Saturday, May 19, 2018

Life Lately

While I was working on my April books post, I started looking at some of my past posts.  Lately, we have been so busy that all I have time for is my book posts (which I do mostly for me, to help track what I've read and what I think about the books).  I was reading past posts, 5 on Friday, what I'm loving, and what our boys our up to.  And I realized I miss those!  I decided to play a little catch up, so I don't forget this past year!


January

January was a BIG month for us!  We bought our first house.  We closed on the 10th, but didn't move until the 28th.  So we spent every spare second at the new house.  I painted all of the bedrooms.  Bech painted the dark paneling AND pulled up the carpet and refinished the floors.  


White paint on paneling and wood floors (before Bech refinished them) compared to the ugly carpet and dark paneling


The floors mid refinishing


Ahhh, beautiful refinished floors!


This man was seriously the MVP of January!


Our rental house looking all sorts of cray cray while we packed


We did fit in a little fun.  Here's Gil on ice skates for the first time.


February

In February, we crashed.  Seriously.


Every single one of us got the flu.  Ughhhh....


We also drove down to DC and spent several days with Ansley.  The boys loved getting a special capitol tour from their Aunt.



The view from the Speaker's balcony


Jack posing with Vermont's Ethan Allen


We also went on a White House tour.  Jack loved it...


...Gil was not impressed.


This kid is such a little poser.


We swung by Philly on our way home to visit our favorites, the Lugos.


And since Rita's had just opened for the season, we HAD to get some.


These kids are the best car travelers!


March


March was a snowy, snowy month for Vermont. 


We enjoyed a snow day together building a massive snowman.  

I will also be regretting that snow day come June, when I have to make up that snow day with in service.  Because Vermont doesn't build in snow days.  Mississippi, you need to take this moment to bask in the brilliance of built in hurricane days.  And Vermont, seriously???  It ALWAYS snows.  Why don't you build in some snow days?




And we slid down the back stairs.


We had friends over a bunch!  One night I pulled the last of the past summer's frozen blueberries out so make Bread and Wine's blueberry crumble.


We celebrated sweet Eleanor's first birthday with a beautiful unicorn party.


Jack finally read the original Jack.


And we kept hammering away at house work.


April


 



The boys opened their Easter happies.  Most notable present is Jack's watch: now when I tell him it's bedtime, he quickly corrects me.  Maybe I should have set the time wrong...


Jack, as usual, was a willing Easter photo taker.


Gil was, well Gil.


But he cheesed it up with his main squeeze, Viv.


Jack built legos and read, his two favorite things.


Also, I think the whole sibling things is going well, wouldn't you say?

Also, they share a room, so there's that...


We celebrated our favorite, Bech, with a mint chocolate chip cake.


And we had our first creemees of the year.


Jack on top of the UVM mascot, the catamount


I got to spend some time with my friends (Stowe Cider may have been involved...).


The boys and I have been really into cake baking videos lately, so we've been trying our hand at baking.  We made an ombre cake for a potluck we hosted.


And I decided to try my hand at gardening!  We are still doing our summer CSA, but I would love to eventually stop that and grow all of our summer veggies.  Here are my baby seedlings.


Whew, there's a speed recap of the past four months.  It's been busy and crazy and good.  I can't believe my first year back teaching is almost done (19 school days, but who's counting?), Jack is almost a rising 2nd grader, and Gil is almost a legit preschooler.  

We have lots of fun summer plans in the works, including a camping trip or two, a visit to Asheville, and a trip down south.  I can't wait!



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April Books

April was a great month of reading!  To be fair, a bunch of these are YA books, which are just quicker reads, based on page number and reading complexity.  But I am well on my way to 100 books this year.  In fact, at the time of writing this, I am at 42 books.  So as long as I knock out 8 more in the next month and a half, I've got this goal!


The Sound of Breaking Glass



Another Deborah Crombie.  I've really just been jumping around this series, based on what's available  through my library.  I've said it before on my blog, but I don't just adore these books.  I do like them a lot, and they fill the mystery void for me (in between new Alan Bradley, Louise Penny, Tana French, and rereading Agatha Christie).

