Gift Guide: For The Bookish Fangirl In Your Life

I could subtitle this: Gifts you should please buy me right now. Is that too on the nose? Sorry not sorry. Whether you are looking to buy a gift for your wife, best friend, sister, or another awesome bookworm in your life who is only mostly a grown up – let this be your guide to winning Christmas.

 

 

Taylor Swift’s new CD Reputation is giving me life right now and I’ve only heard three songs. Promising stuff for anyone in the Swift Army.


I think a pretty coffee mug is a safe bet for just about anyone but if you can combine multiple obsessions you have a winner on your hands. I like this Talk Darcy To Me mug from the Bookery Boutique.


Who isn’t a Stranger Things fan these days? Give her front porch a face lift with this awesome Upside Down Welcome Mat from Cloud 9 Craftss.


Lamy Fountain Pens are touted as one of the better affordable fountain pens. Don’t forget some extra ink!


I’ve been coveting the Marrying Mr. Darcy card game for ages but haven’t splurged on it yet. Win Game Night with a sure hit for fans of Pride & Prejudice.

 

Okay on to the books! These are five books currently at the top of my wish list:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is getting so much attention right now. It’s a National Book Award Longlist title and a #1 New York Times Bestseller. “Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.


Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger aka my favorite comic is perfect for your friend who loves a good celeb memoir / comedic essays. It’s a “collection of essays and observations on a confident woman’s approach to friendship, singlehood, and relationships.


Turtles All The Way Down by John Green is one of those titles that all the book bloggers are talking about right now because every bookish person knows to bow before John Green for all eternity. This time is tackling mental illness and also friendship and family. “Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.


Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz is basically a home run choice if you are shopping for someone who loves Jane Austen retellings, Christmas, awesome YA authors or even better all of the above. “Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.” That’s right – this one is swapping the genders of Darcy and Lizzie – so intrigued!


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is perfect for fans of sweet love stories with a twist. ” Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

And of course if you are concerned they have already read these books or you just aren’t sure which one to choose, bookworms love nothing more than a gift card to their favorite bookstore and a chance to run wild through the stacks!

The IRL Report: November 2017

I feel like I was a little lackadaisical with my posting last month. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been uber plugged into life and enjoying all the little moments. While that was certainly true sometimes I think it’s also just that it keeps getting cold and gray which results in me hermiting in the living room with Hulu or sometimes hermiting at a coffee shop with small children and a warm drink. Also making up my own words like hermiting.

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I thought I’d share a few of the other things we’ve been doing this month that I haven’t mentioned here yet. Things like taking really long cold hikes in the middle of nowhere.

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So much enthusiasm. It cannot be contained.

Getting all touristy and posing with giant mammoths and cave men and stuff.

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And eating baking too many delicious cakes and cookies. Peanut butter cookies with candy in the middle continues to be one of my favorites.

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But I also ate some fancier cookies that someone else made and OMG it kind of completed me. I might need to dig for new recipes soon.

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What have you been up to lately?

Easy Last Minute Advent Idea: Holiday Jokes and Puns

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We have a beautiful advent calendar that was handmade for us by my sweet and talented step mom or Meme as my kids call her. It’s one of my favorite Christmas decorations but sometimes the stress to fill it with Pinterest worthy goodies / activities / treats / toys can be overwhelming. But why make things hard for ourselves?

Because my Super Mom Skill is delegating like a boss, I’m using the powers of Google and my laser printer and taking advantage of some clever bloggers who came before me. I decided on a theme – basically dad jokes holiday style – and then told Google about it and Google said, “Of course it exists already!” There are a lot of choices but these four were my favorites:

Four Free Printables for Advent / Holiday Jokes

Lindsay at Artsy Fartsy Mama whose adorable holiday themed jokes printables are so freaking adorable! Lindsay also shared 24 non-candy Advent ideas recently if you are looking for more great ideas.

