Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Defies Genres, but most commonly found in Historical or Romance sections, sometimes Fantasy
Length: 1059 pages
Seriously, the first thing I exclaimed when I was done reading via illness induced three day marathon was “Holy Crap on a Cracker!” Clearly I need to find new expletives. That particular one was not worthy of the book it came on the heels of.
As always, Diana Gabaldon is fabulous and a wonderful storyteller. Where I’ve usually plucked my way through her books, reading a little here and a little there as a fairy tale adventure before bed – this time I just plowed right through until I was done.
I picked up the third installment of Gabaldon’s book – a first edition mass market paperback from November 1994 that life threw in my lap somewhere along the way – after watching the new Starz series to date. Putting Gabaldon’s story to film has been a long time coming, but it was worth the way. I watched 6 episodes in a row, tucked neatly in my bed with a bag of jalapeno chips and lots of hot tea. Don’t let me fool you, I’d been planning my all-day cave viewing for nearly two weeks, and it would have happened whether I’d been sick that day or not, but being sick definitely helped me get away with it.
See, I planned on writing a review for the show to accompany my other Diana Gabaldon related posts. But the show doesn’t really need one. They’ve done so well, in my opinion, and followed the story hook, line, and sinker. Although I find my fairly prude self fast forwarding through the sex scenes, I think the show is wonderful.
Especially awesome was seeing the author – Diana Gabaldon – pop up in The Gathering episode. She has such a lovely and obvious face, I was so excited for her to be IN her own creation in that manner.
Naturally, when I ran out of episodes I sought out the next installment of the book – having started reading the series ages ago, but never finished. (I can’t finish it all at once, I have to savor it.)
Author/Illustrator: Connah Brecon
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Available for Purchase: October 2014
“Frank was late. Frank was always late,” Brecon’s book begins.
Frank! is full of dance parties, lizard king invasions, and a school teacher that won’t quit. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to discuss timeliness, pocket watches, and working together with your kiddo.
We read this over the summer for kid’s story time at Half Price Books Humble and one of our favorite features of the story are the three pigeons who follow Frank the Bear everywhere. We enjoying scoping them out and finding them napping against a tree trunk on one page and lurking on a fence board on another.
Brecon has other picture books, but this is his first to be published in the United States. He lives in Australia, and we were pretty excited to get a chance to review his debut book. Kiddo thought Frank! was pretty exciting and she can be seen “reading” the book here on the left (she’s not yet four in this picture). The other kiddo at story time that day was looking through another title we received earlier that month. We’re pleased with our first experience with Running Press Kids and look forward to more of their publications in the future.
I love reading on my kindle. I wasn’t sure that I would, but I do. Somehow, once you get the darn thing to work, it goes a little faster. Since acquiring my own, I’ve already read 7 titles. There’s a reason that statistically kindle users read more than non-kindle users. There’s more access, they’re conveniently portable, and there’s lots of free stuff to download so it’s poor people friendly. (Trips to the library use gas.)
But that’s IF you can stay connected to the wifi. Clearly, I’m on my wifi now – typing this onto my online blog. My kindle, however, can’t find the connection. Can’t make the connection. When I do have a connection I download everything I can as fast as I can because there’s no telling when it will disappear. I CAN guarantee that it will disappear if I plug my device into my computer to manage documents or to charge it. As soon as I unplug, I have to set it all back up again.
When I have a connection, it loves to download things I didn’t ask for. Those pages at the end of books that invite you to read other stuff the author has written? Yeah, avoid them like the plague unless you have plenty of money and really love the author. You even blink at that page and it will download the book. I called customer service and the very helpful people un-downloaded it for me and returned my money… for the book I had already read instead of the one I didn’t want. I had to call back and say, “Nope, you got the wrong one. I need that book, I should be charged for that book as I already read it… it’s the OTHER one I don’t want.” Currently I don’t have either. Despite their speediness in answering phones (no lengthy wait times for these awesome people), I am not looking forward to calling yet again.