This was a really good Crombie book.  A barrister is found murdered, and a musician is involved.  This story involves lots of flashbacks, and, as a self pronounced Anglophile, I do love how it's set in London.  If you are looking for a solid mystery, not too gory but not too "cozy," Crombie is a great author.


Ghost



Ohhhh, this book.  So so so good.  Ghost was on the Dorothy Canfield Fisher list (Vermont middle level book list) this year as well as a finalist for the National Book Award.  It's actually the first in a series by Jason Reynolds (great author!).  He writes diverse books, and I have loved everything I've read by him.

Ghost is a middle school boy with a troubled back story.  He stumbles into a track practice and onto a track team.  I love the interactions between the coach and Ghost and how Ghost finally finds a place to fit in.  I would recommend this book to all ages.  

One of my favorite things about this book is that I used it for a book group this year.  The 7th grade boys reading it came in everyday talking about what happened next.  I may have gotten a little teary eyed...


Matched



This is the first book in a dystopian trilogy (and you better believe I read all three this month...).  Cassia lives in a perfect world where residents, or at least those deemed matchable, are matched precisely with a mate, using collected data.  When Cassia is accidentally given two matches, things get turned upside down.  

The first book of the series felt a little more like a teen romance than a dystopian novel.  However, there were inklings that it was leaning more and more toward the Hunger Games/Divergent side, so I decided to keep reading.  Plus, let's be honest, the romance totally sucked me.


Crossed



This was the second book in the series.  Cassia goes to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky, her accidental match.  Meanwhile, Xander, her actual match, has a secret of his own.  All three get caught up the the resistance to the central government, which is about to crumble...


Reached



...as a plague hits the cities during the third book.  During the second book and all throughout the third book, the series turns from teen romance to full on dystopian novel.  It is lacking the intense violence of Hunger Games and Divergent and leans more toward the philosophical tone of The Giver.  

I really enjoyed this trilogy.  It's not as well written as other dystopian books and trilogies, but it does really make the reader think.  Plus, it's super engaging!


The Last Equation of Isaac Severy



This book was a book of the month club pick several months ago.  I would describe this book as a grown up cross between The Westing Game and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  

Isaac Severy was a famous mathematician who committed suicide, suddenly and quite unexpectedly.  His adopted daughter, who has NO leanings toward math, is left with the clues to solve the mystery, which will supposedly lead to a life changing math equation.  

One thing I enjoyed about this book was that it was fast paced, but not like a thriller.  I didn't have to stay up all night to finish it, but I did want to keep reading.  


Well-Offed in Vermont



Oh goodness, this book was all sorts of cheesy and awful.  I checked out the ebook through my library because it was a mystery set in Vermont.  

Look, unless you want to read a not super well written mystery written in Vermont, I would suggest skipping it.


Love is Both a Wave and a Particle



Well this was just a delightful little YA read.  It's about the relationship between a possibly autistic boy, Levon, and a depressed girl, Samantha, who attend a quirky high school in Ithaca, New York.  They are paired up to work on a writing project throughout their senior year.  

Because it's a writing project, the book is told from MANY points of view: Levon, Samantha, other people in their lives who have written chapters about them.  

I probably wouldn't give this to my students, because it does have some more intense scenes, but I think a 9th or 10th grader could definitely handle this book


A Sound Among the Trees



I stumbled across this title on my family's kindle account.  Even though it is told in the present, through the use of letters, this book tells the current and past story of a southern house. 

Adelaide, current owner of Holly Oak, located in small town Virginia, believes that the house is cursed.  Her great grandmother was supposedly a spy during the Civil War, and Adelaide believes that she is now suffering the effects of that.  When Adelaide's son in law remarries and the young bride, Marielle, moves to Holly Oak, Marielle becomes determined to fix the curse.

Midway through this book, I worried that it was a ghost story, which is NOT my cup of tea.  But I decided to keep going and I am so glad I did!  This book is about revealing the truth and realizing that you are not bound by the past. 


The Grave's a Fine and Private Place



Oh, sweet, funny Flavia.  I love every book that Alan Bradley writes featuring his spunky 12 year old detective.  I will say, this was not my favorite of his books, which is not to say it wasn't good.