Bianca at A Little Delightful shared holiday jokes to fill Christmas crackers a few years ago. They print out nice and small, about the size for a fortune cookie so if space is limited, these are perfect.

Leandrea at Coupons are Great shared some more adorable holiday jokes to tuck into your little ones’ lunch boxes. So even if you aren’t worried about Advent calendars right now, lunch box notes are another fun way to use these jokes!

MJ and Modern Parents Messy Kids has a whole advent calendar printable using, you guessed it, holiday jokes and puns! Apparently I’m not the first one to come up with this idea. If you don’t already have an Advent calendar and your looking at the calendar right now like OMG – just head straight here and download their printable and you are GOOD TO GO.

Does your family use an Advent calendar?

What are you filling your Advent calendar with?

What are you drinking while you fill it?

The 5 books that have Been on my TBR the longest.

This week’s prompt for Top 5 Tuesday is 5 books that have been on your TBR the longest. I look forward to seeing everyone’s lists for this prompt because so often we are all sharing the same assortment of titles that are hot on everyone’s radars. This prompt should give us all a broader peek at each other’s reading habits.

I’m actually sharing the 5 books which have been on my Amazon wishlist the longest because I don’t keep up with my GoodReads TBR list well at all and my physical bookshelves would be too difficult to gauge time spent on shelf waiting for me.

So here are the 5 books that have been on my Amazon wishlist the longest:

51lNQ4Rs0ALHit by Delilah Dawson is the oldest resident on my wishlist. The premise of this book is so unique and so compelling to me. I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t purchased this one yet:

No one reads the fine print.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that it was bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of anarchy across the country.

Patsy didn’t have much of a choice. When the suits showed up at her house threatening to kill her mother then and there for outstanding debt unless Patsy agreed to be an indentured assassin, what was she supposed to do? Let her own mother die?


51z70WYC6HLOnly Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill boasts a beautiful cover and a promising premise as well. I think the only reason I haven’t purchased this one yet because I have read similar sounding stories already:

Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O’Neill’s world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called “eves”) are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. Freida and Isabel are best friends. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions–wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives–life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)–are too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty–her only asset–in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future–even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

51PdlbUdW8LMy Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster looks just as awesome as all of her other titles but I already have a backlog of her books that I still need to read so I haven’t been able to justify buying this one yet. I stalled out on the last Lancaster book I was reading and have had a hard time diving back into another one but this one sounds frankly awesome:

Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces.

In Jen’s corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing’s for certain: Eliza Doolittle’s got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.


51ywRbniv+LThe Art of Memoir by Mary Karr has been on my radar for awhile and seems to be beloved by many writers and readers. I think the only reason I haven’t gotten it is because I already have lots of books on writing that I haven’t actually read. Do I need another?

For thirty years Karr has [taught the form of memoir writing], winning teaching prizes at Syracuse.  (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.

Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told— and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.


41D5jtC3TpLEssays of E.B. White was recommended by a blogger a few years ago and has been sitting on my wishlist ever since. I think it might be one of those books that I think I should want to read but I’m not sure if I actually do want to. Does that make sense?

The Amazon description for this book just says, “The classic collection by one of the greatest essayists of our time.” Compelling stuff there, huh? But E.B. White has written some of the best children’s books ever like  Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web and the book has some fairly glowing praises.

One of the reviews on Amazon says:

“What a delicious read. E B White makes a trip in his car an exciting adventure. His essays are full of humor. Life was more rustic. but not exactly calmer and White writes about his career, his family, his environment, his loves and dislikes. His style is so engaging. You go back to a prior time and enjoy the ride and the read.”

Another reviewer blamed the book for ruining college for them so… grain of salt?


These books have all been on my list for over two years. Does that mean I don’t really want to read them since I haven’t purchased them yet or that I really want to read them but they have been rude and haven’t gone on sale ever? It’s hard to say because I do prune the list relatively often when it starts feeling too long to be manageable and these five titles have continued to make the cut.

