Thursday, January 31, 2013

A few quick reviews

As the month winds down, I have a few final reviews I wanted to share with you. These were all excellent reads -- I was blessed with a great reading month. Huge update on January reading tomorrow, so stay tuned. 

Son by Lois Lowry

Love, love, love. This last book in The Giver Quartet definitely had the tears flowing, but it was such a perfect ending. The gorgeous writing of Lois Lowry never disappoints me and Claire was an excellent companion character to the other novels. The message of how to overcome evil is prominent and perfectly executed. Definitely add this one to your list if you enjoyed the others (even if you haven't read past The Giver). 

(A big thank you to Houghton Mifflin for the review copy!)

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

Holy crow. I loved this book. Such a surprise! I hadn't heard much about it before borrowing a friend's copy, but it was an extreme page turner. An awesome intro into the world of art fiction with a complex main character and a thrilling plot. If you need something to jumpstart your February reading, buy/borrow this one!

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

In love with Downton Abbey like me? I knew I wanted a new audio series set during that time period and after asking around on Twitter, I ended up with this first of a series. I don't know how I've missed out for so long, but I absolutely loved every single thing about this book. The characters, the story, the setting, the emotions, the unique mystery -- everything. 

This is the first in the series and I believe book 6 is I'm going to try to pace myself through the series and make it last longer. I kinda hate the cover though. Am I alone in that?

Where We Belong/Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

This is where I make a confession. Totally though Emily Giffin's novels were total chick-lit fluff. Like Danielle Steel minus all the sex (sorry to all DS fans).  I'm definitely not a fan of the overly girly covers, because those are what gave me the fluff impression in the first place and I ended up being completely wrong!

Much meatier than I expected, I really got into Where We Belong. The plot line wasn't entirely unique, but a spin was placed on it that was interesting and pulled me into the story and I wanted to know what would happen to each of the characters. Very important!

I didn't love, love Heart of the Matter, but Giffin's characters are just so darn likable! Even the ones that made poor decisions and essentially broke up families were still likable as characters and I think that's why Giffin is such a well-loved author. Her books are realistic and relatable. I'm picking up Baby Proof next. 

Still not a huge fan of the covers, despite all that. I definitely judge by the cover and I would have picked up the books much sooner had they not looked so light and fluffy. I get that light and fluffy is a preferred "genre" for some though, so I should just be quiet. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A proud mama moment and lots of new books

I've been waiting and waiting for a moment when Elliott shows that he's really wanting to have books read to him, rather than just staying occupied for a minute at a time when I decide it's time to read. He definitely has had books that he really likes and I've written up several posts on favorites over the past few months, but 2 weeks ago, something finally clicked in his brain and he has decided that he now LOVES books and reading and actively asks for it. 

He just climbed into my lap one morning, book in one hand, saying "dat, dat" over and over again (his word for everything he doesn't quite know how to say yet). I'll admit I teared up a bit, knowing my boy wanted me to read to him and had actually climbed into my lap to get comfortable. He sat through 3 different books that first time and hasn't looked back!

He does have a few quirks about what he wants to have read to him and which pages to look at, which I find both hilarious and adorable. He's definitely a toddler and into the repetition thing, which is why I read the same book 12 times in a 10 minute period. I certainly don't want to read the same book over and over again, but if he's loving it, I'll take it!

Now that reading time has begun to take up a significant portion of the day, I thought you might enjoy knowing what we're reading over and over again. 

Gideon, Gideon & Otto, and Jasper & Joop by Olivier Dunrea

These all came for review right around the time the reading binges started and Elliott immediately took to them. I've been a Dunrea fan for a long time, so I was glad to see E was too. 

Simple illustrations of the adorable gosling friends on white backgrounds really make the pictures pop and the stories are short and easy enough for my toddler to sit through without a problem. Stories about favorite stuffed animals (Gideon & Otto), not wanting to take a nap (Gideon), and beginning to learn about opposites (Jasper & Joop) are perfect for his age level. There's also an excellent amount of silliness, which I appreciate as the reader!

