Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Wrap-Up Post

I was going to write this up yesterday, but it was finally nice enough outside to take the baby to the park without being afraid that it is too hot and humid for him. We definitely haven't gotten out as much as I would like this summer, so that took up my free time for the day and I'm not one bit sorry about it :) As much as I love summer, I'm definitely looking forward to the fall when I won't need to worry about a newborn in the sun and heat -- if only it could be fall weather year-round, I would be one happy camper.

Anyway, I am calling Bout of Books 14 a great success! Here's what I read:

8 graphic novels
1 audiobook re-read while walking
21 picture books with baby

Returned the rest to the library without taking a photo, oops!

This doesn't even include the picture books I read to my son that we've read before. I like to keep track of all books I read with him, but I only record them the first time. I must say, I feel like a kid again rediscovering all these wonderful stories -- at this point, I'm sure I am enjoying them more than he is!

I'm also thinking I'm overdue for a graphic novel post since I can't seem to get enough of them lately. They really are excellent reading when you have a baby to take care of. I'm sure I will read longer books again someday, but for now I am a total graphic novel addict.

Hope everyone had a great week -- Bout of Books or not!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Sign-Up Post

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

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It's Bout of Books time again! Since it's been exactly one month since my last post and I've really been wanting to get back into some semblance of blogging again, I thought it would be fun to jump back in with a read-a-thon. Also, I have a giant stack of graphic novels out from the library which are perfect for this kind of event. I actually read one already today since I started it at 430 AM while feeding my son -- it was pretty short, so I then finished it while eating my own breakfast.

My goal is simple -- I want to squeeze in more reading time than in a typical week -- this is, of course, after the necessities of childcare, work, and things like feeding myself and showering are taken care of. Ideally, I would like to read (or at least start!) one novel in addition to the graphic novels, but that might be a little overambitious -- we shall see how the week goes.

I don't plan on doing lots of updates or challenges since I really want to focus on the reading. But, I will make sure to check in at the end of the week to see how things went.

Good luck and happy reading to anyone else participating!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Though I hadn't made any sort of official announcement yet, I was 99% convinced I wasn't going to continue blogging. But when I started writing what I thought would be a one-liner on GoodReads and found myself instead writing a full-blown review, I decided it really should be a post. I can't say for sure what this blog is going to be like going forward, but like always, it remains a space for me to share my favorite pastime of reading. If anyone is still sticking around if/when I write posts, thanks! :)

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
Series? No
Publisher: Tantor Media
Format: Audiobook
Date: January 6, 2015
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Publisher

I had put a hold on this digital audiobook from my library months ago after I kept hearing it recommended. The waiting list was quite long and I had almost forgotten about it by the time my turn came. With a new baby, the last thing I really need to worry about is tidying my house, but it was only a few hours long, so I decided to give it a go anyway to see what all the hype is about. It is clear the author is passionate about her subject, though I am not sure everyone will be able to relate to her experience. I think a lot of this book is common sense, but sometimes that is the best kind of advice. If you need some guidance, but don't want to be bothering with gimmicks or complex organizational systems, this is definitely worth a read. I will not be following her advice to a T, but there are some areas I know could use some work and this book did inspire me to do some decluttering. I will keep some of Marie's concepts in mind as I start getting our house in better order over the next few months before my son becomes mobile.

I am skeptical about the whole concept of "do this once and you will never need to do it ever again," as well as the claims that NO ONE who takes the author's course ever lapses and EVERYONE has had success with her method, but I do think there were a lot of good concepts discussed. In fact, there were quite a few things I already do that I thought were interesting to hear recommended -- getting rid of paper, discarding before organizing/storing, keeping clothes in the closet year-round and not changing for the seasons, and folding laundry neatly). Other things were a bit over the top for me -- I will not be emptying my purse daily, getting rid of all my product manuals, or putting away my folded clothes vertically (how do you even do that?!)