Have you read any of these?

Which one should I add to my shopping cart first?

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Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly link up hosted by Bionic Bookworm.

My 5 “Auto-Buy” Authors

You know those authors who come out with a new book and you know you are going to buy it pretty much sight unseen? That’s what this week’s Top 5 Tuesday (hosted by the Bionic Book Worm) is all about. I think this list has shifted for me a bit over the years as new authors grab my attention and maybe older authors have become less of a sure thing.

Here are 5 authors who are killing it for me right now:

16068905Rainbow Rowell won me over with Fangirl (which was so popular that it led to a spin off title of the book within the book that our main character is so obsessed with) but has been consistently winning me over with every title since then. Eleanor and Park is beloved by just about everyone and Attachments really sucked me in as well.

If you love fully fleshed out characters that feel like they live inside your heart, under dogs that make good, settings that  feel iconic to a certain time and place – Rowell is your girl. She has yet to not knock it out of the park for me making her an obvious choice for this list.

 


28372019Jenny Colgan is relatively new to the list but after devouring The Bookshop on the Corner, I pretty much immediately bookmarked all of her other books. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe proved that this is an author that knows her genre and excels at it. She thus very quickly established herself as a sure thing for me.

If you like cozy love stories starring quiet bookworms who learn to love themselves while embarking on a new adventure or career, Colgan is there for you. If you happen to also love it when those stories are set in the UK, bonus points for you. These are the sort of quick reads that have you up until 2AM reading just one more page I swear and then purchasing the next title as soon as you finish.


book one of the Lunar ChroniclesMarissa Meyer jumped to my attention when I started reading The Lunar Chronicles and I’ve basically auto-TBRed all of her books forever. While her novel, Heartless, didn’t quite complete me, I’m still eager to read any and all of her upcoming books.

I love Meyers books for the strong female characters who kick butt and take names, fantastical world building and imperfectly perfect characters who have flaws without being a farce. Even her villains have the opportunity to be fleshed out and understood. She also excels at reinventing well known fairy tales and turning them on their heads.

 


11870085John Green is another author who frankly seems to excel at everything he touches whether it’s a novel or a You Tube show. It’s understandable that the people who love John, really freaking adore him. I think that The Fault in Our Stars is still probably my favorite of his books but I’ve read several and really have loved them all. I’m looking forward to digging into his latest release, Turtles All The Way Down.

John has a talent for tackling topics that are often depressing or difficult to talk about and bringing humor and levity to the issue without downplaying it. He also writes boyfriend characters that you will fall in love with and has his finger on the pulse of what it means to be a teenager.


16130417Lisa Lutz wrote one of my favorite mystery / detective series ever, The Spellman Files and although I didn’t love the last non-Spellman title I read quite as much, I still tend to wishlist all her new releases and wait with baited breath for a new Spellman title (might I be waiting eternally Lisa?).

Lutz is a master at family dynamics and juggling a rotating list of characters whose viewpoints into the story are carefully unfolded at just the right times. Her mysteries are exciting but rarely scary and tend to dwell more on personal growth and relationships but they are still excellent mysteries as you have to really read through the entire book until you get to the heart of the “whodunnit”. Her characters are realistically messy and have a bit of an anti-hero quality that really appeals to me.

Honorable Mentions go to: Jen Lancaster, Christopher Moore, Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Weiner who would definitely have been on this list once upon a time but have kind of dropped off of my “auto buy” list and relocated to my “definitely consider getting” list.

Who would be on your auto buy list?

Happy Halloween!

I feel like it’s been Halloween for a good week and a half what with all the parties and trunk or treat festivities, but tonight is the actual Big Night and my kids are raring and ready to go.  When it comes to costumes, are you Team Scary or Team Sweet? We are probably somewhere in the middle but thanks to the wonders of photo editing, I can pretend my kids’ costumes are way more involved and creative than IRL.

