Thursday, December 1, 2016

Quick Lit: November 2016

Yes, there is a reason this simple square is my first
image in this post. Read on to discover why! :) 

I think I'm winding down for the year... Since I met my reading goal for 2016 a few months ago, I don't feel the push to blow through easy reads just for the sake of finishing as many as I can. So I've been taking my time, doing other things instead of reading during down time, and for the month of December decided to re-read something that will easily take the entire month (and likely beyond)!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quick Lit: October 2016

After being stuck in a rut and reading only 2 books in September, I blasted through a couple of YA series in October to finish 7 books this month!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

31(ish) Days Wrap-up

So... I failed this year. It was the first time in the three years I've done this that I didn't finish the month. I came close though! 25 of 31 isn't too bad!

I have a pretty good excuse. I had been writing posts ahead, going to the library once a week and drafting up a big chunk at a time. But one week toward the end of the month when I went to the library, all of the new kids books on the shelf were ones I'd already written about! So I guess I could blame the library for my lack of finishing. ;-)

I do think this annual writing challenge is good for me, and am planning to do it again next year. In the meantime, back I go to my usual posting once or twice a week! Keep up with me more frequently on my Facebook page and Instagram feed.

Thanks for joining me this month! Let me know which of these brand new books were your favorites!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

31 Days of NEW Kids Picture Books: 2016 edition

2015 NEW Kids Picture Books
2014 NEW Kids Picture Books

I've had such a great time the last few Octobers writing short book reviews each day that I'm going to do it for a third year in a row! My local library has a section just for new books that have arrived in the last 6 months, typically published within the last year. I'll be following the same format as previous years, and the content will be completely new!

Let me know if you'll be reading along with me! Be sure to subscribe by email or in a blog reader (like Feedly or RSS), and like my Facebook page so you don't miss out on any posts!

This post will contain the growing list of books as I publish them:

Day 1: Fancy Nancy: Saturday Night Sleepover by Jane O'Connor
Day 2: Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty
Day 3: Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies by Carmen Oliver
Day 4: B is for Beacon: A Great Lakes Lighthouse Alphabet by Helen L. Wilbur
Day 5: Nibbles the Book Monster by Emma Yarlett
Day 6: Douglas, You Need Glasses!  by Ged Adamson
Day 7: Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
Day 8: Bloom by Doreen Cronin & David Small
Day 9: Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Day 10: How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends? by Jane Yolen
Day 11: Superhero Dad by Timothy Knapman
Day 12: Little Red Riding Hood by Rob Lloyd Jones
Day 13: Let's Go to the Hardware Store by Anne Rockwell
Day 14: If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, DON'T! by Elise Parsley
Day 15: Cinderella and the Incredible Techno-Slippers by Charlotte & Adam Guillain
Day 16: Violet and Victor Write the Most Fabulous Fairy Tale by Alice Kuipers
Day 17: Me and Annie McPhee by Olivier Dunrea
Day 18: Be Glad Your Dad is Not an Octopus by Matthew Logelin & Sara Jensen
Day 19: Usborne Books & More 2016 Fall Mid-Season New Titles are here!!!
Day 20: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp
Day 21: Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! by Bethanie Murguia
Day 22: Never Follow a Dinosaur by Alex Latimer
Day 23: Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant
Day 24: Wally Does Not Want a Haircut by Amanda Driscoll
Day 25: Pete the Cat's Got Class by James Dean


31(ish) Days Wrap-Up

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Quick Lit: September 2016

Not book related. But pretty. We've had
a warm September in Michigan!

Since I've already met my goal of 36 books (3 a month) for 2016, I don't feel too bad for only finishing 2 books this month...

Friday, September 16, 2016


The BRAND NEW Usborne Books & More website is up and running! With a smooth design that's pleasing to look at and faster web servers, your shopping experience should be better than ever.

However, there are definitely a few kinks that are being ironed out. Usborne has staff working around the clock to fix them all, so if you notice something as you're browsing and shopping please let me know! I'll be able to either guide you to what you'd like to do or inform you if it's a known issue that's still being worked on.

My weekly Usborne book reviews will be back soon! In the meantime, you can browse my past reviews by clicking here.

Thinking of getting Usborne books for someone for Christmas? Start shopping early for the best selection and plenty of shipping time! I'd recommend making your purchases before November 1st. Click here for a cute video showing our holiday-specific books.

I'd love to help you find the perfect books for your family. Send me an email or message me on my Facebook page

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Lion's Tales: Summer 2016 edition!

Three whole months have gone by without my writing about what we've been up to. You'll forgive me? I'll attribute my lack of posts to 1) Our schedules being goofy with all 4 of us being home every day, so I haven't had my quiet mornings like I do now that school has started and 2) All-day-every-day pregnancy nausea has been making me feel like not doing much of anything.

So here's a recap of the highlights of our summer! (beware of picture overload :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quick Lit: August 2016

Woohoo!! After tracking my books for two years and not meeting my goal (36 books each year), I finally did it! With time to spare! I'm not completely sure what's been different this year, except that I got off to a fast start, read a few middle-grade books, and re-read all of Harry Potter in 5 weeks.

My goal has been 3 books a month, and I'm going to try to stick that out the rest of the year before re-evaluating my goal for 2017. I met the 3-book goal this month!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Quick Lit: July 2016

I think this month was a bit boring for books, but I did cruise through almost 2000 pages. As I said last month I've been working through my first-ever re-read of the Harry Potter series for #harrypotterthon16. In June I read the first five books, so in July I finished 6 & 7.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quick Lit: June 2016

#harrypotterthon16  #lifeisbetteratthelake  #ihavegreatinlaws

It has been a suuuuuper slow month for blogging and even Facebook and Instagram for me. Sorry to any faithful followers I may have. Can you say "summer break!!!"?  I suddenly have all 4 of us home all day every day (my hubby's a teacher).

And I'm 8.5 weeks pregnant. :) With full-blown, all-day-every-day nausea. :(

So while I'm doing lots of reading (as I describe below), my online presence is lacking. But I'm at 27/36 books for my yearly goal! I hope you're enjoying your summer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Reading 2016: Harry Potter Readathon!

My library's collection has been well-loved over the years!

Two years ago I joined an online YA Book Club for the sole reason of reading through the Harry Potter series with the group. I was in high school and college when the books first came out, and didn't get involved in the hype at the time. Needless to say, I quickly got sucked in and jumped ahead (we were reading one book a month at the time), and became a huge fan.

(I love middle-grade and YA books in general, and am SO grateful for this book club to get me reading books in this genre I wouldn't have picked on my own!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quick Lit: May 2016

My 2016 Goodreads goal is 36 books -- 3 books a month -- after not quite making that goal last year.

(This doesn't count the books I read to/with my kids -- I try to post a few times a month what my kids are reading too, click here to read those reviews)

I started out the year FLYING through books, though now I seem to be getting back to my normal pace. I'm still plenty ahead of the game, with 24 books read so far this year. Here's what I finished in May!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Lion's Tales: May edition

My TBR stack that I'm going to attempt to power through
over the long holiday weekend for the Take Back Your
Shelves Readathon
.   Who am I kidding??
I'll be lucky if I can finish two of these... 

Ah May... the month where it FINALLY feels like spring in Michigan -- and we even have days and weeks that feel like summer!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Usborne ABEA Giveaway! {closed}

{The giveaway is now closed, thanks to everyone for participating! The Shine-a-Light books can still be purchased through the links below!}

It's GIVEAWAY DAY at ABEA, and I'm excited to offer a free book to one of my readers!

I've really enjoyed being part of Usborne Books & More for the last 13 months! From buying and earning books for my own kids, to helping others earn free books through Facebook and home parties, to book fairs at local schools, it has been a GREAT business to be involved with. Read more of my journey here, and my Usborne book reviews here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Thinking Outside the Box

Discussion for ABEA Day 3 revolves around moving beyond 1) reading traditional books and 2) discussing books through blogs.

I love talking about Myers-Briggs (thank you SortaAwesome podcast), and identify most as ISFJ. One of the things I've come to learn about myself is that tradition and reliability are hugely important to me. Not that I'm opposed to things changing, but it takes me some time and research and dipping my toes in before I commit to a change.

When it comes to books, I love paper books and I love ebooks. That's it. I've tried audiobooks a couple of times, but have a hard time stopping and starting and remembering what happened. With a book it's easier to flip back a few pages if I need to.

Ebooks are great for travel... but I like them any other time too. :)

And the times when I would be able to listen to an audiobook (house cleaning, out for a walk, driving) I've become a podcast-listener instead. They're shorter and I don't have to remember a storyline if I stop and start frequently because of interruptions.

As for thinking beyond the blog for discussing books, I've often wanted to join a book club. Like a real, in-person book club. I'm part of an online family book club, and previously a young adult book and movie club. Groups like SortaLiterary are fun places to discuss books too, from the comfort of my own home, on my own time!

My library offers two in-person book clubs, that meet monthly on a weekday. I haven't joined because I still have Ellie with me. Maybe once she is in school full-time I'll look into it. Though when we've visited the library during book club hour, I've noticed the group is 90% retired ladies...

I'd love to attend something like BEA someday. I've been drooling over the Instagram feed all week, and kicking myself for not realizing sooner that it would be held in Chicago this year (only 3 hours away from home -- New York is much farther away from Michigan!). Though I'm an introvert and the thought of being forced to make small talk while standing in lines makes me shudder, at the same time my introverted-ness thinks I could very easily disappear into the crowds and be lost in my own thoughts. :)

What non-traditional forms of books do you enjoy? Do you prefer discussing books with people in-person or online? 

Armchair BEA

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I don't usually judge books by their covers, but these Illustrated Originals from Usborne are just beautiful.
I'm sad they're now out of print, hopefully they're just planning to re-release them with better binding...
#armchairbea #bookcoverperfection

The topic up for discussion at ABEA today is all about aesthetics. One definition of the adjective "aesthetic" from is "Having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty. Relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality."

Pretty Books
I honestly don't judge a book by it's cover very often (except when I do it on purpose). I read a lot on Kindle, and borrow from the library based on other's recommendations. Even when skimming lists or shelves I look at book titles and especially authors. Whatever image is on the cover is the last thing I see! 

However I do follow LOTS of book-ish people on Instagram, and I like and drool over some of their photos (like this one and this one, and of course this one and this one). 

Since my bookshelves are more practical than beautiful, they're filled with reference books and non-fiction, where I don't have an option to find a prettier version of a book. I almost never buy fiction, because I know I will read it once and be done. Maybe someday I'll have the money and the space to fill bookshelves with series like these

Pretty Blogs
So while I don't judge books by their covers, I definitely judge blogs (and websites) by their "covers" (blushes sheepishly at how harsh that may seem).  One of my favorite classes in college was an elements of design course. I loved learning about white space and colors and repetition... And am now thrilled any time I get the chance to create a flyer or brochure for something. 

Once upon a time, I had another blog where I went all-in and used the full options to customize everything. I loved it. :) But after my first year of cheap domain and hosting, I wasn't getting enough traffic to justify spending the money to renew. So I pulled the content back to a free Blogger space and eventually parked it, while the pretty Wordpress site disappeared. :(
(the Blogger site is still out there if you want to take a look). 

When I set up this site, I started with the header image (my own kids' bookshelf and stuffed lion :) and drew out yellow/brown colors to match. I've been considering switching to Wordpress again, because I do think they look so much more professional. But again, there's the cost factor... I do use Wordpress to maintain our church's website, so I'm still familiar with the program. 

Maybe I'll set a goal for myself of jumping to Wordpress after I have xx months of posting consistently and have increased my number of readers. 

Do you judge books and/or blogs by their covers?

Armchair BEA

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ABEA Introductions

My "armchair" is actually a sofa. I need lots of space for all
those adult and kid books. :) #ArmchairBEA #myarmchair
@armchairbea #bookstagram #instareads

It's that time of year again when the BookExpo America event is going on (in Chicago this year). But for many of us book lovers and book bloggers, we can't make the trip. And so we're grateful for the committee who organizes ABEA -- "Armchair BEA" -- so we can participate from home!

Day One is all about introducing ourselves. So... read on for a little about me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

What the Cubs are Reading: May 9

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn of The Book Date. Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers have adapted it to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books. Since I recap what I'm personally reading each month with Modern Mrs. Darcyfor this linkup I post what Abby (age 5.5) and Ellie (age 3.5) have been enjoying.