Sunday, June 30, 2013

Family Fitness

A quick note before the good stuff... as most of the world knows, Google Reader is saying buh-bye tomorrow, so if you follow this blog be sure to subscribe via Bloglovin' or Feedly. I went with Feedly, myself. Ok. Onto the real post!

I typically post about my fitness fun on Fridays, but I knew we were heading out to one of our favorite hiking spots this weekend and wanted to talk about how we try to stay fit as a family. 

Individually, Aaron and I definitely have different ways of getting in/staying in shape. As you all know, I'm about to start the 3rd week of Best Body Bootcamp, which is just as amazing my second time around, filled with challenging strength training and awesome cardio plans. As I mentioned last week, Spiderman planks may just be the death of me, but I'm determined to be able to do at least 10 properly before the end of bootcamp. Tina is a fantastic trainer and definitely is knowledgable as to what works and, most importantly, it's working with my schedule. Super flexible. 

With Elliott running around, I typically work out in the evenings, after bedtime. Occasionally I'll head out for my cardio while he's eating, if my husband has made it home early, but the strength always takes place in the evening, while catching up on our DVR. Sometimes Aaron does it with me, but mostly I make him stay out of the room. That's what works for me. I also walk with Elliott in the mornings (when it's not crazy hot outside) and occasionally attempt to run with the jogging stroller (it's a beast). 

Aaron leaves the house at 5 every morning and goes to the gym. He belongs to a really, REALLY nice gym that has everything he could ever want. Every once in awhile he'll take advantage of the child care and take E with him on a weekend afternoon. Love those days. He's currently training for a Tough Mudder and a Spartan race, so those are his daily workouts at this point. 

Family fitness is incredibly important to us, because we want our little guy to grow up to love being active. Our favorite activity is hiking. We like to go to a variety of places, but this one is our favorite:

It has a lot of options to it, making it easy or difficult, and it's beautiful. Plus, when we're done, it's right down the road from a great local coffee shop/crepery! Yesterday we did a 2 mile loop, which was perfect for the conditions. It had been pouring for a couple of days prior, so the rocky hills had also turned into streams. Luckily, E was happily content in the Ergo on my back, so I just had to make sure to go slowly and we were fine. 

The above photo is the trail, not a creek bed, though you wouldn't have known it yesterday. My favorite kind of hikes are rocky, wet, and challenging. 

Since Aaron is training for trail races, he would run about a 1/2 mile, then run back to us and walk to for awhile and repeat. He got a great workout, as did I doing all the hills with an extra 22lbs on my back!

We definitely want to invest in a hiking backpack, but just don't really know what we want yet. I've been scouting a used one, as is my nature. If you have a favorite, please let me know.

We plan to "hike" around D.C. on Friday and on Saturday will be venturing to Charlottesville. If you live there and know of a great trail, send it our way!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bread & Wine...where I do a bit of gushing.

Bread & Wine is my new "it" book. It's the book that I'm going to buy for best friends, family members, graduates, new moms, and mom-pros. It's the book for every woman, despite your faith background or your cooking experience. The stories Shauna Niequist writes about are incredibly relatable -- you'll find your own life on these pages -- and she had me both giggling and crying within a few pages of one another. 

I've already made the Blueberry Crisp and brought it to a friend who had just had a baby. We shared it (generous friend!) and it was simply divine and SO easy. I can't wait to give the other recipes a try, though I imagine I'll love them all. It's easy to love food that was created with friendship and hospitality in mind. 

One of my greatest takeaways from this book is the idea of being hospitable, despite the size of one's home. We've always loved to have guests over and have food and drinks, but have stayed away from larger crowds, because of the small size of our house. With Shauna's urging, I know people will be thrilled to be invited, even if it means cushions on the floor and plates in laps.

I cannot possibly say enough great things about this book. It will definitely be a favorite of the year... a favorite of all-time. 

A side note:

The other night on Twitter, after finishing this book, I mentioned how I'd love to have Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, and Shauna Niequist over for dinner using recipes from this book. They ALL tweeted back to me!! I fangirled a bit. Well...more than a bit. A lot. In the world of Christian authors and speakers, these three women are celebrities, so this was my equivalent of having Oprah tweet me back. Such sweet women...I'd love to be friends with them in real life!

Thank you to BookSneeze for the review copy. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sarah Dessen, Sara Zarr, and Shawn Goodman

This past week I managed to finish up three YA books I've been anxious to read. Two of them are by authors I love (and preorder everything they publish) and the third is by a new-to-me author who I'll be watching from now on.

