Source: purchased

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Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

January 4, 2016 Book Review 12

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Published by Vintage on May 18th 2004
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 226
Format: Paperback
Source: purchased
Goodreads

 

After having this one on my shelf for quite a few years I finally picked it up as my first read for 2016.

Christopher, the protagonist, has a form of autism. He seems brilliant when it comes to numbers and remembering facts; dealing with people and social situations, not so much.  The only touch he seems to be able to tolerate is that of an animal – his favorite pet rat or the next door neighbor’s dog – Wellington.

When Christopher discovers Wellington with a garden rake poking out of his fur, he loses it. No one seems to know who or why Wellington was murdered. So Christopher takes it on himself to detect the culprit. His favorite storybook character is Sherlock Holmes.  Christopher uses Holmes’ methods of deduction and reasoning to investigate Wellington’s death.

Christopher’s world is turned inside out as the progression of his investigation continues. We follow along in his head as he tries to make sense of the senseless. Several paragraphs I had to skip over. Whenever Christopher went off on a mathematical equation  my eyes would glaze over and brain would go into a deep, thick fog. But I had to keep reading because the mystery was compelling, the characters heart-breaking and Christopher, whom I wanted to envelope into a long mama hug, could not be touched. To be autistic sounds incredibly difficult, but almost even more so difficult, I think, would be the one to take care of an autistic child. God bless the saints who care for the autistic person.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Flowers for Algernon or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Have you read this oldie?

 

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Reading with YaYa: What Pet Should I Get + Free Printable

November 8, 2015 Book Review 2

Reading with YaYa: What Pet Should I Get + Free PrintableWhat Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss
Published by Random House Children's Books on July 28th 2015
Genres: Children, Picture Books
Pages: 48
Source: purchased
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads

 

Would you believe the Little Monkey is four now! And so so smart and clever. Here’s just a few of our most recent conversations:

YaYa, let’s go to Chick-fil-a so I can share a milkshake with you. . .” and play in the indoor playground for hours.

YaYa, I don’t have markers those colors. Can we get those so you and I can color together?” I’ve only got every color under the sun except that particular shade of red…and red is our favorite color…

YaYa, will you read this book to me?” while climbing up into my lap, snuggling in and patiently waiting for the book to begin…who could resist?

Our latest book is the recently published What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss. This book was discovered in a box of Dr. Seuss’s things while his wife and secretary were cleaning out his office. If you read One Fish, Two Fish, you’ll recognize the brother and sister duo.  In What Pet Should I Get? the pair are off to the pet store together to pick out a pet. Should we get a bird? a dog? a yent? and so on.

The beginning starts off strong, but about half-way through the story lags. It did not seem to be quite up to par with Dr. Seuss’s normal hilarious and off-the-wall antics. The underlying moral and message is not as clear and concrete in this book as it is in say, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or even Are You My Mother.  The main message seems to be “just make up your mind!”

With that said, we still enjoyed reading the book and discussed everything from having a new pet dinosaur to a new pet snail. Fortunately, we are an hour away from the pet store, so no new pets were welcomed into the home 😉

For this book we completed the printable I’ve added below. We had a lot of fun imagining our own dream pet.  In a ‘you’re special’ package I mailed to my nieces to congratulate them on their new baby brother, I included the book, the printable + crayons, and this clay.  It’s a great method for tactile learning and another opportunity to foster imagination.

Let me know if you try out the book & the printable or send me photos on Instagram! I’d love to see what your kiddos or grand-kiddos create!

what pet should i get printable

what-pet-should-i-get-printable

Stacy

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Becoming Clutter-Free While Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

April 26, 2015 Book Review 13

Becoming Clutter-Free While Creating a Capsule WardrobeThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Published by Ten Speed Press on October 14th, 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 207
Format: Hardcover
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Since purchasing The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve been digesting bite-sized pieces in preparation for a giant overhaul.  Part of my hesitancy in diving into the KonMari concept was that we were moving and renovating our little cabin in the woods.  We are still renovating, so I’ve been mindful of everything I’ve put into the cabin.  My sweetheart; however, has not bought completely into the Kondo method – he’s pretty much the king of pack rats!

Recently, my oldest, Erica, turned me onto the capsule wardrobe, which goes hand-in-hand with the Kondo method.  If you’re thinking {like I did} that a capsule wardrobe is similar to a time capsule you’d only be marginally correct.  Caroline at unfancy.com developed a whole blog around her capsule wardrobe and included handy dandy worksheets for those of us new to the concept.

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo’s method of clearing out and cleaning up and if you’re in the market for changing your life, then you need to pick up this tiny book that packs a powerful punch!

[Tweet “If you’re in the market for a life-change, pick up this tiny book that packs a powerful punch!”]

