Quarterly Wrap-up Jan-Apr 2017

Okay, so this is being posted a little later than I had planned for it. And in my haste, I added in an extra month. I am okay with that, so I guess you’ll have to be okay with it too. But I promise I will do better next time. 

First Quarter Wrap-Up and Check In

So, I thought that I would still do Friday Reads and monthly wrap-ups, but I guess life had other plans. I am in no way complaining since most of my time has been consumed with my beautiful new baby girl and my rambunctious adorable 2 year old. I have also undertaken two new projects. One I cannot tell you about just yet. The other project is my Award Nominee Project. This is a bit time consuming but, my goal is to have it complete by the end of the year. For this project I am reading all of the novels, short stories, novella, novelettes and series that were nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards.  (The series will roll into next year).

But I wanted to check in to go over the books that I’ve read and the progress I’ve made with my reading goals and projects.

First the Books:

I have read a total of 42 books so far.  Here’s the Good Stuff—

My Favorites/5 stars:

5 novels and 3 short stories/novellas!!!

Queen's Own (Valdemar: Arro...

Heralds of the Queen trilogy by Mercedes Lackey

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Merlin's Nightmare (The Mer...

 Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

The Rook (The Patrick Bower...

The Rook by Steven James

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander (Short Story)

The City Born Great

The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin (Short Story)

The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavelle (Novella)

Series Completed/Caught up on

3!!!!

Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey (Finished)

Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews (Caught up, Next book out in 2018)

Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris (Completed)

 

Least Favorite/ 2 stars or below

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Torched by April Henry

Department Zero by Paul Crilley

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

Books and Series that I’ve DNF’d

House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast

The Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Ian Reid

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

The Blue Enchantress by M. L. Tyndall

 

All in all, I would say that I have had a decent reading quarter. Now how did I do with my goals/projects? My next post will talk about this… I’m sure it was an epic fail though.

How has your reading been?

 

Always Shine!

First Impressions: Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest (Tempest, #1)

First Impressions Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest #1

January 17, 2012 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Purpose – Netgalley, Project- Kindle Clean-Up

I was given a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

This is a title that I have been interested in off and on. I received a copy of it before it was published, and for whatever reason never got around to actually reading it. Now since then it has been published, along with the rest of the trilogy. The covers have also been revamped (or maybe it’s the UK edition that I’ve been seeing). Either way, every time I have passed this book, I felt compelled to pick it. The premise of the book sounds interesting. I finally pulled up my review copy. And, it just didn’t hold my attention. I wasn’t even able to make it very far into this. But this may be a case of “it’s not the book it’s me”. My reading tastes has changed a lot since I’ve requested this book, so that may be the cause for my lack of interest.

 

 

Always Shine!

First Impressions: Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

FirstbornFirst Impressions Review: Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

January 28, 2014 – Blink YA Books

Source: Netgalley

Project: Kindle Clean-up

I received a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

Full disclosure: this is a title that I have had on my kindle for a very long time. I was excited to read this title when I first received it, but with most books I got distracted. And as I received more and more for review, it became a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.   As you can see, this is part of my special project-Kindle Clean-up. I am going through my backlog of old review titles on my kindle. For some books, those that pull me into the story long enough to complete, I will be doing full reviews. For those that I DNF, I will do a first impression review.

I wasn’t drawn into this story. The characters weren’t very compelling. The setup for this society’s culture and beliefs was confusing. The synopsis was confusing. Since it’s been a week since I’ve picked up this title to read and I haven’t even thought about this book, I am moving on to the next title.

 

Always Shine!

Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears 5 Minute Inspirational Stories

The Berenstain Bears 5-Minute Inspirational Stories: Read-Along Classics

The Berenstain Bears 5 Minute Inspirational Stories by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

May 2, 2017 – Zonderkidz

Source: Booklook Bloggers

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

I enjoyed the last Berenstain Bears that I got for review, so when I saw that they had another collection I decided to request it too. To be completely honest, we are a Berenstain Bears family. My son enjoys them, in book form or watching the TV show. So I am not sure if I can be very objective in this review.  I like this collection, it has 12 stories in it. These stories are part of the Living Lights collection, which means that they have faith based themes.  Each story deals with a specific issue, whether it’s prayer, gossiping or bragging. Brother and Sister Bear learns more about their faith and their characters in these stories. The solutions are biblical and addressed in a manner that kids can relate to and make sense of. I think that this is a nice collection of classical stories to add to any family library. While, it may take more than 5 minutes to read (and discuss) the story, they are not overly long and they are sure to hold the attention of any child.

Again, I would recommend this to any family. As a side note, if you have already started collecting any Berenstain Bears books, I would suggest checking the table of contents since this is a bind up of 12 previously published stories.

