Saturday, January 16, 2021

Date Night with a Book: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese

 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: Anticipated Release/ Netgalley/ Requested Review

Synopsis: "Buckle up for an emotional journey of hijinks, heartache, and a hot slow-burn in this marriage-in-crisis romance about going the distance to make love last.


I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby.

With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.


I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much. 

As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

Ever After Always is a marriage-in-crisis, opposites-attract romance about a sensitive, fierce-loving woman and her resilient husband who has anxiety disorder. Complete with island vacation antics, a sibling prank gone wrong, and a steamy slow burn, this standalone is the third in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after."

My Review: I was so excited when I discovered this book, not often do I find romances around an already established marriage that might be struggling a bit. While I love the concept of the story because it is something I could relate to (having been married for 14 years) but it ended up a bit too relatable and was difficult and painful at times to read. With that said, I absolutely loved Freya and Aiden, they are so in love with each other but clearly struggling to connect. I loved their commitment to making things work and overcoming their own personal battles. As someone who struggles with anxiety, this was a bit more eye-opening that I expected from a romance book and there were definitely times I had to put it down and ponder what Aiden's struggle was revealing about myself, maybe not something I wanted to face in what I was presuming was a light rekindle the romance book. I also had not read the previous two books in this series and it is definitely something I would recommend as this is clearly a family series and a very close knit family at that, we spend a lot of time with a group of very involved siblings that we should be familiar with already. I do think I will go back and read the rest of the series because I love the family dynamics of this group of characters.

My Rating: Do not go into this book expecting a light fluffy romance story, this is hard hitting, deep thought, discover yourself kind of book. I was not expecting to dive into anxiety issues, potential fertility issues and more when picking up this book and it was definitely a bit difficult to read at times.  I do think it was all handled rather well though and really appreciated the effort on Liese's behalf.  I give this one 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 Chloe Liese and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Ever After Always was just released on Tuesday, January 12th so you can now obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon  or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Book Tour: Bedtime Story: Cleo Can Tie a Bow by Sybrina Durant & Illustrated by Pumudi Gardiyawasam *Giveaway*

Together we read a story about a bunny with very long ears, whose ears kept getting dirty and dragging on the ground, and a fox who helped solve the problem with a bow...

Read for: Requested Review/ Pump Up Your Book

Synopsis: "Cleo loves bows. She wears her hair in a bow and decorates her room with bows. Cleo is bow crazy.
Learning to tie a bow is very difficult for some people but Cleo remembers how to do it from a cute story she once heard. It is about a little rabbit with very long ears and a very helpful fox who shows her what to do to keep them clean. This is the story of how Cleo learns to tie a “bunny ear” bow.
Exercises in manual dexterity build self-esteem in children. Knowing how to tie shoe-strings, scarves and more into a bow is a useful and rewarding skill.
“Teach a child a useful skill. Build confidence and self-esteem that lasts a lifetime.”"

My Review:  This was such a cute book, a bit of a story and a bit of a lesson wrapped up in one. Cleo loves bows and so she learned how to tie a bow. This book had very cute illustrations to go along with the simple to follow instructions on how to tie a bow. There are also resources and links for a song and video to help teach kids how to tie a bow as well. Durant also has a series of books teaching how to tie a variety of knots, I will definitely be picking up the one teaching how to tie a tie!

My Rating: While this book is leans heavily to the girly side, the portion of the story about Fox and Bunny and learning to tie a bow can be for anyone. There are so many ways to teach tying a bow, but the simple and clear directions and illustrations in this one are great! I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Don't forget to scroll all the way to the bottom for a giveaway!

Amazon →

 Barnes & Noble →

Cleo Can Tie A Bow: A Rabbit and Fox Story is an educational picture book for children written by Sybrina Durant and illustrated by Pumudi Gardiyawasam. Cleo loves bows! All of her shoes have bows, and she always has a bow in her hair. If you look at her dress, you’ll notice that it has a bow and a sash around her waist. Even her fingernails are decorated with little bows. And her bedroom? Yes, you guessed it. There are bows everywhere — on the bed, on the curtains over her windows; even her stuffed bunny’s ears are tied into a bow. Cleo learned all about tying bows from a story about a rabbit with very long, droopy ears and the friendly fox who had the perfect solution.

