Friday, May 31, 2013

18 months

Elliott has hit his 18-month-mark and I am in awe of all he's learning now. So quickly he's started to catch onto words, signs, and milestones that other 18-month-olds are also hitting -- can't call him a preemie anymore! He's a total toddler who has caught up with his peers and is filled to the brim with energy and (for the most part) happiness. 




We're definitely entering the stage where he has opinions on things and he's learned to throw mini-tantrums if he doesn't get his way. He loves to open our pantry doors to grab his favorite snack (graham crackers) and freaks out if I've determined he's already had a few too many. The crackers now reside with our plates. 




He's signing up a storm, though has made up a few of his own which is absolutely adorable. No sign language awards for us, but he gets his point across. 



He's still taking after his dad in the eating department and is very picky about what he wants and doesn't want. The kid loves a piece of celery, but won't touch strawberries, broccoli, apples, most meat, or kiwi. Anything that is delivered via spoon is now out of the question (yogurt, applesauce, ice cream, etc) even if I let him do it himself. Definitely makes meal times a challenge, but we're working through it.


He loves books, cars, trucks, buses, and trains...especially trains. I have a feeling I'll be one of those mothers ready to throw Thomas out the window in a few months. He LOVES books, which makes me a very happy mama and he can't get enough of books about those trucks and trains. 

He's measuring in somewhere around 21 lbs and is about 32 inches. He's such a fun kid and this is an amazing age. We're off to the train show tomorrow, which will probably blow his mind. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Far Piece to Canaan review

Publisher's description:

"Inspired by Sam Halpern's childhood in rural Kentucky, A Far Piece to Canaan tells the story of Samuel Zelinsky, a celebrated but troubled retired professor who reluctantly returns after his wife's death to visit a farm in the Kentucky hills where he lived as a child. The son of sharecroppers, Samuel has long since left that life behind-yet now must reconnect with long-buried memories in order to achieve peace.

Delving into the events of 1945, Sam recalls Fred Mulligan, the hired hand's bright and spirited ten-year-old son. Together with two neighbor boys, Samuel and Fred visit the Blue Hole, a legendary pool on the Kentucky River where the hill people believe an evil force lurks. The boys find the body of a dog, surrounded by twisted human footprints, and later discover a cave that offers other evidence that something terrible has transpired. Fearing that they'll be punished for their trespasses, the boys initiate a series of cover-ups and lies that eventually lead to a community disaster.

Now, decades later, Sam is devastated to learn from a fellow classmate about Fred's tragic life story in the years that followed-and manages to make contact with his troubled granddaughter, Lisa June. Though at first she rejects his attempts to reach out to her, through persistence and patience Samuel finally manages to establish a connection, becoming a kind of surrogate grandfather to Lisa June-and finally achieving peace through his late return to Canaan land."

Heading home is never easy, but for Sam Zelinski it's incredibly difficult. His history in Kentucky comes back in snippets as the past and present are seamlessly woven together. The details were excellent -- setting, descriptions, etc. and Sam was a fabulous main character. He made me care about his story and want to know what was going to come next.

The dialect was, at times, a bit hard to understand and made for slow reading. It's also a book about boyhood friends and, therefore, was more "colorful" than a book I'd typically read, but it fit the time, place, and characters well. Overall, a pretty great summer read.

Thanks to TLC Blog Tours for having me! Check out the rest of the tour here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shadow of Night giveaway!

This week has been filled with giveaways and I'm super excited about this one! I loved Shadow of Night when it came out last summer and now it's available in paperback. Perfect if you've been waiting for the more affordable option. 




Before you run out and buy it, I'm giving away one copy of the paperback to celebrate the release! Just leave your contact info on this post by Friday night at midnight, along with your favorite series and you'll be entered to win the book and a few goodies from the publisher. I love series books and am always looking for new ones!

Don't forget: today is your last chance to enter my giveaway for a copy of Nicole Baart's Sleeping in Eden. Such a great book and your chances are very good!


Monday, May 27, 2013

YA Reading Round-up: Summer edition

I manage to read YA books fairly quickly and often don't have enough posting days in my blogging schedule to talk about everything I've recently read in an individual post. Hence, the round-up. This edition of the YA Reading Round-up features a few books that I think would make great choices for summer reading.  Short on synopsis, so I'm asking you to trust me! They're on the lighter side for content, quick reads, fun for the beach or camping, or simply awesome page turners. Hopefully you'll find something in the list that you'll want to pick up!