Always Shine!

Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings by Jan and Mike Berenstain

5 Books in 1

April 4, 2017 -Zonderkidz

Source – BookLook Bloggers

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

This is a nice collection of five Berenstain Bears books.  Each story highlights one (or more) aspect friendship and family relationships. This was a great set of stories to share with my kids, and it was a bit nostalgic for me. The writing style was familiar for the most part. Perfect Fishing Spot threw me off a bit because I was not expecting the rhyming. But it was cute, fun and had a lesson at the end.  This collection touches on a variety of issues that children will encounter. How do you treat someone who’s different? What if your best friend gets a new friend? What happens when you are kind to someone? All of these issues are explored but comes with a Biblical resolution. I am happy to add this book to my kids’ collection, and I think that most people will be too.

 

 

Always Shine!

 

Review: *DNF* Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

In case you may be wondering what happened to me this past month, or where I have been… I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. While I will be posting reviews regularly, the rest of this blog’s content won’t come back for a bit. Not until we find our new rhythm. I and family are doing well. 

Unfolding

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

January 31, 2017 – Blink YA Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Booklook Bloggers

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

                When I read the summary of this book, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy of it. I just had to read it ASAP. So when I had the opportunity to review it, I jumped at the chance. I really thought that I would like this book, I really wanted to. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I was frustrated and bored with this book that I couldn’t even finish it. I hate to review books that I didn’t finish, but there are some cases where I have to. And this is one of them.

I would say that I finished a third of the book, at least a hundred pages into it. And yet, if someone was to ask me what this book was about, I wouldn’t be able to clearly explain it (hence why I skipped that part of my review).  A boy with scoliosis and who is also an epileptic is friends with a girl who was delivered to his neighborhood via a tornado and who is also able to see into the future. I know that something has happened and something is currently happening, I have no clue what that is.  The mystery, the selling point for this book was very slow to unravel. The beginning gives you a lot of questions, but no clue as to the possible answers. A lot of cloak and dagger and otherness, without a real or defined purpose.

My other complaint would be with the characters. Each seemed to have a role to play, and while they have distinct personalities, I didn’t really like any of them. I didn’t connect with any of them, in any way that would cause me to be invested in them or the story.  What this story does have going for it is the potential. I think that the bare bones of this story are good and strong, but it’s everything else that just didn’t work for me.

Always Shine 

Children’s Review: Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Army Brats

Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Scholastic Press- March 28, 2017

Purpose: Requested for review

Source: Publisher

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 stars

This is the story of three siblings as they adjust to living on an army post for the very first time. The Baileys are moving from Pennsylvania to Fort Patrick because their mom, a military intelligence officer has accepted a teaching position.  All three kids are excited about this move, and even about starting a new school. They will finally be around people who understand military life. But not everything turns out the way that they thought that it would.  Charlotte makes friends with a new girl, who happens to be very popular. But she soon discovers that popularity does not mean being nice. Tom, though he tries very hard not to, becomes the target of the base bully. Though Rosie is content with just her family and dog, Cupcake, she learns that it’s not so bad having a friend.

This is the third book by this author, and I must admit she has become a favorite. Not just for me, but for read a-louds with my son.   She has a way of talking about very big (and sometimes complicated) topics and breaking them down to kid-size portion. And she does this without dumbing down anything. This is a rather short book, so I don’t want to go into details that will give anything away. But I will do my best. I do recommend this, especially for kids who are struggling with finding their place in the world, who are starting middle school and who may have trouble making friends.

Because of Tom’s interactions with the base bully, he begins to question himself.  But as the siblings take on the challenge of the secret mission, he learns that there are worse things than someone teasing you – accepting the harmful words/taunts as truth. He gains a deeper and truer understanding of what it means to be brave, and not in the way that he thought he would.  Charlotte has made friends with the school’s very own mean girls. She goes along with them even when her brother becomes the target of their meanness. Rosie is a spitfire of a character and is very comfortable being herself, even if it leaves her without any friends. But she slowly learns what it takes to be a good friend.

This was a very fun story, one that I will reread to my son as he grows. It deals with real issues and considers the individuality of the characters. How they respond to their situations is unique to their personalities.  The solutions presented in the book, are realistic and highly recommended. There isn’t a false promise of a happily ever after at the end, and all problems are not solved with a nice little bow. All issues are resolved, and after the characters learn more about themselves, the only reassurance that they have at the end is that whatever comes their way, even the teasing and bullying, dealing with gossip and mean girls and all of the other things that come with the journey of middle school, they will be able to handle it.

If you have not had the opportunity to read any of Daphne Bendis-Grab’s work, I highly recommend it. I also recommend sharing it and passing it around to all the young readers in your life. That’s what I’m going to do.

Always Shine!