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Thanks to Picmonkey.com for all the fun filters and overlays. Thanks to Target and Menards and our closets for the costumes. Thanks to watching too much Stranger Things for my creative direction. No worries, these horrifying creatures won’t be showing up on your door step tonight. You’ll actually be giving your candy to this:

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Although MM’s mask is approaching the world of scary costumes:

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Don’t be scurred. Just give them all your candy and no harm will befall you. Bonus points if there are Reese’s in there for mom.

Happy Halloween guys!

5 Halloween Costumes Ideas for Your Dog

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In case you haven’t already met him: This is my dog, Doctor E. Or Doc for short. Or sometimes: “Oh my god, shut up, we get it – the mail is here! Go lay down!” He’s a very handsome dude  for sure and he can be a lot of fun but I’ll be honest, the idea of dressing him up for Halloween is laughable at best. I mean – maybe on some level he’d think it was a fun idea but on all the other levels he’d either decide the costume was attacking him or that it was delicious. Either way, it’s going to be ripped to shreds. 

So to save myself the money for a costume that will be ruined in 5 minutes and the vet bill for when his Lemon of a Body can’t handle the toll that digesting said costume will wreak on his body… I decided to dress him up digitally instead. Just as cute and honestly about the same amount of effort, money and vet bills aside.

On the off chance that your dog is less insane than mine and wants to dress up for Halloween this year, feel free to steal my ideas and use them IRL. Also I’m jealous of your dog.

5 Costume Ideas for Your Halloween Loving Dog

IDEA #1 : Sketchy Musician Boyfriend Dog

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Is your dog a guitar playing ladies man with a heart of tequila? Help him dress the part this Halloween so he can score some canine tail. All you need are some cheesy sunglasses, a fake mustache, a tiny guitar and maybe some Axe body spray for bonus points. Walk behind him playing an awesome guitar solo on your iPhone and watch the chicks go crazy for him.

IDEA #2 Olympic Doggy Paddler

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If your dog lives for the pool and you have a pair of old goggles and a gold medal, you have everything you need for this costume. He totally won’t lose his mind when you try to put the goggles and swim cap on him, I promise.

IDEA #3 Rudolph the Red Nosed Retriever

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This costume is perfect if you are one of those people just waiting to put up their Christmas tree and start baking holiday cookies. All you need are tree branches and a red rubber nose (or red spray paint, no judgement here) and you are 100% good to go. Your dog can’t possibly hate it any more than the Grinch’s dog and if he happens to help save Christmas, well, it’s a good thing you were there.

IDEA #4 Have No Fear, Under Dog Is Here

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It is a good time to be a Comic Book Geek right now – There are dozens of Super Heroes for your dog to emulate for Halloween but I know my dog is definitely The Flash at heart when he’s whipping around the race track my house at 175 MPH. The BOOM and CRASH are already par for the course around here, so a Super Hero shield and mask are really just the next logical step. (Mask not shown here because my photo editing skills apparently have their limits.)

IDEA #5 The Doctor, Obviously

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I’m saving the obvious costume choice for last. My dog’s name sake may be playing it safe but honestly the costume is too cute for words. Bow ties are cool. Fezes are cool. We already have several sonic screw drivers lying around because #obsessed. Even if you didn’t name your dog after The Doctor, this would still be a cute costume and not too difficult to pull off (if you can keep your dog from pulling it all off anyway).

Would your pet wear a Halloween costume?

What costume idea would you put your pet in?

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat this week – you should, too!

9 of My Family’s Favorite Children’s Books

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I don’t think it’s any secret that our family loves to read. It’s a source of great pride that all four of us are “hiding under the cover with a flash light and a good book” kind of people. Perhaps the only thing I love more than reading a good book is finding other people a good book to read. So I thought I’d hop on a recent bandwagon of children’s book recommendations (Mommy Shorts has some great picks) and share with you some of our family favorites from the past ten years or so.