Flavia and her sisters are recovering from the tragedy in the last book (Oh, Alan, how could you do that to us???) by going on a trip with Dogger.  Of course, they stumble upon a body and, of course, Flavia is determined to solve the mystery using a mixture of brains, chemistry, and pure luck.  


Station Eleven



I have been dying to reread this book.  I first read it in the spring of 2016 (read my thoughts here), so about two years ago.  It is one of my favorite books.   And I am a chronic rereader, at least of my favorites.

I decided this was the perfect time for a read, and I was right.  Ya'll, this book is so incredible.  It's billed as a dystopian, because it is about the world after the Georgian Flu kills 99% of the population.   And it's about how people survive and keep going.  I loved it even more after the second read. 



So there's April.  Like a said, a very full reading month!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

March Books

Time for another round of what I've been reading.  March was not a super slow month, but I didn't read as much as I did in February.  But, I will say, April is already shaping up to be a big reading month!

Under Wildwood




Wildwood Imperium



I finished up the Wildwood trilogy that I started in February.  Recap: this is the story of a middle school girl and her classmate who leave Portland and discover a magical world just north of the city.  They managed to save the girl's baby brother in the first book, but they head back to Wildwood in the second and third in order to save the magic woods themselves.  

I loved this series.  The illustrations (done by the author's wife, who also did the drawings for The Mysterious Benedict Society) are really amazing.  The series is super engaging.  If you've got a middle school reader who loves fantasies or adventures, I would suggest this series.


Dear Martin



Ah, another great read.  I have really committed over the past year to not only seeking out diverse books, but, more specifically, to seeking out diverse middle grade and YA fiction so that I can share with my students.

This book is about an African American boy, Justyce, who is a senior at a private school.  He is wrestling with a lot--his race, privilege, friendship, and girl relationships.  I don't want to give too much away.  I will add that, as the title hints, throughout this book, Justyce writes journal entries to Martin Luther King, Jr., trying to channel some of MLK's courage and mindset.  

Seriously, every teen should read this book.  It was well written, engaging, and so relevant.  


The Selection



You know what I love?  The Bachelor.  I have a group of friends that come over every night and watch the show with me.  It's our thing.

You know what I also love?  Dystopian novels.  I have since I first read The Giver in elementary school.

So imagine how I might feel about a series that mixes a dystopian world with the Bachelor?  Y'all, this book is every bit as awful and as wonderful as it sounds.  I tore through the first three books in this series.  

America Singer (yes, that is her name) is in a lower caste, but she is picked to be in the selection of future wives for the prince of the country.  

Need I say more?  You are either judging me or rushing to see if your library has this book...


The Elite



But wait, spoiler alert, American makes it to the elite six women...


The One



Will America be the last women left?  Does she really love the prince?  Does she love someone from her past?  What will even happen???

I couldn't put this series down.  It was every bit as cheesy as it sounds.  But, y'all, it was so fun.


The Great Brain



This book was one of my favorites when I was younger.  This is the story of Tom, a super smart kid growing up in Utah in the early 1900's.  It's told from the point of view of his younger brother.  Tom is always outsmarting everyone around him, sometimes even swindling him.  I loved especially reading about what life was like back then.

This would be a great read aloud book for kids.  The chapters are mostly independent of each other, so you could read just a chapter each night.  Plus, there are about three or four other books about the Great Brain.


A Column of Fire



This was where the biggest chunk of my reading energy went this month.  This book is just shy of 1000 pages, as our most of Ken Follet's other books.

This is the third book about Kingsbridge, along with Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.  I loved this book!  It was set during the period of Queen Elizabeth's reign, so it dealt with a lot of Reformation history.

If you've never read any of Follet's books, he always has four or five stories running simultaneously.  The characters will interact throughout the (long) books.  He also weaves in history, so you always end his books feeling like you learned a lot.  


Okay, so that was March, 8 books.  That's actually about the perfect amount for me!

As I said before, April is shaping up to be a big reading month, thanks to April break.  I will be back in a couple of weeks to share more!