Sunday, January 18, 2015

Way outside what I normally post, but needs to be said

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!!

From all us "basket cases"

and Pixie

I started taking monthly pictures of Pixie in this laundry basket, so when it was time to take pictures for Christmas cards, my mom said it would be funny if I put the other kids in the basket too.  She was right.  Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bookish Gift Idea Round Up-- Picture Book Edition

I didn't forget picture books, I promise.

This is our newest Christmas picture book acquisition (received for review).  The kids seem to like it-- the girls more than Mister probably.  MeiMei really loves it.  Fabulous illustrations, naturally.

New from the library this year we have Elmer's Christmas, as in Elmer the Elephant.  This one's kind of fun-- Papa Red (the elephant Santa) has a sleigh pulled by moose, which is awesome.

Splat the Cat and the Snowy Day Surprise (received for review).  Technically wintery, not Christmasy, but it has flaps to lift and the kids think it's pretty darn funny.

The Littlest Elf is a Little Golden Book that I had as a kid.  My brother-in-law found a whole bunch of Little Goldens and sent several home with my husband when he went to visit family last month.  This one I was super excited to see because we had it when I was a kid and it's just cute.

Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep.  Again, wintery more than Christmasy, but this remains a huge favorite for MeiMei.

Other random picture books that would make awesome gifts:
Take Away the A.  Oh my gosh this book is hilarious.  Little bit of an older audience... MeiMei almost knows why it's funny, but the kids who can read find it much funnier than she does.

Uni the Unicorn (or really ANYTHING by Amy Krouse Rosenthal). Uni believes in little girls, no matter what anyone else says. :)

Scaredy Squirrel.  (Series)  There actually is a Christmas one, but my kids loved them all.  These are better for ones who can read it themselves.

Fancy Nancy (series).  Always favorites really.

For more Christmasy picture books, take a look at the ridiculously long list in last year's Christmas round up.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bookish Gift Idea Round Up-- Family Edition

Fortunately, The Milk.  Okay, so I think I maybe already reviewed this one.  Maybe.  I don't know anymore; it's been a weird year.  EVERYONE in my house enjoyed this book.  I read it, my husband read it, Boo read it, Mister read it.  I read it out loud to MeiMei.  It's a huge hit across the board.  Really, everyone should read this.  Frankly, you could just buy this for everyone on your list and be done shopping. ;)

PENGUIN CHRISTMAS CLASSICS. The series, an elite combination of world’s most cherished Christmas stories, includes, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Christmas at Thompson Hall: And Other Christmas Stories by Anthony Trollope, A Merry Christmas: And Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott, The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol, and The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann.  We got these for review and they are lovely.  I love the coordinating covers.  I'm surprising the kids with them this weekend.  Mister collects editions of The Night Before Christmas, and MeiMei is enjoying the story of the Nutcracker this year, so I'm excited for them to see those.  I'm also hoping that Boo is old enough to want to read A Christmas Carol this year.  Or maybe we'll all read it aloud together.  The Louisa May Alcott is another that I'm really hoping Boo gets excited about.  It's kind of exciting to surprise the kids with new Christmas books that feel a little more "grown up". :)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bookish Gift Round Up-- Middle Grade (ish) Edition

 THE SCAVENGERS, the first middle grade novel from New York Times bestselling humorist, Michael Perry. We got this one for review and I haven't read it yet, but Boo LOVED it.  I mean LOVED it.  Big time.  So she's recommending it. :)  Here's a description: Once the weather started going all wonky, the government thought that the best way for people to survive was to move UnderBubble in massive domed cities cut-off from the outside world. And twelve-year-old Maggie’s family decided to take their chances OutBubble. Now she, her parents, and her little brother Dookie live in the world that was left behind.
Deciding it’s time to grow up and grow tough, Maggie rechristens herself Ford Falcon—a name taken from a car she lives in near the junkyard. Luckily, Ford and her family are able to survive by scavenging things to barter with at a makeshift town close by. Ford’s family has been making do—despite having to fend off the occasional solar bear and avoid the GreyDevils that are always lurking around. But when she discovers her home has been ransacked and her family missing, Ford must prove she is strong enough to brave this wild world alone and rescue her loved ones.

Nick and Tesla, books 1-4.  This is a series that simply ROCKS.  We've gotten all of them for review (shout-out to Quirk Books for being totally freaking awesome) and the second they appear... they disappear again because one of the kids takes off with it (usually Boo).  A wonderfully entertaining combination of adventure and science, I'm pretty sure these would appeal to a pretty wide range of kids-- boys and girls, elementary and maybe middle school ages.

The Zombie Chasers (series).  We've gotten more than one of these for review and while they missed the mark a bit for my kids (a bit too scary for Mister and a bit too... "ew" for Boo), we donated them to Boo's teacher and she keeps telling me which boys in her class are reading them, so they seem to be a hit.  I'd say later elementary into middle school (say a precocious 3rd grader up to 8th ish?) and definitely more of a "boy" thing, lol.

Case File 13 (series).  Ditto to Zombie Chasers.  Didn't quite fit for us, but we donated the copies we got for review and they seem to be a pretty big hit.  Little less of a definitively "boy" thing, but still probably ideal for later elementary/middle school boys.

The Graveyard Book: Vol 1 and Vol 2 (graphic novel).  We received Vol 1 for review but again it wasn't a great fit for us, but I can see the appeal.  Very cool book, especially if you have someone on your list who's a comic/graphic novel fan because the book is done in sections with different big name artists.  The appeal here probably extends on up through high school and into adulthood. :)

Alien in my Pocket (series) Mister has LOVED these.  We got one of them for review (book 3 I think) and got the others from the library.  (Actually the library didn't have them yet, so we suggested they purchase them and they did.)  These ones a easier, on the earlier end of elementary school probably.  Say 1st or 2nd up to 4th or 5th (especially if you have a struggling or reluctant late-elementary reader).  Very cute silly books.  Geared more towards boys, but there's probably some appeal for girls.

And of course, last but not least:
Origami Yoda.  This series swept through our home this fall and just plain TOOK OVER.  There is origami everywhere.  We have the entire series, including the companion book Art-2 D2 (which Mister especially loves) out of the library right now and probably need to just buy them all.  Universal appeal, I'd say, but especially boys in the 3rd-8th grade range.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hanukkah oh Hanukkah

Quick shout-out to Kar-Ben publishing, who has sent us a couple of great picture books.

The Whispering Town-- a great story about people hiding and helping Jews during WWII.  Kids loved it and it's a good introduction to talking about the Holocaust.

Ziggy's Big Idea-- my kids love bagels, so they loved this cute book about the creation of the bagel.  Bonus: it includes a recipe!

They have other titles that look fun too, like Latke the Lucky Dog; Alef is for Abba; New Month, New Moon; and Stork's Landing.

Check them out if you're buying Hanukkah gifts!

Another Hanukkah selection that recently came to my attention is THIS ONE....

Now, I'm not Jewish, so I don't get all of the jokes, but you gotta admit some of these are funny.

From the looks of the preview, some are a bit more risque, but it was too quirky not to throw out there. ;)

Finally-- I just want to share one of my favorite Hanukkah songs.  Now, there's not actual video on this, but it's worth a listen.

Bookish Gift Idea Round Up-- "Grown up" Edition

“Daily Zen Doodles,” a new book featuring 365 zentangle drawings that are designed to help you take those steps toward mindfulness.  I got a copy of this one for review and it is really pretty cool.  Can't wait to doodle all over it!

The Study of Pose  :   1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha,   100,000 images,   2,000+ pages,  Concept and Photography by Steven Sebring, Foreword by Jean Paul Gaultier.  This is one that would really appeal to anyone in your life with an interest in dance, photography, or even drawing.  I was given an online sneak peek opportunity for this and it's pretty cool.  Also, the digital edition allows you to rotate the images to see the pose from all angles.  Awesome concept.
"Coloring Animal Mandalas" is another I was able to get a review copy of and I am SO EXCITED to play with it!  These coloring pages are amazing.  Check out the clip.
Is that not awesome?  I think I need new colored pencils to go with it. :)

“William Shakespeare Rewritten by You,” a humorous new book where you rephrase the most famous scenes ever penned in merry pursuit of amusement.  Think MadLibs, but Shakespeare.  Oh my gosh, this one is soooooo much fun!  My review copy has already provided much amusement for my friend and me... and we haven't even gone through it all!

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher.  Having now received and read review copies of all three (original trilogy, you understand... the good ones) I cannot recommend them enough.  EVERY GEEK NEEDS THESE FOR CHRISTMAS.  EVERY. SINGLE. GEEK.  :)

Unless it Moves the Human Heart by Roger Rosenblatt.  This was another review copy I got and really loved.  As a writer, so much of this resonated with me.  Not quite everything, but an awful lot.  Great choice for the writer on your list.

Other titles that would make great options:
The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel (for the history lover)
Phoenix Rising by Ryk E. Spoor (for the fantasy lover)
Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? by Pierre Bayard (for the mystery and/or literary analysis lover)
The Best of Connie Willis (for the sci-fi lover)