Sybrina Durant’s Cleo Can Tie A Bow: A Rabbit and Fox Story is two stories within a story. Children are introduced to Cleo who then introduces the story about how she learned to tie a bow. In her introduction to the book, Durant recommends that parents share the story with their children, so they can learn to tie a bow along with Cleo. She suggests using long ribbons to simulate the fox’s moves or shoelaces. Both stories are engaging and fun to read, and the instructions given by the fox work quite well. I was pleased to note the author cautions that, despite the storyline, one must never practice bow tying moves on a real bunny. Pumudi Gardiyawasam’s colorful and fun illustrations work quite well with the story, and the profusion of bows on Cleo’s wardrobe, room, and bunny will entice young readers to try their own hands at tying a bow. The author also provides a link for a video version and the “Cleo can tie a bow song.” Cleo Can Tie A Bow: A Rabbit and Fox Story is highly recommended.

–Readers Favorite

Sybrina Durant is the author of The Rabbit and The Fox Learn To Tie Series of Books which include Learn To Tie A Neck Tie With The Rabbit and the Fox in English, Spanish and Tagalog; Ned Can Knot A Neck Tie; Nellie Can Knot A Neck Scarf and the newest addition, Cleo Can Tie  A Bow. She also the author of The Blue Unicorn Series of books and has an online book store which features, unicorns, rabbits, foxes, and how to tie books plus gift items related to those things plus lots of bow-themed gifts.






One entrant will be selected to win a Cleo Can Tie A Bow Soft Cover Book plus a $25.00 Gift Card plus “My Unicorn Is Kinda Bow Crazy” tee shirt! ($100 including tax and shipping) from Sybrina Publishing in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Open for entry in the Continental US, 18 years and older from 1/08/21 thru 1/30/2021 at 12:01am EST. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to notification email to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. See Rafflecopter for official rules. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

2020 Resolution Review & 2021 Resolutions

 Every year I like to take a look back at the previous years resolutions, or goals, whichever you like to call them.  When I made my resolutions for 2020 I, like everyone else, had no clue what the year would hold for me. This was definitely quite the year and it taught be a lot about myself, my family and our strengths and priorities.  Before I put those lessons to use in making this year's resolutions and goal, why don't we take a look back at my reading/blogging resolutions for 2020 and how I did overall. You can look back and see my post last year HERE.

1. Read that TBR: I had set a goal to read 100 books off my physical TBR and I really didn't make that, this was one resolution that when shit hit the fan, so did it.  I did manage to read a few books off my list of purchases over the past 3 years.  I did make myself at the end of the year get very real with my reading abilities and ended up unhauling an extra 78 books from my physical TBR.  I think I may have actually reached my goal of reading or removing 100 books but it wasn't exactly the way I had hoped. 

2.  Purchase Less Books: So this is where I really surprised myself, I thought I was doing really poorly since I wasn't meeting my super strict rules of one book purchase per week for a vast majority of the year. (I may have done some retail therapy to get me through the many months of Covid, and I liked being able to support some of my small local bookshops in any way that I could). Anyway, in 2019 I added 236 books to my shelves, yikes! This year, even though I purchased more than I had planned on, it was still nearly a hundred books less than last year at 154! I guess sometimes you just have to look at the big picture to see the progress you really made!

3. Read Big Books: This is one goal I just manage to keep crushing! Every year I set a goal of reading so many books over 500 pages and some how manage to meet that goal or surpass it.  This year I set a goal of 10 books over 500 pages and I ended up managing to read 13! That works out to be one book over 500 pages for each month! Some of those books were even over 700 pages.  This makes me so happy to keep growing every year. 

4. Interact: This was not the year to make this goal Huh?! Anyway, I had really wanted to reach out into the book world and interact more with my fellow readers. I tried, I really did and I felt like I started making some progress, but then Covid hit and I was left floundering through working full time from home, homeschooling my 2nd grader, having my husband working full time outside the home and the fear and anxiety that came with all of those.  All that while still actively reading and blogging. I barely managed to keep my head above the water.  With that said, I do feel like I started connecting with a few other book worms on Instagram.  Not close enough to call friends or be able to buddy read with yet but enough that we chat in DMs from time to time.

So overall, looking at my 2020 goals and how it all went, once I look at the big picture it wasn't as bad as I thought. I kind of feel like that is what happens when I look back at 2020 as a whole, it was awful in the midst and I couldn't see past individual days, but when I look at it all things didn't go nearly as badly as I thought they did. I know, I am fortunate in that aspect, not everyone was so lucky.


Okay, now on with 2021 goals and resolutions. Normally I start thinking about my reading goals in November and December but quite honestly the end of the year snuck up on me.  I haven't really thought much about them, but after a good clean out of my shelves, a re-organization and a purge, I have a good idea where I want to go with my reading.

1. Read that TBR: I know it is a bit of a cop-out that I will be using many of the same goals as last year but I really do need to get that TBR down.  I am officially out of shelf space; I have no more places to put bookshelves in my house and those shelves are pretty much completely out of room.  I have already unhauled all the books I don't think I will read or that I am no longer interested in reading, so the remaining books, over 250 of them just on my physical shelves, are all books I truly want to read. So I am setting a goal of 70 books off my existing TBR (physical, audio or ebook).  Hopefully I will do better in reading those books already on my shelves instead of bringing more books in.

2. Re-Read More: If I learned anything this year is that there is nothing quite as comforting as an old favorite book. I mean that is why I have over 1,000 physical books in my house is it not?! Because they bring me comfort.  Well after the past year, comfort is definitely needed.  So I plan to push myself to re-read more books this year, at a minimum 15 re-reads but I would really like to reach a number closer to 25.

3. Purchase Less Books & Read More of Them: I know, I keep setting this goal every year, but every year the number of books I add to my shelves gets less and less.  I have a bit of a different way of going about it this year.  I plan to allow myself 4 pre-orders per month (I will allow myself to roll them over if I don't use them all in the months of less releases).  I am making lists of the books I will borrow from the library that aren't at the very top of my anticipated releases list. In addition to this, I have a single shelf available on my TBR bookcase for new incoming books.  If that shelf gets full (meaning I haven't read the new books off it yet) then I get no more purchases until there is room again. In all, I would like to try to get my incoming books to about 100 this year, that is a pretty drastic drop from last year but between 2019 and 2020 I double that drop. I can do it, through more selective purchasing and using my library more. 

4. Explore New Genres More: This year I did something I never thought I would do, I picked up a mystery.  I have quickly been consumed by the world of Cozy Mysteries! I never would have expected them to become so much of my reading in such a short period of time but here we are! So, I want to continue to explore Cozy Mysteries, outside of the authors I have already come to love. I also want to dabble more in other genres I don't usually pick up, more poetry, more memoir, more general fiction. It doesn't have to be a lot just a book here or there to see if my reading tastes are changing more. 

There may be more goals in the future but these are the ones that I plan to focus on this year, reading more of the books I have, bringing in less books and when I do, reading them fairly quickly and trying new things.  I think those are some good goals for this year so far and I am pretty excited about them!

What are some of your reading goals or resolutions for 2021?

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Top 5 Wednesday: Furry Friends

 Top 5 Wednesday is a group on Goodreads.

I am very thankful that a user on Goodreads by the name Gabriella has taken over hosting and selecting topics for Top 5 Wednesday and has revived the group, I am loving the new topics.

This week's Top 5 Wednesday topic is one of my favorites, furry friends and side kicks.  I know I have done this topic before so I tried to focus on more recent reads.  There are so many great animals in books, especially when I prefer books with animals in them. So here are some of the furry critters (and not so furry critters) that really stand out to me and are completely memorable.

Nana is the best cat ever, so loyal to his human! 