I also disagree with her philosophy on books -- I will not be getting rid of my unread books because I do not believe "someday" necessarily means "never" for a book lover. Though she does at another point talk about the amount of possessions a person "should" have and says, "For a shoe lover, it might be one hundred pairs of shoes, while a book lover might not need anything but books." Since I tend to not accumulate many things other than books, I am much more on board with this line of thinking. I may be due for a good culling, but my TBR piles aren't in any danger of being discarded overnight!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Baby Books to Make a New Mom Cry

Now, I don't actually mean that in a bad way. Some of my favorite baby books so far have been the sweet, sentimental ones. And thanks to the postpartum hormones (WAY crazier than the pregnancy hormones, in my experience anyway!) my eyes were rather leaky while reading them to my little man. Whether I was outright bawling, just getting a little misty-eyed, or something in between is directly related to how far removed I was from delivery when I read them. Proceed with caution if you're trying not to trigger the waterworks (is such a thing even possible?!), but I highly recommend all of these wonderful books for any little one's library.

by Liza Baker, illustrated by David McPhail

by David Van Buren, illustrated by Tim Warnes

by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw

by Nancy Tillman

by Melissa Marr, illustrated by Teagan White

by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

by Don Freeman

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Bookish Decorating Project for the Nursery

I can't believe my son is 3 weeks old already! I know that is not really a lot of time, but it just feels like it's flying by already. As my due date approached last month, I kept myself busy with projects around the house and I had some serious nesting going on. One of my favorite projects was decorating the nursery. I knew from the beginning I didn't really want to do a "theme" where we bought perfectly coordinated sets from a baby store, but I definitely wanted to add some bookishness to his room.

I mentioned a while back that I wanted to do this wall art project and frame pages from favorite childhood books of mine and my husband's. But in the end, I had a really hard time tracking down the books my husband remembers and I truthfully couldn't come up with a favorite of my own -- I remember loving story-time with my parents, but there wasn't any one book that stood out in my memory. So, since an unofficial animal theme seemed to be forming anyway after we chose the bumpers for his crib, a lamp for the room, and received an adorable bookcase at our baby shower, I decided to go with three different children's books/series that feature animals: Make Way for Ducklings, Humphrey the elephant, and Paddington Bear:

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey

Humphrey books, by Sally Hunter

Paddington Bear books, by Michael Bond
(Top two frames)

Paddington Bear books, by Michael Bond
(Bottom two frames)

I am thrilled with how this project came out and it really was very simple. I already had the frames because I got a great deal on packaged sets back when I first started hanging pictures around our house and still had a bunch leftover. This nursery project actually filled up the remaining frames I had, so that was a few less piles of "stuff" laying around our house which is always good! Then all I had to do was buy extra copies (some new, some used) of books I already bought for the baby and knew had artwork I loved and would fit in the frames. I tore out the pages I needed, trimmed them to size, framed them (some with mats, some without), and hung them up.

My Dad was quite impressed with the project and had me send him these pictures so he could show them off (in addition to baby pictures of course -- he's afraid the people at his office are going to start avoiding him!) I highly recommend this project for any book lover looking for easy DIY wall art for a baby's room -- or any room! And the best part is that you get to go book shopping first :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Where I Disappeared To...

I can't even count how many times I said to myself, "OK, today I will post a baby update..." and it just didn't happen. Someone so small sure keeps me busy! So here I am, finally sharing the happy news of our little man's arrival:

Our first day home -- my favorite picture of us :)

I actually went into labor at 3AM on my due date -- of course I didn't really think it was the real thing at the time, but as the night wore on, it became clear that it was indeed "baby time" as my husband liked to call it. He wasn't born until the morning after my due date, but everything went rather smoothly as far as giving birth goes, so I won't complain. My recovery hasn't been nearly as bad as I feared it would be, but having a newborn has definitely been an huge adjustment -- a wonderful one, but not always easy.

I had a week with both my mom and husband home with us followed by another week with my mom when my husband went back to work. This is my first week home alone with the baby -- I will admit I was really nervous, but we are doing well so far. He's a pretty happy baby unless he is wet or hungry and he loves to snuggle. I already can't picture my life without this little one and we just love him to pieces :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #3

1. I have surprised even myself by how much I enjoy reading comics and graphic novels. I never thought they would be for me, but some of the ones I have tried so far have been seriously compelling and I am totally hooked. And I fly through those bad boys, so the library has been really great for exploring this new genre without breaking the bank -- or my book buying budget/resolutions for the year.

2. I've actually completed a bookish decorating project I've been meaning to do forever! And I'm halfway finished with another project for the baby's room -- just waiting on a few more supplies. I will share photos soon :)

3. Part of me really wants to dive into Drums of Autumn, the next Outlander book for my re-read of the series, but I think I need to take a little break and squeeze in some other books while waiting for our little one to decide it's time to arrive. It's less than two weeks 'til due date now, so it could still be a while or it could be any day now -- there's really no telling!

4. My plan to read ahead for the next two months of book club got thwarted with all the busy-ness of preparing for the baby. I did start the May book last night in the hope that reading it before the baby comes will mean I actually know what is going on when I attempt to attend the meeting after he's born (in what is likely to be a very sleep-deprived state!)

5. The frequency I need to do laundry because only a limited number of clothing items fit my pregnant self is kind of annoying. I really don't want to buy anything else with so little time left, but I guess this will be good practice for when the baby spits up, pees, etc. all over everything -- frequent laundry is just part of the deal I suppose. On the plus side, since starting to organize all the clothes, bedding, etc. we got at the shower, I've learned that you can fit a LOT of baby things in one load.

6. I really love these applesauce scones and these pumpkin scones. I like having a scone with my breakfast, so I usually skip any sort of topping or glaze and sub in whole wheat flour -- this totally does not work for dessert recipes, but I do it all the time for scones, muffins, and quick breads without any trouble.

7. Speaking of scones... my pastry blender is probably one of my favorite (and most used) kitchen gadgets. I usually only make pie once a year at Thanksgiving, but it's so helpful for making scones, biscuits, and the topping for crumb cakes.

8. Despite the fact that I keep talking about food, I can't say I've had any crazy cravings while pregnant. I make sure I am eating enough for me and the baby, but things are getting crowded in there! Having a tiny person squishing all my insides doesn't really make me want to go to town on snacks or sweets -- not that I don't have them at all, because I definitely do, but I haven't had the roaring appetite I had expected. Though I'm now pretty convinced that pregnancy and parenthood is all about the unexpected.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

March Madness 2015: Wrap-Up

So it turns out I was a little over-ambitious after all! I was on a major reading roll in January and February, but a baby shower, out of town guests, and lots of preparations for our little one meant I was busier in March than I had accounted for. The middle of this giant pile got a bit neglected, but I did end up reading 8 of the 16, plus three audiobooks and one children's book I've been wanting to read for my Banned Books Challenge -- And Tango Makes Three.

I finished Voyager -- woo hoo! -- and read the James Thurber collection as well as all of the remaining Y: The Last Man comic collections. I started Paper Towns for book club, but was only a couple chapters in at the end of the month. My husband's work schedule has been super busy, so a lot of days I went on my daily walk (Dr.'s orders!) alone and zipped through two Lisa Scottoline mysteries -- Look Again and Don't Go -- and a short story collection on audio. Something tells me audio as well as shorter, easier books (like the graphic novels and children's books I've been gravitating toward) are going to be the new normal around here for a while.

I hope you read something good last month!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge: March Update + Free Book Sources

My main source for free books I can add to my collection is giveaways -- I regularly enter Goodreads First Reads giveaways and other contests on blogs I follow and have won quite a few over the years. When I was blogging and reviewing more regularly, I also entered contests and filled out request forms through the ShelfAwareness Pro newsletter. I've since unsubscribed as I don't feel I qualify as a reviewer anymore (and I also don't want the pressure of release dates hanging over my head -- I have enough to read as it is!) I still love their Reader newsletter though and think it's a great resource for finding out about new books. I occasionally download a freebie ebook from Amazon, but it's not my preferred reading format, so most of them are just sitting there unread. 

And while I (obviously) don't get to keep them, I do love all the free books from the library. Sometimes I get in the mood to try a new genre or author and (especially now with this challenge!) I don't want to spend a lot of money cluttering up my shelves even more, so my library card has really come in handy. I especially love borrowing digital audiobooks because it's so convenient to do from home and I have absolutely zero desire to own audiobooks the same way I own print books. A lot of people think Overdrive is a pain, but I've had no issues. My wishlist on my account is overflowing and there is always something available for immediate borrowing. And the waiting lists aren't usually too long for anything else I've had my eye on. Well, except for super high profile books like The Girl on the Train where I am currently #82 in line, but they have a bunch of copies, so it always goes faster than I expect. They even have an easy system where you can recommend your library purchase a title and if they do, you get notified by email and have the opportunity to borrow it first. So awesome.

