MONTHS later

Blogging has REALLY fallen off my radar lately. I just haven't had the time or the desire to do it lately. Plus, I haven't been reading near as much as normal. I've just been busy and I think I just fell into a bit of a rut. The last few books I've read haven't entertained me too much, and then I just kind of lost interest.
I recently just picked up The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena and it has ignited in me the desire to actually seek out books and read again. Seems like a bunch of duds put me in a reading slump. I'm about halfway through The Couple Next Door and I am really enjoying it. I have a few others, like The Woman in Cabin 10 and Dark Matter on hold at NYPL and am excited to get those to read. I've heard really good things there.

In other news, I signed up in September to be a Jamberry Independent Consultant! I am now selling Jamberry and I absolutely LOVE it. I will probably start sprinkling in some nail stuff on here too. Below are a few of my recent Jamicures!

If you have any interest, you can check out my site here: www.papajm25.jamberrynails.com
Or my Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/papajm25/

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

The Theft of Memory

The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day at a Time
By Jonathan Kozol

I love memoirs and biographies, so I thought this would be a book I would find interesting. I'm always very interested in the brain and how it functions, so it fit well with that as well.
I have to admit that it took me a long time to get this read. I put it down multiple times just because it didn't hold my attention. However, I did complete the book- which is not something I always do with books that I am struggling to focus on.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. I thought it was an interesting story and I really liked the way that the author wove in personal and professional tidbits from his fathers life.I would certainly recommend this book to those who like memoirs or biographies, as well as to those who are interested in studying the brain or Alzheimers more specifically.

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



 Wonderland: A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures by Amily Shen is an absolutely beautiful coloring book!  It is whimsical and beautifully detailed.
Not only is it a coloring book, but it is also a story - something that I really appreciate seeing during this giant surge of adult coloring books. The story adds the perfect touch of something "extra" to make this coloring book stand out. Now, I could show you every page (because I really want to!) but that would spoil all the fun! All I will say is that the pages are fun, detailed, well drawn, and vary in their scale and scope throughout the book. I was impressed with the uniqueness of the illustrations, as well as the story. I can't wait to color this book! I really think this is one of the better adult coloring books I have seen on the market so far!

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

FTC: I received this coloring book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a fair and honest review.


BoB16 Updates

Bout of Books

Welcome to my Bout of Books 16 Update Home!

Here you'll find my daily stats, links to posts and challenges, and other info that pops up throughout the readathon.

I'll also likely post my thoughts on the day, and maybe some pictures too! (we all know I am snaphappy)

Day 1 - Monday 5/9
Pages read: 3
Book(s) read: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Challenges completed: Intro challenge #insixwords (completed on instagram)

I didn't really read today... when I got home from work we immediately started working on expanding the chicken coop run. By time I got to sit down and read, it was bedtime and I was exhausted. Made it through 3 pages before falling asleep (to only be woken by the hardcover book hitting my face).

Day 2 - Tuesday 5/10
Pages read: 42
Book(s) read: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Challenges completed: Shelfie challenge (completed on instagram)

Day 3 - Wednesday 5/11
Pages read: 39
Book(s) read: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Challenges completed: Top 5 (completed on instagram)
I picked my top 5 psychology books (that I had on hand)

Day 4 - Thursday 5/12
Pages read: 35
Book(s) read: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Challenges completed: nope!

Day 5 - Friday 5/13
Pages read: 0
Book(s) read: nope
Challenges completed: nope

I didn't read at all Friday... I had a busy day at work then came home and our new bed was delivered! Bear was helping a ftiend move, so I unloaded the bed and built the box spring... then had to take my baby girl to the vet. Bear and I then had a nice little date night at Los Tapatios, a delicious authentic Mexican restaurant!

Day 6 - Saturday 5/14
Pages read: 22
Book(s) read: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Challenges completed: nope

Another busy day! Woke up early and loaded the Jeep with construction debris and did a dump run... then spent the day finishing the extra coop run. Afterwards, Maddie came over and we went to TRex Planet (awesomesauce!) & dinner. Super good day. Tons of TRex Planet pics on my insta... go check them out.

Day 7 - Sunday 5/15
Pages read: 58
Book(s) read: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton and Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci
Challenges completed: free day- no challenge!

Had a relaxing Sunday.... did some things around the house, work for my PLC group and some grading. Got to read a little from a pleasure book and from a work book study book.

Bout of Books Recap:
Well, Bout of Books has come to a close. I didn't get nearly as much reading as I had hoped, but that is okay. It turned out to be a much busier week than I had originally anticipated. I finished a book I had started earlier this month (The Sound of Gravel) and really enjoyed it. I am 35% finished with Rarity from the Hollow (finding this more difficult to get through than I had expected) and I also read a bunch from my work bookstudy, Mindsets in the Classroom (a book I am thoroughly enjoying).

>>> Overall, I read 199 pages in 3 different books. I finished 3 challenges.

So, how did you all do with BoB16? Even with my lackluster reading performance, I am still glad to have participated!

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


BoB16 is near!!

Bout of Books

It's that time again! Time for the no-pressure Bout of Books readathon! I absolutely adore Bout of Books readathons because they are chill and give me a nice little reading boost.

The readathon starts tomorrow (Monday the 9th) and runs until Sunday the 15th. There are twitter parties, challenges, and fun ways to interact with other book lovers.

If you haven't signed up yet, head over to the Bout of Books homepage and get on that list!

Once again I am not setting goals. I've learned now that no goals is what works best for me. I tend to always have them in the back of my mind if I set them, so this time around I'm going no-goals again. I will complete daily updates though, just because I find it fun. As always, you will find me primarily on Instagram, so if you have IG lets hook up!

Happy Bout of Books 16!

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


Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton is phenomenal. It is rare that I ever find a book (outside of Harry Potter) worthy of 5 stars, but this one fits the bill.

A little about the  book - The story follows Yasmin and her deaf daughter, Ruby, as they travel across Alaska in search of Matt, her husband (and Ruby's father). Matt is a wildlife photographer and was meant to meet his family at the airport to join up for the upcoming holiday. Unfortunately Matt doesn't show. The police are convinced he is dead. Yasmin is convinced he is alive. Who is correct? Yasmin is determined to prove she is right. The Quality of Silence follows her as she tries to uncover the truth.

I read this book in a day (during my readathon) and it was so wonderful. I was emotionally invested and completely interested from the get-go. I liked how thrilling the story was throughout, holding my attention during an all-day readathon (which as anyone knows, is difficult). Even with some plot points that seemed a bit obvious to me, I was still enthralled by the novel. Like I said, I don't give out 5 stars lightly.... there was just something about this story. I can't put my finger on it- but it did leave an impact on me.

Highly recommended book, that will make you want to binge watch reality TV about Alaska.

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

FTC I received this book via the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. 


The 24 Hour Readathon -- soon!

Whoa. Is it seriously time to start getting prepared for Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon?? April 23rd, 2016 is the day... I put the readathon on my calendar as soon as the date is released and I try to plan around it so that I have an entirely free reading day.
This upcoming readathon, I am free (at this point!). We have no family plans or other engagements. It is our weekend with Madeline so knowing Bear, he will plan a full day of out-and-about fun with her (he does this for himself too when he is home during a readathon!).

I really don't have any plans for this one- I will make a stack of books and buy snacks, but I am planning to be low pressure again. Not setting goals of blog posts, interactions, books/pages read, etc makes me enjoy the readathon more, so I am sticking to that format!

So... who is all joining in the fun? Sign ups are open, so go mark your calendar and get joined up  in the fun! Hope to see you all around for the readathon!

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


Tales of a curly girl

I am a curly girl. I have naturally curly hair, that is a mile long. Throughout the years I have tried what feels like very product on the market that is made for curly hair. I've found products that I love, and have a pretty good regime down. Through the VoxBox program with Influenster, I received a new curly hair product - L'Oreal Cleansing Balms. As a curly girl, they sent me EverCurl #CleansingBalm to try. The Cleansing Balm is a 6+1 product, designed specifically for curls and made to be easy and quick. EverCurl is meant to cleanse, condition, treat, detangle, soften, and add shine. It is also sulfate free, which is incredibly important for healthy curls.

When I first opened the box, I was impressed by the product and skeptical at the same time. Obviously, I've heard this all before. I used the product alone first (no after shower product and care) and was seriously impressed. In the shower, I used 12 pumps (it suggest 8 - 10 and more depending on length) and was able to easily and efficiently get through my knots. I had just spent a few days at at a waterpark, so my hair was even  more knotty than usual, and I felt like the EverCurl got through it really well. I will be honest, I didn't like the smell. It is coconut mint... however, it felt so clean and treated, that I can totally get over the smell. And really, I am getting used to it.

First wash, no after care products
With frizz free after care product
After my first wash, my hair was frizzy once it dried. Like I said though, I didn't use product after. The second wash, I used my DevaCurl frizz free foam. Between the two, my hair was MAGIC. I was SO pleased with how beautiful my curls were and how simple it is to do my hair. Now I just use EverCurl and a frizz free after shower foam, instead of a shampoo, conditioner, leave in treatment, detangle spray, and foam.

I highly recommend this product for other curly girls out there. It is simple and effective. Especially if you are already a well versed curly girl (don't use towels!, don't touch your hair!, plop at night!, pineapple your wet bun!, etc..)
Seriously, I fell in love, hardcore.

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

FTC: I received this product for free for testing purposes from Influenster and L'Oreal, in exchange for a fair and honest opinion. All conclusions and opinions are my own.

ps: If you think reviewing products is something you're interested, just use this link here to sign up with me at Influenster!


Coming Soon!!!! -- Rarity from the Hollow

Hey everyone! Today I am really excited to share with you a teaser for a book I will be reviewing soon!

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton is an important novel. It is "a children's story for adults". That alone is intriguing, right? How about the fact that author proceeds from the novel are donated? Yes, you read that right. Author proceeds from this novel are donated! Robert is donating his proceeds from the novel to child abuse prevention. That in itself is enough to make me purchase a novel - you all know how near and dear that topic is to me considering my field of work.

Now, without further ado- the details about Rarity from the Hollow:

About the book
Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn't great. But Lacy has one advantage -- she's been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It's up to her to save the Universe.

To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn't mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.

Will Lacy Dawn's predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children's story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Author Info:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia (http://www.childhswv.org/)
Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Okay guys, can you see why I had to have this book?!! I can't wait to dig in and find out what happens with Lacy. I hope you guys find this inspiring and I encourage you to check out the book over on Amazon (find it here).

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


Harry Potter in the Classroom

As many of you know, I purchased a thematic book unit of Harry Potter that was aligned to the Common Core for grades 5 - 8 and have been steadily working my way through the books with my classes. Overall, it has been a hit.

I had a few false starts because my class roster changed dramatically (and quickly) but have finally gotten in a groove with my current group. We have finished years 1 through 3 and are starting year 4, Goblet of Fire this week. The kids go through phases (as all kids do) and got a bit bored with Prisoner of Azkaban in the beginning. Once we got to the "big reveal" though, they were super interested and it got to the point where they were asking to continue reading (instead of one chapter at a time). We finished it last week and of course had our Harry Potter party to celebrate. We watched the  movie, enjoyed snacks, and had a sundae bar. The kids also turned in their final projects and completed a comprehension quiz. After the movie screening, they did a compare/contrast activity between the film and book.
Here's our party in pictures:
A few of the projects completed
At the end of each book they get a certificate for completing the book
Found this on Pinterest and printed it - the kids loved it. Here's the link to make your own
Our kitchen staff is amazing and set up this awesome sundae bar for the kids
The party was a hit, the kids made awesome final projects, and they did great on their final assessments. I am always so proud of the work and effort they put it!

So now, it is on to year 4. We have previewed the book and I've shown them the covers from around the world, including the many variations by Scholastic and Bloomsbury. They're excited for Goblet of Fire, but are a bit apprehensive due to the pure size of this one. It may not be one of my favorites in the series, but most people love it and I have no doubt that the class will soon realize it is one of their favorites because of all the Quidditch and the entertainment in the Triwizard Tournament.

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


Madeline is TEN!

Whoa now, see that headline?... my stepdaughter turned 10 on the 2nd. Where has the time gone?? I met her when she was a wee little thing (five and not yet even in kindergarten!), which means this is a milestone for me as a stepmom too - I've been in her life for (a few months shy of) half of her life! This may not seem like big or interesting news to others, but it is for me. The significance is huge- this little one stole my heart and I have committed my life to being the best Stepmomma I can be to her. She is an amazing girl and I am proud and honored to wear the title of "Stepmom".

This weekend, we threw her a big birthday bash - the theme this year was a painting party! I'll let the pictures do the talking....

Our "melted crayon art" cake we made
The kids making their initial art

Initial artwork!

Maddie blowing out her candles

10 candles for our sweet girl

Egg paint bombs!!

Collaborative egg bomb painting... SUCH fun to create 

Everyone enjoyed themselves and created some fun art. We munched on mini pizzas, veggies, and snacks. At the end, all the kids went home with an artsy goodie bag (paint, brushes, and a mini canvas) and a paint brush cake pop my mom had made for us. I am so pleased with how fun the party was... definitely one of our best!

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


2016 Reads

2016 Reads
goal: 85 books

1. The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

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



Rarely do I DNF a book, but J: A Novel by Howard Jacobson was one of those. I really have very little to say. I didn't finish and I was wildly disappointed... getting less than 50 pages in.

My thoughts:
I don't even know what the hell happened with this one. The synopsis described this book as something to compare with 1984 and Brave New World... two of my favorite books. Well, J failed to deliver. This book made the "did not finish" list. I could barely get past the first 30 pages, let alone finish the book. The cover and the synopsis of this book made it seem like a winner, one I would truly enjoy.... unfortunately, I was very wrong. I wouldn't recommend this one.

I received this book for a fair and honest review from Blogging For Books

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


Bout of Books Update Hub

Bout of Books

Welcome to my Bout of Books Update Hub! Here you will find just my daily updates!

Day 1: Monday 1.4.16
Time spent reading: 10 minutes
Pages read: 12
Book(s) read: The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft
Challenge Completed?: yes #insixwords on twitter
Bookish IG posts: nada

Day 2: Tuesday 1.5.16
Time spent reading: 40 minutes
Pages read: 35
Book(s) read: The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft
Challenge Completed?: yes - would you rather
Bookish IG posts: one

Day 3: Wednesday 1.6.16
No reading for me today - I binge watched Downton Abbey. I decided to re-watch ther series during my Christmas break since the new (and final!) season released this week. Of course, I didn't get through all 5 seasons during break... so I'm trying to finish season 5 so I can start 6 now that it is out!

Day 4: Thursday 1.7.16
Time spent reading: 45 minutes
Pages read: 38
Book(s) read: The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft
Challenge Completed?: nope
Bookish IG posts: none

Day 5: Friday 1.8.16
Time spent reading: 25 mins in the car
Pages read: 18
Book(s) read: The Girl with no past 
Challenge Completed?: yes, on Twitter 
Bookish IG posts: 0

Day 6: Saturday 1.9.16
Time spent reading: 40 mins in the car
Pages read: 35
Book(s) read: The Girl With No Past 
Challenge Completed?: yep - on IG
Bookish IG posts: 1

Day 7: Sunday 1.10.16
Time spent reading: 2 hrs
Pages read: 110
Book(s) read: The Girl With No Past 
Challenge Completed?:
Bookish IG posts: 1

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