I'm hoping to find more Dunrea at the library next week, so we can mix it up a bit. 

Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills is kinda similar to the Dunrea books in illustrator style and the simplicity of text, which is why Elliott probably loves it as much as he does. We've read many a Duck & Goose book, but this one includes a lot of animated text (very excited friends, very sad Goose), so I think that's why E listens so well. 

Friendship is a big theme in Hills books and he writes about it in such a way that even the youngest of readers can understand. Friends help each other out, friends comfort each other when in need, etc. It's a sweet concept and done perfectly, alongside gorgeous illustrations. Hills is seriously one of my favorite illustrators and he continued his excellent work in Goose Needs a Hug

We've also been enjoying (over and over and over and over again) Stop! Go! A Book of Opposites by Brian Biggs. 

These are also the opposite of the Dunrea books in terms of illustrations: bold, busy, and bright (like that alliteration?) and E is totally obsessed. He stares at each page, tracing the illustrations -- definitely intrigued by something. His favorite page is the "Dirty" "Clean" page, which makes me think he's going to turn out a lot like his neat-freak mama. 

As a parent, I liked all of the opposites introduced and appreciate that some of them are more complex than typical opposite books. Near/far and many/few is probably a lot of work to wrap a little mind around, but challenging our kids is exactly what we should be doing. 

Biggs has written and illustrated several books in the "Everything Goes" series, including Everything Goes in the Air, which is definitely going to be a big hit around here once we're past the page-tearing stage. I've already given it as a birthday gift to a couple of kids in the past month, so I definitely recommend checking that out (along with Everything Goes on Land). Lots of cool things to find on every page and fun fact boxes that help kids learn while they look at very cool page spreads. 

Whose Toes Are Those by Sally Symes and Nick Sharratt has a new and fun thing for E: flaps! Each page gives a little peek at the nose, tail, and toes of an animal, requiring the reader to life a flap to figure out what kind of animal it is. We're working on learning body parts (he visibly understands "head," so far), so this one was perfect at reiterating those three different parts of the body. 

E's favorite part of these books is finding the baby at the end. He gets a big smile on his face then gives the baby a kiss. Oh, the cuteness. I think the author did a great job at using a nice mix of animals (mouse, dog, bear, hippo, baby) and the illustrations are simple, but big, making for an easy visual experience for the boy. 

This pair also wrote Yawn, which I loved last year!

So, those are a few of the books on repeat around here. I do have some picture books to share at the end of the week, so keep your eye out for those and until then, if you have a toddler, definitely find a few of these and see what you think. They're Elliott approved :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hello stomach flu! (and a couple of quick reviews)

I had all these great posts planned for this weekend -- sharing great events around here, fun books that Elliott and I have been enjoying -- and then the dreaded stomach bug invaded our house. E and I got off easy, some tummy issues for him and a day in bed for me, but my poor husband took it really hard. I played sick single mom while he stayed in bed all day Friday and then we ended up in the ER late Friday night when we hit 24 hours of any food or drink being able to stay down. I totally should have brought him before that, but just didn't realize quite how sick he was. 

2 bags of fluid, a couple of vials of Zofran, and some serious pain meds for the migraine (thank you severe dehydration) worked wonders and I brought the sick guy home around 3 a.m.  He was feeling almost completely better by yesterday afternoon and I was able to quickly run out to an event at my local indie before racing back to take back over child duties. Had to skip the fun birthday party afterwards, but that's ok. He can make it up to me in hot chocolate (or any chocolate at all really) later. 

The event at One More Page Books was absolutely fantastic, as per usual. Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars), Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked), Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me a Sign), Victoria Schwab (The Archived), Jenn Rush (Altered), and Miranda Kenneally (Stealing Parker) sat on a panel and just talked about what they liked to read as kids, joked about their bad poetry in the earliest years of writing, and shared the "stories behind the story." Such fun! 

I had just finished For Darkness Shows the Stars the night prior while sitting in the ER with Aaron and I LOVED it. It was an excellent blend of sci-fi/family drama/strong girl character/love story and I couldn't put it down. The plot is based on Jane Austen's Persuasion, a book I've never read, but am now inspired to pick up. Maybe I'll finally get a classic read this year!