Board Books For Babies AKA The Books I Buy For Baby Showers

That’s Not My Bunny by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

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This is just one of like a dozen books by Usborne in which the reader flips through a series of bunnies (or dogs, cats, whatever) to find THEIR bunny. Each of the potential bunnies has a defining characteristic that you are encouraged to feel along the way. I love a good touch and feel book for the little ones and my kids were obsessed with this one. It’s a great first board book because there are not too many words, plenty of repetition and lots of bunnies to pet. Way easier than the petting zoo.

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen

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This is one of those books I have a tendency to buy for baby showers. It’s a delight to read out loud which is basically my number one requirement for children’s books. If I feel like I need to paraphrase to get through story time without losing my mind, you aren’t doing it right. This books nails it – it’s got that sweet spot of enough words to not feel brain numbingly simple but not so many that story time needs a glass of wine to get through. Which isn’t to say you can’t have a glass of wine, you just won’t need it to get through page one.

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

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This was one of the few books that I managed to enjoy even after the 800th reading. My son could not get enough of this gorilla and his antics and just how clueless the zoo keeper is. It’s a very visual book so young non-readers will understand what’s going on before you even start reading but the words are good, too. Another well rounded winner for reading out loud.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss

51+BkXslZSL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_I’ll be honest, this might be the only Dr. Seuss book that doesn’t make me want to run screaming for the hills. Most of his books have that “I need a glass of wine after the first page” quality but this one is awesome and everyone loves it. I fall into a rhythm with this one and still love reading it to babies now. I have the voices and cadence down and get annoyed when other people read it because they don’t do the sound effects right. Yes, I know, I’m a lot.

 

Picture Books You’ll Love More Than Your Kids

We Are In a Book by Mo Willems

51YSqwj-U2L._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_Mo Willems is basically a master of children’s literature and his Piggie and Elephant series is the one you need in your life when your kids start learning to read. There are like a dozen of them and they are all fantastic but this one is my favorite.

Your kids will laugh out loud as you read this to them – it’s one of those stories where the reader kind of becomes a character which is always makes for a lot of laughs. And the repetition is just the right amount to help with beginning readers but not so much that you find yourself dying inside as you read it.

Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman

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This is the first in a series of books about Lulu or Ladybug Girl. The illustrations are stunningly beautiful and kind of turn me into a puddle of emotions. This series captures childhood in a way that is remarkable to me and I have a tendency to gush about it.

This book has a tendency to bring out my inner child and makes for a very impactful story time.

 

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin

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Is there anyone alive who doesn’t love this book? My kids still get a kick out of this story. Heck, I still get a kick out of this story which I remember reading when I was a kid (like a few years ago). It’s kind of similar to the Piggie and Elephant books in the way they play with the fourth wall, bringing the reader into the story. The illustrations are awesome and you will hear Grover’s voice in your head when you are reading it (bonus points if you can pull off a good Grover voice out loud while reading it to your kids).

This one wins the nostalgia for days award in addition to just being an excellent book.

Literally Any Berenstain Bears book

61NKiO9R64LAny time I have some kind of life lesson or milestone that I’m trying to solidify for my kids, I have a tendency to turn to the Berenstain Bears because they have a book for literally any life situation from eating too much candy to talking to strangers to welcoming a new baby into the family. But they never really feel like one big long lecture full of bears. I loved this series as a kid and I’m so thrilled that my kids enjoyed it as much as I did.

I also love their easy reader series and highly recommend it to beginning readers.

Or Little Critter book

61H3NZ5BQ8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_My kids love this series, too. I think we have one for every major holiday and I loved All By Myself because I think literally every kid in the universe can relate to this and every parent remembers this phase vividly. The illustrations are so sweet. I love looking to see what the mouse is doing on each page.

What are some of your family’s favorite children’s books?