Monday, February 29, 2016

Creativity Corner: Avengers Birthday Party

My 11 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

Avengers Birthday Party

My now 11 year-old son wanted to have an Avengers themed movie party with his friends.  I can't take credit for the design of the cake since I found it on Pinterest at this link.  For an amateur, I was very happy with how it turned out.

I even set up a concession stand for the boys with popcorn, candy, and pizza.

The following is a picture of the dessert and drink station.  No...the taps were not in operation for the little ones :)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bookish Goals Status Update: February 2016

In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2016 Goals.

  • Read and review at least 45 books 
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
    2. First Family by David Baldacci
    3. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    4. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues Book 1)
    5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer 
  • I am once again participating in the New To You Challenge hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  I'm going to aim for the "Dipping the Toes" level with 12 - 24 books that qualify. Any book over 80ish pages qualify as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic  - New series
    2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - New author and New Series
    3. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan - New series
  • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
    • Last year I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was the book that had been on my Goodreads TBR list the longest.  This year, I have 49 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  I plan on reading at least 3 of them.
      1. I'm currently reading The Girl Who Played With Fire which qualifies
    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read.

    • Attend a book convention
      • I'm registered for BEA in Chicago this May!!
    • I joined the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. My goal is to reach Mount Blanc level - Read 24 books in 2016 that I owned before January 1, 2016.  Ebooks that you own count, but you must own the book....No library books.
      1. First Family by David Baldacci
      2. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues #1)
      • Achieve a Professional level in the 2016 Prequel and Sequel challenge with 76 - 100 points.  I finished last year with 82 points, so hopefully this year will be similar.  The sign up and description can be found at Novel Heartbeat. (Link Up Quarterly)
        1. First Family - King & Maxwell #4 - 2 points for a sequel 
        2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - Lunar Chronicles #2 - 2 points for a sequel
                                                          Total Points = 4
      • Complete 2 half marathons during 2016
        1. I am registered for the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, OH at the end of April
      • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Pro status with 16 new releases read/reviewed during 2016.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages.

        Wednesday, February 24, 2016

        Review: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues #1)

        The Maze of Bones  (The 39 Clues, #1)

        My 5th grade son has been enjoying all of the Who Is / Who Was books for the better part of this school year.  He really enjoys non-fiction, but his teacher wanted him to experiment with fiction as well as increase his reading stamina by selecting a longer book.  He decided to give The 39 Clues a try.  

        In the past he has struggled with story lines that were too far from reality, so this seemed like a perfect fit.  39 Clues is about a couple of siblings, Amy and Dan, whose aunt Grace recently passed away at the beginning of the book.  All of the Cahill descendants are given the choice of taking a check for one million dollars or forfeiting the money for a chance to participate in a scavenger hunt.  They will need to track down clues, but only one individual or team can win.  The contest will be very dangerous and should not be entered into lightly.

        Amy and Dan decide to participate in the challenge.  Being minors, they don't have the financial resources most of the participants have at their disposal.  They even have to solicit the help of their au pair (nanny) in order to purchase plane tickets, check into hotels, etc.  

        I found this book to be both entertaining and educational.  Reader have the opportunity to learn about Benjamin Franklin and places that were significant in his life such as Philadelphia and Paris.  Riordan did an excellent job of keeping the story realistic while inserting some action and elements of danger, which kept my son continuously engaged.  I felt like this series was equally as informative as the Who Is and Magic Tree House books, but it was presented in a way that children do not feel like they are receiving a history lesson.  It as fun and exciting and allows children a chance to feel like they are part of an adventure. 

        Preston has the first 10 installments in the series and plans on reading the next book after he completes another "I Survived" book.  What I find to be unique about this series is that there are several different authors throughout the course of the series.  I will be interested to see if the future books read the same way as the first or if there is an obvious change based upon the different styles of the authors.

        Tuesday, February 16, 2016

        Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

        The 5th Wave was our Book Nerds Across America read along in January.  The movie hit theaters on January 22nd, so Flo thought it would be a great way for us to prep for the movie.  

        I'm not usually a science fiction reader, but I found this book to be a great mix.  The aliens have come to Earth and are eliminating the human population in waves.  After the fourth wave, there is next to nobody left when compared to the billions of people that populated the earth prior to their arrival.  Cassie and her five-year-old brother are a couple of the lucky survivors.  When they become separated, Cassie promises Sam she will find him.  This promise is far easier said than done.

        Ben Parish has been Cassie's crush at school for as long as she can remember.  He is a star football player and barely knows who she is.  He is one of the survivors who is taken to a military facility.  The recruits endure what has to be worse than a navy seal training program and will ultimately be humanities last stance against the invaders....or so they believe.

        Evan Walker is a farm boy who finds Cassie after she was injured and helps nurse her to health.  There is definitely something unusually about this boy, but Cassie can't quite put her finger on it.  She doesn't feel like she can trust him, but she has no real reason not to.  He could have left her for dead, but he chose to help her.

        The story is told from Cassie, Ben, and Evan's points of view, which allows the reader to see all aspects of life on Earth after the arrival.  The story was action packed and unpredictable, which kept me constantly wanting to know what would happen next.  As the pieces of the puzzle began to come together, I became so engrossed that I didn't realize how close to the end I was.  Then, it just stopped.  I was reading an ebook, so those things can easily happen, but I was still shocked.  There were so many loose ends and unresolved issues that there HAD to be a few more chapters I was missing.  WRONG!  

        That is when I went to Goodreads and discovered there is a second book in the series.  I immediately tweeted Flo and was like, how can this be?  Fortunately, The Infinite Sea is available, so I guess I will be reading it in the near future.  I certainly can't leave these wonderful characters in limbo for all eternity....or perhaps that is what the "Others" would like for me to do.  

        The final book in the series, The Last Star, will be released on May 24, 2016.   I was beyond excited to see that I will be able to conclude the series without having to wait even a few months between books.  Flo's timing in selecting this series couldn't have been better!!

        Monday, February 1, 2016

        Creativity Corner: Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford

        My 11 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

        Magical Jungle by Johanna Basford

        Johanna Basford announced the name/theme for her next adult coloring book and I can hardly wait.  If you click on the picture below, it will take you to her twitter page, in case you are interested in seeing some of the other #MagicalJungle photos she has shared.

        I completed the first page in Lost Ocean over the weekend!

        Preston completed the following page from 
        Birds - A Mindful Coloring Book by Georgie Woolridge