Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Sunday Post #69 - A Week Off For Fun

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things you received, share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead, and more.

I missed last week and am late this week but I'm back! I took a break from blogging but only because I was too busy in my every day life. My niece visited for the week and we went and did lots of fun things. We went to a birthday party, the splash pad, one of those indoor jungle gyms, shopping, had a bbq, painted rocks, and more. Here's some of my instagram stories from this past week:
 We're to that point of summer where it rains every single day so any plans have to be carried out before noon. We still get caught in the rain, though. We're getting lots of lazy afternoons now, at least. 

 We made a trip out into the city and stopped at B&N on the way back because it was the release day for Song of the Dark Crystal. I had to have it, of course, because I love the Dark Crystal and adored the first book. It was a bit of a splurge for me.
And of course, we did a quick thrift store trip earlier in the week and I let the kids pick out whatever books they wanted. 

(Picture Book Review) Animal Ark by Kwame Alexander & Joel Sartore
(Can't Wait Wednesday) The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu & Rob Ziegler

(Book Review) The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading
(Book Review) A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

(Can't Wait Wednesday) Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella
(Book Review) Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller



I'll be linking up to Book Photo Sundays via Rabbit Ears Book Blog today! I still plan on making this a separate post but I'm running late today so here's a screenshot of my bookstagram feed from the past week or so!

Hopefully I can catch up with my reading, reviewing, and blogging.
Have a great week everyone! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Pirates
Length: 320 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I've gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map--the key to a legendary treasure trove--seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. 

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. 

My Thoughts: 
When Alosa is captured by the pirate captain of the Night Farer and his brother, Riden, she knows exactly what she is doing. Alosa plays her part well, making Draxen and his crew think that they will get a nice ransom from her father, the Pirate King. But she's aboard the Night Farer to find one of three pieces of the infamous map to the Sirens hidden hoard of treasure and she will use her special set of skills to make sure she gets it. But this mission turns out to be much more of a challenge than she expected. 

This was a lot of fun to read. The idea of pirates just draws me in every time and this story features a female pirate captain. So much yes! Alosa is fantastically snarky, fiercely independent, and entirely badass despite that she plays the helpless, kidnapped princess. 

I have a new OTP because Alosa and Riden's banter was very entertaining, even when it was kind of cheesy and their little budding romance was everything. Their chemistry was undeniable. Riden is one of those good-hearted male characters that you can't help but root for.

My only issue with this book is that it was so quick and so short. I felt like most of the story is taken up with the interactions between Alosa and Riden; not that I'm complaining. I really can't wait to see more of them in the sequel. I do think that if there had been a tad bit more adventure I would have been head over heels for it. 

That being said, there was some very interesting surprises thrown in at the end that I really, really loved. I'm looking forward to continuing this series in all it's swashbuckling glory. 

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #16 - The Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings and spotlights the books we are excited about and have yet to read. This meme is based on Waiting on Wednesday which is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

I can't wait for...
The Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella

Expected Publication: September 26, 2017
by Scholastic Press

Twelve-year-old Stanly knows the bone growing in his yard is a little weird, but that's okay, because now he'll have the perfect photo to submit to the Young Discoverer's Competition. With such a unique find, he's sure to win the grand prize. 

But oddly, the bone doesn't appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full that only children can see. 

There's just one person who doesn't find any of this weird--Stanly's little sister. Mischievous Miren adopts the skeleton as a friend, and soon, the two become inseparable playmates. 

When Miren starts to grow sick, Stanly suspects that the skeleton is responsible and does everything in his power to drive the creature away. However, Miren is desperate not to lose her friend, forcing Stanly to question everything he's ever believed about life, love, and the mysterious forces that connect us.

Why I Can't Wait:
I've been reading so many YA books this year and I'm starting to miss my fun middle-grade reads. I tend to stick to fantasy adventures, but I also really love a good spooky story and this one sounds so good!  This one comes out in September and will be the perfect spooky read for Halloween! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: A Gathering of Ravens
Author: Scott Oden
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, his fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind--the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days. 

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that's changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir's vengeance cannot be denied. 

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy waits. 

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning--the Old Ways versus the New--and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away? 

Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth. 

My Thoughts: 

I was a bit skeptical about this book at first because of the strong religious aspects (not my cup of tea) but I kept reading and ended up really enjoying it. There was a good balance of mythology and religion and the two were constantly at blows so there was never a dull moment. 

The Norse mythology was not as simple as some other books I've read. You have to go into this with some prior knowledge of the gods, their backgrounds, and their realm, even though this is set in what is known to us as Midgard (or Earth). I've read a few fiction novels that explained some of those but there were still some things (words, places, and creatures) that I was unaware of. 

I loved that this read like a historical fiction, set somewhere back in the Dark Ages? Don't quote me on that. I tend to stick to the 17th-19th centuries. I won't pretend to know exactly when the Danes and Saxons were at war but I will make an effort to read up on that, asap. 

I had difficult choosing who to root for in this narrative. Etain seems like the likely choice but there really wasn't anything I particularly liked about her and I didn't relate to her much. I did come to like her more once she stopped being the victim and 'took up the sword'. I also liked that she was willing to continue on the journey with Grimnir--despite that she was no longer needed--just to see his revenge come to fruition. To see it through to the end, if only to have a story to tell. 

Grimnir is another main character in this story. He's either an antagonist or an anti-hero. I found myself wanting to read his bits more than the others, despite that he's a vile, loathsome creature who kills indiscriminately. He's incredibly interesting in that he is not an average man. He is a son of Fenrir so I imagined him to have some feral canine features.  I could relate to him in his grumbling and mockery of the 'White Christ' and for me, that really helped make the religion tolerable. It's really not something I like to read in fiction. 