The Moon and More is Sarah Dessen's latest book for teens and is another great summer read from this favorite author of mine. She transports you to Colby, a beachside town, and right into Emaline's life. 

It's Emaline's summer before college and she just isn't sure what's right anymore. Stay or leave? Old boyfriend or new guy? Allow her dad back in her life or not? Dessen tackles typical issues with teens with a knowledge unlike any other adult author. Her characters feel incredibly authentic and her beach location is ideal for summer reading. Unfortunately, no beach trip for us this year, so I lived vicariously through Colby for a couple of days while reading this one. 

The Moon and More was not my favorite Dessen novel (hard to top Lock and Key and Along for the Ride for me), but I still really enjoyed it. Emaline did come off a bit flat at times and, unfortunately, I didn't totally care about either of the guys, but the setting and realistic writing made me still enjoy the book.  I just wish she could write a little bit faster and give us a book a year!

Sara Zarr is another author that I always buy, despite my rule of only owning books I've read and loved. I just don't have the space for those books that linger on my TBR shelf for months and years before I ever even open them. Read it and either give away or keep. But, I digress. 

The Lucy Variations was a beautiful as I expected. Lucy, an accomplished pianist, walked off the stage at a concert 8 months ago and hasn't played since. All the pressure has finally moved off of her and onto her brother, equally talented. When a new teacher is introduced to her brother, Lucy feels the need to protect him, so another member of her family doesn't end up in her same mindset, but what ends up happening is an overwhelming urge to play again. 

Zarr is a writer that gives her readers the emotions she wants them to experience, perfectly delivered in amazing main characters. I always want to soak in her writing, yet speed through it to see what's coming up at the end. Lucy wasn't exactly the most likable character, but I think that was purposeful. She had such a crazy life performing all around the world, that she didn't always understand the proper way to act. The journey of her finding joy again was simply beautiful. 

Sara Zarr is another one I wish could just write a little quicker!

Shawn Goodman is not an author I've come across before, but Kindness for Weakness is the type of surprise book I'll be recommending to lots of readers. He takes a troubled main character and makes him so very real... I loved James and could see him in a close family member of mine that went through very similar situations. James is the teen of today. He's a kid that just wants to impress his brother and belong to a group and when it lands him in juvie he's initially lost. Then, through interactions with the other inmates and his overall experience while locked up, James grows into an amazing man. From boy to man through a difficult door.

James needed juvie to become a stronger person and teens need this book to view the prison system from the inside. Hopefully, reading James' story will inspire other teens to stay away from situations that could very easily land them in the same place. I was impressed with both the plot and characters and will definitely be sending a couple copies to the DC high school I donate my review copies to.

I'd also love if the publisher would release the paperback soon...I'd love to send copies to an incarcerated teen I know through church, but the jail only allows paperback books. Just a tip Random House ;)

I purchased The Moon and More and The Lucy Variations, but a big thank you to Random House for the review copy of Kindness for Weakness!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat review

The precocious and absolutely adorable Violet Mackerel is back with this third story in a fantastic chapter book series. In this latest installment, the curious girl who happens to be a bit on the small side finds another creature that also happens to be little. The ladybug from the garden steals Violet's heart, as the girl feels sympathy for the bug, knowing what it's like to be the smallest in one's family. 

Readers get a true treat in this main character. I loved her huge heart, despite her small size and really enjoy that a teaching moment is always included in the books -- in this case, one about habitats -- without being overt or obnoxious. 

I've purchased the first two Violet Mackerel books for my own library, as well as for my young niece and can't wait to add this to the collection. They're beautiful stories, laced with humor and learning. I hope author Anna Branford keeps writing these!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Siege and Storm quick review

Oh. My. Goodness. It's been a long time since I've fallen so hard for a fantasy series and I almost totally missed out on this one! I hadn't been wanting to pick up anything fantasy-related for awhile... just wasn't feeling it... but a few months ago I finally read Shadow & Bone after so many bloggers raved about it. Read that book in a day. LOVED. And when the advanced copy of Siege & Storm showed up, I did a little happy dance in kitchen. Read that and knew I had to gush. 

Friends, Alina and Mal are two of the best characters I've come across in all my years of reading fantasy. You'll believe in them and think they're two very real people, despite their fighting of monsters, scary creatures, and the fact that someone evil is constantly trying to kill them. Alina and Mal make these books the great stories that they are. 