Golden by Jessi Kirby

This is Kirby's 3rd book and easily my favorite. She just keeps getting better! The romance definitely lingers in the background of this one. It's there, but not so in-your-face that I'd call the book a "romance," which I really appreciated. There's a tragic mystery at the forefront making the emotions run high and the characters -- especially Parker -- easy to attach to. I felt what Parker felt throughout the story and that makes for a successful main character and I truly wanted to see her happy at the end. I cared about each of them, but she made a great impact on my own emotional state!

The boys were hot for sure (ummmm...coffee shop dude for me please) and the plot line was realistic. Throw in a road trip and this was a great summer read. 

Thank you to S&S for the review copy.


The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Perhaps more "romancy" than Golden, this one still had a serious subject at the heart of it and brought me to tears more than once. The main character, Jude, has a huge responsibility taking care of her father and it broke my heart to watch him slowly fade away from her and his family. 

As she falls for a boy who is definitely NOT on her older sisters' list of approved boyfriend material, the confusion Jude is facing over so many aspects of her life makes this read really emotional. So many teens face a lot of pressure at such a young age and Jude was a great character to exhibit that. 

The multicultural details were a fantastic surprise and I loved that Ockler wrote a story from the perspective of a girl that wasn't white, but didn't make a huge deal out of it. It was just how Jude's family was meant to be. More teen authors should take a page from Ockler's notebook! 

Thank you to S&S for the review copy.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I'm definitely coming late to the party on this one, but seriously, WHAT A PAGE TURNER. Typically, I'm not a true sci-fi fan, so when I heard this one was about an alien invasion, I wasn't eager to pick it up. So glad I finally did! More dystopian than sci-fi, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened to Cassie, Sammy, and the large cast of characters that drilled their way into my heart. 

Though an intense book isn't one I'd normally pick for a quick summer read, this one is perfect for sitting in a lawn chair one afternoon and tearing through. It's a chunkster, but reads very quickly and the characters are written so well you'll NEED to know what happens next. These aliens are unlike any other alien you've ever read about. 

Librarians/teachers, I'd hand this to a reluctant reader in a heartbeat, even with the book size. 






Friday, May 24, 2013

Sleeping in Eden Giveaway!

Nicole Baart is one of my favorite writers of fiction. I'm not sure blog or a blog tour, but however it was, I started right reading at the very beginning, when After the Leaves Fall was published. I fell in love with those characters and have purchased every single book she's written since, on pub day, and opened the cover that very day. Each book has become more complex and I've finished each one thinking she couldn't get any better. I'm always wrong. Sleeping in Eden is her best book to date. 
how I first found Nicole online, it may have been her

Publisher's description:


She knew what he wrote . . . One little word that made her feel both cheated and beloved.

One word that changed everything.

MINE.

On a chilly morning in the Northwest Iowa town of Blackhawk, Dr. Lucas Hudson is filling in for the vacationing coroner on a seemingly open-and-shut suicide case. His own life is crumbling around him, but when he unearths the body of a woman buried in the barn floor beneath the hanging corpse, he realizes this terrible discovery could change everything. . . . 

Years before Lucas ever set foot in Blackhawk, Meg Painter met Dylan Reid. It was the summer before high school and the two quickly became inseparable. Although Meg’s older neighbor, Jess, was the safe choice, she couldn’t let go of Dylan no matter how hard she tried.

Caught in a web of jealousy and deceit that spiraled out of control, Meg’s choices in the past ultimately collide with Lucas’s discovery in the present,weaving together a taut story of unspoken secrets and the raw, complex passions of innocence lost


Mysterious and haunting, beautifully written prose, and incredibly complex characters make up a great read. It made me totally uncomfortable exactly where it should (if that makes any sense at all) and I wanted to strangle more than one of the characters on occasion.

I flew through this in a day, though the words are really meant to be savored. Nicole Baart's writing and her way with language will be stuck with you for days after finishing the story and you'll want another book right away. Write faster, Nicole Baart! 

If you'd like a copy of Sleeping in Eden sent to your door for YOU to devour, leave a comment on this post, telling the author who writes books you always buy. Leave the comment by Tuesday night at midnight and I'll let Random.org pick a winner Wednesday morning. U.S. only please!

Thanks to AuthorsOnTheWeb for the review copy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Language Inside review

When Emma's mother is diagnosed with breast cancer they're forced to uproot from their home in Japan, where Emma has lived almost her entire life, and move to the United States, where she feels incredibly alone and very much an outsider. 