Now this book has a wealth of furry friends, from a dog in a wheelchair to an iguana, an elderly dog and most importantly, Ike, the foul-mouthed parrot. He added so much to this book and had me laughing until I was crying!

I love Small in this book, he may not have much of an active roll but he is just this fantastic comforting, loyal presence throughout the book and is the linchpin in some of my favorite scenes.

Now this one is a bit different, I don't even know if it really qualifies but the ship in Binti is awesome and unique.  It is actually a living thing and has emotions and is caring and even reproduces throughout the series of novellas. 

The Faithful and the Fallen series has some really great animals but I want my own Storm! She is huge and dangerous but so loyal to her 'pack'. 

There are just a few of my favorite furry friends and side kicks from recent reads.  There are so many other fantastic animals in books and I know I am probably forgetting some but these are the ones that really stood out to me and came to my mind first. 

What are some of your favorite animal friends from books?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Review of From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back


Read for: Anticipated 2020 Release, Recently Added, Audio Book

Synopsis: "From a Certain Point of View strikes back! Celebrate the legacy of the groundbreaking Star Wars sequel with this exciting reimagining of the timeless film.

On May 21, 1980, Star Wars became a true saga with the release of The Empire Strikes Back. In honor of the fortieth anniversary, forty storytellers recreate an iconic scene from The Empire Strikes Back, through the eyes of a supporting character, from heroes and villains to droids and creatures. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors and trendsetting artists."

My Review: I was beyond excited when I found out they were doing another From a Certain Point of View for The Empire Strikes Back! I enjoy listening to the audio book for Star Wars novels as they often have great sound effects in addition to great narrators. I struggled a bit with this one, while I really enjoyed several of the stories perspectives, from the Wampum to the Millennium Falcon, characters I am familiar with or at least have enough screen time to be familiar. But there were quite a few others, particularly within the Empire, who were so minor (possibly even completely off screen) that it was difficult to place them. A lot of this could be that this was my least favorite movie of the original trilogy so am not as familiar with it as I am with A New Hope. With that said, while there were some stories that I didn't enjoy as much, overall I still think this was a really good book and I still love the concept, can we please keep going?! I really need to read an ewok story when they see their first stormtrooper and so many more stories!

My Rating: They really did put together an all star cast of authors for this book, many of my favorites had stories.  I think I really enjoyed the parts set on Hoth the best. I have to say Munchkin did well when he picked this book out for me for Christmas!  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Monday, January 11, 2021

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

Winterkeep (Preview Review) by Kristin Cashore
Special Ops Seduction by Megan Crane (Date Night)

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

Winterkeep Preview
Word to the Wise
Special Ops Seduction
Home Body
The Empire Strikes Back (From a Certain Point of View)

Currently Reading:
One for the Books by Jenn McKinlay - Audio - 52%
Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Print - on page 35 of 471
Ever After Always by Chloe Liese - Ebook - on page 20 of 282

Pages Read/ Time Listened
31:56 Hours Listened This Year(25:06 listened this week)
720 Pages Read This Year (592 This week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR


Even with the rocky start to the new year in the world in general, I feel like I had a pretty good start to the new year.  I have nearly finished my bookshelf re-organization, I have made huge progress in a full house purge and organization (I have sorted through so much stuff that I can now see surfaces that I haven't seen in the past couple of years). We are still adjusting to new schedules, Hubby now works different days that usual and is working later than usual, I am still working on getting dinner on the table on time.  I have started working in daily organization, chores and exercise. I know we all start off the new year super motivated, but I am really hoping that I can stick with things because I am finally feeling like I have a handle on things. 

I also feel like I had a pretty darn good reading week, all things considered.  I love kicking off the new year with the Bout of Books readathon, it always gets me excited and reading all the books. Luckily I won't have a momentum drop after then end of Bout of Books because we are already into the month long Medieval-a-thon hosted by Holly Hearts Books! I have a very different TBR selected for myself this time and I am really excited to read it!  I will have my TBR and progress updates over on my Instagram page (@EasternSunset9) so feel free to join me over there!