Saturday, 30 January 2016

Book Review: The Dragon Throne by Chrys Cymri

*I was sent this book free of charge so I could read it and create this review*

This is the first book which arrived at my home after I signed up on Tweet My Books.  I've had many, many emails asking me to review books, but so many of them only have e-books available.  As I've said before I'm a physical book person.  So I was glad to see this arrive in my mailbox.

I love fantasy stories.  My first "favourite" author was Terry Brooks (and he's still a favourite), and he wrote epic tales that I loved to get lost in when I was a young teenager.  Or even a "tween" (that's what pre-teens are called now, right?)

When Chrys approached me and suggested she had a fantasy novel that needed reviewing I was very glad to say yes.  And this story did not disappoint.

The Dragon Throne was an easy read, with good character development.  I got to know all the characters well shortly after they were introduced.  My only complaint was that it was a little unclear at the beginning that there were four kingdoms in this land that Chrys created.  I was about a third of the way through the book before I realized I wasn't following that part clearly.  However, a closer glance at the cover of the book revealed a subtitle: The Four Kingdoms Book One.  Oops, looks like that's on me!

If you like fantastic stories, this one has all the necessary components: dragons, unicorns, and a few kingdoms almost on the brink of war.  I'll be honest, at first I thought the unicorns were going to be a silly side story, but it really all tied together.  Unlikely allies are made, strange discoveries await the characters, and it leaves the reader satisfied but still curious as to what comes next.  In fact when I'm done here I think I'll send Chrys a message and see if I can review the next in this line (assuming it's a done deal already.)

Long story short - good fantasy story with mildly complicated plot lines that resolve this portion of the story while leaving you wanting to read more of these characters.  The book has 212 pages and this busy working mom read it in a week.  Chapters are long, but with those nice "space breaks" so you can pause in the middle of a chapter if you need to.

Great book!  

I'm posting a review also on Goodreads and Amazon

My Musings On Reviewing Books

I've finished reading the first book I received after joining up with Tweet Your Books.  I've had many more people approach me to do reviews, but only one other has already mailed me his books.  E-books are the most popular form offered to do reviews on, but I don't like to read on my electronic devices.  Guess I'm a bit old fashioned!

I also feel like authors don't create physical copies of their books for "testing" purposes.  As a reviewer who has to make time in my life to read the books with my full attention (as opposed to skimming it while kids are talking non-stop in the background) I don't like thinking that the authors don't value my time.  By that I mean that a physical copy of a book has to be created and then mailed (which costs a few pennies, I'm sure) while an e-book doesn't cost anything anywhere along the way.  I'd like to think my time is worth something, so I give priority to authors who are willing to send me a book I can sneak away and read in a quiet corner of my home.

To my fellow readers - there will be more book reviews appearing on my blog.  I hope to keep them well interspersed with my other posts and musings of the world around me.  I'm also reaching out as an influencer so I may be chosen for other reviews (products maybe) which I will also enjoy writing about.  I will always let you know if I'm being paid to talk about an item, or reviewing products I received for free.

Please let me know if you feel I'm doing too many "review" posts and not enough "personal" style posts.  I want to create content people are enjoying, so feedback is really important for me!

In case you aren't aware I do have two other blogs that I post to less frequently than this one.  One is Kingston, Ontario centric - talking about what's on around town and/or what we are about to (are already did) do as family activities.  That one is Modern Mom In Kingston.  The other blog reflects more about my daughters.  What they're doing, how they're growing and changing, and a little about Emma's modelling and acting "career" (where nothing has really happened yet...)  That blog is 2 Talented Daughters.

As always - thanks for reading.  My next post will be a book review but I have few half-formed ideas for other posts floating through my brain as well.  Stay tuned!


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Work, Family, and Covering Vacations

This week (Tues til next Tues) my co-hort and fellow pharmacy technician is off for a vacation.  I'm very excited - and jealous - that she's getting away and taking time off and all that, but I'm not looking forward to the extra work that means for me.

If anyone out there reads me faithfully you know I take Wednesdays off - a hold over from when I used to work every other Saturday.  I liked the day off in the week so much that once I got away from working Saturdays I just kept the Wednesdays off as well.  It's been working so far.

Tomorrow, being Wednesday, would be my "catch up" and sometimes "me time" day.  This week, not so much.  As I said at work today: "It's no skin off my nose to work extra once in a while."  I stand by this statement but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it fully.

We actually have a great work environment at the store - my co-hort and I have the more "tedious" tasks divided up fairly equally and we alternate "jobs" pretty well so it works for us.  Before she left we did a bit more intense work so there wouldn't be so much for me to try to stay on top of while she was away.

It's going to run very smoothly, of this I have no doubt.  Today was a bit hectic as there was a very time-consuming task that took one of the pharmacists away from the regular work for more than an hour.  That got us behind a bit, but we persevered.  I definitely felt the strain though.  When I'm leaving at 5 I want the people who have to stay that last hour to not have to catch up my tasks I didn't get to, you know?  Usually one of us is there until close so it's not an issue.