I was especially impressed by the emotional aspects of the story. Though Elliot (the main character, not my son ;) is strong and bold in her actions and words, she's really a very emotional, broken girl. The balance was probably very difficult to achieve, but Peterfreund did an excellent job. I also both loved and hated Kai, a goal of the author's, I'm sure. I so wanted him to be nicer to Elliot, but then the story just wouldn't be the same, of course.

An awesome book. I highly recommend checking it out.

Send Me a Sign, by the absolutely lovely Tiffany Schmidt was one I purchased and read earlier in the week in preparation for the author panel this weekend. I was able to race through this one as well, needing to know what would happen to Mia and Gyver's relationship. Some book romances you just HAVE to know what's going to happen, because you want it to go your way so badly. This was one of those for me. The plot contains a cancer story, yes, but it's also about luck and those little signs we can take away from the seemingly meaningless. It's about friendship and wanting to protect those we love and it even has it's moments of humor. 

Tiffany shared the story of the girl who ended up convincing Tiffany to finish the book and had most of the room wiping away tears. It's funny sometimes how we really can find signs of what's just meant to be for our lives. I definitely recommend you picking this one up too. Very different from For Darkness Shows the Stars, but still a page turner!

Keep your fingers crossed that the bug doesn't come back around and hit the child and I again. That could be a nightmare!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sick day reading: The Union Street Bakery

Well, I now know how all of you that caught the dreaded stomach bug have felt these past couple of months. I was really hoping it would skip our house, but it started with Elliott, went to me, and has now hit my poor husband, who I think got the worst of it. 

A bit blurry, my apologies. Even when sick, the little monkey is adorable and always with a mischeivous glint in his eye. He's SO his father's child. 

As I was cozied up on the couch yesterday, feeling incredibly sorry for myself, I read The Union Street Bakery by Mary Ellen Taylor. It was a great choice to take my mind off the queasiness in my stomach! It takes place in Old Town Alexandria, where I worked up until November when I decided to stay home with my little guy. It's such a beautiful town, with a truly old fashioned feel, which made for an excellent setting for a story. 

The main character, Daisy, loses her job in finance and is forced to move back home to help run her family's failing bakery on Union Street. In the family for generations, everyone expects Daisy to save the place, though she's not even sure she can. She doesn't really want to be there, doesn't get along with her sisters who also assist in the running of the business, and on her first day back is approached by a crazy old lady who insists she knows Daisy's birth mother who left her at the bakery when she was only three years old. 

There's a bit of a ghost story, a slave's journal, and plenty of baking deliciousness all thrown into the story. It was a quick read, complete with amazing recipes that I cannot wait to try, and characters that were easy to like. 

Even in my stomach flu haze, I did feel like there was a lot going on in the story, but it didn't make me stop reading. I think the ghost portion could have been left out and it would have made for a better flow of plot. The setting, however, was spot on and really fun to read about being a frequent visitor to Old Town.

So many of my blogging pals have been struck down by illness lately too. Make sure you grab a book or two that is easy to read and keeps the pages moving quickly. Too heavy and I know I definitely can't concentrate, especially when my stomach is queasy and my head pounding. Hoping everyone starts feeling better soon!

Thank you to Penguin for the review copy of The Union Street Bakery. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Splash of Red review

It always amazes me when a picture book can come along and open up a new wealth of knowledge for adults. I had never heard of Horace Pippin before opening the pages of this beautifully written book by Jen Bryant, but I'm definitely going to be seeking more information on his life and his gorgeous artwork. 

Imagine, a young black man wanting to be an artist in the early 20th century and eventually being successful! He had so many barriers set up against him -- war, cultural norms, race, etc., yet this man knew his hands held talent. An inspiration for any artist for sure. 

Melissa Sweet, most recently of Balloons Over Broadway fame, has illustrated the pages of Pippin's story in the most delightful of ways and left me staring at the pages seeking out the little details. Her style is unique, perfect for a very unique man and his life of perseverance and creativity. 

