Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday! Happy almost-weekend!
{did you come by earlier? I answered the wrong question... so THIS is now the right one!}

This week's question comes from Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews and she asks:

What are your thoughts on the verification codes?

I HATE them. I get so incredibly annoyed trying to read those fuzzy numbers and mushed together letters. Ugh. I know they catch spam, but Blogger does a pretty good job, and I get email notifications of my comments, so if a spam sneaks through I can quickly delete it.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Little House RAL

For those of you who don't know, Lisa from Books, Lists, Life is hosting an 8 month long Little House Read-a-long. Over the upcoming months we will be reading each of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The series contains 9 books, but we are cutting our Farmer Boy because is seemed a bit out of place in the series to begin with. So far we have read Little House in the Big Woods (February) and Little House on the Prairie (March). You can check out my review of Little House in the Big Woods here.

I started and finished Little House on the Prairie quite quickly. It was an easy read (I would hope- considering its target age is 8 or 9) and was enjoyable. Again, Wilder did a beautiful job with her vivid descriptions of life on the Prairie. I really enjoyed the traveling to the Prairie from the Big Woods as well. It was interesting to read about how the settlers traveled.

The biggest difference for me while reading Little House on the Prairie was how angry I was getting. I was super annoyed with how shitty they treated Jack (the brindle bulldog) and considering that I have a bulldog, I was totally annoyed by some of the descriptions of him. Either Wilder didn't haven't a bulldog or her memories are poor. For one thing, every damn bulldog I've ever seen may love the water, but they can't swim. They sink. Their legs are too short to paddle and hold up their body mass.  I also kept getting really frustrated with the view of the Indians. Granted, I know that is how things went in that era, but it still was frustrating to read. Some of the descriptions of Laura's experiences with the Indians just put me off. I did like that Pa stood up to the other men- showed that he had some moral fiber.
Overall, my experience reading Little House in the Big Woods was much more pleasant than that of reading Little House on the Prairie. I enjoyed it, but not near as much as Big Woods.... the big woods just offered so much more whimsy along with the reality.

reading LHotP yesterday afternoon
If you're joining in (or would like to now!) you can share your ideas and thoughts through the links on this post on Lisa's blog. We're also using the hashtag #LittleHouseRAL on twitter and on our instagram photos. We're all about social networking- woot woot! Join us and weigh in on Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series!

Next month we will be reading On The Banks of Plum Creek.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Mindy makes me laugh...

Rarely do I ever pick up "funny" books. I am not a comedy person... I don't love sitcoms or slapstick movies... same goes for books. Now, I do enjoy heavy doses of sarcasm... I'm kind of ridiculously sarcastic.. which is why I picked up Mindy Kaling's best seller Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns). She is sarcastic and funny. Not bathroom humor or stupid slapstick humor... but real, funny, sarcastic, satire type of ha-ha funny.

First of all, the amount of praise that went around this book was pretty big. Mindy is kind of a big deal. I figured I would be in for a funny little ride.
In actuality, while I did find it amusing, I was not as impressed as the rave reviews led me to assume I would be. Kaling did a phenomenal job with the dry humor, but the book as a whole was really disjointed. Maybe it is because I read so much (and so little of this style) that I had a hard time with how random the book was... the chapters were individually funny, but the book just didn't flow. This turned out to be good and bad. The bad was that it annoyed me... I just hand a hard time getting going with so many different little anecdotes. The good was that it broke the book up and I was able to read it by sections. I kind of appreciated the humor more in a sense because of that.

Overall, I giggled and did enjoy the book. My favorite chapter was Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities. I laughed and totally related to it... then promptly emailed the chapter to my best friend. I gushed over how much it fit us and how different parts of the chapter focus on different parts of our long friendship (including that awkward part where we didn't hang out for a few years).

I would recommend this one to those who are looking for a giggle and some really light reading. It is definitely for those who aren't easily offended and enjoy dry witty humor. Oh, and if you're interested in Mindy at all, totally get this. I feel like I know everything about her now. Not to mention the awesome pictures scattered throughout the book.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday and welcome to another round of Book Blogger Hop!

This week our question is from Beth @ Reading is our Thing and she asks:

What 5 books would you grab in an emergency?

Easy, and probably predictable. Harry Potter. Since there are 7 books, I have to take out 2... I would leave behind Goblet of Fire (my least favorite in the series) and Chamber of Secrets (because even though I love Dobby & uncovering the truth of Tom Riddle and I don't love love love Sorcerer's Stone- it is where it all began so I can't just leave it behind... this was a tough decision!)

Emergency book grab:

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Chasing Rainbows

Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long is a novel about life, love, and loss. This appealed to me because I haven't read a novel like this in quite some time. I have been focusing on gritty reads and was in search of a soulful story. Chasing Rainbows delivered.

What's that saying about the devil you know? For Bernie, it's the devil she never expected that changes everything.
Her father's sudden death leaves a gaping void in her life and is one in a series of events that rock her world. Her husband leaves for another woman, and her best friend announces an unplanned pregnancy at the age of forty-one. Bernie's behavior goes from acting out to out-of-hand, and she finds herself in trouble at home, out of work and banned from the mall after a confrontation at the cosmetic counter.
When her mother discovers her father's book of cryptograms, Bernie realizes his encoded lessons in living might be exactly what she needs to survive. From dealing with her family's grief and bonding with her best friend's thirteen-year-old daughter, to dieting, dating and mindless almost-sex with the landscaper, Bernie discovers what her father always knew.
In life, you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don't.
For Bernie, the singing is about to begin.

Chasing Rainbows is both thought provoking and mindless, and I mean that in the best way possible. The story made me evaluate my own life, but was also simple and easy to digest. I wasn't pondering the content of the book, but the messages did make me ponder life and grief in general. Does that make any sense? I hope so, because I want to get across that this novel is light and deep- it is a multifaceted read.
Bernie is a well developed character, as are some of the other players- specifically her best friend Diane and Diane's daughter, Ashley. While Bernie takes center stage, Ashley and Diane both play huge roles in the changes that come in Bernie's life. Other characters come into the picture too, and are developed just enough to get connected to their story in relation to Bernie. Number Thirty Six and Mrs. Cooke are characters that pop up and slowly shed their skin of mystery as the story unfolds. I also appreciated the time Long spent on Poindexter, Bernie's dog. The reader learns a thing or two from him as well.
As Bernie navigates through a very difficult time in her life, the reader is right there with her. I was transported to a time of grief in my life, analyzing my travels through tough times. I found myself cheering for Bernie and simultaneously learning about my own process with grieving. Everyone grieves differently, which is an obvious point in this novel. While it is obvious (and I normally hate that) it was done very well- it wasn't glaringly obvious that it was distracting, but it was there as an undercurrent to the whole novel. I liked that.
I found that this was a really enjoyable read. It was quick and fulfilling. Chasing Rainbows was an inspiring novel, forcing me (in a good way) to think about my own grieving process. Also, there were some beautiful quotes scattered throughout the story- it added dimension and many were sticky-note on my desk worthy! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an uplifting and purposeful novel. 

I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes that Kathleen Long added to Chasing Rainbows:

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."
~ General Norman Schwarzkopf

"We love those who know the worst of us and don't turn their faces away" 
~ Walker Percy

This book crosses over 2 challenges for me: 
Color Coded and Monthly Keyword

Pattern- Rainbow
March keyword: Rainbow

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow



Lockdown: Escape From Furnace is the first book in the Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith.  The cover caught my eye immediately- it is totally creepy and the gas mask reminded me of Doctor Who and the whole "are you my Mummy?" stuff. I also thought the synopsis sounded interesting.

Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn't commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.
Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.

Sounds bizarre right? It is. Lockdown is a whole other world of evil. Think of the depths of hell and the evil that must brew close to the center of the earth... then multiple it. That is Furnace Penitentiary. Smith created a world so evil the Devil would be scared. His depiction of Furnace is chilling- while reading, I could picture this horrible place in my mind as I traveled along side Alex as he sunk  below the earths surface and entered a nightmare. Not your typical jail story, the reader learns early on that the workers from Furnace are not there to protect you- they are there to fill beds. Guilty or not, the kids who end up in Furnace are in for the worst nightmare imaginable, because in Furnace, everyone is guilty of their crimes. Unimaginable monsters are woven into the story in the form of gangs, mutant animals, and gas mask clad creatures. Everyone must fight to survive- and hope they make it through the night.
I must say that this was a bit slow in the beginning- although it was necessary. We need a back story for Alex to understand who he is and why he ends up at Furnace. Once we get to Furnace though, things move quickly. The story picks up some serious momentum and I plowed through. Smith created such disturbing pictures in my head that I swear it was real. Smith laid a foundation of fear as he described Furnace Penitentiary and described the underbelly of the earth. The monstrous dogs that come for the inmates was a vivid image in my mind thanks to beautifully wicked descriptions. The evil gas masked creatures that mark the cells in the middle of the night were haunting- I could hear their screams in my head. Overall, Smith did a mind blowing amount of description without slowing his pace or losing his readers. The minute details that he wove into the story created such an ugly picture. I was amazed. The characters were not as developed but it almost didn't matter- he gave us enough to get attached and feel for Alex, Donovan, and Zee. Other players in the story were also memorable, even without huge back stories. 
I was greatly impressed with the writing in Lockdown and as so pleased to have found Alexander Gordon Smith. His writing is disturbingly wicked and quite memorizing  I will absolutely read the next one in this series: Solitary and certainly finish this series- there are five books in all. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a creepy action filled tale. 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday Book Blogger Hoppers!

BBH is a weekly meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer
Join in the fun & hop around!

Take a seat in the directors chair! If you could turn one of your favorites books into a film, who would you cast?

Hmmm... this is a tough one. I am not up on the celebrity scene so casting is hard! I love Neil Gaiman's writing and would love to see The Graveyard Book adapted (I know it is in the works, but I know nothing about it)... however, I really stink at casting and only one person sticks out for me.. so here is my meager contribution! Haha

Evan Peters as Bod

Okay... time to HOP! Can't wait to see all the ideas!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Lego Party Prep Update!

Madeline's Lego Birthday Party in fast approaching!
Here is what we've been working on:

The Invitations:

I modeled the invites after Lego bricks, using 3D glue dots to make the circles pop!

For the Goodie Bags:

Candy brick stacks with "thank you" and "love Maddie" toppers

Lego towers

Lego Men & Lego Brick crayons 
(I wrote about these on this post.. but now I've finally gotten around to bagging them up!)

And of course, still to do....

Chocolate Lego Men & Bricks for the ice cream bar
Cover a ton of juice boxes to look like Legos
Make the bags for their treats
Food / Cake
Lego "7" door hanger
Make stamped Lego pj's for the girls
Wrap her gifts
Lego food / ice cream bar labels

We decided not to do the Lego table... just not enough time. I am doing the photo cut out, because a wonderful K teacher I know used Lego as a theme for "Kindergarten Fun Club" and made a life size Lego Man with the head cut out for photos! She offered it up for our party!! It looks awesome & is currently off getting laminated. Eeeps! Yay!

So that is all things Lego in the house lately! Phew!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Blogger Hop

I had a *very* busy weekend and I forgot all about the BBH! Ack! So I am posting this late for the 8th-14th week..

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer

What is your favorite book set in a different country than the one you live in?

Once again, I pick Harry Potter. (sorry for yet another HP answer!)
I love the story and I would love to visit England. I imagine if I ever got the chance, I would travel about London looking for HP magic. Aside from my geek love of Harry Potter, I would love to experience the culture and just immerse myself in all that England has to offer!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow



A little over two weeks ago I got a HUGE Scholastic order. I placed my kiddos orders and went on a book buying spree with some of my excess bonus points- I got a stack for the class, a stack for Madeline, and a stack for me. In my stack was Trapped by Michael Northrop. I read a quick blurb and added it to the list.

Since it is relatively short (240 pages), I picked this off the pile to read first.
Trapped is a YA novel about a crazy nor'easter, seven high schoolers, one teacher, and a big empty school.

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision.

I liked the premise of this book a lot. Being from upstate NY, I'm quite used to a heavy nor'easter every winter and a blizzard every few years... and I love everything about both- the idea of being snowed in is a favorite of mine... now, I don't like when it lasts for-ev-errrrr, BUT I do enjoy a good winter. Trapped immediately peaked my interest with the abundance of snow. I also love survivalism  so the aspect of teens staying alive in a high school during a major winter storm is also appealing to me.
Trapped starts out pretty quick- within the first few chapters you already know that a big storm is brewing and the kids will be hunkering down in the school soon. The group of kids left in the school is quite the little mix, and I liked that Northrop did that- adds a little underlying story to the book. We get to know the characters by proxy. Narrated by Scotty, we hear his take on his peers and what is going on. Very high school cliche with the "cliques" but I guess a YA novel based in a high school should have some of that!
Northrop did a great job building suspense with the storm. His descriptions of the snow and the drifting was very visual- while reading I kept thinking it was snowing.. when in reality, it wasn't. He also describes the bitter cold so well that I was bundled up or in the tub while reading... granted, it IS freezing right now in upstate NY, but still.
I thought that this novel had just enough in way of extra story lines (the clique stuff, angsty teens, flirting, and some hints at romance) to suit the story. Not so much that it was in the way of the big picture - um hello, crazy ass blizzard - but enough to add a bit more dimension to the characters and story itself.
As for the blizzard... slightly grandiose and a bit fantastical, but believable if that makes sense. The idea of getting stuck in the school was also believable in this story.. the storm was bad enough that it seemed plausible that parents couldn't get to the school to grab their kids. As for the teens in the school, I do think Northrop could've amped up their survival skills. If *I* was trapped in a school, I sure as hell would've scavenged every single room and locked I could get into to get supplies to keep myself alive. These kids did some of that, but not nearly as much as I've hoped. It was a bit of a letdown that the story didn't showcase more survival skills. Oh well. The only other issue I had was the ending- it was very abrupt. Again, I thought it was somewhat believable but I just wasn't totally sold on the idea. Plus, it was just to clean and fresh of an ending. It needed a bit more.
Overall, I did quite enjoy this book. The ending may have bugged me, but it didn't ruin the story. Trapped was a fun and short read that was exactly what I needed in between my bulky reads. Now I think I am going to go check the forecast and make sure I'm prepared for whatever disaster the weather channel might throw my way. Haha!

Ps: don't you just love the cover?.. very ominous.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday!
BBH is a weekly meme hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

You're going on a train ride... what books will you bring to read?

I would bring my Kindle so I have a bunch of books on hand, but mainly for Harry Potter because those are my go-to standby reads. I would also bring The Twelve by Justin Cronin. I loved The Passage and have The Twelve on my TBR pile... I haven't gotten into it yet because it is a thicky! 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow