Friday, February 01, 2013

Favorite Reads of 2012

This officially has been my most reading-ness year. I read 60 books. I credit such a high number of books to easier book access with my kindle (which I love) and to giving up all other hobbies and social life in favor of curling up in bed with a new read. So hopefully this year I will be a little more social, get back to my hobbies, and actually accomplish projects around the house and not read quite so much.

I compiled my favorite books from the year and thought I'd share, since a good book recommend is one of my favorite things to receive (just in case you were looking for a late birthday present for me). So here we go:

Favorite Young Adult Reads

 by R.J. Palacio

What it's about:

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
(via Goodreads)
My Review:
What a really wonderful book. I think it will become a classic, one that kids will read in middle school classes. It's about a kid who has major face deformities, and he starts attending real school in 5th grade. I thought the book did a good job at capturing some of the realities that face kids when they look or act different than other kids. There were parts I cried and parts I laughed, but over all the book had a good, uplifting tone. I have a someone in my life whom I love who faces some of these same realities, since he is in a wheel chair and I thought of him multiple times as I read the book and I thought about how he is so brave and amazing. The main message of the book, which is one reason I liked it so much, is kindness. That it is so, so important for us to be kind, to learn it while we are kids, as it will make the most difference in ours and other's lives.

by Jerry Spinelli

What it's about:

He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.

He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.
(via Goodreads)

My Review:
Another book aimed at a younger audience, but was so rich and compelling that it is a good fit for adults, also. It is the story of an orphan in Warsaw when Germany invaded. The actual history of the holocause is such a tough and intense story, that I appreciate reading books about it written from the more simple point of view of children. It softens the blow for us, the readers, by viewing the events from the innocent, simple, and not-quite-comprehending-all point of view of the children victims. But we don't understand any less what was happening, and the tremendous pain and fear the holocaust was. It is an excellent read, for teens and adults.

Favorite Regency Reads
I have read several Georgette Heyer books and these two are my favorite of the bunch:
The Grand Sophy
by Georgette Heyer
My Review:
Oh, I really, really liked it. A 4 1/2 star. I have read four Georgette Heyer books now and this is my favorite. I loved the main character, she is fearless and frank, and fun. The characters in the book are very entertaining and comical and the story was riveting. I stayed up until one in the morning reading and finished with a smile on my face. The best is the banter. The dialogue in the book is top notch. Really good read.
by Georgette Heyer
My Review:
Another great Georgette Heyer book, with a fun characters, fun story line. I liked it almost as much as The Grand Sophy, except this ending was a little cheesy for me. Her books tend to end a with a bit of hoky drama like movies in the 40s and 50s ended- a little too abrupt for my taste. But still a worthwhile and fun read.
by Julianne Donaldson
My Review:
 I am a little bit in love with this book and its romance. Very fun and fulfilling read. It's a regency Era romance, not as complex or as crafted as a Jane Austen, but with the light-hearted, likeable kind of heroine that fill Austen's books, and it just makes you happy to read. It's more like a 4.5 star book, just for the way it made me feel while reading it. It actually reminded me a little of a Georgette Heyer story, without being filled with as much historical detail fluff. When I finished it, I immediately wanted to read it again, which is very uncommon for me. It is one book I want to own, because I will be reading this again and I hope the author (this is her first novel) releases some more books in this genre.
Favorites Reads
by Jean Webster
My Review:
This is a delightful treat of a book. It is the story of an poor, orphan girl who is chosen by a wealthy trustee of the orphanage where she lives, to attend college, at his expense. The only condition is that she write him letters updating him on her progress. So the book is written in letter form, and the author does a great job staying to true to the feel of a letter. I really enjoyed the main character, she is flippant, and irreverent, and delightful. The story takes us over the four years of college as she grows from this insecure thing from an orphanage to a confident, happy women. I liked how she had moments of doubt and sadness, and also how she talked a lot of about finding the happiness that is around you. The ending was such a treat, though I really would have loved to have had more detail (this is where the letter writing hindered the story a bit). Good read.
by Daphne du Maurier
My Review:
This was never a priority on my reading list. I included it because several of my friends rated it high. I have seen the movie several times, which is dark and a little creepy, so I didn't have high expectations, but I really liked it. Really really liked it. The author is amazingly descriptive of people and their emotions. It felt so real. The first half of the book, I kept thinking that this story wasn't creepy, it was simply about a girl with incredibly low self esteem, married to a jerk, with a insubordinate house keeper. But then the plot thickened, emotions got flaring and I was hooked. Even though I had seen the movie, I had forgotten several important parts of the plot, so it was quite the page turner for me. Well, I actually listened to the book, so it was a metaphorical page turner. By the way, the actress who read the book did an amazing job. I would definitely recommend the audiobook.

Mistborn Trilogy
by Brandon Sanderson
My Review after the first book:
Very good read. The only reason I sought out this book was because of a review I read on a blog, and then I saw that one of my friends gave it five stars, so I gave it a chance. Even though the cover made it made me think twice. I am not a big fantasy genre type of girl, though I am not opposed to some of it. I mean, I once read the Lord of the Rings. The cover of this book makes it look like once I read it, I'd have to join chat rooms, and go to Mistborn conferences and whatever else fantasy geeks do. But I really liked it. Really, really liked it. It was a completely different world, with a complex and well developed "magic" system, with likable characters, and I could remember all the names of the people (I hate this about some fantasy novels, where there are so many people with weird names, I can't remember who is who). Some other reviewers compared it as a fantasy novel, with an ocean's eleven twist, which I think is a fair way to put it.
My review after the third and final book:
WOW. just WOW. . .This is how I feel about 30 minutes after finishing this book and the trilogy of Mistborn. Sooo good. Not only did the author create a complete, fascinating world in this book, he made an incredible story with so many twists and turns, so many unanswered questions, that finally become answered in the final book. This read was such an experience for me, mostly because I am amazed this story, so precise, so unpredictable and un-cliched, and so enormous could come out of any single persons mind. Wow.
Note: Cody also read the series and liked it, for what it's worth.

by Jane Austen

My Review:
This is the second time I have read Persuasion and I loved it even more this time. I might even like it more than I like Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austin is just so talented at nailing subtle human emotion. I felt all the agony and then happiness that Anne Elliot felt. I also love Anne Elliot as a herione. Mature, controlled, and terribly feeling. Such a good read.
There you go! I am a faithful updater, so if you want to friend up on there, I'm always game!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Christmas Miracle

Merry Christmas!!

I know I am a whole month late. 

The fact that I have all three kids, looking at the camera (or relatively close), smiling and not standing all staggered, like they were posing for the cover of a boy band cd, was a Christmas miracle. Cody was the actual miracle. I tried taking pictures by myself, and the kids were absolutely 'orrible! Then Cody came out, acted all sorts of goofy, and had the kids giggling and cooperating. Thank goodness for Cody ('cause I was seriously losing it). 

One of my favorite pictures ever. 

Luke would not let go of his toys for the life of him. I love this picture; it captures so many things that define Luke and Morgan.  

There was a lot of this going on.  

. . but I will take it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Halloween 2012

Halloween 2012
in Wisconsin
At the beginning of October, I am always rearing to get the Halloween season started! Decorations, fall weather, anxiously awaiting the parties that are to come. But by the time the parties come and go, I can't wait to pack up Halloween. Seriously, how many times do my kids have to dress up in costumes in get candy in a one month period. TOO many. By the time actual trick or treating came around, I was seriously over it. Plus, it was freezing outside. Wisconsin decided to make fall short in order to get a jump start on winter. Brr.
These pictures are from the trunk or treat. You may remember my feelings on trunk or treats. Where is the sport in it??
Morgan the Mermaid, and Luke the Neverland Pirate

He was really tickled to be dressed as a pirate. He didn't even want to take off the costume for bedtime. But by the time actual Halloween came, he did not want to put it on again. So he stayed home with Cody and helped hand out candy.

Morgan loved being a mermaid, but not the smartest costume for a cold Wisconsin Halloween. Even bundled in a coat, she only lasted about 1/2 an hour before she called uncle on the whole trick or treating outdoors thing.

Claire made her zombie costume. For the trunk or treat, I didn't put much blood and gore on her face, since, you know, it was at the church. But when we got to the party and she saw other kids with blood and gore on there face (because zombie/zombie vampires were the "it" costume this year, apparently), she was really disappointed she didn't have more. So on Halloween, I went full out with the make up, with rotted flesh, blood, and bruises. She was delighted.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Wisconsin is a State, Adrienne!

Back in August, we moved from Alabama to Wisconsin. It was the craziest move we have had yet, just because of family reunions, rent contracts coming to an end, and Cody's work responsibilities, none of which seemed to line up very nicely. So we packed up, cleaned our home, and left Alabama at the end of July (leaving Cody behind to finish his residency), flew to Washington to spend a couple weeks with my family and attend our family reunion, and then flew to our new home in Wisconsin. Our stuff arrived the next day; we quickly unpacked, Cody flew in for a quick visit, and then flew back to finish his residency). Then he finally finished and drove up here to be with us for good. I am glad that whole period is done. It was pretty tough.

But. . .we are LOVING Wisconsin so far. First and foremost, we have loved the colder weather. I am meant to wear cardigans and jeans always. We also live in a more rural town and love the space, the fields of corn and soybean, the beautiful trees and old barns. Love it all. Our backyard butts up to a corn field and it is a little slice of heaven to sit back there on a cool evening and feel the wind blowing off the corn. The kids have been playing outside almost non-stop and are loving our new house and yard.