If you haven't read Shadow & Bone, don't wait. As soon as you finish that one, head out and buy a copy of Siege & Storm. I can almost guarantee you'll fall in love with them. 

Thanks to Henry Holt for the review copy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fitness Friday: Best Body Bootcamp Round 2

This week I started Best Body Bootcamp. I participated last summer and absolutely loved it, so I knew it was time to sign up again this year. Tina runs the bootcamps all year, but this is only my second time as a participant and so far, so good. 

I'm really hoping to gain more endurance over the next 8 weeks and start to grow my arm strength. Right now, I'm weakling when it comes to anything upper body, but I know Tina will fix that quickly! Her workouts are fabulous and she is super motivating as a fitness trainer. So far, the online bootcamp has worked great for me, so I highly recommend giving the next round a try. 

I'm combining the strength training portions with running and am hoping to get out for a hike or two before the summer is over.

Are any of you participating?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dinner with the Smileys review and giveaway!

Sarah Smiley, a Navy wife and mom to three boys knew military life was not easy, but when her husband was up for a deployment, she dreaded the year ahead. When he deployed to Afghanistan, the idea to have someone take his place at their family dinner table once a week was quickly put into motion. 

The Smiley boys and their mom hosted politicians, teachers, Olympians, and family friends, each with a different lesson for the family as they pushed on without their father and partner. What originally sounded like a crazy thought turned into an amazing experience for everyone involved.  

Sarah gets incredibly real in her book -- military life is hard. When you're the spouse of soldier, life often gets put on hold and families must rearrange their realities to become peaceful about deployment. That being said, peaceful does not mean happy! No one was "happy" about Dustin's deployment. The boys each suffered from their father being gone in his own way, and Sarah ends up overwhelmed, lonely, and burnt out. It's all poured out onto the pages... I dare you not to cry and hurt with her. 

As most of you know, Aaron is Active Duty Air Force, though currently on a controlled tour here in the D.C. area. That means, unless something major were to happen, he won't deploy until this tour is over. I'm a lucky woman. This controlled tour was such a blessing in this unsettled time in the world and reading Sarah's words brought me to tears many times. I have yet to experience a deployment as a mother and I know the time is coming. Seeing the bravery exhibited, not only by Sarah, but by her boys, will certainly be a comfort when Aaron does have to spend time overseas. 

This book is not simply a quick read for military spouses to know someone out there feels their pain, nor is it simply about dinners with a lesson. Anyone can benefit from reading what real families go through when a spouse is away at war and can learn from the lessons taught by each of the dinner guests. Some are small lessons, but others hold big emotions with a big impact. I felt honored to share in the Smiley family experience and want all of you to read this and feel it too. 

The amazingly sweet author, Sarah Smiley, has offered a copy of her beautifully written book to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by Sunday night and I'll draw a winner Monday morning. 

If you win, please share this book after you've read it. Its content is so important for so many families and Sarah's story deserves to be shared.

You can find Sarah on Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sight Reading review

Publisher's description:

"On a Boston street one warm spring day after a long New England winter, Hazel and Remy spot each other for the first time in years. Under ordinary circumstances, this meeting might seem insignificant. But Remy, a gifted violinist, is married to the composer Nicholas Elko-once the love of Hazel's life.

It has been twenty years since Remy, a conservatory student whose ambition may outstrip her talent; Nicholas, a wunderkind suddenly struggling with a masterwork he cannot fully realize; and his wife, beautiful and fragile Hazel, first came together and tipped their collective world on its axis. Over the decades, each has buried disappointments and betrayals that now threaten to undermine their happiness. But as their entwined stories unfold from 1987 to 2007, from Europe to America, from conservatory life to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, each will discover the surprising ways in which the quest to create something real and true--be it a work of art or one's own life--can lead to the most personal of revelations, including the unearthing of secrets we keep, even from ourselves."

So far, this summer has been great for those in-depth, character-driven novels that I love. Sight Reading featured two characters that were so different, but had such focus on the same passion that it was easy to become completely entwined in each. 

At the heart of the book is a complex love story, but it's so much more. It's music and travel and friendship. It's heartache and learning to live with choices. It's a heavy and complex read, but one I appreciated after a lot of lighter summer reading. Well-written and very well-developed. 

Check out the rest of the tour here and find out more about author Daphne Kalotay here

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Testing review

Cia is thrilled to be graduating and after being chosen for The Testing, she both terrified and anxious to begin her future. It a position everyone in her life both covets and fears. 