Highly recommended! You'll definitely want a copy of this in your classrooms and libraries or to hand to your favorite artist.

Thanks to Knopf for sending a copy over for us to browse!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Light box!

I've been sharing with a few of you on Twitter about moods during the gloomy days and winter months and how I've been wanting to try a light therapy box. I asked for your thoughts and my feed exploded with positive feedback from those that have tried light therapy to help boost moods and take away other symptoms seasonal moodiness, without medication.

I've never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I'm certainly not advocating making medical decisions such as this for those that aren't sure if they have the disorder or not. Just putting that out there. I'm not a doctor or a therapist! I have, however, suffered from diagnosed anxiety disorders for years, as well as depression in my late teens and early twenties. I know the signs and symptoms of a problem and I prefer to treat without medication, if possible.

I've been very blessed that the depression has, for the most part, stayed away for several years, but the anxiety is always around. I've learned tips and tricks to quell it (have a manageable to-do list each day, only listing a few chores every day, giving myself time to sit, etc.), but in the winter it comes back in full force. I'm tired ALL the time and even though I'm a mom of a toddler and I get up early, I do get plenty of rest. 7-8 hours should be plenty for me and it's not. I get overwhelmed very easily and that leads to meltdowns.

I'm trying out this box:

It's the NatureBright SunTouch Plus Lamp. Basically, sit in front of it for 30 minutes a day when symptoms are in full swing and it will help alleviate some of the "gloomy."

I'll let you know how it's going in a few weeks! For now, I've only used it once, and I'll I can say is: holy bright!

Has anyone had success with a light box?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Ah...Mo Willems. Always good for a belly laugh. Though I really love his Pigeon books, his stand-alone stories, in my opinion, have really been his best and this latest, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs made me snort-laugh. Always a good sign.

The riff on the traditional Goldilocks and the Three Bears is totally silly, as the three dinosaurs lay the perfect trap for a delicious, succulent little girl. Readers are in on the joke, making for great anticipation as the end draws near, trying to decide whether or not Goldilocks will become a yummy snack for a few sneaky dinosaurs.

If you're looking for a fun new book to use at story time, look no further. Bold illustrations and a hilariously fractured fairy tale made this one a winner for me. Loved it!

Thanks to Balzer + Bray for the review copy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Death of Bees review

"Today is Christmas Eve. 
Today is my birthday. 
Today I am fifteen. 
Today I buried my parents in the backyard. 
Neither of them were beloved."

Some books are just hard to write about about. The Death of Bees is a quirky story -- one I wouldn't hesitate to even refer to as strange -- and incredibly difficult to describe. Two sisters, Marnie and Nelly, are orphaned and the only ones who truly know what happened to their parents. Determined to take care of themselves, the pair continue living alone in their home until a kind nosy neighbor realizes what's taking place and swoops in to help. 

Lennie becomes a strange sort of guardian for the girls and a pseudo-family forms between the three of them, only to last until others start asking more prying questions regarding the the girls, their parents, and the reason they ended up dead. Told in alternating voices, the humor stands out in the plot, though it's most definitely morbid humor. Not typically my cup of tea, but Marnie and Nelly really grew on me as the book progressed. 

I must admit, if not for signing up to review this one, I might have put it down a couple of times. The writing is very well done and the characters are deep and written in an incredibly unique way, but the dark and disturbing tone of the story is not going to be for everyone. I do encourage you give it a try... especially if you're in the mood for a dark, quirky story. 

Thanks to Harper for the review copy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Darkest Minds review

Ruby, a young woman imprisoned in a horrific work camp for most of her life, after discovering she had abilities she could not control, finally escapes and is on the run. She meets up with several other teens who, like her, are desperate to find the only safe place they know of for people like them. 

East River is supposed to be a sanctuary, but after arriving Ruby and her friends begin to question whether it will indeed be their saving grace. Strange happenings are taking place and seriously intense choices must be made. Ooh... and she falls in love. Duh. It always happens!

If you're looking for a dark and heavy read -- something to match the weather outside -- then this is perfect. The dystopian world Bracken has created is believable and scary! Definitely a page turner and one that will please fans of Divergent, Shatter Me, and The Knife of Never Letting Go. It made for a great read over vacation. 

Ruby is a strong character, flawed in her own skin, yet determined to survive. She's the type of character, much like Tris, Katniss, and even Rhine from Wither, that makes you love them despite their flaws and cheer for them as they overcome the huge obstacles that the authors inevitable throw their way. 

A long read, but a good read. 

The Darkest Minds
Alexandra Bracken
496 pages
Young Adult
December 2012
Review copy

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In which I've gone and joined Stitch Fix

Ok, friends, now I've talked enough on this blog about needing fashion help. I'm not a totally lost cause -- I do think I have some sense of what looks good on other people, but as for dressing myself, I'm kinda hopeless. I wear a lot of cardigans over tank tops, jeans, and ballet flats, because I have no idea what else would look good on me. I consider my body shape somewhat odd and difficult to fit, so things that I think will look great, look dowdy. 

I'm only 5'2 and somewhat of a pear shape. Small on top, muscular thighs (we'll call them muscular, because it makes me feel better ;) and large calves. I really should have every single item I ever buy altered, but I don't. Pants are always tight in the legs and too big in the waist --and always too long, even if I buy the ones labeled "short" or "ankle" length. I'm also still working on losing weight (halfway there!), so I'm not entirely comfortable in my skin either. 

I also dress on the modest side. Nothing sleeveless without a cardigan on top, no skirts above the knee, etc. If you're interested in what I like, I've pinned a ton of outfits to a Pinterest board (which the stylists also will look at). Someone just needs to find all of those items for me. Please? On the cheap. 

(Images from Pinterest, built via Polyvore I believe)

When I saw a few bloggers start talking about Stitch Fix, I read their posts and their testimonials to how awesome the company was, especially for those fashion cowards like myself. I waited a few weeks to see how many of the bloggers loved the clothing boxes they received and then I signed up to wait for an invite myself. I was, admittedly, a little apprehensive, but I filled out the extensive style profile and waited for a stylist to pick out my clothes.

When my first "fix" came, the week of Christmas, I had so much fun opening that box. It was like another Christmas gift, picked out just for me, with my likes and dislikes in mind. Such fun! Well, except I had to actually purchase the clothes. Small details. 

My box contained: a knit gray poncho, an organic cotton open cardigan, a sheer black dressy top, and a beautiful print sleeveless top, along with a delicate gold necklace with a pink charm. I never expected to like every single item, but I totally did. A couple were a little out of my comfort zone, which I appreciated, and ended up keeping one of those. The whole point is for someone to tell me what looks good right?  I'm a loser and didn't take photos -- next time! 

I kept the black sheer top and have already worn it four times. Perfect for dressing up or down. And for those fashion newbies, like me, they include a card that illustrates two ways to wear each item. So cool! 

For those worried about the cost, as I was: I'm cheap, I'll admit it. I like to reuse everything possible and shop for my clothing at thrift and discount stores, so spending a chunk of money on one or two items is difficult for me. That being said, I've been complaining for years that I don't have any NICE clothes in my closet and this company is going to help me turn that around. Though I'd love to buy every item in every fix box, I can't. Stay-at-home-mom = not a lot of money. But, I can buy one or two and slowly build up my wardrobe. 

The details: 

-Head over to Stitch Fix and sign up for an invite. It may take awhile, but I received mine in less than a week. 

-Schedule your Fix. It costs $20 to get a fix box sent to your house. If you decide to purchase something out of the box, the $20 is credited towards that item(s). You're basically paying for someone to handpick items for you and ship both ways. All of that is free if you buy an item. A pretty amazing deal, I think. 

-If you like it all, keep it all and they'll charge you for it all. Sending stuff back? Pop it in the postage-paid envelope within 3 days and they charge you only for what you keep, minus your $20 fee. 

-The style profile you fill out is crazy detailed. Everything from height/weight/hair color to picking from inspiration boards as to what you like and don't like. It's awesome. 