After being convinced by her grandmother to start doing something to actively involve herself in the community, Emma begins volunteering at a local long-term care facility -- specifically with a woman suffering from locked-in syndrome. Zena can only communicate using her eyes, but has a passion for poetry. Emma takes over the role of helping Zena to write. 

During her weekly visits with Zena, Emma becomes close with another volunteer, Samnang. Through her friendships with both of them, Emma begins to learn how to cope with being away from Japan, as well as how to grieve for her mother's illness, and even starts to feel as if she belongs. 

The novel is in verse and though I felt it sometimes dragged and was longer than it needed to be. When the choice arises to return home early to Japan or stay in the U.S. the writing absolutely spoke to me and I finally felt a beautiful connection to Emma. Her pain and heartache at being away from her home felt very real throughout the story, but when she is actually faced with the choice to stay or go, I think Thompson
hit the nail on the head.

The story holds a sweet sensitivity, bordered by anger and resentment. The characters worked well together and the mini-plot lines throughout were woven together nicely. 

Thank you to Random House for the review copy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Looking for Me review and giveaway

Unfortunately, with the size of my TBR there are simply some books I just can't get to and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is one that I've had waiting since it came out, but have yet to read. I've heard such wonderful things about it, but it just had to wait. When I read about Beth Hoffman's latest, Looking for Me, I knew I would love it and as soon as it arrived I placed it on the very top of the reading pile. I'm so glad I did! 

Teddi Overman has loved restoring antique furniture since she was a girl. Her mother always thought it was a huge waste of time, even if Teddi sold every piece she touched almost immediately. After graduating high school, Teddi decides to take a chance and move away to pursue her dream, landing in Charleston working for an antiques dealer. 

Fast forward a few years and Teddi owns her own successful shop and creates beautiful pieces of art, salvaging broken furniture from yard sales and scrap piles. Even with her success, Teddi is still drawn back to her home in Kentucky when she learns her brother Josh, who disappeared years before, may still be alive. 

This has got to be one of the best books I've read this year. Teddi was a quirky main character with a fun and unique passion, making for an easy hook in the beginning. There was enough humor to occasionally make me chuckle, despite the heaviness of portions of the story, and Southern culture just dripped from the pages. I wanted to be friends with Teddi about as much as I wanted to buy a piece of her furniture. 

Though definitely a stand alone story, I almost wish Hoffman would create a series around Teddi's shop, like Marie Bostwick's quilting books or the knitting series by Debbie Macomber. The book was charming and lovable and I want to hand it to everyone I know! Now, I'm off to read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

The lovely people at Penguin have offered up a copy for one of my readers! Trust me, you want to enter this one -- SO GOOD. Just leave your name and a way to contact you in the comment section before Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. and I'll have Random.org select a winner Monday morning. 

If you'd like a second entry, tweet about the giveaway and leave your Twitter handle in a second comment. No need to follow me (unless you'd like to!), just spread the word. U.S. entries only. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Lake House review

Description via Goodreads:

VICTORIA ROSE. Fifty years before, a group of teenage friends promised each other never to leave their idyllic lakeside town. But the call of Hollywood and a bigger life was too strong for Victoria . . . and she alone broke that pledge. Now she has come home, intent on making peace with her demons, even if her former friends shut her out. Haunted by tragedy, she longs to find solace with her childhood sweetheart, but even this tender man may be unable to forgive and forget.

HEATHER BREGMAN. At twenty-eight, after years as a globe-trotting columnist, she’s abandoned her controlling fiancĂ© and their glamorous city life to build one on her own terms. Lulled by a Victorian house and a gorgeous locale, she’s determined to make the little community her home. But the residents, fearful of change and outsiders, will stop at nothing to sabotage her dreams of lakeside tranquility.

As Victoria and Heather become unlikely friends, their mutual struggle to find acceptance—with their neighbors and in their own hearts—explores the chance events that shape a community and offer the opportunity to start again.

I had trouble getting into this one -- just couldn't connect with the characters at first -- but, after about 75 pages I found myself really enjoying the story and location. Especially the location. I wanted to drive to Nagog and just summer there myself! The author did an excellent job at description when it came to the setting. 
Victoria and Heather were each complicated and difficult for me to like at first. I think their disjointed connection left me a little disjointed too, but as they start to explore the possibility of rekindling a lost friendship, I found myself investing in them more and more. When the details and focus really became about them, I was hooked.