Upon arrival, Cia quickly learns the Testing is unlike anything she could have ever imagined -- and she was right to be scared. She can't trust anyone and must simply believe her intelligence will get her through to the end alive. Right and left both friends and enemies are dropping and she's never quite sure when her turn to fail will come. 

I had a bit of trouble getting into this one, but ending up really enjoying it. With the rise of the dystopian genre over the past few years, every book seems to be compared to The Hunger Games and I did feel like it had a few mirroring qualities. Once Cia began the actual Testing process, I was totally hooked and rooting for this pretty amazing female main character. 

Tomas was probably my least favorite character -- he came across flat and without much emotion. I didn't have the connection with him that I did with Cia and almost didn't care what happened to him in the end. What he lacked though, Cia made up for, because I really did end up loving her character. 

I think I walked away from this one thinking it's a hybrid of The Hunger Games and Divergent. If those two books had a baby, The Testing would be it. I'm absolutely ready for book 2! After a slow start it ended up being a quick read that I was anxious to finish and know what happened with Cia. 

Thank you to Scholastic for the review copy. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

My latest Stitch Fix

It's been awhile since I've received a Stitch Fix box, but one was waiting for me early this week and in the craziness of summer days, I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. That is one awesome surprise at the end of a long, hot day outside with a little boy!

The little box stared at me all evening while I waited for the toddler to go to bed, as to not get dirty little hands all over what I knew to be beautiful new clothes. When I was finally able to open the box, I noticed Alexandra was my stylist this time around and I knew it would be a great box -- she's my favorite.

I had one of those great Fix moments where I loved every item in the box. I didn't keep them all, but I did really like each style as I initially looked at it -- always a good sign! Alexandra gets me. 

The first two items I looked at were a tank top and a jacket. I loved the blue stripes on the tank and if it didn't have a hi/lo hem, I may have kept it. They just don't flatter me at all. Too much fabric on a my biggest problem area!

The jacket was SO comfortable! I've honestly never felt fabric like that in a jacket and was really impressed with how stylish it actually was. I mean, it was basically a coat to wear OVER clothes, but the drawstring waste was great. Unfortunately, it was a bit large for my short stature with arms much too long. Awesome jacket though. 

Next I had a beautiful blouse I had requested after seeing it on the Stitch Fix Tumblr page. Silly me didn't realize that I was requesting one of their most expensive items. After seeing the cost on that little floral number I loved, I just couldn't do it. Beautiful and so comfortable if something a little pricier is in your budget. 

The tank was fun! Loved the bold colors and it would have looked great under a jean jacket. I knew I wanted just one item this month though and I held out for this beauty:

I've never owned a tunic before. This is listed as a Tunic Dress and maybe someone else could pull it off as a dress, but I'll definitely be wearing some leggings underneath! SO comfortable, super cute, price was right, and we had a winner. I'm excited to wear it!

-Head over to Stitch Fix and sign up for an invite. I received mine in about 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 hand-pick items for you and ship both ways. All of that is free if you buy an item. A pretty amazing deal. 

-If you like it all, keep it all and they'll charge you for it all, minus a 25% discount. 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 even link up your Pinterest boards. 

-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.

If you get Stitch Fix boxes too, leave me a link to your posts. I'd love to see what other people are getting!

The wonderful ladies of Stitch Fix have no idea who I am and I'm not being paid to rave about their company. I just really do love it.

Passionate Mom review

I love doing book Bible studies. It's easiest for me to learn from the Bible when it's applied to me in practical, contemporary ways and Susan Merrill did an excellent job of this in Passionate Mom. Let's face it... I need all the parenting help I can get!

Using the book of Nehemiah as a guide, Merrill gives us moms a specific pattern to follow in order to guide our parenting. She uses 10 P's: perception, pondering, passion, prayer, patience, preparation, purpose, planning, problem solving, and perseverance to form that pattern, as did Nehemiah.

Though the book wasn't filled with a whole lot of new information, I did take away some practical tips on remaining passionate about this amazing "job" I've been chosen to do. Patience is my biggest hurtle and her list of 10 reasons why we lose our patience as moms was definitely helpful. If I can recognize which ones are my personal triggers, I can confront them before they get to a place of conflict. Easier said than done, of course! 