In a normal week I can get the kids to the bus 3 mornings without feeling rushed because I either don't go to work (Wednesdays) or I don't start until 9:30.  That's not in the cards until next Wednesday.  I can already feel the morning strain - especially if I want to sneak in a shower before work!

The girls get on the bus about 7:45 and I have to leave at 8 for the "early" shift.  But there is no way I can get them up earlier so I can, say, start their breakfast sooner so I can jump in that shower for 15 mins while they're eating.  They're not ready yet to get seconds or get another glass of milk themselves.  The kids are pretty time consuming.  Even when I'm not on "primary morning parent" duty they still can't get through 15 minutes without asking me for something while I'm in the shower.

I'm going to miss my quiet Wednesday tomorrow.  But the day will fly by, and luckily it's off week for dance (me and the girls) so there's one less stress - Emma doesn't have to be ready to leave for dance class at 5:30, which is the time I get home from work.

I've got a bet with myself as to which night I crack into a bottle of wine the minute I get in the door.  I'm thinking I can hold out til Friday (that's normal wine drinking day, isn't it?) but I almost uncorked a bottle tonight.  It might also depend upon how much fighting goes on with the kids over the week as well.  Tonight was all right - dinner was in the oven when I got home!  That was a splendid surprise, although the part where the furnace wasn't working quite right detracted a little from the excitement of not having to prepare dinner.

For the next week I have to remember to stop and take a breath.  If I don't get every little thing done it's not the end of the world - in fact it'll be there for me to do tomorrow.

Any tips or tricks for staying relaxed at work?  Share, please, in the comments.  Or just comment so I know you stopped by.  And thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

I'm A Book Reviewer Now - Do I Have Time For It?

I feel like I've gotten myself into a bit of a conundrum.  I don't know if you, my faithful readers, remember a post I created a few months ago about "What's my brand?" (you can click and it'll take you to the post), but I basically said I didn't want to pick a brand because I just post about whatever I feel like.  And then I went on about how much other stuff goes on in the blogging world.

Well since then I haven't done anything about a "Brand" and I've continued to post whatever I want whenever I want.  So I stuck to my guns there.

But what I did do was express more of an interest in reading and doing book reviews.  I even put my name in a database of sorts so people can contact me to read their book.  All well intentioned, but now I have 6 books coming my way (in the mail, I don't like e-reading) and I hope they are all pretty good because I often find it hard to stumble through a book I'm not really into.

Luckily I made a claim that I sometimes am a slow reader (relative to pre-kids and husband) and they can't really pressure me to get things read super quickly.  In fact everyone that has approached me has actually stated in their emails that as long as I do read them and create some sort of review there really isn't a timeline attached.  I'm very grateful that people can be quite understanding.

I love the idea of getting new books (for free!) and especially that some of them are not available to purchase yet, and some the authors will sign their books for me as keepsakes.  And I like the flexibility of reading on my own time and creating a review without so much pressure.  But I'm going to have to start scheduling and replying to these people with something like "I have 6 books ahead of yours, I would love to read yours too but it will be a month before I can even start it."

Here's an oxymoron for ya: I don't want my blogging to be a business, but I would still like to make money and/or get these free things to review.  All I mean by that is I can't take away from my family time with blog-related stuff (especially if there's no payment involved!)  If this interest in my reviewing continues I will eventually have to say no.  Or at least "Not right now."

Today I am excited knowing that 6 books (4 are a set) are on their way to me.  Although I do have about 20 books already in my house that I've borrowed or been given to read, that just makes me feel like I'll have to instate "Mom's Reading Time" in which I get 30 minutes uninterrupted.  Ya, right - like that will happen!

If you're reading this and you have a book you'd like to send (or a product to review), drop me a line at and I will reply.  I may tell you I need 30 days before I can even look at it, but we can be candid with each other, right?  I'm always grateful for people who give me these opportunities!


Friday, 15 January 2016

Some Weeks Are Busier Than Others

For some reason this week has been over-busy.  This weekend we're going to a hotel for an overnight and a swim.  I can't wait - even though it means we all go to bed at about 8pm in the same room...

So last weekend I somehow had 2 days of me and the girls without another parent for at least half of each day.  A normal weekend is us with the girls on Saturday (dance class, then groceries or other errands, and if we're lucky home by lunch then they play in the afternoon), and then Sunday they go off with their Nanny for church and day with her.

This week hubby had to work both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Not a big deal as I thought I'd get a day (or at least an afternoon) all to myself - lots of time for laundry and other housework and then I thought I'd throw in an hour of reading or some other quiet time activity.  It didn't happen.  Sadly, hubby's grandma passed away Sunday morning (not totally unexpected) so Nanny, whose Mom it was, was naturally occupied enough without taking the girls for the day!

Again, not a big deal, but then I had to fill a second afternoon with something interesting for the girls to do.  Luckily our friends across the street were home, so the girls had their friend over for most of the day while we were home.  I was able to get some laundry done and I baked some cookies that the girls loved!

Monday night we needed a babysitter to "get" the girls after daycare - was going to be Nanny, but situation as it was we had to get out regular babysitter to bring them home.  The girls had a great night, and I got to go to dance (which I volunteered to skip so I could be home sooner) while hubby was at his board meeting.  So I didn't see the girls that night.

Tuesday we had to go to the visitation for Great Grandma after dinner.  That was nice, but again busy - the girls stayed up too late and then Rose and I had a rough night for sleep.  And I'm not going to talk about our terrible drive home in the snow squalls!

Wednesday we collected the kids early from school (right after lunch) and then drove to the funeral.  Again a really busy day, and full of questions from the 4 year old.  Nice seeing everyone and having a visit, but I was wiped by the time we got home.  Then Emma had to go to dance class for 2 hours!  Luckily I got to stay home with Rose and relax for a bit.

Then yesterday (Thursday) we needed a babysitter yet again - hubby had to work and I work til 6 (daycare "ends" at 5:30) - so our regular gal brought them home again.  Since she was fine to do that I had made a salon appointment to get my hair cut.  I really enjoyed that.  My stylist is awesome and it's really nice to do something just for me, you know?  So a good night, but still busy and tired by the end of the day,

Tonight I got to chill with the girls and without hubby yet again as he's working again (same stuff as last night).  We had to be sure to get a bath in tonight before our weekend away.  It can be rough washing them both up without a second person as Rose gets impatient, and then she's freezing when you take her out.  I had to leave Emma to try to rinse out her own hair while I got Rose in her pjs and warmed up.  She can be pretty demanding.

Everyone's asleep now, and I'm thinking about heading in that direction myself.  I decided I'd whip up this post first.  Then I'll spend a good 45 minutes sharing it around on my social media, but I do enjoy this blogging stuff.  And I'm watching MuchMusic so all is well with the world.  If I can be in bed by 9:30 today will be a success.

Tomorrow it's off to dance class for Rose (and art for Emma and myself) and then we're off to the big city for a (relaxing?) hotel evening.  I've even got the bags mostly packed.  If I'm lucky I'll find some inspiration for another post I can create early next week.  Stay tuned to find out!

Do you have unexpected busy weeks sometimes?  Looking at the family calendar there is nothing written down on next week, but this week had something every day.  Why does that happen?  Leave me a comment about your busy life - or what you think of my busy week.

'Til next post!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Book Review: Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhus

I managed to read a book in 5 days.  5 days!  That's unheard of now that I have 2 kids and a husband.  Way back I could have easily read 2 books in 5 days but that's long gone now.

The book I just finished was sent to me (for free) so I could read and review it before it's actually "published."  I'm enough of a book nerd to think that this is totally awesome!  However, it took a very long time for the book to show up at my door.

Fed Ex delivered me my brand-spankin'-new book on Dec 30th - the Wednesday between Christmas and New Years.  As we all know I don't currently work on Wednesdays so I was ready to tear into it the minute it arrived.  I enjoyed that the postmark on it was Dec 17th.  It took almost 2 weeks for FedEx to get it to me.  Seems long, but I guess with the holiday season it's not unexpected.

I read about 5 chapters the first day.  Sure the chapters were a bit small, and yes the kids went outside to play so there was quiet time, but I was glad to get such a quick start on it.

Killer Pursuit pulls you in fast.  Jeff Gunhus has written other books with the same character - Allison McNeil - but I haven't read them.  And you don't need to, to enjoy this book.  I'm sure there were a few bits of backstory that I didn't catch on to but I certainly did not feel the book was lacking in any way.

This is a crime/mystery/policital story.  I don't usually care too much for the political business, corruption, sex scandal stuff, but it worked well with the police and FBI characters and it wasn't too "White House"-y.  I was kept guessing through most of the story.  It wasn't until a handful of (short) chapters from the end that I really thought I might know who did it.  I enjoy that in a book - keep me guessing until the end.

As a mom I also enjoyed the shorter chapter layout of the book.  It allowed me to sneak in a chapter or two while the kids were "playing" and before they called out for "help" or to "come see!" again.  Sometimes I put down a book in the middle of the chapter and by the time I get back to it I have to re-read most of the chapter again.  Not so this one.

Overall I'd say 5 stars.  I would now like to read the other books in the Allison McNeil series, so that's a plus for sure.  Jeff Gunhus is an easy to read author with a well developed story.  I enjoyed Killer Pursuit immensely.

Stay tuned to hear about other books I've read and enjoyed.  I really like reading and reviewing stories, so help me find more reviews that need doing, okay readers?  Thanks!