Sunday, December 22, 2013

Books to give

This Christmas is the year of the books. I always give books as gifts, but usually accompanying something else. This year, I'm just giving piles of books to people and calling it a day. I'm totally good with that and hopefully they are too!

Here are just a few of the books I'm giving to kids this year:

And for the grown-ups:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holidays, handmade gifts, and not blogging

Oh, friends… I'm such a blogging failure lately. I've been caught up in all the holiday goodness that happens this time of year and I've just let the blog slip. Really though, I'm enjoying the craziness of the season and haven't been reading many books anyway. I have, however, been reading your blogs, and I must admit that my favorite posts this time of year aren't book reviews -- they're gift guides.

I LOVE a good gift guide. I'm not sure what it is about seeing the things other bloggers buy for their families, but I'm kinda obsessed. I didn't really want to create my own gift guide, but I did want to share a few of the Etsy shops I've purchased gifts from this year. I love giving indie businesses a shout-out, so this is my way of doing that!

Beautiful ornaments from ThisOnesMineDesigns to accompany my handmade granola.

More gorgeous ornaments from one of my all time favorite shops: Two Elephants.

A printable quote from JaydotCreative and beautiful prints from Pen & Paint. Love to frame these… inexpensive, yet fabulous gifts.

The perfect cross charm from moderninspireddesign.

Aren't those great? With Elliott, we really don't buy him many gifts. Last year, if you remember, we stuck firmly to the something he "Wants, Needs, Wears, Reads, Creates with" categories and 1 Santa gift. This year, we haven't even done quite that much, because I know many of the things our relatives are getting for him and he really just does not need much more from us. 

Santa is bringing him a trampoline, similar to this one:

The kid LOVES to jump, so we knew this would be a great way to get his energy out. Plus, I found it brand new, on Craigslist, for a steal.

He's also getting some art supplies, including a fun stamp set and this toddler collage set:

We also were given a hand-me-down set of Matchbox cars and the tractor trailer carrier they come in. He'll pretty much be in heaven with that. I could have just given it to him, I suppose, but why not stick a bow on it for Christmas morning?

Finally, books. He'll be getting a few books, of course. On the list this year are Little Blue Truck, Can You Make a Scary Face, and My Big Train Book

We went small and simple, because my in-laws decided on a big gift this year that he'll love… I'm just still not quite sure where it's going to go. This train table will be making an appearance on Christmas morning:

They had it shipped to our house, so we can set it up on Christmas morning. If you've been to our house, you know that floor space is at a premium, but really, I couldn't resist when they suggested this. He's obsessed with all things trains and would spend hours playing with the table at B&N if I'd let him. Playdate at our house!

We've also been hard at work on gifts for other people. I made a huge batch of homemade granola (from Fix, Freeze, Feast) and divided it up amongst mason jars for teacher gifts. Between Bible study, MOPS, and Sunday school, he has a fairly large group of people who play with him each week. Inexpensive gifts were key. This is the time of year I wish I could knit. 

Tomorrow, I'll have a post about the bookish-gifts I'm giving to family and friends, so look for that!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage review

Ann Patchett has a magical way of writing that draws me in immediately, whether it be a fiction or non-fiction book of her's I'm reading. This collection of essays, some that I had read before, is a glimpse into not only marriage, but also friendships, opening a bookstore, and the writing process. 

Spreading from her childhood all the way through present day, Patchett takes snapshots of her life - both small and large moments of her history - and allows the reader a candid reading of her experiences. The writing is beautiful and the look at relationships is absolutely fascinating. 

I loved, as a reader, being able to relate to an author so precisely. You'll want to sit down and talk with Patchett over coffee or tea, sharing cookies or lunch and comparing life stories. Hand this book to any woman you know and she'll find herself somewhere, in one of the stories. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the review copy! You can check out the rest of the tour stops here

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

It's no surprise that I love any book by Peter Reynolds. His artwork is phenomenal and his stories always have that hook to engage children and the sweet side for the parents. I give his books as gifts all the time and this latest one will be on my list to give this Christmas.

Focusing on the meaning of Christmas (without the religion aspect), Reynolds introduces us to a little boy who wants a big gift. A really big gift. He continues to hope and wish for a bigger and bigger gift, never satisfied with what he has been given, until he starts to realize that what really matters at Christmas is being with his family. Not the gifts.

A great new book to read before Christmas this year! I love that the concept of gifts not being the reason for the season is the main focus, but the story will appeal to lots of readers and not just those that center on the Christianity portion. Add it to your list, friends!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Round House review

Sometimes there are books that everyone absolutely loves that I just feel kinda meh about. This happens to be one of those. Though the plot was interesting - a family rocked by an attack on its matriarch and the son determined to solve the crime - I just didn't get quite what all the excitement was about. Don't hate me. 

Joe is only 13, but after seeing what a violent attack has done to his mother, he knows he can't simply sit by and watch his father, a tribal judge, attempt to find the attacker himself. Joe and his friends take matters into their own hands, uncovering much more than their young selves need to understand. 

As a main character, Joe was great. The parts of the book I did really enjoy were watching him transform from young boy into man through simple acts. When a violent act or tragedy falls upon a family, the children always have to grow up faster than their peers and Erdich got that part spot on. His attempts to remain a child were always overshadowed by his need to find the person responsible for hurting his mother. 

I also enjoyed what appeared to be an authentic look into what tribal life is probably like. All of the portions of the book focusing on daily life for those living on the reservation, traditions, spirituality, etc., felt very realistic and honest. 

I did find the book dragged in places and I found myself skimming a few portions. Though what happened to Joe's mother was tragic and violent, I felt it lacking in emotion, leaving me disconnected from her character and from the plot. 

I know I'm in the minority on this one -- so many of you loved it -- but I felt it was just ok.