From Japan, Marie Kondo’s claim to fame is helping individuals organize their homes, clear out clutter and ultimately become more productive.

I’ve culled, de-cluttered and donated virtually my whole life it seems, and still, I have allowed the clutter to build up time and time again.  Thinking back to when my kids were much younger and all at home, we would go through cycles of de-cluttering and donating their toys and my books and having just about a day of a blissfully clean and clutter-free home.

In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Kondo has developed a specific method to organization and de-clutter that has worked so well for herself and her clients that she can boast to NO client ever falling off the proverbial wagon.  Wow! That is what I call an incredible success.

In her book, Kondo goes into a bit of history of how she came up with her clutter-free method.  It’s interesting to read how alike yet also how different the Japanese culture is from American.  One of the similarities is how we all find ourselves bogged down with clutter and “stuff”  I daresay this has become a universal problem the world over.

With all that said, in my circular Southern manner I promise I’m getting to the point!

My daughters and I have challenged each other to develop our own capsule wardrobes and create a bit of breathing room into our lives.

Using the un-fancy.net worksheet and the following questions from Kondo’s book, I have started creating my Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe! I’m saying Spring/Summer because if you’re  at all familiar with Georgia you’ll recall that come about May the temperature is hot and by July it is suffocatingly hot and muggy and stays that way through October.  So rather than creating a 3-month wardrobe, it made more sense for mine to cover about 6 months or May – October.

In the chapter ‘Tidying by Category Works Like Magic’ we learn to begin with our clothes in the KonMari method; starting with shirts.  Laying out all of our shirts on the floor and then picking each one up individually and asking the question “does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

How does this actually translate into the idea of a capsule wardrobe?

I’ve planned out 46 items that I need in my closet.  Now, once I’ve selected those 46 items out of my current clothes and purchased any items that I’m missing, then I’m on a clothes-spending freeze for the next 6 months.  I won’t need to shop for clothes because I will have a good number of outfits already planned out.  It’s a bit of work on the outset, but I really think having these outfits figured out will save me time in the long run and be so incredibly liberating.

Below is the list of items I decided I would need for the next 6 months.  I’m going ‘shopping’ in my closet this week and packing up what I want to go through for my Fall/Winter wardrobe and donating the rest.  This way, I will only have 46 items on display in my closet.  I also plan to take some photos of outfits I’ve got on hand and tape to the inside of my closet; thus the effortless/easy part of my wardrobe!

My Go To Pieces:

  • 1 boot leg jean
  • 3 capris {jean, khaki, white}
  • 3 shorts {jean, khaki, white}
  • 2 sundresses
  • 2 shift dresses
  • 10 shoes
  • 2 bathing suits
  • 2 cover ups
  • 10 shirts
  • 2 lightweight jackets {jean & ?}
  • 2 purses {red small one + tote}
  • 3 workout pants/shorts
  • 4 workout tops

46 total pieces!

I’ve always been a shirt and jeans and, even more recently, a yoga pants and tank top kind-of-gal, but in this year of living deliberately and adjusting to being an empty nester + young grandmother + I can’t raid my daughters’ closets anymore, it’s probably time I get deliberate in an effortless, comfortable style that is ‘me’ instead of always wearing the latest thrift store find. {whew! what a long run-on sentence! forgive my lack of grammar!}  Also, according to Marie Kondo “If sweatpants are your everyday attire, you’ll end up looking like you belong in them, which is not very attractive. What you wear in the house does impact your self-image.”

This time next weekend I’ll have some images for you.  If you’d like to follow my process of cleaning, clearing, and organizing follow me on Instagram or Facebook.  I’d love to know if you’ve ever considered a capsule wardrobe or if you’ve got one currently {my daughters and I can use all the tips we can get!}.

and if you haven’t picked up Marie Kondo’s book, it’s an education in Japanese culture, organization and a darn good resource to have on hand if you’re tidying up your home, closets or life.

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Book Review: Some Luck

March 5, 2015 Book Review, reviews 9

Book Review: Some LuckSome Luck by Jane Smiley
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing on Ocober 7th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 395
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

For a couple of years while growing up we lived on my grandparents farm in Tennessee.  I learned early on what makes a successful farm: a ton of hard work, dedication and some luck!

Set in the Midwest town of Denby, Iowa, Walter Langdon marries the prettiest girl in town, Rosanna, and sets up home and farm just outside of town.  Soon the babies start coming; first Frank then Joe, Lillian, Henry and finally Claire.  Covering 1920 – 1953, each chapter represents one year and we get a brief peek inside the lives of the Langdon family.    Frank makes his own way, is headstrong and stubborn yet also brilliant.  Joe is considered the ‘whiner’ and yet his particular gift of stewing over an issue brings him and his family success; Lillian is the angel, naive and beautiful; Henry has no interest in farming and somehow escapes much of the farm life work ~ he reads, and reads and reads; Claire is her daddy’s heart – is it because Walter has the time later in life to focus on Claire or is it because Rosanna seemed to have a bit of postpartum blues or a combination?