I learned a lot from a book in the Bible that I wasn't totally comfortable with and for that, I'm grateful. I think Passionate Mom would be a great addition to a women's Bible study and I think I'll be sharing it with my MOPS group this fall!

Thank you to Book Sneeze for the review copy. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Engagements giveaway

Five characters, each separated by decades, deal with their own idea of marriage and what it means to have a true relationship with another individual. It's the story of how each couple have come to know each other and how their vision of marriage has been formed and molded and, ultimately, what love actually means to them. 

I realize that isn't the most detailed of plot summaries, but seriously, I've sat here for 45 minutes, attempting to do justice to this fabulous book and I simply can't. It's just that multilayered, that complex, and THAT GOOD. It's so beautifully done, I just want to gush!

I loved that we were presented with four incredibly different couples, along with the woman who created the famous "A Diamond is Forever" slogan for De Beers. That plot point alone made the story unique and interesting, hooking me and keeping me interested. I wanted to read this one all day -- and slowly -- in order to soak up all the beautiful writing. 

Though Frances was the driving force for me, it was impossible not to become totally entangled in each of the other relationships. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the copywriting business was much more intriguing than I ever could have thought and Frances was such a well-rounded character, she was ultimately the one I became most involved with. 

I'm recommending it to everyone -- man, woman, book clubs, etc. It was a great read. 

The publisher is offering up a copy for one of my lucky readers! Just leave a comment on this post by Sunday night and I'll pick a winner Monday morning. U.S. readers only please.

Thank you to Knopf for the review copy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

New books from Mo Willems and Greg Pizzoli

I'm very lucky that I have a child who loves to read books. 18 months isn't quite the age where he'll sit still for long stories, but he loves to page through all sorts of books and look at the illustrations, letting me make up my own version of the story. Basically, I chop out a lot of words, so he only has to look at each page for a moment or two. It seems to work. 

These two books showed up last week and I was really excited to see both of them. Mo Willems is a favorite of all of ours around here... E loves the Pigeon board books, Aaron loves Elephant & Piggie, and I love them all. And after flipping through the Pizzoli book, I could tell he had Willems-like humor which made him a perfect new addition to our bookshelves. 

A Big Guy Took My Ball is the latest Elephant & Piggie story in a long list of titles by Mo Willems. This latest features a sad Piggie, as she just has her ball stolen by a big guy. Gerald vows to help...until he meets the big guy. As always, the story is filled with the dry humor Willems has become known for and both parents and kids alike are both drawn to. 

I loved the introduction of a new character and hope the new guy shows up in upcoming titles. It's great to have a 2 character series, but what fun it can be when kids aren't expecting a new character, but one shows up anyway. 

E's favorite part of this one was pointing out the ball on each page. Simple things. 

The Watermelon Seed is perfect for reliving that childhood myth that a watermelon will grow in your belly if you swallow a seed. The crocodile in this story is hilarious, fretting very convincingly about that seed he swallowed, and kids will love laughing at him as he continues to believe a melon is indeed in his belly. The burp, however, may be the best part. 

This one is screaming to be a storytime read aloud, but for us, it's just fun to look at the illustrations at this point. As E gets older and his dad inevitably makes him believe the seed myth, we'll be pulling this one off the shelf again and again. 

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for the review copies!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Keeper of Secrets review

Publisher description: 

"In 1939 Berlin, 14-year-old Simon Horowitz’s world is stirred by his father's 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin. When Nazis march across Europe and Simon is sent to Dachau, he finds unexpected kindness, and a chance to live.
In the present day, orchestra conductor Rafael Gomez finds himself inspired by Daniel Horowitz, a 14-year-old violin virtuoso who refuses to play. When Rafael learns that the boy's family once owned a precious violin believed to have been lost forever, Rafael seizes the power of history and discovers a family story like no other."

Apparently, this book was originally self-published and I'm not sure why it didn't get snatched up by a publisher right away! I was drawn in from the very beginning, getting lost in the story of Simon, Rafael, and Daniel, and loving the beauty of the writing and the intensity of the emotion. 

I didn't have any trouble at all with the different time periods, which can occasionally be the case when jumping from one decade to another, and again, the emotional aspects were simply top-notch. I was in tears during much of the story and I was invested in each character very early on. It's one of those books you just don't want to end. My favorite kind! 

It's a heavier read, but beautifully done. 

