Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

It's been another crazy week. School, baby, just life in general has me running like a wild woman. Good thing there is that cup of mint tea at the end of the night. Or red wine, depending on the day. 

Wyatt and I have been reading snow books together for two weeks, celebrating how much we (I) love it. However, in the wake of Blizzard Jonas, we are switching our gears. This week I checked out a ton of Groundhog Day books instead - will he see his shadow, or won't he? I hope that everyone in the path of this blizzard was safe and secure. It was a big one. We had family in New Jersey for work, and she is still snowed in to her hotel. Safe, but stuck.

Despite all that, I managed to get some good reading time in! Yay!

Read Last Week:


The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard: I love love love her books! I am so thankful I was able to read an advanced copy - I hate waiting!

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins: I am so close to being finished with this book that I am calling it done. I loved it - as long as the ending doesn't suck!

Of Moose and Men - This was a DNF. I just couldn't get into it; I felt like the examples were forced, and disjointed. I wanted to like it, but just didn't. :(

Reading This Week:


Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking: The third in the Kanin Chronicles- I am excited to read it!

Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson: This one looks pretty neat as well!

Long-Term Read:

The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck: I have been wanting to read this for forever! I know it is going to take me a hundred years, so this will be something I am reading while reading alongside other books.

Posted Last Week:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A little Frost, a few stars, and a Saturday afternoon

I haven't been to the planetarium since I was a kid. Our high school had one but we didn't really have a teacher to operate it, so I think we only used it once. But that one time was pretty awesome. 

There is something about a night sky - that inky blackness that envelopes you, the depth of the quiet surrounding you, that makes you feel both alive and how very small you are within the universe. A planetarium is great at replicating this - the darkness, the hush. 

This past Saturday my husband, brother, sister-in-law, and I all took advantage of a free program being offered at the local college all about the winter constellations in the northern hemisphere.

We somehow lucked out and were the only people who attended, which was very cool. It was just the four of us and the volunteer running the program. I always love this. Maybe I am a loner or isolationist, but I like it. I felt like it was our own private show - I guess because it kind of was!

Set against Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" the program opened with a poetry I wasn't expecting. The lines of the poem were still lingering in the air, when the stars began to brighten in the darkness, and I was transported to every summer evening up north, where the stars are more visible. The best part about this was, we were learning about winter constellations. I don't usually view the winter stars, I can't bear the cold to go out and find them.   This was a warm way for us to learn about the winter sky!

We saw Orion, with his belt and his shield. 
We saw his dog, Canis Major and also Canis Minor.
We saw Taurus the Bull, the Gemini Twins, the big bear Ursa Major, and a few major, bright stars and planets too.

We also learned about light pollution. The volunteer had me turn on my phone during the program, just me. and aim it up like I was using it. The difference was immediate, just from my one phone. It was sad how the light from my cell could eradicate stars, just like that.

Actually, right now in the southern sky, if you look on a clear morning when it is still dark, there are five planets in a single, straight line. The will be this way until Feb. 20th.

I really enjoyed our hour at the planetarium. It was only an hour, free, and very interesting! They have a spring constellation program as well, that I am looking forward to. That one is entitled "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

We followed the stars up with hot pizza, beer and adult conversation before heading back and collecting our babies. I can't wait to take my little guy to the planetarium one day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: The Final Tap by Amanda Flower

Title: The Final Tap (Living History Museum Mystery)
Author: Amanda Flower
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

March on Barton Farm can only mean one thing: maple sugar season. To combat the winter slump, resilient director Kelsey Cambridge organizes a Maple Sugar Festival, complete with school visits, pancake breakfasts, and tree tapping classes. Kelsey hires curmudgeonly maple sugar expert Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the classes, despite misgivings over his unpleasant demeanor. It's a decision she ends up regretting when, before the first tree can be tapped for sap, Dr. Beeson turns up dead.

The maple sugar expert's death threatens to shut down not only the Maple Sugar Festival, but also Barton Farm itself. Kelsey must solve Dr. Beeson's murder to escape the increasingly sticky situation.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this easy going mystery. It is not too complicated or crazy, and I enjoyed the backdrop of Barton Farm, the Living History Museum mentioned in the series title. Main character Kelsey and her son Hayden actually live on the farm in a small cottage, and Kelsey is in charge of the day to day running of the museum. Which sounds awesome! I sort of wish someone would pay me to do that. I am a fan of all things history. Although, I would like the post to not include as much murder and mystery as it seems Kelsey gets!

The central mystery itself was pretty good - I never figured out who did it until it was revealed. My Scooby Gang instincts were off this time, I guess. This is the second book in the series, and although I didn't read the first one, it didn't seem to matter.

I also loved the whole maple sugaring aspect. I learned a few new facts! One new fact I learned was how important maple sugar was to the North during the Civil War. Being cut off from their sugar supply in the south, northerners had to turn to good old maple sugar to sweeten their dishes.

