalties. I loved the foreshadowing for the next book that takes place near the end and I cannot wait for book 2 to come out.

My Rating: I struggled a bit to get into this book but once I got going (especially when school started again and the weather cooled off), I really couldn't put this book down.  It was an intricate world and magic system but I can see myself really getting invested in these characters.  I give it 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 the Goddess War Series and Jon Skovron on his Goodreads Page or Website.

The Ranger of Marzanna came out earlier this year so you can now obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or independent bookstore. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review of Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling by Helena Dahlgren


Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Audiobooks

Synopsis: "Step into the universe of the massively popular online MMORPG game Star Stable, and follow four friends who discover their magic powers and learn that every girl can be a hero in this fantasy trilogy.

Soul Riders tells the heroic tale of four young girls who have been chosen by destiny to save the world from the ancient demon: Garnok and his band of dangerous Dark Riders. Lisa is a teenage girl who is still coming to terms with the tragic loss of her mother in a riding accident and has sworn never to go near a horse again until she met Starshine, a mysterious blue-maned steed who comes to her in dreams. New on the island of Jorvik, Lisa befriends Alex, Linda, and Anne. Under the guidance of mystical druids, they discover they each have a special bond to their horses that gives them magical powers. While trying to balance school, family, and friendships they have to figure out what it means to be a Soul Rider. They are attacked by the Dark Riders and the mysterious Mr. Sands discover that their horses are in danger. Instead of relying on their combined strength, they decide to split up on their quest to find answers and learn to fight back against their enemies. However, will it be too late before they realize their mistake?

Jorvik Calling is the first installment in the epic, fantasy trilogy, Soul Riders, about magic, friendship, and horses bound to thrill all young equestrian fans."

My Review: My horse loving childhood soul could not pass this book up. This is everything I would have loved as a kid (and still do). I highly recommend this audio book for fellow horse lovers, it has a unique mix of story and music. Songs and music play a big part in the story and the added element to the audio book was a pleasant surprise. This was an interesting story but definitely a building block for a series. I feel like we are still getting to know the characters and some of them are a little difficult to tell apart at this time. We also know who is trying to harm the riders and the guardians but a lot of the evil is still in the dark. This first book also ends on quite the cliffhanger and stops just as the story is starting to come together and the conflicts are beginning. Young horse fans will definitely enjoy this book, but be sure to have the other books ready for them to dive into right away.

My Rating: I love the mystical and horse elements of this story. I just felt like I was left in the dark a little too much. I do think it is an intriguing first book and I would highly recommend the audio book for young horse fans. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

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

You can find out more about Helena Dahlgren and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling was released in March so you can obtain your own copies of it and the second book now in print, digital or audio format from Amazon or in print or digital format from Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Reading List

It is Monday again, and it is 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 Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
Nate the Great Goes Down in the Dumps by Marjorie Weinmen Sharmat (Bedtime Story/Chapter)

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

The Librarian of Auschwitz - DNF 33%
The Ranger of Marzanna
Red Hood
Happy Narwhalidays
A Pinch of Salt

Currently Reading:

You Can't F*ck Up Your Kids by Lindsay Powers - Print - on page 98 of 320
The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera - Audio/Print - on page 67 of 544

Pages Read/ Time Listened
697:21 Hours Listened (18:24 listened this week)
21,343 Pages Read (604 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
The Eyes of Tamburah (gift)
The Wolf in the Whale
~~~~~~~~~~March Birthday Waiver Books ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Rain Dragon Rescue
The Order of the Unicorn
All the Wandering Light
Life on the Leash
Phoenix Unbound
You Can't F*ck Up Your Kids  (gift)
Mary Shelley Monster Hunter Vol. 1
The Caged Queen
The Mum Who'd Had Enough
The Voyage to Magical North
I Needed a Viking
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~End Birthday Waiver~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Red Hood (gift) - READ
Scavenge the Stars
Hades & Persephone
Dark Skies
No Country for Old Gnomes (gift)
About That Kiss
The Ranger of Marzanna - READ
The Girl and the Stars
A Choir of Lies
Loving Cara
This Will Kill That - UNHAUL
Girl of Fire & Thorns (gift)
Murder Past Due
All My Loving - READ
Fury of a Phoenix
Homicide in Hardcover (gift)
Unravel the Dusk
Ruthless Gods
Mexican Gothic
Fable - READ


Okay, so I may have gone on a little bit of a book shopping splurge, maybe I shouldn't have but do I regret it? Not at all! It just means that maybe I need to take a day or two off work (by myself) to binge read a bunch of books! While I definitely didn't read as many books as I purchased this last week, I did finish one that I have been picking at for months and blew through a few more.  I have a hefty TBR for this next week too but I am diving head first into Christmas books and breaking it up with some spooky fall reads too. 

Do you find that you get inspired to read more when the seasons and weather changes?