On to my March update! I'm still holding strong overall, but must admit that my exceptions are probably the only reason I've been able to stick to my goals. I still have a bunch coming in, but it's mostly books for the baby and I'm quite happy with my ratio of new acquisitions vs. books read from my shelves.

One new book per month -- 0/3

* Thanks to my rules/exceptions, I still haven't used any of my new book allotment for the year -- I have a few spring titles in mind that I'm saving up for though :)

Gift card purchases -- 2

The Rosie Effect, by Graham Simsion (hardcover)
Angels in the Dark, by Lauren Kate (ebook)

Giveaways/Freebies -- 2

* Won an ARC of The Silver Witch, by Paula Brackston from Goodreads
* Won Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman from Book Riot

Review Books -- 1


Books for baby -- 66

* 3 received as gifts

* 60(!) received as gifts
* The Berenstain Bears We Love Our Dad!, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
* Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McClosky

Cookbooks -- 6

* Love Bake Nourish, by Amber Rose
* 5 America's Test Kitchen books (on clearance!)

Library Book Sale Books -- 4

Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Kortya

* Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue
* Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian
* TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

Used Book Store Credit -- 2

* The Sunday Philosophy Club, by Alexander McCall Smith -- I received the 3rd in this series as a Christmas gift, so I've been trying to track down the earlier books
* The White Woman on a Green Bicycle, by Monique Roffey -- this Orange Prize shortlist nominee caught my eye

Book Club Books -- 0
* Still borrowing from the library, except for the April book which I already own.

TOTAL new books purchased from monthly budget: 0/3
TOTAL books purchased/received (exceptions): 17 + 66 for baby
TOTAL books add to TBR: 10
TOTAL books read from my shelves: 13

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #2

1. I finally finished Voyager! I've only been reading it since Christmas Eve. This is what happens when I decide to re-read a series with 1000+ page books, but don't want it to be the only thing I read for months. I could read a lot faster if I read Gabaldon exclusively, but it would also take forever until I could crack the spine of a book by another author, so I guess I can live with the snail-like pace -- sure to become even more snail-like in a few more weeks!

2. It figures that as soon as I signed up for a read-a-thon (because I was on such a reading roll...) that my reading pace would immediately slow down. Things were just too crazy with preparing for the baby shower and having family and friends stay with us. Not to mention starting to sort through, wash, and put together ALL THE BABY THINGS. There is some serious nesting going on over here. But I've regained a bit of my reading mojo this week and am going for a strong finish to March Madness -- I've so far read 7 books from that giant stack I posted, mainly the comic collections.

3. My best friend's mom and aunt got us the cutest bookcase for the baby's room which is now filled with all the books we got at the baby shower -- something tells me baby is going to need more bookcases, just like his Mommy :)

4. I knew my best friend had included a note in the invitation about helping to build baby's first "library," so I was really good about not buying any books for him myself. Yet. But now that the shower is over, it's my turn to pick out a few favorites to add to the collection and I'm super excited about it. The books I remember best from childhood are for when he's a bit older, but will that stop me from getting some of them now? No, probably not.

It's my turn to pick out books :)

5. I knew that diaper cakes were a popular baby shower thing, but what I failed to realize was just how many creative people there are amongst our friends and family who would make us these creations filled with baby goodies -- we got no less than five including this bookcase diaper cake:

And while the others are not bookish, I still have to share photos, because they are all seriously awesome -- it was painful to have to take them apart!

Diaper ATV

Diaper bike

Washcloth cupcake tower & lollipops

Onesie bouquet

6. When asked what kind of cake I wanted for the baby shower, most people would think I would pick a sheet cake flavor that could be iced and decorated. Nope. I requested crumb cake. I love my Grandma's recipe and she was quite amused by my request, but graciously agreed to make an extra large one for the party which was delicious, as always. These four other recipes are also amazingly good.

7. I am officially less than one month from my due date -- how is it that time seems to go so fast and so slow at the same time? I hear that does not change one bit after the baby is born though, so I guess I should get used to it!

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That's it for my (mostly) baby shower edition of Bookish and not so Bookish Thoughts -- what have you been up to this week?