We have really lucked out with the neighborhood. We have two families on either side of us that have eight year old girls, and other young kids. So Claire is constantly playing with one or both of the girls. It has made the adjustment of the mood so very smooth.

It is always interesting to see the differences in culture amongst all the different areas we live in. First of all, Wisconsin accents rock. Seriously fun to listen to, though Cody insists he's not a fan. I feel that out of all the accents in the world, I am most susceptible to this one. I can already hear the change in the way I say 'soda'. Awesome! The people are so very talkative and friendly here. It is a very warm, frank vibe that I get from people here. So I have high hopes for our future here.

Because of the cooler weather, we have been taking advantage of the outdoors. We went to the beach right before fall blew in, and had such a good time. We are excited about next summer and all the beach time we'll be sure to fit in. We also live close to a bike path, so we have been going on family bike rides (for the first time ever, may I add). We have also been raspberry picking (heaven!) and have gone to a pumpkin patch.  We live right between Milwaukee and Chicago so I know we have a lot of exploring to do.

Church has been really nice. This is the first move where I have really felt how small our world is getting. I discovered after I moved here that my good friend from Virginia, Amy's sister is in my ward here. Also, one of the first Sundays here I noticed one of the missionaries looked just like this teenage kid from my Alabama ward. When he introduced himself to me, I thought it a funny coincidence that he had the same last name as the kid. Then I found out he is cousin to this kid from Alabama. Small world. I love that it is a small world. And I guess the more we keep moving the smaller it will get.

Friday, September 07, 2012

First Day

It was a big first day of school for both of my girls. For Morgan, it was her first day of Kindergarten, first day in a big school, and first day riding the bus. She was worried (the night before in bed she kept crying for her old teacher Miss Sally, and she said she was scared. But by morning time, it was all forgotten and she was up, dressed fast, and ready to go.

Claire's big day was starting 3rd grade, at a new school. She was also worried about it the night before and started crying when she was telling me that she was scared about not knowing anybody (which wasn't entirely true, because she knows two girls that live next door to us that are in her grade). But, for her too, in the morning, all visible worry was forgotten and she was also dressed and ready in time to wave goodbye from the bus!

So far, I think both girls are having a good time and it is going well. The week before Morgan started Kindergarten, we went to open house to find out that she had been placed in a K/1st combined class. This was a last minute addition, because of the additional number of students registered this year. Morgan's teacher was hired the day before open house. So I left feeling very conflicted on her class. With the first week of school under her belt, I still feel a little anxious about it, only because we have heard nothing from her teacher. No notes home, no worksheets or school work sent home. Soooooo, I'm a little worried.

Best thing about the school year so far, they don't have to catch the bus at 6:45, like last year! We get to sleep in and believe me, it is better for everyone in our house!

(Morgan, little sweetheart, blowing me a kiss)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day


 For Labor Day, I took the kids to a nearby beach on Lake Michigan. It was beautiful and fun! The lake looks like the ocean, since it is so enormous and you can't see the other side, and the sandy beach was just perfect. Claire loved playing in waves, Luke didn't even want to touch the water, and he and Morgan had a good ol' time playing in the sand.  We shall be back!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mourning What Once Was

My poor neglected blog. I miss it. I miss what it once was and what it no longer seems to be. It was once a creative outlet, a connection to friends and family, and a journal of all the small and big things in life that make it colorful. Now I just feel pressure to journal and by journal, I mean put pictures up of my kids with captions. Which doesn't sound very creative to me.

And it's not just me. What was once a bustling cyber-city of blogs, with cute new headers every two months, and blog lists running down the sides with blogs from practically everyone you ever met, is now a ghost town. I mean, sure the professional craft bloggers are still abundant and proceeding on as plentiful as always, but the blogs I really care to read, those of my friends and family, are being abandoned, with posting spaced out to every few months, to being slowly forgotten altogether. It makes me sad.

I'm not one to talk, obviously. It has been four months since I posted and a whole, whole lot has happened in my life since then (oh, you know, like moving states and all) and yet I can't get myself to sit down and actually document it. I still do often stop mid-blog-worthy-event and think about how I would write about it, but when it comes to sitting down in front of the computer, laziness, lack of enthusiasm, etc, etc, intervenes.

 I miss the banter in the comments section, the inside jokes, the inside knowledge I had of my friends lives, even if I haven't seen them in years. I miss the way I use to feel more connected. I miss the enthusiasm for blogging that everyone use to have. What happened?

Facebook, instagram, pinterest?? I do enjoy getting snippets of your lives from these, but that is all they are. Snippets. Give me feeling, give me humor, give me more!! Ah, I have started the desperate begging, which is my cue to wrap up before I look too needy (too late).

I don't know if I will ever get back to the golden days of blogging, but I am going to try a little more. I hope you do, too.

PS. I still have a handful of friends who update their blogs pretty regularly and to you I say this: Thank you! You are the highlight of my googlereader.