The novel isn't perfect, but it certainly ended up being an enjoyable read for me. I read it with my feet propped up on my back porch in the sunshine, but it would be even better on an actual beach. A summer read to take on a vacation with you, for sure. 

Review copy provided.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Call Me Zelda review

In 1932, Anna is a psychiatric nurse at a Baltimore clinic. Though excellent at her job and somewhat content in her daily life, she very much still grieves the loss of her husband and daughter. Her husband, Ben, fought in the Great War and never came home. Her daughter, lost to illness shortly after. The grief pours out of Anna when confronted with anything outside of her comfort zone and it restricts her to a rigid way of life. 

When the famous Zelda Fitzgerald is admitted to Anna's hospital, having been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Anna makes the health and well-being of the woman her new mission -- and actually kind of likes her. What begins as a well-intentioned nurse/patient relationship evolves into an almost obsession on both the end of both women. Anna needs Zelda to be well and Zelda simply cannot be. Zelda needs Anna to help tell her story. 

The characters were beautifully written and incredibly complex. I wanted to wrap my arms around Anna and both comfort her and shake her, because I could definitely see myself within her. I've felt the pain of a lost child and know that when an outlet for the grief comes along, taking it is a necessity. Zelda was Anna's outlet. 

Zelda was both amazingly vivacious and yet overcome with madness and insecurity in the wake of her illness. I appreciated her being the secondary character in the story and Robuck allowing for the fictional character to take over. I didn't know much at all about Zelda Fitzgerald before reading this book, but I'm definitely hungry to know more. She led a tragically fascinating life. 

Erika Robuck has a talent for writing historical fiction, that's for sure! After reading her first novel, Hemingway's Girl, I not only read my first Hemingway book (The Old Man and the Sea), but I also browsed several biographies on the author and learned more about his life. I plan to do the exact same thing with the Fitzgerald family. 

If an author writes a fictionalized account of a person, a family, or a time period and that book results in the reader doing research on what they've just read...well, that's the mark of a successful writer. Call Me Zelda gets 5 stars from me!

Thank you to Penguin for the review copy! I loved it so much, I bought my own copy on publishing day. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

2 quick YA reviews

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead


I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I thought it would be super heavy and even depressing, but with a melancholy overtone, the thoughtful nature of the language made up for it. I loved that it was more of a mystery mixed in with self-reflection rather than a typical "finding myself" novel. This kid needed some serious healing and he was able to do that as he remembered tidbits of how he ended up where he did.


Could be a great gateway to actually reading Thoreau. As we all know, I'm not a big "classics" fan, so this book is as close as I'll get.

ManicPixieDreamGirl by Tom Leveen


This one I didn't love, but I enjoyed enough that I think it's fair to share. The jumping back and forth of time periods got to be a little annoying, but the characters were well done. Quirky, unattainable girls are the subject of many a book and movie and the author did a really good job at creating Becky and making her role believeable, as well as the ultimate ending realistic. Two thumbs up for that. I think it's really hard for adults to write a teen voice well and Tom Leven did.


 Unfortunately, my one big quibble with the book is that I really felt it was a Paper Towns wannabe. Same idea of the somewhat odd, but beautiful main girl leading on a boy who is in love with her, but without all the awesome.

Thank you to Random House for the review copies!




Saturday, May 11, 2013

Elliott's Pick: Night Light by Nicholas Blechman

I don't totally understand how it happened, but Elliott has fallen in love with all things trucks, trains, and automobiles. The only books he will sit still for are those focusing on transportation. Whatever works, right? 

He always helps open my book mail and usually he'll glance at the picture books for a moment and then move on to the next pressing task of a 16-month-old. When Night Light came, he was instantly intrigued and didn't put the book down for at least 10 minutes. Amazing for his attention span and for me, that means a winner of a book. 

The book is very simple in both style and text. It's ultimately a counting book featuring different modes of transportation that the reader can guess before turning the page. It has a fire truck, a tug boat, a train, a taxi, and so on. E loved flipping the heavy-duty pages and pointing to whatever vehicle was on the next page. 

Though he doesn't quite get the counting part yet, I can definitely see that coming soon. He will hopefully count the different holes that give "clues" as to what's on the next page, before turning to discover the train or tugboat. The illustrations are bold, but simple, letting the image standout. Always nice for a toddler. 

As a mom, I really loved the thick pages -- less ripping! Once we ditched the dust cover, the book was almost as durable as a board, which means it will last a long time in our house. 

