Friday, April 29, 2016

crickets on the book front.

I know, it has been a good while since I posted a book review! That was supposed to be my new direction here, right? So, where are all the book reviews?

Well, life has been a little hectic, and I've been a little bit all over the place with my reading. here's a quick update to prove I'm still reading--

///I just finished reading the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger for my library book club for kids! The whole series was hilarious, light, silly, nerdy, and I would totally recommend it to adults as well as kids--especially nerdy, Star Wars-loving adults. It was written for kids, but it was written by one of US, and that makes it a super fun read.

Oh, also? I posted about my most recent installment of my Origami Yoda book club on Instagram, and guess what? The author, Tom Angleberger, commented on my post!! Squeeeee!!!

How cool is that?!?

///I'm currently reading: Armada by Ernest Cline. I *loved* his book Ready, Player One, and I'm looking forward to making some progress with this one (I just started it) and getting into the story. I'll post a review as soon as I can manage to finish it!

///I must admit that a portion of my time lately has also been spent watching a tv show: the SyFy adaptation of one of my favorite book series ever, The Magicians (by Lev Grossman). It's all kinds of good and all kinds of not at the same time. Adaptations are always a mixed bag for something you love this hard. I plan to post some more detailed thoughts on this one soon.

On that note, there's also the new season of Game of Thrones to monopolize more of my time. But, sorry-not-sorry, I'm diving head-first into this season. I can't wait to see where this story goes now that the book readers and tv-only folks are on the same page, so to speak.

Well, I guess that's it for now. I'm off to hopefully squeeze in more reading time!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5 thoughts: upcoming season of game of thrones.

It's that time of year again. The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. The sun is shining. And...Winter is Coming?

Is anyone else as excited as me about the upcoming season of Game of Thrones???

Dany sketch by moi
Here are 5 of my prevailing thoughts going into this season--

1> Jon Snow.

Of course, you can't discuss the new season without mulling over Jon Snow's fate. They've tried to be coy about it. They've tried to be secretive about it. And we figured out awhile ago that George wasn't going to put us out of our misery with the next book's release before the next season. BUT I think everyone has pretty much figured out that he's not going to be dead for long. I mean, Melisandre is conveniently nearby, and we already know that death isn't a deal-breaker in the lands of ice and fire. I wholeheartedly believe that Jon Snow is going to become the latest walker of Westeros. There's no way we've seen the last of him.

2> Winner take all.

Everybody has their theories about who is going to take the throne, and who is whose bastard love child, and all that. I think the fans pretty much have this one pegged, too. My money is on the aforementioned Jon Snow being the rightful heir to the throne as the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lianna Stark. I think good ol' Ned did the noble thing and covered up his nephew's true identity to protect him as well as Lianna's memory. And maybe Robert's pride, too.

3> Arya.

Okay, so I'll admit I only finished reading about one-and-a-half of the books. But I do know a little bit about the path the story takes. See, the way we do things in my house is my husband reads every internet spoiler and Wikipedia book synopsis he can find (be it GoT, The Walking Dead, etc.) and, though I used to be a strictly anti-spoiler kind of person, he has gradually won me over to the dark side, so I make him tell me everything he knows. On that note, I know a little bit, vaguely, about the direction Arya's story takes in the books. And, since she is one of the two characters I've allowed myself to grow attached to due to the fact that they haven't died yet in the books, I'm interested to see how it plays out on the show. Last season was kind of a snooze fest for Arya. The blindness thing just wasn't all that shocking or compelling. So, I'm hoping this season she finally gets to really plunge into the badassery I know she has ahead of her, at least in the book storyline.

4> Sansa.

I used to be a Sansa hater. I mean, of course I felt sorry for her, but she just seemed so simpering, and naive, and it was just kind of hard to like her. But now I feel like she's grown so much, and been through so much (yikes), that I've grown very attached to her and want to see her come out on top with some strength and badassery of her own. And Theon, Theon, Theon. As much as he brought everything he's been through on himself, I can't help but feel so, so bad for him and the tragic turn he took. So I am hoping he makes Stark-y amends and turns things around now that he's joined forces with Sansa. She may have to drag him back to the light side by his ear, but I hope it works out for both of them. The gods know they both deserve a break at this point. And while they're at it, can they please push Ramsay into a pit of raging ice zombies or something?

5> Danaerys.

