Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #29: Most Recently Acquired Books

This week was a freebie. I've had a lot of book arrive in mail within the last month or so, so I decided to discuss the books I've acquired recently.

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

I won a copy of this book from a giveaway hosted by Pink Polka Dot Books. Michelle's review of the book made it sound so interesting. I don't think I've read anything about selective mutism before.

What Took You So Long: Poems for People in Love by Neville Johnson

This book was sent to me by mistake by the publisher. I was a little confused when I opened it. :)

Choosing the Hero by K. Rita Levinson

This was the correct book, and it arrived from the publisher a few days later. The publisher reached out to me about this book after an interaction on Twitter. I don't read a lot of non-fiction as you know, but I was hooked by this statement in the summary, "But most of all, it is Riva Levinson’s personal story of how she found a hero, fought for a worthy cause, and in the process, discovered her soul." It reminded me of how I feel about Bernie Sanders, so I knew I had to read it.

Come Away with Me by Karma Brown

I won a copy of this book from Bookmark Lit back in September 2015, but there were some issues with the delivery, so I finally got my copy this month.

Where We Fall by Rochelle B. Weinstein

I also won this book from Bookmark Lit last month. Lauren reviews mostly YA books, so she must not have many adult book readers. I've won three adult fiction books from her giveaways.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

This book is one of the SheReads summer selections, so I got a copy from the publisher. I keep seeing and hearing about this book, so I think I made a good choice.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

This was the first unsolicited book I've received from a publisher. I'm guessing it's because I was on the list from having received No One Knows a few months ago as a SheReads spring selection.

Shout: A Loud and Lively Book Showcasing the Talents, Thoughts, Ideas and Voices of Kids Who Are Differently Able by Pat Loewi

I bought this book after reading about Pat's experience and mission on the Nerdy Book Club.

Boy, 9, Missing by Nic Joseph

I was approved to read this book on NetGalley. It comes out September 1st.

From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life by Melissa Shultz

What books have come your way recently? Anything good?

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: Eligible

Eligible (The Austen Project #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld

Goodreads Summary:
A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

My Review:
Yes! This book is exactly what I was hoping for when I first heard about The Austen Project. I'm not sure I ever read the description for this book because I knew I wanted to read a modernization of Pride and Prejudice. Curtis Sittenfeld is a genius! I almost don't want to say anything about this book because they details and the way she was able to modernize the plot completely blew me away. I could not put this book down, and I stayed up way to late reading two nights in a row. I know the plot of Austen's original story so well, but this book kept me guessing, and it was just surprise after surprise with how she stayed true to the original and updated everything at the same time.

One major character is split into two people, but it really worked for me. For the most part, Curtis was spot on with the characters, but I was a little disappointed with her portrayal of Liz. I think she was generous with Darcy, but Liz was a little weaker than she aught to have been. That being said, it was absolutely delightful to get some of her thoughts and feelings as the relationship with Darcy develops. The book is written in third person, but from Liz's POV. Since I am mostly a fan of the Keira Knightley movie, having only read the original book once or twice, it was a nice change to get some insider information on the romance.

If you're a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I think this book is a must read!

My Rating: 5 Stars
Understand my ratings.

On the blog last year...

Book Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (YA)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bedtime Duties

Christopher and I didn't read enough books this week for me to write a Juvenile Pile post for 2 reasons.
  1. We're continuing with The BFG and Little Shaq Takes a Chance.
  2. I only put him to be 2 nights this week because we had a babysitter and because of how Jim and I split bedtime duties.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to explain our system. It took us many years to settle on it, but I think it works really well for us.

When Christopher was much younger we didn't really have a system at all. We had a bedtime routine of course, but we didn't have a system for figuring out who would put him to be when. I honestly can't remember much before we moved in 2012. So we'll start there.

When we first moved, we tried all being involved in bedtime if Jim and I were both home. But we quickly learned that Christopher would try to play us off of each other (even at 2 years old), so we decided to alternate nights for bedtime. This every other night deal lasted for a couple of years, but it was complicated. If I had plans on Wednesday, and Jim had already done bedtime the night before, then we'd try to swap nights. We couldn't assign bath night as certain days of the week because then what if someone was always giving him a bath. We have a serious obsession with fairness and equal parenting in our house.