Overall, this was a fun book. I enjoyed the world that Flower created, and I will definitely be headed back to Barton Farm soon to find out what Kelsey and the gang are up to now. Not a super intense read, but definitely a cozy little mystery to snuggle up with.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

Saturday my husband and I had a date afternoon. We went out with my brother and sister-in-law, without the babies. Billy and I do not do this nearly enough, and we really need to start at least once a week doing something just the two of us. I missed my little partner in crime, but I really had a great time hanging out being just an adult. We took advantage of a program the local college is hosting, all about winter stars in their planetarium. I plan on posting a little bit about this later in the week. But we had a great time in the planetarium and then followed it up with a beer and pizza. 

Read Last Week:

The Final Tap by Amanda Flower: I received this from NetGalley - it was an enjoyable little mystery! Review this week.

Reading This Week:


Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska: I didn't get to this last week with my classes starting and all - all that other reading! - but I am looking forward to beginning it this week.

The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard: I have loved everything DeBoard has written, and so far this book is not disappointing! I am halfway through and don't want to put it down!


Bones, The Shannara Chronicles and we just added the Shadowhunters television show to the list. The Shannara Chronicles is based on a series by Terry Brooks, while the Shadowhunters is based on Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. My husband and I are debating which series is better - both are slightly cheesily done, but I prefer Shadowhunters while he likes the Shannara series better. Despite the production quality, they are both pretty entertaining. We are also deciding if we want to watch To Make a Murderer. Everyone is talking about it, and my brother and sis-in-law said it is worth watching. So we might begin that this week too. 

Posted Last Week:

Friday, January 15, 2016

What Wyatt's Reading

This week, we got our first real snow! I have been waiting for this to happen - I love snow! I don't necessarily love taking a baby out in snowy weather, but watching snow fall while my family is snug and cozy in our house is one of my favorite things.

In honor of the snow this week, I read more winter/snow themed books to him. I will probably continue this trend this month - mainly because I like to read snowy picture books, and I still get to pick his books for him. Lol.

The Little Snowplow: We loved this book! Wyatt probably heard this book the most this week, since Billy and I both read it to him a lot. It is safe to say at least Billy and I loved it! We are definitely buying it for his library. The Little Snowplow is a take on the Little Engine That Could, and it had special meaning for us and our little preemie boy.

Dear Yeti: Another super adorable book. I loved this one as well. Written in mostly letters addressed to the yeti, readers follow the journey of these two kids in search of the yeti. This book is very short, with beautiful illustrations. 

Penguin and Little Blue: This one was cute but not my favorite. I think it made me kind of sad! Penguin and Little Blue just want to go home. 

Snowmen at Night: Always a favorite book with kids, it is a story of all the fun things that snowmen do at night. Fun story, fun illustrations.

Snow Party:  Another book about snowmen and what they get up to while we are sleeping. Just as fun, with great pictures.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?:  I think this was Wyatt's favorite. We have Brown Bear, Brown Bear so he is already familiar with the pattern of this story. He liked to shake his head and rock to this book while I read it to him. It looks like we will be adding this book to our collection as well!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

Snow! We are finally getting snow - it took you long enough this year Michigan! It just doesn't feel like winter to me without at least a little bit of the white powder on the ground. The weather reports predicted big snow but not sure we will get all that - I did stock up on winter/snow themed books to read to Wyatt this week. That is apparently what I stock up on when snow is in the forecast - books! Check back Friday to see what we read together this week.

School starts up again for me this week- eek! I enjoyed last semester off - time to face the music and go back. I am taking Photoshop and Intro to Archaeology, so it should be fun at least. 

Read Last Week:

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: My first book of the year, and also my first book by Agatha Christie! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out my review!

Reading This Week:


The Final Tap by Amanda Flower: From NetGalley. I was still in the mood for mystery and found this on NetGalley. I love seasonal stuff, and while this is more spring than depths of winter, it is close enough for me. 

Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska by Torry Martin and Doug Peterson: Another NetGalley book. I have this thing about Alaska right now. I can't stop watching stuff about it or reading about it!


Bones - we just found this series and love it! We also watched the mini-series And Then There Were None, which was awesome. Also on the list are Shannara, a new MTV show that is really better than I imagined, and Top Chef, an old favorite of ours. Finally, we watched one of my favorite movies ever, The Big Year starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. I love this movie and watch it at the beginning of the year every year.

Posted Last Week:

How about you? What are you up?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie

Goodreads Summary:

First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

My Thoughts:

My first book of the year! It was a good choice - it was a quick read that held my interest to the very end.

I am a huge fan of the movie Clue and the television show Harper's Island - how I missed this story, probably the story that inspired the later two, is beyond me.

So yeah, this was also my first Agatha Christie book. I can't believe it took me this long to read one of her mysteries. I love little mysteries and isn't she the queen? Well, I bow to her prowess in this genre. I was completely captured, and had no idea how it was all going to wrap together neatly. Christie even acknowledged the difficulty of this task herself, in a bit at the beginning of the book.  The characters were fascinating, their "wicked" pasts all slowly coming to light, each one more wretched and horrible than the next. One by one, they fall, and the reader is left to wonder until the very end who is is the mastermind, the most wicked of them all?

I admit, I watched the mini-series first, but only because I accidentally ran into it. Without the mini-series, I would never have known about this book, which was amazing! So I am glad that I did. I want to add that the mini-series was very well-done! It stuck very closely to the book with only a few minor dramatizations for television audiences but it didn't detract from the original story one bit. I loved Aidan Turner in the role of Lombard, and the oh so mighty Charles Dance as Judge Walgreave - I can't help but have a crush on them both!

This is the perfect read for an afternoon or evening, curled up with a spot of tea and biscuits. It's quick and fast and delivers a powerful mystery full of grim figures and intrigue.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

December ~ A Slightly Homemade Book Club Christmas

Month: December
Hostess: Mary
Book: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
Food: A gigantic party pizza, gooey chocolate cake, and lots of red wine

December book club is tricky. It is always hosted at the begining of January, since December is such a crazy month for all of us - it kind of signifies the final coming down from the holidays, spending some much needed relax time chatting and hanging out with friends.The hostess always suggests the book, but knows that probably none of us will get to it, no matter how much we want to. It is more of a party than a meeting. 

This December, Mary chose Kristan Higgins' book If You Only Knew. I didn't get to it, but I do have it requested from the library and plan to get to it ASAP. A little late but that's ok. Mary is a huge Higgins fan, and through her I have read quite a few good romances. My favorite to date is from the Blue Heron series, In Your Dreams. Plus that cover is adorable.

We also have our gift exchange! Gifts are either homemade or not, and it is always exciting to open the decorated presents and see what our friends have put together and found.

This year I made cinnamon muffin bread.

Mary made a wreath ornament out of wine corks, while Jill bought us texting gloves.Chrissy made us granola and Kelly bought us cute zipper bags with book titles on it. I love it all! 

We had a blast, being goofy together, catching up, and just letting ourselves be ourselves. We didn't have to be mom, a nurse, an office manager, a salesperson - we were able to let go and have fun.

January is my month! I picked The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reading Challenges I Spotted on Facebook

Spotted on Facebook: Two Reading Challenges.

I saw the gauntlet thrown before me, and I went for it. Plus, part of me really really likes to check off boxes. 

Here they are, in case anyone else would like to check boxes off with me too..


The other is one that was posted on Popsugar- I can't post a photo of it, it goes all wonky size. But I included the link for those who might be interested.

I think this might help to expand my reading a bit outside my comfort zone. I tend to stick to what I like and not branch out, and I want to be a little more open this year.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Resolutions ~ 2016

This year, I want to be kinder to myself. I want to play more, create more, find the magic in everyday. I want to be kinder to other people, to do things with love and thoughtfulness.
I want to say yes to every adventure and try to banish doubt and fear.

I am so excited for this year, for all the new memories and experiences our little family will have.

I wish this for all of you as well - to love every day, find the magic, the love, the wonder, the adventure. As Neil Gaiman says, read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you are wonderful.

Tonight, I will start with a cuddle on the couch with my two guys, while the cold stays outdoors and we stay warm indoors, hot tea steaming on the table in front of me, the cats purring against us.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Little House Read-Along!

If ever there was a challenge/read-along tailor made for me, it is this one. I reread this series every single year starting in the winter- now I just get to read them with other people! I have loved these books since I was a little girl, although I never really watched the television show. Bit of trivia here - Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura on the show, lives an hour from me and is running for Congress.

 I have already started reading Little House in the Big Woods out loud to Wyatt and one day I hope to visit some of the locations in these books as a family. 

The Details:  This read-along is hosted by Bex at An Armchair by the Sea and Lynn at Smoke and Mirrors

The reading schedule is as follows:

January - Little House in the Big Woods
February - Little House on the Prairie
March - Farmer Boy
April - On the Banks of Plum Creek
May - By the Shores of Silver Lake
June - The Long Winter
July - Little Town on the Prairie 
August - These Happy Golden Years
September - The First Four Years
October - On the Way Home
November - West from Home 
December - Pioneer Girl/ A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert (we are going to read one each of these and then both if we have time. You are welcome to choose either one or any other book related to Laura Ingalls Wilder)

I am really looking forward to this challenge! Bex mentioned on her blog post that the website has recipes from the books - I may have to try a few. I see molasses cookies or brown bread in my future.. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

First Book of the Year - 2016!

Wow, the first book of the year already! Where did 2015 go? This is a great meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey every year, and I love it because it makes you think about what that special first book will be. I am a little late to the party but better late than never - especially if that party is anything like the one in the book I am reading...

This year I think mine is one of the best I have chosen!

After much deliberation, my first book of the year is an Agatha Christie book called And Then There Were None. I have never ever read an Agatha Christie book before, and I am looking forward to it! I watched the first episode of the mini-series of the same name and was hooked, and knew I had to read the book, which I am sure will be loads better!

My Favorite Books of 2015

I can't believe it's that time of the year again! It's a new year, and that means possibilities for change and renewal, or maybe just maintaining what you have going right now. And of course, it means an opportunity to read more books! Whether you want to try new authors, different genres, or keep reading tried and true favorites, the sky's the limit!

As a new mom, I didn't get to read like I normally do - but I still did manage to read a few books! My favorites among them were:

I am looking forward to what this year will bring!