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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Best Books on Favorite Villains

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is Favorite Villains.  This is very self-explanatory; however, it is strongly encouraged that you avoid characters from the Harry Potter series!  We are all very aware of Umbridge, Voldemort, Bellatrix, and the Dursleys, so try to point out some different villains because as much as we love Harry Potter, it does get old.

Want to find out who my Top 5 Wednesday Favorite Villains are?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Books I Want to Reread

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Books I Want to Reread!  Though it seems like we are all constantly chasing the next upcoming release or talking about all the trending titles, let's take a trip down memory land and talk about some books that we'd like to revisit.

Want to know my Top 5 Books to Reread?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Discover 3 Great Books Featuring 1 Dynamic Theme - Fiction in the Kitchen

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

Three on a Theme is a monthly feature where I highlight three great backlisted books (older published works) that share similar subjects or topics.

With Thanksgiving a few days away, why not focus on food!  These selections are guaranteed to make you hungry and since you'll probably already be surrounded by a feast, why not indulge a little more while you read a great story!

Here are three great books featuring fiction in the kitchen!

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Ultimate Guide on Reading Activities for Preschoolers! Featuring Dinosaurs!

Greetings Friends!

This week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids was all about dinosaurs with the always amusing Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems!  While the week started out promising, we were all soon waylaid by various problems involving ears, ants, and surgery.  Plus, we ran out of ink for the printer and I just could not get to the store, so many of my go to printables became void!  Needless to say, we have done a dinosaur theme before, so I was able to bring out some previous activities as well as some favorite toys, which still made it feel as though we were connecting with the theme despite all the other issues going on.

Check out our ultimate activity guide for preschoolers featuring dinosaurs!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Best Books on Favorite Publishers

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is about our Favorite Publishers!  This is a great way to examine what we read and what publishers put out that we consider our favorite books!  Take a look at your shelves and figure out which books come from which publishers.  You'll probably be surprised at how many end up coming from the same publishing house!  This is also a chance to introduce others to some of your favorite small presses or imprints.  We talk a lot about the contents of books, but rarely do we talk about the people behind those books that bring them together.

Want to know who my favorite publishers are?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nonfiction November!

Greetings friends!

So I just came across a reading challenge going on over on Booktube this month where you dedicate yourself to reading nonfiction.  How did I not find out about this sooner?!?!  I love reading nonfiction, but the majority of the time, I'm grabbing fiction, so this is a perfect time to catch up on some of those books that I just haven't gotten to.  This event is hosted by A Book Olive and Non Fic Books, so please go and check out their channels for more information.

The challenges for this year are:
  • New
  • Fascinating
  • Important
  • Controversial
The idea is to pick a nonfiction book that could fall into each of these categories, so that you end up reading a total of four for the month.  Since I'm coming into this halfway through the month, there is really no way for me to realistically read four books, so I'm just going to pick a few titles that I've been interested in and participate that way.  However, I'm definitely keeping this idea as reference for next year, so we can make it a thing!  Feel free to design this in the way that best suits you, but I would definitely encourage you to pick up some nonfiction this month, especially if it's something new for you.  The times we find ourselves in now really speak to reading works of nonfiction so that we can better understand the world around us.  

So here are the books I'm picking up, but there are absolutely no guarantees that they will get finished!

I recently came across this book after watching the author's TED talk online and I'm looking forward to reading the book now!
For three years, the author traveled around the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings.  The shamed are people like us, only they made a joke on social media that came out badly or made a mistake at work and once their transgression was revealed, collective outrage ensues.  The next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, and sometimes even fired from their job.  
Shame has become a form of social control and this is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws, and the very scary part we all play in it. 

I Will Find You by Joanna Connors
When the author was 30 years old on an assignment to review a play at a college theater, she was held at knife point and raped by a stranger who had grown up five miles away from her.  Once her assailant was caught and sentenced, Joanna never spoke of the trauma again, until 21 years later when her daughter was about to go to college.  She resolved then to tell her children about her own rape so that they could learn and protect themselves, and she began to realize that the man who assaulted her was one of the formative people in her life.
Setting out to uncover the story of her attacker, Connors embarked on a journey to find out who he was, where he came from, who his friends were, and what his life was like.  What she discovers stretches beyond one violent man's story and back into her own, interweaving a narrative about strength and survival with one about rape culture and violence in America. 
I've also got Hillbilly Elegy on hold at the library, so if it comes in early, I'd like to get that read too.

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. 
So those are the books that I think I could finish by the end of the month.  Will you be reading any nonfiction?  Let me know your reads in the comments because I love adding more books to my TBR!  Use #NonfictionNovember to follow along with others!

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Ultimate Guide on Reading Activities for Preschoolers! Celebrating Gratitude!

Greetings Friends!

This week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids was all about showing gratitude with Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson.  This week offered such a great time to start talking about and getting ready for Thanksgiving as well as looking at how important Veterans Day is especially in this house!  

Check out our ultimate activity guide celebrating gratitude!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Greetings Friends!  

Here is my book review for the summer thriller Before the Fall by Noah Hawley!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Best Books on Characters I Used to Love, But Not Anymore

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is Characters You Used to Love but Don't Anymore!  These are the characters that you used to adore, but now you don't.  Maybe they changed a lot.  Maybe your outlook changed and now you can't stand them.  Maybe you don't even hate them, you're just neutral about them when you used to run a fan blog about them.  Whatever the reasons, these characters just didn't stand the test of time.

Want to find out who my Top 5 Wednesday characters I used to love are?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Owls

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

This week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids was all about owls with Owl Babies by Martin Waddell.  We had a great time making owls out of different kinds of mediums and playing with feathers!  

Owl Babies is a tender story about three owls that awake one night to find that their mother is gone.  They begin to wonder and worry about where she is, what is she doing, and whether she will return or not.  The beautiful double spread illustrations capture each owl's own anxious perspective as well as their exuberant joy upon their mother's return.  The story simply and effectively addresses the fear and anxiety a child experiences when separated from their parents, giving each owl an individual personality to showcase how they handle the situation.  The littlest owl, Bill, only says, "I want my mommy!" and this repetition is especially useful for early readers, who will begin to repeat this wailing right along with Bill!  This is a great book to snuggle up a little closer to with your little one(s) and help them rest easy knowing you will always be back.  

But before we get into all the owl activities, of course, we started the week off with a fun-filled Halloween celebration with Monster donuts and going to our local library for a story time that included the staff giving the kids lots of little treats.  

I really liked this picture that husband captured of us in the fog, which definitely gave it a spooky feel!

It was a very fun and exhausting day needless to say!

We also did a pumpkin face activity from JDaniel4's Mom using up some more of the candy corn we had left over from our last pumpkin art!  I think more of it ended up in Maddox's mouth though!

And to wrap up our Halloween festivities, each year I create a keepsake to display.  This year I used the boy's feet and made some witches!

I've been making a different picture since Maddox's first Halloween and will greatly treasure these when the boys' feet are way too big and they've since lost interest in all of these crafty things.  

So on to the owls!

We all really enjoyed this week.  Playdough was the key and the activities that I found to incorporate it kept him entertained for quite a while longer than I had anticipated.  Plus, he kept asking to do some of these across several days, so that was awesome!

Preschool Powol Packets provided printable playdough mats to use for owls and practice counting.  It's so funny how much Maddox loves googly eyes right now!  Anything that gives him a chance to put googly eyes on something is a huge hit!

Another day, the boys had a great time playing with feathers as we did a color sorting activity from To Be A Kid Again.

I then used the owl templates from Sunflower Storytime for use on my trusty flannel board for story rhymes and songs.  Jax had a great time taking them all off, but big brother Maddox was quick to put them all back up to repeat this cycle!

Sunflower Storytime also provided the inspiration to have Maddox make some owls using a toilet paper roll.  

I had an event to attend that day, so this was the perfect craft for all of my boys to do together!  I made a wing template and Maddox practiced cutting, which is another obsession around here lately!  It was a cute little craft that the Dad made with them and Maddox was super excited to tell me about it when I got home.  

The following activities were all honorable mentions.  I wish we had had time to get to them, but I'll hold on to them for future reference.

And as always, here are some of our favorite books about owls for you to consider reading as part of the theme:

Little Owl's Day and Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

Good-Night, Owl by Pat Hutchins

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli

Little Owl's Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney

So that was our fun week with owls!  

But before I close, I have to give lots of praise to little dude who completed the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten at one of our public libraries.  He got a yellow ribbon and his name on a leaf for their tree in the children's room.  He was so excited, he wouldn't even look at me while I took a picture!  

This is the second time he has completed the challenge, and officially on Goodreads, he's read over 2500 books for the first time!  This count doesn't include multiple readings of the same book, so it's actually more like 25,000 books because I know we've read every Skippyjon Jones book that many times!  

Up next is a week of gratitude with Bear Says Thanks!

Have a great week!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

T5W: Top 5 Misleading Synopses!

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Most Misleading Synopses!  Have you ever read a synopsis and thought the book sounded dumb, but then you read the book years later and it's actually amazing?  Or have you ever read a synopsis and thought it sounded amazing, but it actually turns out to be nothing like the synopsis?  Or what about a synopsis that spoiled something that happens 75% of the way into the book so you just spend most of your time waiting for that one element you already know?  Well, then this is the topic for you!

This topic was really hard, so I only ended up choosing three books!  These books are ones that the synopsis sounded really great and lured me in, but ultimately the stories turned out to be nothing like I thought or wanted to read.  I guess my imagination created a better story!  In no particular order, here are my selections!

1.  Hit by Lorie Ann Grover

Hit (Blink) by [Grover, Lorie Ann]

This one seemed billed on the idea that this young girl who has committed to going to one college on a full scholarship falls for a student teacher at her school who also teaches at the other college that she has also shown interest in.  She starts expressing her feelings for him in a poetry journal that he reads and writes back to, slightly naive to the fact that she has convinced herself that his responses are alluding to his love for her as well.  One morning, she decides to declare her intentions to him once and for all, while at the same time, the teacher decides to end the speculation because the fallout from that kind of attention is too much for him to handle this early in his career.  As both head to the school in the rain, he ends up hitting her with his car and everything changes.

This book had great undertones of a thriller that suggested perhaps the teacher intentionally hit her to get rid of the complications she was bringing to his life, but that wasn't the case at all.  He simply just accidentally hit her when she stepped into the road and there were no hidden motives!  He was truly remorseful about the whole thing.  But then the story became more about her finding confidence in herself to realize that she didn't just have to go to the college that her parents expected her to go to because of the scholarship, but rather the one that she did want to go to and not because she was chasing some unattainable love interest.

I did not like this one at all, especially once she ends up in the hospital after the accident, having her skull opened up to reduce the brain swelling and all the family seems to be concerned about is with her appearance!  Her brother comes in for the first time to see her and dramatically grimaces, saying something about her looking like Frankenstein and he can't even look at her because she's making him sick!  The parents don't even knock him upside the head and remind him that his sister is lucky to be alive!  They just give excuses about how he's in shock!  Whatever!  What an obnoxious family and an obnoxious book with no redeemable qualities, except for maybe the cover, but then that's just being as superficial as this book!

2.  Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler

Read Me Like a Book

This is exactly what the synopsis says:  

"Ashleigh Walker is in love.  You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love.  It's enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college.  Enough to distract her from her parents' marriage troubles.  There's just one thing bothering her...shouldn't it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?  A thought-provoking coming out story."
So I totally read into this thinking it would be about a young girl having an inappropriate relationship with her teacher and realizing that she was a lesbian, but being conflicted as well because the source of these feelings is with an adult violating her trust.  A book that I absolutely loved was Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, which details the problems a young boy has after he is sexually abused by his female teacher.  I wanted this book to be about that kind of situation, only dealing with it from a homosexual perspective, only it wasn't like that at all.  Even the cover is confusing because it paints an erotic picture that combined with the synopsis suggests a really evocative story!  Ultimately, it was a pretty good exploration of a young girl coming out, but overall just a meh coming of age story.  

3.  Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

This story is about 17-year-old conjoined twins, facing a crossroads, and as their graduation from high school comes closer, they must untangle their dreams from each other and figure out what it means to be her own person.  This sounded intriguing and inspiring given their medical condition and what they and their family must have faced in the small town they grew up in, but ultimately, it was just a really underwhelming coming of age story filled with the same tropes in any other average angst-ridden teenage drama.  There's hardly any personal or emotional depth to the story of the girls being conjoined and both girls are so similar in voice that it's hard to even tell them apart or believe that this is supposed to be exploring two widely different individuals.  If you'd like to read thoughtful and moving stories about conjoined twins, I highly recommend One by Sarah Crossan or The Girls by Lori Lansens.

So those are the books that really misled me.  Are there any books that turned out to be misleading for you?  Let me know in the comments!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Nightime

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

This week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids was all about nighttime with Time For Bed by Mem Fox.  We had a great time playing with flashlights, talking about stars and the moon, as well as learning about the various sleeping habits of animals.

Time For Bed by Mem Fox is a sweet book featuring various animals as they get sleepy, get comfy, and snuggle in for a good night's rest.  The illustrations are beautiful, depicting two-page spreads of an animal parent and baby preparing for bed.  The short, rhyming text is very soothing and aids in gently lulling little ones to sleep, as well as instilling a sense of the rhythm that exists in language to early learners.  This book is available in several formats, but I highly recommend the hardcover version unless you fear that your baby or toddler would tear the pages.  Then by all means the board book is appropriate; however, having the smaller size doesn't do the illustrations justice.  These large illustrations and the use of simple, easy to understand language truly capture a child's attention and make this a great way to say goodnight.