September 3, 2015

Reading Plans: What's Next (September 2015)

Last month I failed miserably at reading what was on my August reading plan. We'll see if I have better luck this month.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Where I got it: Library e-book
Why: I reread The Giver for the first time in about 20 years - I forgot how much I'd liked it. I literally only remembered that there were bicycles, and that the boy could see the color red, ha! But rereading it makes it so clear how much this book influenced a whole generation of dystopian YA authors. So immediately after finishing The Giver, I put this one and the next two books in the quartet on hold.

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce
Where I got it: Library e-book
Why: I checked this one out while waiting for Gathering Blue. I'm only 5% in. It's ok, but rather simplistic so far. I know that several of my friends are huge Tamora Pierce fans. Maybe I should've read her when I was younger?

Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones
Where I got it: From Shelf Awareness
Why: For review. I'm guessing it's because this is the 800th anniversary - I actually got sent two Magna Carta books this month. I chose this one, because I've heard good things about Dan Jones's other books.

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George
Where I got it: From Shelf Awareness
Why: For review. I'm pretty stoked that I got sent this one, since I love the Inspector Lynley series anyway. The last couple in the series haven't been quite as good as some of the earlier titles - so I'm hoping for a resurgence of some of her old writing.

Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working by Craig Groeschel
Where I got it: Bought it
Why: Our small group from church is doing a study through this book. 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Where I got it: Bought in a Kindle sale
Why: I've heard good things from lots of bloggers who also liked Ready Player One. I loved RPO, so I'm hoping I like this one too

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Where I got it: Bought in a Kindle sale
Why: Sheila and my friend Meghan both recommended this one. Speaking of Sheila, I'm going to link this post up with her New on the Stack link-up. Check it out for lots of other fun book lists!

What are YOU planning to read?

September 1, 2015

Bookroo: A Book Subscription Review

A few weeks ago Jane from Bookroo reached out to me, asking if I'd be interested in checking out their service. I was intrigued, because I've had some good luck with other subscription services, and because (obviously), I'm always up for new kids' books!

So I agreed to review a box, and got a discount code to save a few dollars off the $20 monthly price (Note: you can save money too! Use this link to sign up for Bookroo, and you can save $4 off your order). 

I chose the board book option, since Eleanor doesn't read a ton of picture books anymore, and Juliet can't always be trusted to read picture books without ripping them. 

The packaging was awesome - I didn't realize all 3 books would come separately wrapped in cute paper. Juliet was thrilled to open them, with a bit of help from Eleanor.

We got three books - a Sassy counting book, The Crayon Box That Talked, and Hernando Fandango: The Great Dancing Dog. Hernando Fandango was too old for Juliet - it's about a girl and her dog who get on a Dancing With the Stars type show. It wasn't bad, but just not something that really appealed to either of the girls. And honestly, not a book I ever would've purchased if it hadn't come in the box.

The Crayon Box That Talked was cute; a less funny version of The Day the Crayons Quit. Eleanor said that her teacher recently read it to them at school, but it was simple enough that Juliet liked it too. I think I might've purchased this one, because it's got a nice little story to it.

The real winner for us was the Let's Count book. I actually might buy this one for a baby shower soon - it's really cute. And Juliet is really into numbers lately, so she is obsessed with it, and has been reading it again and again. She keeps carrying around all three books though, and firmly announcing that they're "J-May's". (She can't say Juliet, so she calls herself J-May.) 

All in all, I think Bookroo is a great deal - especially with that discount. I think it would make a fantastic birthday present, because every kid loves getting mail, and then who's not gonna love getting 2-3 books to open?! And since we liked 2 of the 3 books, I think it's worth it. 

If you have any more Bookroo questions, check out their FAQ. I don't think I'm going to keep up a subscription for us right now, because the bookshelves are starting to overflow again... time for a winnowing! But I'm pretty sure I know what my nieces and nephew will be getting for Christmas. 

Do you like the idea of a book subscription?

I received a discount on the first month of a Bookroo subscription. All opinions about the company and the books are my own.

August 30, 2015

What I'm Into: My August 2015 Wrap-Up Post

All righty guys, here's a wrap-up of what's been going on chez moi this month. Is it just me, or is 2015 flying by? Hello September! And then fall! And then the holidays, phew!


I had a huge book rut this month. I barely read any pages at all for the first two weeks of the month. So I ended up only finishing seven books this month (of which three were re-reads!), which is my lowest month in several years.

The Good 

  • The Convenient Marriage and Bath Tangle, both by Georgette Heyer. Neither of these is my favorite of hers, but they're both fun. Bath Tangle is particularly witty and political - one of Heyer's most clever novels. 
  • Along the Way: A Journey of a Father and Son, by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. I looooved the Martin Sheen chapters. And I spent most of the Emilio Estevez chapters wanting to smack him for being so pretentious. 
  • Icarus by Deon Meyer - a really smart police procedural set in South Africa. The story is centered around the death of a man who founded an app called Alibi, which helps create elaborate alibis for those engaged in illicit affairs. Reading Icarus in the same week as the Ashley Madison hack story was a bit surreal! 
  • What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty's books are always so fun. This one is about a woman named Alice who is 40, has 3 kids, and is separated from her husband. Alice falls and hits her head, and wakes up thinking she's 30, happily married, and pregnant with her first child.