The rest of the tour schedule can be found here and Julie Thomas can be found on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Time Between review

Eleanor is still stricken with guilt over an accident that took her sister's ability to walk many years ago. She doesn't wear the guilt on the outside, but rather forces herself to remain in her mother's home, helping to care for her sister all these years later, despite being incredibly unhappy and feeling stuck in a life that isn't at all her own. 

When Eleanor's boss offers her a chance to earn extra money and spend some time away from her home on the island she loves, Eleanor accepts. She begins spending time with Helena, an elderly woman suffering from her own deep demons. The pair form a bond almost instantly -- though neither will admit enjoying the other's company -- and each start the healing process they've needed for so very long. 

I have a confession to make. I went into this book thinking it would be a nice, quick read for those busy days spent on the deck with Elliott, but would lack the need to really think about the story. For whatever reason, I thought it was "fluffier" than it turned out to be and I ended up getting a total book reality check! I loved the plot, the setting, AND the characters, making this one of my 5 star books of the year and I can't seem to hand it to enough people this week. 

I've never been to Edisto Island, but apparently it's a real place and I felt completely transported by White's beautiful descriptions. There was a depth to Eleanor that I found both haunting and lovely and that same depth of character was mirrored in Helena. Finding out bits of Helena's story was part of the intrigue and I appreciated learning a bit more about the Hungarian side of WWII. 

Even Eleanor's sister Eve, despite her obvious flaws, was a character that I loved getting to know and could see her perspective on things. Each character was detailed, complex, and perfect for the story, making for a really great read. I loved it!

Thanks to Penguin for the review copy!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In Search of Goliathus Hercules: Guest post and giveaway

I had a chance to check out this fun new middle grade mystery a couple of weeks ago and now, debut author Jennifer Angus was kind enough to pop in and write a guest post. This book was a treat to read and would be great for those who love a good fantasy read and especially those with a curiosity about bugs! Welcome, Jennifer!

This year my debut novel “In Search of Goliathus Hercules” was published but I am best known for my exhibitions of insect “wallpapers.” There is often confusion as to whether the insects in my artwork are real. Yes, they are although they are dead and dried. The colours are their natural colour. I have not painted them. I have spent considerable time in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Malaysia where most of the insects I work with come from. While none of these species are endangered it is important to note that their habitat is under assault. Unsurprisingly forests play second fiddle to human demands for agriculture and urbanization. Intellectually we recognize that forests are the lungs of the planet but not enough is being done to protect this precious resource. Virtually every insect on the endangered species list is there because of loss of habitat. Much of Goliathus Hercules takes place in the rainforest in Malaysia.
Ever heard the saying that where there is one cockroach there are 100? Most species (but not all) reproduce at a tremendous rate. Collecting insects is ecologically sound if done in a thoughtful manner but unfortunately it is not always practiced. A number of butterflies and some beetles are now being farm raised with the express purpose of marketing to collectors. When I am able I use farmed insects.
Many people who visit my exhibitions were never aware that such unusual insects exist. I hope that my exhibition will get them excited and perhaps they will be motivated to get involved with one of the many of the rain forest preservation projects out there. I would also like people to think about their own environment and behavior. How is urban and suburban encroachment affecting wildlife big and small in your neighborhood? It is easy to take up the case of larger mammals, birds and fish but what about smaller creatures who have an important role in the ecosystem to play be it pollinating flowers or helping in the decomposition of various matter?
Finally I want to say that I reuse and reuse the insects I have. After an exhibition I pin them on to foam boards and put them into boxes until the next exhibition. If something is damaged I always try to repair it before it gets thrown away and those beyond repair I give to children for further study. I hope that readers who enjoy my book may be inspired to help save the six legged creatures who are so vital to our environment.
To enter to win a SIGNED copy of the book, please leave a comment on this post by Friday night with your contact info. Please make sure it's the correct information before posting. US and Canada only please. 

Wednesday, Jennifer will be over at The Midnight Garden with another guest post and giveaway. Might as well enter all of them, right?! 

You can find more about Jennifer Angus and her book on her website or at Albert Whitman & Company. 

Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for the review copy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

May in Review

How is it already June? It seems May was just starting and we were all complaining that winter was sticking around much too long. Now it's June and it's as hot and humid as typical summers go around here and I'm back wishing for the beginning of May. Oh well. Life goes on. 

I accomplished 13 books in May, so that's an improvement over the previous month. Spending a lot of time outside definitely takes away from the reading time, but I wouldn't have it any other way. This girl loves being outside. 

13 read
8 Adult
5 YA
2 Audio
1 Non-fiction

Favorites from the month: