The Stuck at Home Book Tag.

I saw this tag at A Book. A Thought. and loved it so much that I tagged myself in immediately. What is your reading life like while you are stuck at home? Keep scrolling for a peek at mine.


Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you – thanks self! And thanks to Sofii for sharing.
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

🏡 | What are you currently reading? | 🏡

I’m reading a few things right now which seems to be the new normal. Sometimes I can’t read multiple books at once but lately I’ve been reading one book upstairs before bed, my book club pick during the day and a Babysitter’s Club book with my daughter for a little mother daughter book club.

My book club is discussing Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng this month. So far so good. It seems to be wildly popular especially since becoming a show on Hulu. I’ve been reading Aloha, Babysitters with my daughter. How good does a tropical vacation sound right now? And at night I’m reading Artemis Fowl at the recommendation of my fourteen year old.


🏡 | What’s your favourite ‘can’t-leave-the-house’ activity? | 🏡

I won’t lie. I’ve been playing Animal Crossing like it’s my part time job. I just hit 5 stars this morning, so… I’m kind of a big deal.

I’ve also been going for walks, baking, painting and complaining that I’m bored and drinking a lot of coffee. How about you?


🏡 | A book you’ve been meaning to read for forever | 🏡

These are a couple of new releases and soon to be released titles that I’m anxious to read. I pre-ordered the Hunger Games sequel because 3/4ths of the household will be wanting to read this one. The other two are on my library request list for now.


🏡 | An intimidating book on your TBR| 🏡

Maybe now is the time to read a big scary classic novel? Contemplating Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.


🏡 | Top 3 priority books on your TBR | 🏡

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Followers by Megan Angelo are on my nightstand and Kindle waiting for their turn. Which one should I read first?


🏡 | Recommend a short book| 🏡

I really loved this middle reader graphic novel set at the Ren Faire. Another great Ren faire centered book that’s a little more adult (ahem) is Well Met by Jen Deluca.


🏡 | Recommend a long book| 🏡

One of my all time favorites. This one will take you a little longer but is well worth the extra time.


🏡 | Something you’d love to do while stuck at home| 🏡

My daughter and I are planning to rewatch all the Disney Princess movies in the order they were released. This might be the summer of Disney Plus around here.


🏡 | What do you plan on reading next?| 🏡

I’m not sure yet – what do you recommend?


Tagging

Since I tagged myself, I’m going to encourage you to tag yourself as well! Happy reading!

Summer Reading BINGO 2020 | Free Printable

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I just finished creating a summer reading challenge for 2020 because my kids have ONE WEEK LEFT of distance learning before our summer break begins! Is anyone else baffled by how fast and how slow quarantine seems to go at the same exact time?

My kids are counting down the days and I’m trying to get a game plan put together so that we don’t spend the entire summer staring at YouTube and playing video games. As fun as that sounds.

I’m not sure what our summer will look like right now – our state is starting to whisper about opening things back up but we as a family are planning to continue hunkering as long as we can stand it. Summers past have involved a lot of trips to the library for free camps and checking in with their summer reading programs because one challenge is never enough for my voracious readers.

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I’ve been making the kids summer reading challenges for a couple of years now to supplement the programs offered by the library and bookstores because those tend to only last us a couple of weeks at best.

Creating these challenges can be tough because my kids are already good readers, and I don’t want to make reading seem like a chore. I’m not going to make them count how many minutes they’ve been reading or how many pages. I don’t want to make a long list of categories that don’t line up with their interests – and often they read such vastly different types of books that I end up having to make multiple challenges – one for each kid.

Anyway – behold: this year’s summer reading challenge! I’ve been pretty into the BINGO format because it lets the kids aim low or high depending on their motivation and gives a fair amount of options. I’m pretty proud of this assortment of categories because I think it will appeal to both my 10 year old and my 14 year old. Wish me luck!

summer reading 2020 bingo

Feel free to save and print this to use with your own kids this summer.

Let me know how they like it!

When do your kids start summer break?

Here are a few challenges from summers past: 2018, 2017 and 2016

Top 5 Love Stories

The prompt for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Bookworm is love stories or romances. This term can be applied to a lot of books and can mean different things to different people. From corset ripping to classic love stories and everything in between. Here are 5 of my very favorites.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen | This is my Gold Standard. All love stories will be compared to P&P at the end of the day. This is the classic romance I will recommend to everyone. Runners up for classic romance are Anne of Green Gables and Gone With the Wind.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | This is my favorite young adult nerdy girl love story. I literally turn into a fangirl over this story. If you like it, you’ll want to be reading all of Rowell’s other books and anything by John Green or Becky Albertalli.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan | This book is a perfect combination of romance and wanderlust. It’s about picking up your life and starting over and has Scottish accents and bookish references for days. Colgan is a master at this genre so you can plunge her backlist for ages, then try Katherine Center for more love stories where the main character is figuring out her own life, too.

Cress by Marissa Meyer | If you are looking for a Rapunzel retelling set in a sci fi / fantasy dystopian setting (you know, like you do) then look no further! This is a couple of books into the Lunar Chronicles series that I recommend to anyone who will listen so if you haven’t read Cinder yet, start there. If you already know and love this one, then go read the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | This a perfect sweet YA love story, perfect for fans of To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han or Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. It also falls into the Wanderlust category and is also part of a semi-connected series.


Which books would be on your list?

What I Read In April.

One of the advantages to being stuck at home has been a fairly sizeable increase in reading time. With nowhere to be in the mornings, I’ve been letting myself stay up late reading most nights, flipping through my book club picks during the day (they’ve all been too heavy to read right before bed – a lesson I’ve learned over time about myself), reading books alongside the kids and listening to audio books while going for walks.

And don’t even get me started on all the progress I’m making in Animal Crossing.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this month and what I’m reading now as we approach May.

I read The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris after my teenager finished and recommended it. We’ve had the book for awhile and I think I was avoiding it because what are the odds that NPH is an amazing actor, singer, human being and a good author, too? Well I can tell you that NPH continues to never disappoint me. The book is like a mix of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Mysterious Benedict Society. It’s got magic lessons and life lessons and you can almost hear Count Olaf narrating it in your head while you read it.

Katherine Center is quickly becoming a sure thing for me. Love stories that have depth and multiple story arcs and tackle heavy issues without ruining your night. Things You Save in a Fire takes place in the world of firefighting. I had more in common with the main character than I was expecting despite having no experience with fire fighters. I loved the Boston ambiance and quickly got caught up in this one. My only beef is that the main love interest was almost too good to be true.

I’ve been saying for awhile now that life in quarantine feels like the movie Groundhogs Day. So it seemed very timely to be reading Pretty in Punxutawney which takes on that very premise. The main character is doomed to repeat her first day at a new high school until she gets it right. Add in John Hughes references for days and a cast of characters that do not disappoint and you’ll see why I couldn’t put this one down. The premise may sound overdone but the story kept me guessing from beginning to end.

I just finished reading Lucky Caller by Emma Mills a couple nights ago and it’s another easy reading YA book. The main character is taking a high school class on running a radio station because apparently she goes to the coolest school ever. The class breaks off into groups to run a radio show and she ends up in a group with her old best friend / crush who she hasn’t really talked to for awhile. One of the other kids in the group was giving me major Azis Ansari vibes which was fun for me. I liked this one but also found myself frustrated with the characters and had a hard time controlling that enough to settle into the story sometimes.

Okay here are the books I’m currently reading / haven’t finished yet.

My book club discussed The Lying Game by Ruth Ware this month and I still haven’t finished it though I haven’t necessarily abandoned it either. It’s a kind of mystery thriller that switches tense frequently which can be hard for me. The book is fairly descriptive and moody and I was struggling to stay the course with it but I switched to the audio book a week before the meeting and it helped a lot. I still didn’t finish in time but I’m planning to continue listening when I’m out for walks.

My daughter and I decided to start a little mother daughter book club together where we read a chapter book and discuss in real time. So she’ll read a couple of chapters, pass me the book and then I’ll read said chapters and then we’ll discuss. She just finished reading the last few chapters and I’ve really enjoyed the process of discussing it this way. It doesn’t hurt that we’re reading one of my favorite BSC super specials, Starring the Baby-sitters Club! I loved this series when I was her age as well as Mary Martin’s Peter Pan so the whole book is nostalgia for days.

In May my book club will discuss Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng which was just turned into a series on Hulu. I’m only a couple of chapters in but it looks promising so far. Maybe I’ll finally finish a book in time for the meeting next month!

What have you been reading lately?

Keeping busy, staying sane, staying home.

It’s week 3576 of quarantine or something like that and by now the kids are keeping busy with their school’s distance learning and my hubby is busy working from home in the office and everything is closed and all my plans are cancelled. So apart from cleaning stuff and cooking dinner, I have very little to actually do for the majority of the day. Is this a weird thing to complain about? Probably. But it’s my reality so here we are.

In between helping the kids with minor technology problems, pestering my husband and doing the dishes 37 times a day, here are some other things I’ve been doing to stay busy.

Playing quarantine Bingo with friends on Facebook
Here’s a blank copy for anyone who wants to play along.

Watching Late Night on Amazon Prime and Parks and Rec, Making the Cut, Community, Schitts Creek and everything else on television.

Making homemade donuts using canned biscuits!
Choosing alternative quarantine housemates like this selection of authors.
Making baked cheese crisps by seasoning squares of cheese and baking them.

Reading our April book club pick, The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. I’m also reading Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center and just finished The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris.

Celebrating my son’s 14th birthday
Playing a lot of Animal Crossing

How have you been keeping busy in quarantine?

Top 5 Tuesday: The Alphabet Challenge | Books To Look Forward To in 2020 (U-Z)

In which I bend all the rules.

It’s time for Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Bookworm and we’ve finally made it to the last week of the alphabet challenge! Today’s post starts off wonky from the bat because there are 6 letters. Then it gets weirder because it’s comprised of the letters U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. I mean, really.

This week I chose books releasing in 2020 that I would like to read. Some have already been released and some come out later this year. All are something to look forward to which is a nice thing to have right about now.

Note: I chose a mix of book titles and author’s names to make my list and got even more creative than that for one letter.


Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener came out in January. Wiener is being described as the Joan Didion of start-up culture in this coming of age memoir in the Silicon Valley start up tech industry.

“In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.

Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.”

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim comes out in August so we’ll be waiting awhile for this one but it sounds worth the wait.

Ever since she can remember, Vanessa has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.

After her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa sees death for the first time. She decides that she can’t truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric Aunt Evelyn shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to California and bonjour to Paris. There, Vanessa learns more about herself and the root of her gifts and realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.”

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry came out earlier this month and Jenny Lawson is discussing it with her blog’s book club which is how I first heard about it. The Salem witch trials tie in was what caught my attention though.

Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with 1980s iconography—from Heathers to “big hair”—Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.

Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry comes out next week and yes I’m aware how completely this book neither starts with the letter X and that the author’s name doesn’t either. Guys X was hard and after a couple of days searching, I settled for X appearing anywhere in the title and eventually found a book that met that criteria AND looked like a book I would even read! I call that a win. Here’s the description:

Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?”

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli came out in February and I’m itching to read it. I loved The Upside of Unrequited and this one sounds easily as good.

YES

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone) Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.”

Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman came out earlier this month and the cover caught my eye right away. The description sealed the deal and I quickly added the book to my Amazon wishlist and this post.

Judy never intended to start wearing the dog. But when she stumbled across her son Teddy’s old baby sling during a halfhearted basement cleaning, something in her snapped. So: the dog went into the sling, Judy felt connected to another living being, and she’s repeated the process every day since.

Life hasn’t gone according to Judy’s plan. Her career as a children’s book author offered a glimpse of success before taking an embarrassing nose dive. Teddy, now a teenager, treats her with some combination of mortification and indifference. Her best friend is dying. And her husband, Gary, has become a pot-addled professional “snackologist” who she can’t afford to divorce. On top of it all, she has a painfully ironic job writing articles for a self-help website—a poor fit for someone seemingly incapable of helping herself.”


