Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Gift from a Friend

Mid-January, one of my husband's closest friends (and his best man at our wedding) passed away unexpectedly. As hard as it is to bury a friend at such a young age, my heart was broken for his friend's parents. No parent should ever have to bury their child -- no matter how old or how young, it's a grief that is unimaginable to me and every parent's worst nightmare.

Like everyone, my husband and his friend had their ups and downs and their phases when they kept in touch better than others. You always think there's more time, right? More time to plan that trip to visit, more time to make that phone call, etc. I will be forever grateful that my husband's friend did meet our son after he was born last spring. It had been a while since we saw him, but it was such a wonderful visit. He and his mom spoiled our little guy with gifts, including one particular toy that has become a favorite and I think of him every time our son plays with it. 

Then for Christmas, we got a package in the mail with a sweet note and gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Target. It's very likely we might have used the Target card for practical things like diapers, but when a few short weeks later, this friend had passed away, I knew I wanted to make his last gift something we would hold onto for years to come. My best friend helped us brainstorm and we decided on classic children's books of the silly/goofy/fun variety. Shel Silverstein sure fit the bill, as did Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Pippi Longstocking. I hadn't heard of A Long Way from Chicago before, but the description sounded like it would fit right in with the others. What better way to remember a friend than by reading a story and sharing a laugh?

And remember what I said about always thinking you have more time? Well, my husband stayed in touch with his friend a lot by text, so he thanked him right away. I wanted to send a thank you note also, but I'm the kind of person who remembers and forgets things at least a three times before they actually get done (especially if I don't write it down). And who ever thinks if you take a couple weeks to send a note, that you'll never get the chance? I know it had never even crossed my mind. So even with a busy schedule and a 10-month old to chase after, I've been trying to be better at not making excuses and putting things off. Make that call, send that note, plan that visit -- you won't regret it. And don't take friends or family for granted because you just never know what tomorrow might bring.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Classics Club Spin #12: What I'll Be Reading

The Classics Club Spin number has been chosen and I will be reading...

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

I've been wanting to read more of these illustrated classics even since I added them to my collection. I've also been wanting to read Stevenson ever since Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan two years ago. I've since read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, but that's it. Looks like that will soon be changing!

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Fellow Classics Clubbers, what will you be reading this round?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Reading Promise

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared,
by Alice Ozma & Jim Brozina
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date: May 2011
Format: Audio -- 7 hrs 1 min
How did I get this book? purchased with Audible credit
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

So, I had a $1 paperback copy of this one from a library sale that I'd been meaning to read for the longest time. A bookish memoir is right up my alley, but I finally admitted this is exactly the sort of book I really love listening to on audiobook. So I set aside the print copy for my Mom and Grandma to read and used one of my Audible credits on it instead. In a nutshell, this is the true story of a father and daughter who make a pact when she was 9 years old to read together for 100 days, then 1,000 days, then all the way until the day Alice leaves for college.

Most of the book is read by Alice, but the introduction and quotations at the beginning of each chapter are read by her father who is an elementary school librarian -- what a gift he has! I could see from these brief glimpses why his daughter, students, and other audiences have enjoyed his reading aloud so much. The book addresses a lot of family issues and difficulties -- everything is not just sunshine, roses, and bedtime stories -- but through it all, they honored this promise they made to each other and kept their "Streak" alive for years. 

This was an inspiring and heartwarming memoir I'm so glad I finally read. In fact, I may have enjoyed it even more now that I'm a mom. I was only about six minutes in and getting a little teary-eyed! It's not really a tear-jerker, but hearing Jim talk about the importance of reading and spending time with his children tugged at my heartstrings. I already read a lot to my 10 month old son, but this makes me want to continue the tradition as long as I possibly can (translation: as long as he will let me!)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Classics Club Spin #12: The List

Between children's books, graphic novels, and audios I might have more books underway at once than ever before. And yet, I keep feeling the urge to dive back into more classics too. Two of the children's books I'm in the midst of are actually from my Classics Club list, but others keep calling my name as well. The only problem is I just can't decide which one to commit to next. Lucky for me, another Classics Club Spin is about to begin! I don't have the best track record, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to give it another go.

So how exactly does the Spin work? Basically, I pick 20 books from my list, the folks who run the club choose a number, and I read the book on my list that corresponds with the chosen number by May 2nd. In other words, the decision is out of my hands! Given my indecisiveness lately, I think this is coming at the perfect time for me.

I recently revamped my list and made sure to only include books I'm genuinely interested in and excited about, so really, I can't go wrong no matter which number is chosen. So without further ado, here's my Spin List:

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
2. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
4. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
5. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
6. The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
7. Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
8. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
9. Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit
10. The Importance of Being Earnest and other plays, by Oscar Wilde
11. The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
12. Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
13. Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
14. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
15. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
16. Stuart Little, by E.B. White
17. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
18. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
19. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle
20. The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit

Check back on Monday to see what book I will be reading!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 2016 Take Control Of Your TBR Pile Challenge

Hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer

This challenge is now in it's 4th year -- an impressive feat if you ask me! I've participated every year except 2015 when I opted for a March Madness challenge instead. But I'm excited to get back in the game this year.

I usually only add books I own to my "TBR Pile," but there is no such restriction for this challenge. As long as the books are not ARCs with future publication dates or brand new books coming out during the month of March, they can be read for this challenge. I have mostly library books on deck at the moment, but after those I'd like to pick up a few more from my own collection. Any dent I can make in my TBR is a good thing, if you ask me!

First up...

All the Bright Places on audio for book club
The House at Pooh Corner I'm reading to my son
2016 Newbery Honor graphic novel Roller Girl
The Titan's Curse graphic novel to catch up on Percy Jackson
Amulet #4-6 because I'm hooked!

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Click the challenge badge above for more info and to join in the fun :)