You would think this is user error. I thought so too. Clearly, it’s me we’re talking about here. Technology is not my strong point. However, I can read directions. I can navigate myself around websites, and I READ. (Also, there are tons of online complaints about the same issues I’m having.) More and more I’m finding that technology is not my strong suit because there always seems to be something wrong with it. Computers always get viruses. Phones drop calls. The electronic features in your car leave you trapped inside after a car accident because the door won’t open and the paramedics have to pull you through a window (true story); the electronics features in your (different) car stop working and the window just FALLS down while you’re driving down the highway. Kindles forget how to find their wifi. It’s not so much that I’m ANTI-tech… it’s that it is only worth it to me when the tech is actually making my life easier, not more difficult. Yay! I read 7 books on my kindle. They were great books! I enjoyed my time with them. But were it not for my extensive physical library, I’d be out of reading material before bed tonight.
If YOU have a kindle, or are thinking about getting one, you might want to write this stuff down:
phone: 1-866-321-8851 or 1-206-266-0927
You can imagine my squeals of joy when this happened:
Just thought I’d share and send two of my favorite people to promote some online love.
Title:The Last Beach Bungalow
Author: Jennie Nash
Length: 271 pages
I love beaches, and despite my father’s distaste for them, bungalows as well. So naturally, the cover of the book moved me the instant I saw it. But it took me awhile to sit down to read it. I was saving it. I was saving it for when I needed to lose myself in a fictional bungalow romance. The romance, of course, being with the house, not between people.
This is a beautiful story that Nash has written. All that is within is conveyed on the front cover except for the holiday aspect – the story revolves around Christmas time. But maybe that’s what Christmas looks like in California. I don’t know. I’ve never been there.
The story is about April Newton, a cancer survivor, who is building her dream home with her husband. Except she has an impression of her McMansion that stems from the state of her lackluster life, and instead she seeks wisdom and warmth from a beach bungalow.
The owner of this 1928 original bungalow is seeking a buyer with heart. What would you give – besides money – to live here? Bring your offers, your stories, and a promise to preserve and protect. Winner will pay $300,000.
The story is lovely. Lines like, “I wanted to hear the sadness out loud that I felt so silently in my bones,” trickle through and keep you turning the page. It’s about coldness and warmth, on a level beyond the skin, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. But my favorite part was at the end, in the reader’s guide, when the publisher thought to ask teary eyed book clubbers: “Have you ever fallen in love at first sight with anything or anyone – a person, a dress, a dog, or a house?”
Yes. Several times over, yes. With a dog (a beagle, Geoffrey Chaucer), with a bike (a 1960’s Sears Cruiser), with two of my previous homes, and finally – the most appropriate answer – a bungalow.
Recently, we’ve been home hunting. We’ve been redefining our dreams, our lives, our priorities. Is it stuff? Is it land? Is it the right neighborhood or is it being debt free? I’ve dreamed of beaches in Georgia, of hole in the wall houses in Galveston, of land in the country, of many places… but briefly, I was madly in love with a bungalow being sold by a widow – just like in the story, but there was no contest.
It had teal trim, just down the road from a university I once planned on attending. It was for auction as is for $55k. There were fig and citrus trees in the back, just behind a box garden that was just beyond a patio I could have lounged on for hours. There was a lean-to that had been enclosed to make a faux laundry room and I nearly cried with glee when I walked into it, because I’d been having discussions all year with my editor as to whether the general public these days would know what a lean-to was. The walls in the lean-to weren’t finished and I dreamed of finishing them myself and painting them sunshine yellow. I could see myself folding laundry with my dogs at my feet, my husband’s tools in the corner.
Just inside the back door was kitchen with custom made cabinets, floor to low ceiling. They had been made by the man who had lived there. Like Nash’s story, the daughter was the one showing the house. She had tales about her father and uncle making those cabinets. I envisioned a vintage style refrigerator where the appliance should go.
Hardwood floors, a cast iron stairway her father had welded himself. The living room was my least favorite, but it would do, I didn’t plan on spending much time there. The downstairs bedrooms were cozy and the attic was built out with two more – one large and strangely shaped with nooks and cranies to tuck oddly built shelves. I wanted to hide my library there and create a writer’s nook – or make it my daughter’s bedroom. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like a nerdy-princess’s dream tower. Also upstairs was a much newer restroom than was down below and a tiny bedroom fit for a doll – or a cool playroom nook.
My best friend drove me there to look. My daughter twirled around the rooms telling me she’d live there (which was a big deal since we were leaving the only house she’d ever known). We walked the property, me saying awkward and possibly inappropriate things in my distraction and awe while my best friend asked the real questions. I kept going in and out. I mentally filled the house with my own things and started visualizing what didn’t fit going into the trash can. Outside there was a garage clearly meant for a carpenter. The yard clearly meant for dogs and a garden. I was dying to show my husband. The neighborhood wasn’t quite right, but the house was a dream. Small and quaint and restful.
Like April Newton, I wanted to rest there. I could see myself there for years to come, if only it would offer me the peace and coziness away from the outside world that I desire most. Like April Newton, it was not meant for me. I can’t find any photos of it online, which must mean it’s off the market. I only hope that whoever finally found it is treating it well.
There’s just something about bungalows.
Teach Your Child to Read Outside and Play – A Lot
It’s been awhile since I shared a bit from our homeschooling adventures. Since my last homeschooling post, we purchased Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and have progressed to Lesson 9. We’ve taken Poet Laureate and Professor Mark Strand’s advice about memorizing 1500 lines of poetry and memorized the first four verses of Psalm 1, with the intent of memorizing a verse a week until we know the whole book by heart (no, I did not do the math on this and I have no idea how long it will take – I think the less I know in this regard the better). We’ve moved, and have done a lot of exploring our new school-site – via bubble blowing. We’ve learned to play Checkers (pretty exciting for an almost four year old), and we’re tackling bead projects.
She got this cool dinosaur coloring book awhile back, but has really taken to it in the last few months. The book teaches your kid how to draw properly named dinosaurs step by step. Whether you’re a die hard dinosaur believer, or a skeptic to their existence, all kids love dinosaurs – they’re just so cool!
Activity books like these teach kids to follow step by step instructions, help with dexterity and handling writing utensils, and keep them busy for thirty minutes to an hour at a time. Win, win for everyone.
Moving and Acoustics
The great thing about moving with a small child is teaching your kid the art of donation from a young age. What we don’t need anymore, we’ve been donating. For a kid who has outgrown those things, it’s time consuming, but giving them the knowledge and opportunity to come to conclusions about their own belongings is an eye-opening experience. I haven’t forced her to get rid of anything, and I’m overjoyed to have so many moments when my kiddo comes to me and says, “Mama, I don’t need this anymore. We can give this to another kid.” And off to Goodwill we go. (At our garage sales she selected things to sell and was quite the little negotiator. She made about $5 off old toys other kids carried off and put that money right in her piggy bank. Now, she keeps telling me she has plenty of money for Chick-fi-la…)
On top of all that, every kid should get a chance to stand in an empty room and shout at the top of their lungs. (Or spin in circles singing All Around the Mulberry Bush while shooting a soft dart gun…)
This book came highly recommended by my sister who has taught 5 kids to read (not including myself when I was 4) and has 2 more that are on their way to starting lessons. The above link is for Amazon.com, but I actually purchased my copy from hpbmarketplace.com.
Teach Your Child to Read goes straight into the phonics and skips the step of learning what a letter is called. My kid could already identify all her letters and knew most of her phonics, but she’s enjoying diving right into the decoding process by seeing an “m” and knowing to say “Mmmmm.” We’re only on Lesson 9 and she can already read words like “mat” and “sat,” “am” and “Me” just by sounding them out. These beginning lessons do not teach sight words but sounding out and decoding a word even if it means you don’t understand the word right away. I like this because it allows a child to read outside their vocabulary and have the tools to learn new words.
We do the rhyming and say it fast/ say it slow exercises while outside playing bubbles:
Here, she’s not just practicing the “sssss” sound (and writing it, look at the chalkboard behind her), she’s also blowing some stellar bubbles while sporting a Seed Savers t-shirt, compliments of S. Smith, author of the series. Kiddo adores Sandy and the shirt she gave her.
Beads and Dexterity
No preschool program is complete without crafts!
While moving I rediscovered some craft supplies from my own childhood. I thought about donating these as well, but kiddo begged to do a bead project and I determined that these were worth saving. The star was her first try, it took about an hour to complete; so if your preschooler doesn’t quite have the patience and attention span, be prepared to split a project like this into two sessions.
Check out Klemm University for more frequent updates. We are an online homeschool group based in Texas and would love for other homeschool moms, teachers, and general citizens to pipe in with ideas for keeping our educational journey more exciting, diverse, and thorough. Come join the conversations!
Author: Robert J. Crane
Format: Kindle Ebook
Alone is the first of a three part series called The Girl in the Box. I found the whole series as a free Kindle download on twitter. (You can find some amazing deals through twitter.)
Having now read the first of what seems to be a pretty bold series, I can whole-heartedly say that this is a title worthy of purchasing the paperback. It’s all action and go from the first page to the last, and Crane’s plot points are well calculated and paced perfectly.
I’m pretty excited about reading the whole series and can’t wait to review the box set as a whole. Fans of the TV Shows Alias and Lost Girl will find themselves completely engrossed by this first book. There’s plenty of action, moderate gore, and a good amount of mysterious story reveals to keep any reader on edge and holding their breath for the next scene.
Other reviewers seem to find a lack of character development and interesting storytelling, but I think those people are missing the book’s purpose. It isn’t about character development – it’s not meant to be the latest story of the ages (read here: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or The Matrix). Instead, this is an entertaining action story, worthy of a blockbuster movie (read here: Die Hard, Mission Impossible, Resident Evil, etc).
Give it a try – you can download the ebook for free. See what you think.
Yesterday was the 2nd Annual Fall Festival at Good Books in the Woods. A picture paints a thousand words, so here ye be:
#DidntMakeItToTheFestival raffles happening today (and possibly later this week) on twitter.
If you’re interested in being a vendor next year, contact Good Books in the Woods on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GoodBooksintheWoods
Author: Meb Bryant
Genre: Suspense / Short Stories
Format: Kindle Ebook
Doubles Match KILLED me! It’s so good! I have to warn mothers, however, that little Emma reminds me so much of my kiddo that the kidnapping was a rip through my gut.
Spoiler: It works out in the end – read the whole story!
Definitely worth the 99 cents as a nightcap, although I admit I received mine as a gift from the author. I’m enjoying my kindle specifically for these short gems that I’d otherwise miss.
Author: Christina Bauer
Genre: Paranormal/ Action Romance
Format: Kindle Ebook
Unholy Moley! (as Myla Lewis likes to say) That was cool.
Life in Purgatory, post Armageddon (the demon, not the event), fighting other demons in an arena gladiator style has 18 year old Myla Lewis pretty busy. She’s part demon, among other things, and can do some serious damage with her tail. But as with any fantasy adventure, things are about to get more complicated…
This was a pretty fun (older) teen romantic adventure. You’ve got all your key elements: a pretty stellar and unique world, a kick-ass heroine, and a hot prince. Fans of the TV Show Supernatural, The Mortal Instruments series (books and movie), as well as Buffy and Lost Girl, will get a kick out of this fast paced read. It helps that the first in the series is a free kindle download, but it’s definitely worth the extra bucks to find out what happens next.
Although I definitely get the teen fantasy vibe from it, I’d only recommend it for 17-19 year old teenagers, not younger ones. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but there’s a few too many f-bombs and sexual angst for me to hand it over to my younger nieces and nephews, even if I was reading John Grisham at 12 that doesn’t mean I’m going to push that language and sexual energy into their lives with purpose. If a 14 to 16 year old picked it up on their own, I wouldn’t stop them though.
All in all, it’s fun zipping around killing things as a chosen one for a few hours. Fun story, can’t wait to read the rest of Bauer’s work on a rainy weekend.