I have to admit, I am not a member of Team Khaleesi. Not a bandwagon I cared to jump on. I mean, I'd like to get her and Jon Snow in a room together. All the noble good intentions might cause some kind of spontaneous dragon fire explosion or something. But as a whole, I just don't connect with her character like a lot of fans seem to. I'm not sure what it is exactly about her that doesn't grab me. So I'm not really eager to see her, once again, in a situation much like she was in before, stuck with a bunch of shirtless horse dudes who totally don't get her. They have dragged out her storyline way too much, and I need her to just sail across to Westeros already. Get on with it! Stop dragging your dragon talons and get in there! Yeah, yeah, I know, she's not exactly in a position to do that now. But her storyline has kind of spoiled its potential, I think, by squandering its momentum.

Ok, those are the 5 thoughts on Game of Thrones on my mind right now. I'm sure I'll have many more come Sunday night / Monday morning!

Friday, April 15, 2016

avy's faves: board books | april 2016.

Time for another installment of Avy's Faves! This girl is loving books more than ever. However, in true toddler fashion, she likes to read many of the same greatest hits repeatedly. So, it's a quality-over-quantity post this month.

Here are Avery's current favorite board books:

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

We love all things Sandra Boynton in our house. (Well, most things. There are a couple of her books that don't quite click with us, but most of her stuff is pure gold.) This one is Avery's favorite. We've been reading it to her before bed most nights (Baby Beluga got a little old). The story is sing-song-y with a nice, soothing bedtime cadence, and the animals are cute and silly.

Where is Baby's Belly Button? (and others) by Karen Katz

Avery loves anything by Karen Katz, too. She seems to especially connect with the babies in the illustrations, because she has to wave at every one, every time. And she loves lifting the flaps in this one to see baby's hidden belly button / hands / feet / mouth / etc.

Hello, Animals! by Smriti Prasadam & Emily Bolam

This one's another waver. Avy loves the simple black-and-white animal illustrations, which she waves at every time, and the short and sweet text. It's a good, brief book for bedtime, too.

So, that's the second edition of Avy's Faves on the books. I'll post another batch when she gets hooked on some other good reads!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

books: my favorites to re-read.

I have a confession to make. I may be The Library Faerie, I may love books with a passion, I may work in a library where I have aspirations for my own books to be on the shelves one day, but...

I am not the voracious reader I could be.

Sometimes it's because I let life get in the way of carving out much time to read. Which is a huge sin for someone who claims to be a bookworm, I know!

Sometimes it's because I have the tendency to read many books very slowly and languorously, savoring and digesting the story to make sure I don't miss a single detail. Not very efficient, I know.

And sometimes it's because a NOTORIOUS re-reader. I re-read the crap out of my favorite books. And frequently, when I'm paralyzed by the inability to choose my next read, it's often due in part to the fact that I keep circling back in my mind to books I'm wanting to re-read.

I just can't help it. When I was younger, I used to devote a lot more time to plowing through new books, but I also was just as guilty of frequent rereading back then as I am now. There's just something so comforting about returning to an old friend of a well-loved book from my reading history. I'm very attuned to the mood and atmosphere of books, and so there are many times when I recall and seek out returning to a particular mood by rereading a certain book that provided it. Plus, I just love reliving a great story that made a big impact on me the first time through.

So, without further ado, I'm sharing with you today my favorite books to re-read.
((To make this list, I have to have re-read these books at least once or twice.))

The Harry Potter series.

I mean, need I say more? The Harry Potter books are the ULTIMATE re-read if you are a fan. I love them more every time I read them. I can't wait to read them to Avery for the first time.

The Hobbit.

I loved the LoTR movies, and loved the books, too, but I probably won't go back and reread them. On the other hand, I thought the Hobbit movies were a big bummer, but I think The Hobbit wins as my number one most re-read book. I am not sure how many times I've read it,'s been several. If you've never gotten around to giving it a try, and if the movies have made you even more wary, take my advice and READ IT.

Pride & Prejudice.

The first time I read P&P, I re-read it again within the same year. And I've re-read it again since then, too. It's just that good. I had some pretty big reservations before reading this one the first time, too--I didn't expect to love it like I do. There is a good reason why it's such a classic.

A Wrinkle in Time.

I read this book for the first time when I was in the 4th grade, and I fell in love with it. I've revisited Meg, Charles Wallace, Calvin, and the mysterious Mrs. Ws several times since. I've also read all its follow-ups...but this first adventure will always be my favorite.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. (Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Talking to Dragons)

By chance, I grabbed the first book from this series in a free book giveaway at my school in the 7th grade. I devoured it quickly, and found the following three books in the series at my local library. I've since bought books 2-4, and love to revisit them. This series has it all--humor, magic, fairy tale elements, feminism, adventure, drama, tragedy, and lots of cherries jubilee.