We did it! We finished the Alphabet Challenge and shared 26 books worthy of your TBR list!

Writer’s Workshop: Homeschooling, Week One

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It’s Thursday so it’s time to link up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. How has your week been?

Here are the different prompts to choose from this week:

1. Attempt a craft or recipe you saw on Pinterest, how did it turn out?
2. Write about how you keep busy during a “quarantine.” Is your daily schedule affected much at all?
3. Show us a place you love to visit.
4. List 5 frivolous things you don’t want to live without.
5. Write a blog post inspired by the word: new


I figured I’d take this time to update you guys on how our “quarantine” is going because that’s all we’re talking about anyway.

This is week two of Hiding at Home for us and Week One in homeschooling with the kids. Our school is doing a trial run of their virtual learning plan starting today but the past few days we’ve been making up our own home learning plan.

In the mornings we have art class which meant doodling with authors Mo Willems and Jarrett J Krosoczka, both are local artists and authors from Massachusetts aka our old hometown and both are probably responsible for some of your kids favorite books. I’m grateful to them for taking this weird scary time and making something fun for kids and parents to look forward to. The kids draw along while I drink a cup of coffee and work on becoming human enough to home school.

Next the kids work on English which has so far involved them each working on a creative writing story. My ten year old is working on a short story about a girl who moves to a new school where students are disappearing when they go to the bathroom?? My thirteen year old is writing a story about a guy in space who has lost his memory and there appears to be an evil computer involved maybe?

For reading they are reading independently and writing me book reviews about the chapters or books they are finishing. They’ve been reading The Descendants Junior novelization, Emily of New Moon, Ban This Book and some Minecraft book. I’ve been explaining to my thirteen year old the difference between a book report and a book review and spoiler etiquette.

Math has been on Khan Academy and these Disney multiplication printables from Artsy Fartsy Mama for my ten year old.

Science and social studies have been more hands on for my part. After lunch we have watched educational YouTube videos and documentaries on Disney Plus. I highly recommend Crash Course for middle school and high school and Sci Show Kids for elementary. We also love National Geographic Kids. Some topics we learned about include astronomy, climate challenges for animals and the Westward expansion of the US.

I also signed both kids up with Duolingo so they can learn Spanish and French from home. Now all four members of the family are using this to learn a foreign language and I have to say we all love it. That’s not an ad or sponsored thing, I’m just letting you know that I recommend it. I have been learning German and brushing up on my French with Duolingo for awhile now and it’s the easiest learning a language has ever been for me.

Meanwhile my hubby has been working from home since Monday which involves a lot of typing and meetings and saying, “Shhhh!” and drinking coffee. I think it’s been going okay – you can’t beat the commute at least.

Overall, we continue to be in a pretty good place. We’re healthy and have enough food and the worst I can say is that it’s hard to get time to yourself when we’re all here all day. That and I’m tired of cooking dinner but I’m trying to reserve takeout for desperate times.

How are things going where you are?

Top 5 Tuesday Alphabet Challenge: Light Reads for Tough Times (PQRST)

It’s time for Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Bookworm and we’re still making our way through the alphabet challenge. Today I’m sharing some favorite light reads for these tough times.

I was talking to a friend about how my book club pick this month has been tough to get into because it’s even heavier than reality right now. If you are also in need of something fluffier, I recommend these five books and their authors.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is wanderlust and young love all rolled together. I love her entire series but this one is still my favorite.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde was a fun romance set at a convention. Fandom for days and two fun romances. (I had to search by title instead of author to find this one. I was lucky this fit my theme – skim pickings for the letter Q!)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is one of my all time favorite books and Rowell is one of my all time favorite authors. Perfect for a book you can really lose yourself in.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was really fun and it was a pretty unique premise at the time. Not a lot of great Asperger’s love stories out there and this one is great.

Smile by Raina Teglemeier is a great middle school graphic novel that would be great to read alongside your tweens. My daughter and I both love this series.