We really loved this one! Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy~

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Best of Us review


Ahhh....Sarah Pekkanen!!! I'm lucky enough to live fairly close to Sarah, so she has been to my local indie bookstore a couple of times and her latest visit was just a couple of weeks ago to talk about The Best of Us with another author, Dana Bate (on the blog tomorrow). She's truly a lovely person, which makes me so happy her books are such fun to read. 


As for the book, it's probably the perfect beach book. It has romance, scandal, a tropical setting, and was definitely a page-turner. Great for reading in the sun and imagining you're on a tropical island, which is exactly what I do on my back porch in Northern Virginia. Not exactly Fiji. 

Four friends and their husbands are invited to a luxurious getaway to relax and catch-up after years of only seeing snippets of each other's lives. Beautiful location, no children, and college friends mixed together to create a pretty crazy vacation -- complete with more than a few secrets. Paradise isn't exactly what was expected for any of the couples.

Each of the four women is well-drawn and her story as compelling as her counterparts. I didn't really have a favorite character, though I did really love to hate Savannah! The impending hurricane was both literal and metaphorical and was a nice addition to the story. Now I can only hope one of my college friends got rich and plans to invite Aaron and I out for a week on an island (minus the scandalous parts, please)!





Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Looking Ahead: Hello, My Name is Ruby

Looking Ahead is a new series of posts I've written, highlighting the books I'm anticipating being published in the next few months. If you have a recommendation to send my way, please do! 

Philip Stead makes my heart sing. I've loved every book he's written and I can't wait for this one to come out. Elliott probably won't appreciate picture books like this for a few more years, but I can't help myself. 



Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead


Join Ruby, a plucky little bird, as she ventures through life, making new friends, learning new skills and asking questions which may have some very suprising results.  Fearless Ruby's search for adventure, friendship and her place in the world comes to life through acclaimed author/illustrator Philip C. Stead's whimsical illustrations and succinct, charming text.


Description via Goodreads. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stitch Fix #4

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm more than a little addicted to Stitch Fix. I've been getting a box about once every 6 weeks and this latest just came last week. They always manage to show up on a day where I needed a little cheering up some extra motivation to just make it to bath time/bed time for Elliott, knowing that an end to the day is in sight and I'll have a box of FUN to open. Retail therapy right? Except with this therapy I don't have to leave my house. 

In my box this time, I had quite a few things I liked:




After opening the pretty tissue paper wrapping, I found 2 dresses and 3 tops, each of which I really liked at first glance. A couple I knew were out of my comfort zone, but I was happy about that -- in the past those have been the items I ended up keeping. 




Cute, flowy bird top and a purple jersey cowl-necked top. I had received what Aaron has now dubbed my "bird shirt" in my first Fix, so I didn't really want another top with birds all over it. Super cute though! 

The purple shirt was really flattering, but I didn't feel it was quite special enough to justify the price.




The blue dress was SO PRETTY. The cut was really flattering and the color made my eyes super blue. If I had the option of exchanging for a different size, I totally would have... this one was a tad bit too small. I have a really large rib cage and dresses that have a snug band in the middle are always too tight. Fit nicely every where else!

The flower dress was the only item I really didn't like at all. The concept was really fun though! It's pretty much one big piece of sheer fabric that you tie at the waist with the included band. A dark slip went underneath. Unfortunately, when I put it on, it was really, really, really short. Now, I'm a modest dresser and I typically prefer dresses and skirts to hit at the knee, but this was so far above the knee I wouldn't have even showed a friend how it looked. Peep-show short! 



Finally, my favorite. Right out of the box, I knew I was going to love this tank. The jersey material was flattering and the embroidered detail was really pretty. Perfect for spring and summer. Unfortunately, the cheapskate in me just could not justify spending $50 for a tank top. I sent it back. I totally regret not keeping that tank and wish someone would have talked me into it!

This is the first box I've sent everything back. I there would eventually be one, so I'm glad I got that out of the way! I've already scheduled my next Fix, so you know it hasn't deterred me any :)

Thank you to everyone who has used my link to sign up for Stitch Fix! Once you sign up, if you refer friends and blog readers, you'll get a credit to your account too. Lots of fun!

If you're interested in my other posts, I've talked about previous Fixes here, here, and here.

The details:

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

-Fill out an extensive style profile. Everything from hair color and height/weight to clothing likes and dislikes. Lots of great questions. 

-Schedule your fix. It costs $20 to have a Fix sent to your house. If you decide to purchase an item(s) that $20 is credited to the cost. You're basically paying for someone to hand-pick clothes for you and ship them to your house. Return shipping is included too. 

-If you like it all, keep it all and they charge you for everything, minus a 25% discount for keeping the whole box! Send back whatever you don't want in the postage-paid envelope. 

-You choose when you get a Fix. You don't have to sign up for a monthly box or anything like that. Just whenever you want. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag

As a young woman, Jennifer Gilbert was viciously attacked on the way to a friend's apartment. She survived, but never truly dealt with her emotions regarding the attack, instead burying them into a deep place where she hoped they'd stay. 

She began a business in event planning, designing luxurious weddings and parties for the rich in New York City, becoming incredibly successful herself. She was constantly surrounded by the joy, happiness, and hopes of others, which allowed her to slowly heal and start to believe she, too could experience those same things, despite her past. 

Memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read and Jennifer Gilbert's did not disappoint. I laughed and cried my way through this wonderful book and wanted to have coffee and cake samples with the author when I was done. She truly understood what it meant to be transformed in an amazing way by experiences, both great and terrible. 

Beautifully done! 

Check out the rest of the tour schedule here. Thanks to TLC Books for the review copy! 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bluebird by Bob Staake


Bob Staake is a favorite in our house for a couple of reasons. I love that his stories have a subtle teaching to them and Elliott really seems to love the simple illustrations. Bluebird, the latest one to show up in our mailbox has been my favorite yet. 


Wordless is great for E's age and this particular story was really moving for me. A sweet bird encounters bullying and lonliness through his friendship with a young boy, ultimately trying to help the boy and being struck by a stick. The sparse illustrations are beautiful and the story is powerful, even without words. Kids throughout elementary school could learn a whole lot from this simple book. 

The subject matter is definitely way above Elliott's head, which is why I don't mind "reading" this one to him, despite what happens to the bird. Eventually, it will be a great gateway to begin a discussion on bullying, being kind to others, death, and other topics that aren't easily approached with younger children. 

I highly recommend this one to teachers and parents. Another award contender, I think!

Thanks to Random House for sending a review copy!


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Mango Bride review

Two women from very different backgrounds each move to the Oakland, California from the Philippines for very different reasons. Beverly leaves Manila due to poverty and an opportunity in the U.S. that she never imagined could come her way and is determined to find happiness for herself, while Amaparo, though wealthy and privileged, is also forced to leave Manila after being banished by her family. She sets out to truly start over again, free from the confines of her mother, facing an incredible uphill battle in her new city. 

The women eventually meet resulting in old secrets being unburied and lives being completely changed... as if leaving one's country with practically nothing isn't enough of a change. 

Though I had a hard time initially getting into this one, I stuck with it and was pleasantly surprised at how well fleshed-out the characters were. Honestly, the description had me at "mail order bride" and I knew I wanted to find out what happened to these women! I found Beverly a bit more likable than Amparo and therefore wanted to know more of her story, though ultimately I ended up really caring about each of their women and their plight for success in Oakland. 

I'm still trying to figure out why I like stories about mail order brides so much. Apparently, I'm weirder than I thought. 

Thanks to Penguin for the review copy!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

April in Review

I knew the crazy reading streak wouldn't last, but I'm definitely not complaining about my reason for not reading as much in April as I did the first part of the year. The weather has been beautiful and that has resulted in a lot of time outside, building new flower beds, prepping our deck, and exploring our neighborhood. Even when I do have the time to read, I've been choosing to take walks with Elliott instead (though I typically do listen to an audiobook while we walk). 

10 books is still a great number, so my goal for May is to read at least 10. More non-fiction too!


10 read
8 Adult
2 YA
1 audio
1 Non-Fiction

Favorites of the month:



If you have a recommendation of a book I should read in May, leave it in the comments!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hank Finds an Egg

If you have a toddler, make sure you keep reading this post. Elliott LOVES this book and, because of that, I think I've stared at every beautiful page ten thousand times since we've been sent a copy to review. Neither of us can get enough of Hank and his precious journey to help a stranger.

Rebecca Dudley is a genius. It's wordless, totally charming and unique, and it certainly held my kid's attention. When Hank finds the egg, attempting to return it to its rightful place, my adult heart melts, while Elliott just likes to point out the egg in every photo. It makes me happy and makes my toddler happy. Sold! 

And, by the way, I'm calling this an award winner. Remember that come winter!

Thank you to Media Masters for the review copy.