Anne of Green Gables.

I've read several of the Anne books (not the whole series), but honestly I love the first book so much I'd just rather re-read it then read the rest of the books! I can really relate as a fellow red-haired, book-loving kindred spirit.

Ender's Game.

Either you love this book, or you can't even finish it--I'm in the first camp. I am not typically a huge sci-fi book fan--I love sci-fi t.v. shows and movies, but don't often enjoy sci-fi books--but this is far and away my favorite book in the genre. I love that it's so focused on the characters, particularly Ender, and their struggles, rather than being a dry space military story with not enough human element. This one's far from that.

The Snapper by Roddy Doyle.

Best dialogue I've ever read. This short book takes me no time to read, it's hilarious and heart-wrenching all at the same time, and I just can't help but return to it. I also can't help but imagine the dad as Colm Meaney, who played him in the movie version. Which makes it even more awesome.

Anna and Her Daughters by D.E. Stevenson.

My great-aunt June gave me her copy of this book before she passed away, years and years ago when I was a little girl. This 1950s coming-of-age story was a bit ahead of me at that time, but after a few years I picked it up and read it...and have re-read it several times since. I don't remember much about my Aunt June, but I'll always be grateful she passed this priceless book along to me! You just can't not see yourself in Jane, the protagonist of the story and backbone of the family.

So...what are YOUR favorite books to re-read? Or are you staunchly against re-reading?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

happy first birthday, avery!

Today was the big day--Avery's first birthday! The weather was crummy, so our original plan of taking her to the zoo didn't pan out (yet). So we followed our backup plan, which started with breakfast out at our favorite local breakfast diner.

We also did some shopping, buying a few new toys and books. In the afternoon we visited a pet store for a little something different, and to get a chance to see some animals anyway. (We are definitely an adopt-don't-shop family, but we're not above going just to take a peek.) Avy got strawberry shortcake for a birthday treat, and a yummy spaghetti dinner made by Dad!

Still, as fun as parts of the day be lying if I didn't mention that it was actually a rough day all-around. Little missy was feeling her newfound toddler angst today, and much of the day looked less like the above blog-worthy moments and more like this:

Yeah. Toddler angst. Avy decided to get a jump on it quickly, I guess.

But it was a good day, all in all. I still can't believe our baby is a year old, and I'm glad we got to spend her birthday together.

I'll leave you with a little month-by-month collage...

Goodnight, and wish me luck with this toddler stuff!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

on this day...

I love the little "on this day" app on Facebook. It's fun for me to go back and look at what I was doing on a particular day X-number of years ago. Especially because the past 6 or so years have been quite a roller coaster for me! It's fun for me to look back and see all the ups and downs and where life has taken me.

I'm especially having fun with it this week, it being Avery's birthday week. Two years ago this week, I was on vacation in Orlando with the hubby, visiting Universal Studios! I had a blast riding roller coasters for the first time and spending as much time as possible in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Little did I know, I'd be embarking on a very different kind of adventure in exactly one year!

Roller coasters, Harry Potter, Blues Brothers, Mardi Gras parade, the works. It was a blast. At the time, we were trying and wishing and hoping for a baby, and it wasn't going so well. This trip was a nice little reprieve. It's funny to me to think that exactly one year after the second set of pictures...
...was the day I would go into labor with our first child. I felt pretty rough when I took that bump photo. Warm-up contractions had me completely drained. Now I know why--it was the big day! I went into labor just about 8 hours after the top photo. The bottom photo was my last post before going into labor: a quick sketch of my firstborn babies. They got to meet their baby sister pretty soon after that, and the rest is history!

Check back in tomorrow for some photos of Avery's BIRTH day and her first birthday! <3

nerd fitness: hogwarts running club!

I am not a fitness or sports-inclined person by nature. I'm pretty sure it's in my genes to be the polar opposite, in fact. But I want to like exercise and physical activities, for my physical and mental health and to set a good example to Avery so she'll build a healthy relationship with her own body. So I have worked to find some exercise-related hobbies I can tolerate. My favorite of those is the Hogwarts Running Club!

The short explanation is: you participate in virtual races, paying for registration and awesome Potter-themed medals; the money goes to charity. You can also use the free Charity Miles app to contribute your miles-aka-points to your chosen House for the Hogwarts House Cup. That translates into money for charity, too, and doesn't cost you a penny!

However you choose to participate--virtual race events, the House Cup competition through Charity Miles, or both--it's a great, nerdy motivator to get out there and exercise AND to do some good. Lots of the participants are über-marathoners who run miles and miles every day, which is awesome. But lots more are exercise n00bs like me who need this motivation just to do any exercise at all.
I'm pretty excited, because Monday night I completed the last of the mileage I needed to earn the medal for the current race, the Umbridge Run, aka “The Final Inaugural ‘I Must Not Tell Lies’ Dolores Jane Umbridge Run 13k…Or Until It Sinks In.” I used this race as a motivator to exercise, not purchasing the registration / medal until I'd completed it. I chose to complete this race on my stationary bike at home, logging over 20 miles over the course of 3 weeks to get in the cycling equivalent mileage to 13K at the 2.5:1 rate HRC goes by. 

For someone as out of shape and lacking fitness gumption as me, that was quite a feat. I completed my miles in the evenings after Avery went to bed, and finished my 20 miles in 21 days. I can't wait to get my medal (one of Umbridge's horrendously saccharine cat plates!) and I can't wait for the next event to motivate me to exercise!

If you're looking for a way to ease into regular exercise like me, or if you're a running / cycling aficionado looking for something to spice up your routine, I highly recommend taking a look at Hogwarts Running Club! You can have lots of fun exercising and do #somuchgood!

Monday, April 4, 2016

avery at one.

Well, it's here, folks--the week of Avery's first birthday. So, to celebrate and kick off this special week, today I am sharing a little profile of the little lady of honor. ((She has her 1 year appointment with the pediatrician on Friday, so I will come back and edit this post afterward to add in her stats.))


Name: Avery Amelia

Age: 1 year

Weight: TBD

Length: TBD

Teeth: 8, working on #9 and #10. She of course decided to get them out of order, and got her first molars early. Lady does things her own way.

Nicknames: Avy, Buddy, Woman, Lady, Big Grown-up Lady, Tweety Bird

Loves: Her puppy brothers, any animals, reading books, being outdoors, Mom's Parks & Rec / Tom Haverford / Treat Yo'Self mug (she waves at it every time I use it), eating, baths, people-watching at restaurants and stores, soft blankets, peek-a-boo, playing rough and being flipped upside down, Mommy's Yoda impression.

Hates: Having her face/hands wiped off after eating, being held by strangers (or family members she doesn't see often, yikes).

She can: Cruise around on the furniture, take a couple unsupported steps, wave, give kisses, pat people or dogs, clap her hands, army crawl, roll all over the house, understand TONS of what we are saying to her, wiggle/shimmy, hold her own sippy cup, feed herself when handed her special short spoon.

She says: hi, Mama, Dada, Mah-Mah (Mamaw), Pap-Pap (Papaw), "ma-MAH-ma" (banana), yum. But she mostly just says Mama and her own little made up word that sounds like "Obama." X-D

Favorite foods: Bananas, raspberries, mandarin oranges, peanut butter toast, peas, and marshmallow Peeps or anything pertaining to marshmallows!

Favorite books: Her board book of The Jungle Book and The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.

Favorite tv shows: Plaza Sésamo (she only ever gets to see the Spanish version of Sesame Street when it airs in the morning at my mom's house!), Sid the Science Kid, and Super Why.

Favorite toys: Stuffed animals, soft blankets (she literally dives head-first onto piles of blankets on purpose), farm animal Little People toys (the cow especially), Mega Bloks first builders, and the dogs' toys when she can sneak one when we're not looking!


This little lady has celebrity status around these parts this week. So, don't be surprised if you see more posts about her throughout the week! ;-) #proudmama

Friday, April 1, 2016

book review: the illustrated compendium of amazing animal facts by maja säfström.

Oh, my goodness. I love. This. Book. The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Säfström combines three things I love: animals, seemingly random facts, and whimsical, quirky illustrations. I knew as soon as I spotted this baby, it had to be mine.

This book is simple and sweet. It is what it says it is--a collection of animal illustrations and facts. Some are odd. Some are surprising. They're all great. I've included a few snaps of some of my favorites below, but you'll have to check the book out yourself to get the full effect!

Aww. How cute is ^ that?!

Whoa. Never would have guessed it.

Heh! The mob! I love it.

Yer a wizard, armadillo!

The illustrations in this book are exactly what I had hoped they'd be--beautiful, cute, and quirky all at the same time. And the text is never boring--the amazing animal facts suck you in, and the funny animal commentary and little jokes are icing on the cake! This book is geared toward people of any age, but I can totally foresee curling up with my daughter and this baby (when she's old enough not to rip paper pages) and spending lots of time poring over the pictures and fascinating tidbits.

I highly recommend checking out Maja's Instagram, which I'm sharing below along with some other handy dandy links:

**Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, all opinions are my own!