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about Some Luck ~ Is it a sweeping family saga or a book without a plot?  I think it is one of those that you either hate it or you need a few days to think it over and find that months after the fact you’re still pondering the Langdon family.  That’s where Jane Smiley has created a brilliant novel ~ it gradually gets under your skin and you find yourself thinking about the Langdon’s long after the book is closed.

Some Luck mirrors life ~ there’s a few big things that happen but mostly we get by in the everyday-ness of life.

Why I picked up Some Luck

I picked this one up because I’ve got Early Warning on my queue to review, and I wanted to start from the beginning in Smiley’s trilogy about the Langdon family.

What I would have liked better

There are a LOT of characters by the end of Some Luck and though Smiley includes a family tree at the beginning, I found myself having to look back quite a bit.  Before I start Early Warning I am going to print out the family tree!  Not every chapter includes each of the children or their friends and then subsequent spouses.   Since I had to read this one over a couple of weeks rather than all in a couple of sittings, it took me longer to get reacquainted with who was who.

Please give me more

Henry!  It seemed to me that Frank ended up as the accidental protagonist, but it was Henry that I was drawn to.

Interesting to Note

The discussion questions in the back of the novel really got me thinking about how so much about each character and the time period is revealed through atypical means.  For example, Walter resists getting a tractor for the longest time (times were changing, farming was evolving) and Frank’s character flaws are shown through Joe’s behavior (Frank is not a very nice brother toward Joe).  If you read this one be sure to check out the discussion questions ~ reading through those alone will reveal the brilliance of this author.

If you like A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler or Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem then you may enjoy Some Luck.

What book have you read recently that kept you thinking about the characters long after the last page was over?

 

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Book Review: The Unquiet Dead

February 9, 2015 Book Review, reviews 8

Book Review: The Unquiet DeadThe Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Published by Minotaur on January 13th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 352
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

I am a sucker for a mystery that incorporates religion or historical fact.  When a book includes all three I’m over the moon.  And if it has a bibliography then I’ve died and gone to heaven.  Such is the case with The Unquiet Dead.  {if you’re in my postal book club stop reading now}

When the Bosnian war broke out I was pregnant with my first child.  I can remember watching the news accounts, horrified at the victimization of so many, and appalled at how little the U.N. seemed to be able to help.  Little did I realize the news accounts were woefully under-informed.

Set in Canada, The Unquiet Dead follows Esa Khattak and his partner, Detective Rachel Getty as they navigate the delicate religious sects in an attempt to determine if a death is suspicious, or not.  Esa was appointed head of a unique task force that investigates crimes with religious leanings ~ he is especially qualified as a 2nd generation Canadian Muslim to wade the murky waters of religious acceptance.

Because of Esa’s familiarity with a witness to the possible crime, Rachel is called in to be both objective and protection.  She is given no information about the case and is expected to observe without bias.  She is given as much information as the reader, actually less, and it was so interesting to learn the facts of the case right along with her.

Ausma is a talented writer with impeccable timing.  Just as Rachel was about to get too frustrated with the lack of transparency from Esa, I, the reader, was also bordering frustration.  Then bam! The next kernel of evidence and information was revealed.  This bit of writing finesse kept the plot moving at almost break-neck speed.

What is but isn’t a complaint ~ I wanted to savor each small revelation and work at slowly figuring out what was what.  I couldn’t do that though, because I HAD TO read fast so I could unravel all of the layers of mysteries. One small issue was with Esa.  Without revealing any spoilers there’s a part where he acts out of character.  I get it though, taking into consideration the underlying storyline with Esa and the witness, but geez! I thought he was made of stronger stuff 😉

Please read this one.  The mystery, the underlying psychological subtleties, the religious intolerance {and acceptance} are all each and of themselves enough reason to read The Unquiet Dead.  Throw in the historical fact of The Bosnian War and that makes this book a knock out of the proverbial park.  Highly, highly recommended.

[Tweet “Mystery that tackles 3 world religions with sensitivity and a senseless war with deep respect.”]

As a side note, some of the actual historical statements from endless testimony regarding The Bosnian War is used throughout The Unquiet Dead.  It gives even more credibility to the sensitive, respectful manner in which the author portrays the horrors of war.

Putting money where my mouth is {well, really my fingertips that are typing away here} I am giving away two copies of The Unquiet Dead to my lovely readers.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to enter as long as you are over the age of 13.

[promosimple id=”6a1c”]

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