Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankfully Reading Weekend Kick-off

I'm thankful for a lot of things this year. The special parts of my life that I give thanks daily for: family, friends, my home, the resources we've been blessed with, etc. But, I'm also thankful for my love of reading. In the first half of this year, I lost it a bit. I couldn't pick up a book and want to finish it... couldn't seem to keep my attention on anything. For the first time in my life, I didn't want to sit down and read at the end of a long day. I didn't want to browse books online or talk about books with my other book nerd friends. No podcasts, audiobooks, or long visits to the library to browse. I sort of lost myself for awhile.

Around September, I got it back and I realized that loving books and reading is a gift. I am truly thankful that I have this little world -- really, a big world -- of bookish friends and book clubs and awesome podcasts to listen to. I'm so thankful for audiobooks and people to talk about them with. I'm just thankful for books. Period.

I'm spending my weekend participating in the Thankfully Reading Weekend, hosted by Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves. Relaxed weekend, reading when I can, and focusing on the important things rather than Black Friday shopping madness. Amen for that.




I'm starting off with The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber and if I get through that with a 3-year-old running around, it will be a Thanksgiving miracle!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankfully Reading Weekend and 2 quick reviews


One of my blogging besties, Jenn, over at Jenn's Bookshelves, is hosting her annual Thankfully Reading Weekend (starting tomorrow!!)


and I just signed up! I wasn't sure if we'd be traveling for the holiday, but since we're just staying at home and eating with friends, I know I can spend some time relaxing and reading. I'd love to get another 10 books or so read before the end of the year and this is a great, laid-back, way to starting that challenge off.

Let me know if you decide to sign up!

I recently received a couple of books from BookLook to review and I wanted to sneak them in here before Thanksgiving.

The first, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagery is one I'll be giving to several of my friends this Christmas! Her writing, reminiscent of Ann Voskamp, made me tear up in the middle of every chapter, speaking truth to my soul. Despite every setback - no matter how big or small - the hope the author exhibits is both intense and inspiring. She constantly recognized that God was present in her life and helped lead her to the adoption of her beautiful children. If you have a friend going through a rough patch (or you are!), read this book and it will change your heart.

The First Christmas Ever, illustrated by Dennis Jones, a book sent for Elliott to "review," unfortunately didn't please either of us. Though he seemed intrigued by the silly illustrations, the text was much too wordy to hold his attention. I was disappointed in the writing style, as the words and message seemed too 2014 (possibly to reach for higher appeal...?) and dumbed down. There are lots of excellent books on the Christmas story out there, so we'll pass on this one.

Not every book can be a winner!






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Put Me in the Story giveaway!




One of my very first memories is unloading the entire Berenstain Bears shelf at the library into our book bag to take home. The librarian didn't say a word and despite the length and wordiness of each book, my mom and I sprawled out on the living room floor and read every single one over and over. It was hours of reading, without a single complaint from my mom about spending so much time in the land of that bear family, and an awesome memory was implanted.

Many of my memories of growing up include books and the reading lifestyle I created for myself. Books make amazing memories and they're instantly what I go to when needing to buy gifts -- as do most of you! Finding that special book for each child on my list is my favorite part of shopping during the holidays.

When Sourcebooks contacted me about hosting this contest for Put Me In a Story, I jumped on it. Personalized books make that gift even more special, as it's obvious you were thinking exactly of that particular child when you chose it. Books were such a treasured position in my own childhood, that I really wanted to help one of you make a great memory with your own kids. They have a huge range of titles for you to chose from and below you could win one of 50 copies or a $500 shopping spree!

I had the chance to chose a book to be personalized and because a very special little girl in our lives is having a birthday soon, Doc McStuffins: A Knight in Sticky Armor  is being personalized just for her! I know she's going to love it.

Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter to win! All winners will be chosen on December 6th. If you choose to Tweet about this contest, be sure to use #BookMagic! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 7, 2014

While Beauty Slept review

A reimagined telling of the famous Sleeping Beauty story, Blackwell has given us a beautiful novel filled with backstory and details on all the characters within reach of who "Sleeping Beauty" really was. Told from the perspective of a young girl, Elise, raised in poverty and eventually ending up in service at the castle, we are able to watch the story unfold from the eyes of an insider to royalty. 