There's a lot of traveling in this book but it is kept lively with plenty of run-ins with enemies. 
I really enjoyed the action. There's lots of blood and gore and I'll admit that that tickled my dark side. 

I would recommend this to fans of adult fantasy or historical fiction from authors like Bernard Cornwall or if you enjoyed Neil Gaiman's 'Norse Mythology' but more so if you want some Norse mythology that isn't about the gods themselves.

My Rating: 4.75

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Title: The Dragon of the Month Club
Author: Iain Reading
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: December 18, 2014
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Length: 236 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

On the thirteenth of every month a new dragon conjuring spell is revealed and the two friends attempt to summon the latest Dragon of the Month. The varieties are almost endless: Air Dragons, Paper Dragons, Fog Dragons, Waterfall Dragons, Rock Dragons, Tree Dragons - not to mention special bonus dragons for all the major holidays, including a particularly prickly Holly Dragon for Christmas. 
But one day when a conjuring spell somehow goes wrong, Ayana and Tyler find themselves unexpectedly drawn into a fantastical world of adventure based on the various books scattered all across Tyler's messy bedroom. Traveling from one book-inspired world to the next with nothing to rely on but their wits and a cast of strange and exotic dragons at their disposal they must try to somehow find their way home again.
Drawing inspiration from some of literature's most memorable stories--from 19th century German folktales to the streets of Sherlock Holmes's London--the adventures of Ayana and Tyler bring these classic stories to life in delightfully strange and unexpected ways. Filled with fascinating detail and non-stop action these books will spark the imaginations of readers of all ages to inspire a life-long love of reading and seeking out books that are just a little bit off the beaten track. 

My Thoughts: 
Ayana and Tyler meet for the first time in the dusty stacks of the local library. Though they attend separate schools, they quickly become best friends and end up discovering an extraordinary book that teaches them how to conjure dragons from everyday elements like water, earth, and steam. After joining the mysterious 'Dragon of the Month Club', they start conjuring different types of dragons in their spare time. But when one of their conjuring experiments goes terribly wrong, they end up inside a storybook. Or many storybooks, to be exact. 

This was a really fun and unique adventure that is perfect for middle-grade readers. I always gravitate towards books with dragons and this one had tons! I loved that the characters could conjure a specific dragon to help them with whatever hurdle they needed to cross but at the same time they really needed to use their wits to get out of each predicament. 

Tyler and Ayana were great characters. Ayana is dealing with being bullied as well as a missing parent and Tyler is such a kind, intelligent young man who has a bit of a crush on Ayana despite that they are best friends. Their interactions together were more friendly than anything but they interact so well together. Their friendship was such a huge part of this story and so well written. 

Beyond all of the different dragons, Tyler and Ayana end up in so many different literary settings, from the endless desert sands of Dune, to Sherlock's Victorian London. Because of this, I think this book would be perfect for weathered readers but also a great starting point to get young readers interested in these older novels. I, for one, am much more interested in reading Frank Herbert's Dune now. 

Overall this was a fantastic adventure. I did find some of the dialogue to be a bit repetitive but it had good pacing and kept me interested with all the new dragons and the different books that they found themselves cast into. 

My Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #15 - The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu & Rob Ziegler

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings and spotlights the books we are excited about and have yet to read. This meme is based on Waiting on Wednesday which is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

I Can't Wait For... 
The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu & Rob Ziegler

Expected Publication: November 1, 2017
by TOR

Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leaving its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She'll end the threat or die trying. 

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She's special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But Chu is getting close and Zola can't hid forever. 

Why I'm Looking Forward to This

I'm so tired of dystopian novels, guys! I grew up watching the Jetsons, Back to the Future, and The Fifth Element, hoping that someday we will have flying cars and live in space. Nowadays the future isn't very bright and that vision has changed from cities in the sky to scraping a living from a dead planet. It's depressing and I need an escape! 
That's where kickass science fiction comes in. Sure, give it dystopian elements, but I want to read about an advanced future and some 'Save the World' heroes. Maybe this isn't that book, per say, but it makes me think of my need for that fictional future. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Picture Book Review: Animal Ark by Kwame Alexander & Joel Sartore

I received a free physical copy of this book from National Geographic Kids and Media Masters in exchange for an honest review. 

Animal Ark: 
Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures
Author: Kwame Alexander
Photographer: Joel Sartore
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Length: 48 pages

In haiku form, Kwame Alexander explores the gorgeous photography of Joel Sartore, bringing the bright and bold colors of the animals to life with words. 

This books is gorgeous! The verse is fun and playful and matches each photograph so well. Each bit of text changes size and color and even molds around the animals, giving it a life of it's own.

The photographs are bright and bold and simply fantastic! I can only imagine the patience and skill one must possess to capture these animals. Photographed against a black or white background, these animals really pop and the detail is amazing!

 The formatting of this book makes it extra fun. There are full spreads, single spreads, and extended pages that fold out, giving us a bigger, wider view of the animals included within this book. 

At the center of the book is a double fold out spread with plenty of extra animals as well as beautifully written prose that reminds us that "We are family. Miraculous each." 
That "there are too few remaining
in the rain forest
in the big blue sea
in the whole wide world
because of you and me. 
Our actions matter."
It is a beautiful reminder that our actions and the way we live affect the animals of this world. We should be their protectors. 

My toddler was absolutely fascinated by the animals and listened intently to the words spoken aloud. We often peruse animal-filled books but none as beautiful as Animal Ark. We both keep coming back to this book. 

We've also gone on to discover more of Joel Sartore's photography through his website. He has been working with National Geographic on the PhotoArk project that has photographed thousands of unique species. I definitely recommend checking it out but there are over 23,000 pictures so be prepared to spend a good chunk of time on them!