The Bad 

  • Nothing! That's the one good thing about being unmotivated to read. I just quit all the books I wasn't loving.

The Awesome

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Yes, I did listen to this book for the third time in less than a year. I'm officially obsessed. I have an inexplicably strong love for Levi and Cath and Reagan.
  • The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. This is what finally broke me out of the book rut mid-month. It's about 14 hours long, and I listened to it in less than 48 hours. I could not get enough of this story. It's the story of several very troubled teenagers, and it's reeeeeally hard to describe without spoiling anything. So do what I did - don't read reviews of it! Just start it! And then see if you're blown away with the surprise that happens a couple of chapters in, just like I was. It's the only book I planned to read this month, and actually followed through on. 


Noel and I have been watching Catastrophe on Amazon Prime. It's hysterically funny, I literally keep laughing out loud, but warning(!): adult language (!). So, recommended with a caveat. The basic premise is: American man on business trip has fling with Irish teacher in London. She gets pregnant, they decide to try to raise the baby together, he moves to England, lots of hilarity and pregnancy hormones and awkwardness ensue.

I also snagged True Detective Season 1 at Bookmans this week, hooray! So we're going to try and start watching it this weekend. I asked a former co-worker, to put a copy on hold for me if she found one. She agreed to, but said that she would do so only if I promised her that I would pretend that Season 2 never existed, ha! So I guess we'll watch Season 1 and then think really hard before watching Season 2.


Less! Actually, it seems like about 2 days a week I eat more. And then I'm good about 5 days a week to make up for it. (I recently made totchos for a girls' night - tater tots loaded with shredded cheese and bacon and chives. Mmmmmmm.) I've been in a little weight-loss challenge group where we weigh in each Wednesday. I generally don't care much about the actual pounds, more about how I feel, and how my clothes fit. 

But having 2 other people know exactly what I weigh, and knowing that whatever I'm eating will be reflected in the scale each Wednesday has been really motivating. So in the last 8 weeks I lost 10.5 lbs. I'm hoping to keep that up for another month or two, and then maybe I'll fit back into the clothes I fit into just post-Juliet. (I lost the baby weight super fast with her: within 4-5 months, but then almost all of it crept back on over the last year, blah.)

But anyway, I've been trying to make generally healthier choices, and then not worrying too much about a splurge here and there.


I joined the Sorta Awesome Facebook group a while ago, and then the Sorta Awesome Voxer Chat. I almost quit the chat a couple of times, because it can be a little overwhelming - sometimes 150+ messages a day! But I decided to dive in, and not be afraid to "Mark All As Read" on the days I can't keep up, and I'm so glad I did. 

Having a group of about a dozen friends to talk about books and babies and sleeplessness and work and race relations and everything under the sun with, has been amazing. Sometimes being a mostly stay-at-home mom is really hard for me: I can't handle the monotony of the mundane tasks and baby-level conversations, so having adults to chat with during the day has been a lifesaver!


Eleanor and I have been loving games lately. You can see a full round-up of games we like here. But our recent favorites are:
  • Mermaid Island (which she got for her birthday). It's nice because it's a cooperative game, so for at least this one game we are guaranteed a fun time without bad sportsmanship! All the players work together to get the mermaids to the island before the Sea Witch catches them.
  • Yahtzee Jr. Ours is the Toy Story version. She's getting really good at the math of it. It's way simpler than regular yahtzee; you just try to roll 5 of each thing (Jessie, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, etc.)
  • The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game. Another Bookmans score - it was only $7, and it was still new in the packaging! It's so fun, kind of like Hi Ho Cherry-Os, but you have to use these little squirrel tongs to pick up the acorns, so it promotes dexterity, in addition to color matching and adding and subtracting. Juliet loves to "play" with us on this one.


We've had a spectacular monsoon season. Four nights this week we had at least an hour or two of rain, and last night we had an insane storm. Trees were down everywhere, the power was out for hours, and it was just all kinds of excitement in our house. (In related news, I need to buy batteries. Because trying to do things by the light of an Ikea tea light is not easy.) 

Now if only we could get things to cool down in the day time... I am so so so so ready for fall. But alas, I've got another six or eight weeks to go before we drop below 90 for daytime temps. In the meantime, I'll just be over here shoving ice cubes into my bra for the walk to the school bus stop. (Sorry, that's probably TMI, but it actually works pretty well, if anyone else is a sweat-hater like I am.)


I didn't blog a lot this month, because of the aforementioned book rut. But, if you missed it, be sure to check out my #bookwormproblems (and get your own ready to link-up next month!), and my 57 Fantastic, Imaginative, and Dystopian YA Titles. I had a lot of fun putting that post together.

What are YOU into?

I'm planning to link up with Leigh Kramer today!