Fairy tale retellings are some of my very favorite books and with While Beauty Slept, Elizabeth Blackwell has rocketed to the top of my favorites list. I loved the story, with the cozy feeling it managed to evoke despite the darkness in the story, and managed to read it in one sitting -- no small feat with an almost 3-year-old. The setting, the incredible descriptions, and an amazing cast of characters has made this a book I'm going to recommend again and again. 

Thanks to Penguin for the review copy! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brave Mom by Sherry Surratt

As most of you know, I'm the coordinator for my local chapter of MOPS International. It's an amazing position to hold -- leading over 40 women in biweekly meetings of fellowship, prayer, crafts, speakers, and just a good, relaxing experience. I feel completely overwhelmed with the passion I have for helping these women experience a couple hours of escape from mom-life. It's amazing.

Sherry Surratt is the President of MOPS International and Brave Mom is the theme book this year. It's filled with great advice for the us moms, battling through the trenches of raising little ones, and focusing on ten of our biggest fears as mothers. I can always use encouragement direct from Scripture, as well as from a seasoned mom.

Nothing in the book was new information to me or totally attention-grabbing, but it was a nice read to confirm that my fears as a mom are completely normal and reiterated practical ways to get over them and move on. Would make a great gift for a new mom!

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Readathon: End of Event Meme

This 24hrs went by so quickly! I ended up going to sleep around 12am, but was back up at 5:30 when E decided to wake up for the day. Typically, Sunday is my day to sleep in (meaning 7:30), but today the husband got a 2nd day of extra rest, so I could finish up a book!

I had a lot of fun, knocked a bunch of books off my TBR, and had a great time connecting with new bloggers around the world. This readathon is unlike anything else I participate in and I'm definitely going to make it a priority from now on. Thanks to all the hosts and cheerleaders and organizers -- you guys are fantastic!

End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Around 11pm I began to really lose interest in my book. I just didn't want to look at pages anymore, so I slowly read a few more pages while watching an episode of Call the Midwife before crashing.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Both Boxers and Saints were quick, graphic novel reads that kept me turning pages quickly.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Nope, you guys are great! 

4. What do you think worked really well in this year's Read-a-thon?

I haven't participated for a few years, so this might not be new, but it seemed like the variety of mini-challenges was great. I didn't participate in a lot of them, just because I preferred sticking with my book, but they were fun!

5. How many books did you read?

5.5, plus some audio. 

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Brave Mom by Sherry Surratt
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Small Victories by Anne Lamott
2nd half of The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

7. Which did you enjoy least?

The Infinite Sea. The beginning was great, the middle and end totally lost me. 

8. How likely are you to participate again?

I absolutely will, as a Reader. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Readathon: Mid-Event Survey

Well, I've made it to the halfway mark! It's just about time for the little guy to go to bed, so I'll have to take a break here soon to tend to my bedtime duties, but otherwise, I'm going strong. I plan to read as long as I can tonight - probably 11-ish - and then get back up early tomorrow and finish up. I'm so glad I've checked all these books off my list!

From the main Read-A-Thon site:

1. What are you reading right now?

I'm about 1/4 into Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and totally hooked. Glad I waited until this point to pick it up.

2. How many books have you read so far?

Belzhar will be my 5th. I've had a great mix of graphic novels and short non-fiction to keep me going, but the novels will definitely take me longer.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-Thon?

Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Loved Boxers, so Saints will be next!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

My husband was kind enough to take charge of our son for the day and planned lots of fun adventures out of the house. They did come back for nap time and now bedtime, and E insists I do those, so I've just taken short breaks. It's refreshing to look up from the pages for awhile anyway.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-Thon, so far?

I'm surprised with how many books I've gone through. I've always been a fast reader, but in recent months I seem to have slowed way down. Guess staring at pages all day long has helped me speed back up!