So, finally sometime when Christopher was 4 I think, I came up with the brilliant idea of assigning specific days of the week to each of us. I think the only reason we didn't do this sooner was that there is an uneven number of days in the week. To be magnanimous, I said I'd do the extra day as long as I never had to handle bedtime on Sunday nights. I am super cranky on Sundays after weekends without alone time. My introverted head rears something fierce on Sunday nights. 

We decided that Jim would do bedtime on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I would take Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Jim plays video games with friends online on Monday nights, and he often goes out on Thursday nights. I have book club meetings on Wednesdays (and at the time I also had girls nights on Tuesdays once a month). From then on it was super easy for us to make plans with our friends because we always knew which nights we were free. Genius, right?! 

The only trading came into play when one of us was out of town. If we got a babysitter, then that person just didn't have to handle bedtime that night - no trading to make up for it like we'd done before. Another reason I didn't mind Thursday, Friday, and Saturday is that we usually have babysitters on those nights because of monthly game nights or date nights on the weekend.

A few months ago we switched Mondays and Tuesdays because Jim wanted to start going to a weekly game night with some new friends, but since my girls nights haven't been happening, it worked out fine. He is able to put Christopher to bed before he plays online with his friends.

Because we only have one child, this schedule works well for us. I know our friends with two children usually both do bedtime duty and each take one kid. 

Anyway, all this to say because we had a babysitter on Tuesday night this week, I didn't read with Christopher until Thursday night (after I wrote this post).

How do you handle bedtime? Do you still have a long bedtime routine? Do you love or hate putting your kids to bed?

On the blog last year...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kid Lit: Too Many Moose

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Too Many Moose by Lisa Bakos

To be published on July 5, 2016

Goodreads Summary:
Everyone Needs At Least One More Moose
When Martha decided she must have a pet,
she marveled and mulled over what she should get.
But much of the choices made Martha quite glum…
instead of magnificent, most were humdrum.
And just as it seemed like it might be no use…
she made up her mind that she must have one...

When Martha gets an unusual pet, she's delighted by all of the fun things they do together. If one moose is this marvelous, then more moose must be even better! Pretty soon, Martha has more moose than she can handle in this playful pet story. 

My Thoughts:
This book is adorable. It's completely ridiculous, nonsensical, and fun. Martha uses a catalog to determine what pet she should get, and she chooses a moose. When it comes, they do all kinds of crazy things together, and she loves it. So she orders 3 more moose. It's even more fun, so she orders more and more. You get the idea. Then it's too much, so she sends all but one back.

The story is told in rhymes, so this book would make an excellent read aloud. The illustrations are fun and whimsical with many scenes on most pages. It's a bit long, so it would work better for ages 3 and up, but it's a really fun read as long as you don't mind pointless books.

My Rating: 4 stars

I'm linking up with Booking Mama today for Kid Konnection. Every Saturday Julie hosts this link up for all things relating to children's books.

On the blog last year...

Movies I plan to see this summer

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: The Best Worst Thing (MG)

I received this book for free from LB Kids at BEA. 

The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane

Published on June 7, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
A simply told, deeply riveting and perceptive debut novel that strikes a universal chord by exploring what it's like to be an 11 year-old who doesn't feel ready to grow up and leave childhood behind.

Maggie is worried.

She's starting middle school, and she suddenly sees injustice and danger everywhere--in her history textbook, on the playground, in her neighborhood, on the news. How can anyone be safe when there's a murderer on the loose, a bully about to get a gun for his twelfth birthday, rabbits being held captive for who-knows-what next door, and an older sister being mysteriously consumed by adolescence? Maggie doesn't like any of it, so she devises intricate ways of controlling her own world--and a larger, more dangerous plan for protecting everyone else.

Here is a simply told, deeply felt, and perceptive novel about learning to let go of what you cannot control, from an exciting new talent.

My Review:
I enjoyed this book. Maggie is starting middle school. She is dealing with normal things: social hierarchy at a new school, friends who are interested in make up and clothes, her siblings (one younger, one older), the tension between her parents, etc. But at the same time she has extreme anxiety. A murderer has been spotted in the neighborhood, and she's convinced he's going to come and kill her family. A boy in her class who lives two houses over is rumored to be getting a gun for his 12th birthday, so she imagines him as the killer. It was very interesting to see her anxiety play out as if these things really happen. Maggie has to repeat mantras (almost like prayers) in her head each night to keep bad things from happening.

There is not a whole lot of plot. The book just chronicles the day to day happenings. But I was kind of fascinated with this insight into an anxious mind. I really loved all of the true-to-age bits, such as the notes being passed at school and her best friend starting to wear lipstick. It was a very honest and real depiction of that awkward age. I think it would be a very relate-able read for kids in middle school.

My Rating: 3 Stars
Understand my ratings.

On the blog last year...

Book Review: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On pre-ordering books...

Is it just me or has pre-ordering books gotten to be a bigger thing? Is it because of Amazon and other online retailers? Is it that there are better books coming out? Are publishers pushing it more?

I remember my first book pre-order. It was the summer of 2000. I was living at home with my parents after my sophomore year of college. I was the only "child" at home as my twin sister was spending the summer in MD as a camp counselor, and my brother was in Chicago living in his own apartment, attending law school.

I had chosen to spend the summer at home instead of nannying for my little cousins (twins: a boy and a girl, age 5) because I wanted to study for the MCAT. (Side Note: I still regret to this day not spending that summer with them.) I thought being at home would allow me to focus on the exam and still have friends close by to hang out with at night. Honestly, I don't remember much fun from that summer. I do remember working 5 hours a day as a typist at my dad's law office, attending hours-long MCAT prep classes at the local college, and studying in the evenings. I was very serious at that age and thought I was going to be a doctor. My goal was to get a 34 (out of 40 I think) on the MCAT exam (required for entrance into medical school).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, July 8, 2000

My one indulgence that summer was that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was releasing. I pre-ordered it from the local media store - one of those big box places (before Barnes & Noble and Borders took over the world) that sold music, movies, and books. The name is escaping me. I was beyond excited for the release. When I finally got the book, I only allowed myself to read it in bed at night after all of the above mentioned working, class going, and studying was complete. Crazy, right? How did I not skip studying for two days and just sit around and read the book straight? I was seriously disciplined!

Since then I have mainly pre-ordered sequels, and I'm not even sure I pre-ordered any books (other than the subsequent Harry Potter titles) until the last year or so. Amazon has certainly made that easier with the ability to pre-order and have the book delivered on the release date. It hardly seems worth it to pre-order if you have to drive to the store to buy the book in person anyway. Do books ever sell out on their release dates like video games do?

Right now I am waiting on 3 pre-ordered titles from Amazon. It's rather fitting that two of these books are in the Harry Potter universe, don't you think?

(End Note: I scored a 33 on the MCAT. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, I didn't go to medical school.)

What was the first book you pre-ordered? What pre-orders do you have open right now? Do you have any thoughts on the rise of pre-orders? Is it a thing or have I just been unaware all these years?

On the blog last year...

Building memories

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review: Split Second (YA)

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West

Goodreads Summary:
Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too... but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories... once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot... and a future that could change everything.

My Review:
I liked this book. A lot. More than the first book, Pivot Point. This book is told in alternating chapters from Addie's point of view - primarily from outside the Compound. And in Laila's point of view, inside the Compound (mostly). I enjoyed getting to know Laila more in this book. The plot in this book involves the "super powers" much more than the first book. I really loved learning about the characters abilities and understanding more about the world Kasie had imagined.

Addie is outside again with her dad, but without her memory of the Search from the first book. She is interacting with the characters that the reader remembers, but she does not. I loved the situational irony here - for examples she good friends with Stephanie now - her rival in the last book. So interesting!

Laila is desperate to advanced her ability, so she can restore Addie's memory. She's also helping her brother find his ability and enlisting some unlikely characters to do it. She gets some romance of her own in this book, which made the whole thing doubly fun. Two love stories instead of one!

There was just a lot more action in this book. There's an evil authority type plot, which is a little cliche in YA these days, but I always love it anyway. I just kept wanting to be reading this book whenever I was doing something else, and that's always a good sign.

My Rating: 4 Stars
Understand my ratings.

On the blog last year...

Book Review: Off the Page (YA)