-You can get a Fix monthly or just once-in-awhile, which I love. If it's not in your budget to get a box every month, you don't have to. 

Longest post ever, but seriously, I'm really loving this company and needed to share. I was not at all compensated for my opinions and Stitch Fix has no idea who I am. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Two new picture book favorites

I'm constantly trying out new books with Elliott and love seeing the ones he gravitates towards, but sometimes, I want to read picture books just for me! Longer picture books like The Lonely Book or books that have a sweet sentiment like And Then It's Spring, books that a 1-year-old just isn't going to understand or care about for a couple of years at least. 

These two, new ones recently out from Candlewick, are falling into the "Mom Loves" category, as well. Elliott may not be interested quite yet, but grab one of your children who happens to be over, say...5... and read these with him or her. They're going to love them! 

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold is gorgeously illustrated, even bordering on creepy/beautiful sometimes, hence my recommendation for the older kids. It's wonderfully written story about courage and how sometimes our fears are much bigger than the scary thing actually is. Plus, it's about a dog and family finding each other, so, of course I love it! 

Give this one to dog lovers, even adults, and they'll appreciate the beauty of the story and the lush details of the illustrations. It got a Cybils nod too, so you know it's a good one! 

Oliver by Birgitta Sif is a sweet story of independence and embracing the idea of being different. Of course, there are tons of books out there with this message, but none that I've found quite like this one. Oliver loves to play by alone -- entertaining himself with puppets and the friends he creates from his imagination. No one quite understands him, but Oliver is completely content on his own. 

I loved the quirky illustrations and the concept that being alone is ok. I'm like that sometimes, even as an adult. Hanging out alone is fun! Several friends think I'm strange, but at times, I'd much rather be my own friend for a day. Oliver is an awesome, inspiring character. 

Thanks to Candlewick for sending us these great books to read!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cybils: The ones that got away

The first of the year has come and gone and for the kidlit world, that means Cybils announcements! If you haven't yet seen the entire list of finalists, I encourage you to head over to the Cybils blog and check them out! I know my library hold list grew by the dozen. 

This was my 6th year on a Cybils panel, but my first serving as a first round judge for Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books. I had a blast! So many great books were published in those categories in 2012, but we were able to narrow down our shortlist to the following:

Easy Readers

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva
Bink and Gollie, Two for One by Kate DiCamillo
Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes
Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
Pinch and Dash Make Soup by Michael J. Daley

Early Chapter Books

Ivy and Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows
Marty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner
Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett
Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford

With so many great books to choose from, it was really hard to pick 5 in each category. I definitely had a few favorites that weren't able to make the list:

This one would make a really fun bedtime read for kids in 1st or 2nd grade (or younger if you're reading aloud). I loved the illustrations and the realistic sibling banter. 

Frog and Fly by Jeff Mack

My favorite of "the ones that got away," I think kids will really laugh out loud at the antics between frog and fly. A great intro into chapter books. 

Emily Jenkins is just awesome. These books are fun and imaginative. Boys and girls can enjoy the relationship between Henry and Inkling. A funny read that was great to read during the fall.

Definitely check them out when you get a chance, though I know everyone's TBR is huge after the announcement on Tuesday. Hooray for another year of Cybils!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 resolutions and a reflection on 2012

A lot happened in 2012: Elliott went from baby to toddler in the blink of an eye and is now able to entertain himself a little. He's almost walking! I left my job at the bookstore. I joined a mom's group. We traveled to NY 3 times. I started running. I lost 25lbs and still counting. 

My blog has turned into much more than just a book blog and, therefore, my goals will reflect that as well. But, first, the books!

I read 105 books this year. I didn't meet my goal  of 130 that I made at the beginning of 2012, but I never really thought I would. 130 books is a lot for someone with a job and a new baby in the house...not to mention my anxiety at the thought of any dirt on my floor while I relax. Must get over that. 

