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 dictionary.com 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 Wordpress.org 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. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Lion's Tales: belated April edition

We don't go to bookstores often. 

It's looking like my "weekly" recaps have turned into monthly ones. :) Maybe eventually I'll get into a more consistent working/posting schedule... For now, follow me on Facebook or Instagram for more regular updates!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You Made Me a Mother

Do you remember seeing this little video that came out a couple of years ago?

My oldest will turn 6 this month, and my youngest will be 4 this summer. I often forget what it was like to be an expectant mother, especially the very first time around. Every so often I come across photos of my big belly, or of the girls as newborns, and try to remember what it was like...

The video was recently adapted into a children's picture book, called You Made Me a Mother by Laurenne Sala. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review, and let me tell you -- it gave me "all the feels".

The illustrator is one of my favorites -- Robin Preiss Glasser (famous for Fancy Nancy). The book is very simple, only a sentence or two on each page. It leaves a lot of story open for imagination, and reminiscing about our own motherhood stories.

I'll admit, the book was not that exciting for my kids -- but I think ultimately the target audience is mothers themselves. :) I'd consider it along the same lines as Love You Forever, which is a best-selling book that appeals much more to mothers than to their children.

With Mother's Day coming up next weekend, this book would be super cute as a gift (Amazon has fast shipping, and I've seen it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble!). And could you imagine the ooo's and ahhh's if this book was given as a baby shower gift, or to a brand-new mother?

Here are some additional links to connect with the book and the author:

Happy Mother's Day!