My resolutions from last year:

1. Read more non-fiction: I read 21. That's 11 more than last year. (check!)

2. Read more male authors: I actually read less. Darn.

3. Continue my 2011 goal of reading quality over quantity: I definitely met this goal, which is why I only read 105 books. I had weeks where I couldn't find anything I actually wanted to read and refused to just thumb through pages to do it. (check)

4. Re-read one of my own books each month: Definite fail. I think I only re-read 2 books this year.

2012 stats:
Total books: 105
13 audiobooks
36 library books
85 written by women
20 written by men
21 Non-Fiction

I'm really going to try and keep to a few realistic goals this year, but at the same time, try to be extremely flexible and not beat myself up if I go a week without turning a page. Elliott is a busy boy and I insist on being a mom that plays on the floor with him instead of doing my own thing. 

My 2013 Reading goals:

Read for at least 30 minutes a day.

I think this will be the hardest one for me to actually reach. I have friends that resolve to sit and read for an hour each night or 30 minutes every morning. I've turned into a person that has a really hard time sitting still when I know there's work to be done. I need to get over the laundry and dirty floor and just enjoy a few pages. This will also help me par down the TBR a bit. 

Re-read my own books. 

Notice I'm not making last year's mistake and putting a number on how many! I really want to re-read at least a few, mainly to see if they still have a worthy spot on my shelves. We'll see how I do with this one. I know I won't get 1 read a month, but maybe 5-7 total...? That would be nice. 

Purchase at least 1 book per month from an indie bookstore. 

This used to be really easy when I was working at the coolest children's bookstore in the world. I couldn't walk out of there without buying something. Now that I'm not there on a regular basis, I want to make sure I'm still supporting my local indie store in some way -- whether it be a purchase at my old place of employment or the 2nd amazing indie bookstore in my area where I attend book club, I want to make sure to do my part to support them. 

My local indie used bookstore counts too (no website, sorry), so I'll definitely be frequenting them, as well.

Personal goals:

Continue my fitness journey

I've lost some necessary weight, but I still have more to go. Not looking for skinny, just healthy. I want to continue running (which is proving hard in the dark winter nights).

Morning Bible study

I've been  a member of the She Reads Truth online community for the past 4 months or so and I'm loving it! Such amazing writers and women that truly love God. I fall victim to the craziness of daily life, like everyone else, and I really want to stick with a morning study. Reading the She Reads Truth devotional and maybe a chapter or two from whatever study book I have going on at that time. This might just require waking up before Elliott, which is reallllllly hard. 

Eat at 10 new-to-me restaurants

10 may be a stretch, but we're planning a couple of short vacations this year and so I made the number a little higher. Hopefully I can remember to keep track!

Continue to simplify

We've been purging stuff around the house for months, but I want to keep it purged. I want to remember that I don't need to hold onto things for sentimental value or because I think someone might be offended if they don't see it sitting on a shelf when they come to visit. We don't need a whole lot to make us happy, so I want to focus on those things that really do. 

Meal plans

I do plan out my meals fairly regularly, but I want to do it every single week. It helps saves money and makes me feel better knowing that I already have something set for lunches and dinners and I don't have to scramble. Scrambling makes me anxious and I don't want to be anxious over silly things. Which works well with #6...


I've been getting better at this one, I really have. I'm not nearly as focused on schedules and things being done a specific way as I used to be. Elliott really helped with that. A parent really does have to go with the flow a lot of the time, so I've loosened up on all the other "stuff" in recent months. I have come to realize that having certain things in order or planned really does help alleviate stress in other areas (i.e. have a meal plan, set certain days for specific chores rather than trying to do it all at once). 

Buy a camper and CAMP

We've been saving for a small, pop-up camper for the last 6 months are we're hoping by camping season we'll be ready to buy. I camped as a kid and loved it and it's a tradition we really want Elliott to experience. Read books, play in the woods, have s'mores, stay away from technology, etc. 


I'd really like to make a lot of Christmas gifts and decorations for next year, so I think I'm going to start in April. Then maybe it will actually get done!

I think everything is achievable, but I better get to work now. I'd love to know what you're resolving to do in 2013, bookish or otherwise!