Favorite Halloween-ish Reads

Over the last seven months, one of the things that had kind of faded away and we brought back is reading books to the boys at night. The boys read every night before bed, but since they’ve both become avid readers, our routine had become telling them goodnight and then they would read in their rooms for thirty to forty minutes before it was lights out for the night. However, I started reading some to J again when he was struggling to find a book he wanted to read and just coming out of his room over and over again during reading time. All of the boys picture books are upstairs now, so I’ve started bringing out theme books for each season, and the boys are loving it! Here are some of our favorite Halloween books!

I picked up Bats at the ____book series set of three. These have always been some of our favorite library check outs, so I thought this would be a great edition to our home book shelf.

Whooo goes there? Not necessarily completely Halloween, but it is about owls. This is the first book that J memorized and began reading to us and everytime we read it I can hear his little toddler voice reciting “is it a mouse just right for my dinner?”

Room on the Broom. Declared one hundred percent hilarious by my boys, they giggle the whole way through this one.

Berenstein Bears Trick or Treat. This was mine as a kid, so it’s fun to read the boys a book that I read growing up.

Little Boo. Great pictures, and tells the story of how a seed grows into a pumpkin, from the perspective of the seed.

Gustavo the Shy Ghost. I picked this one up for the boys this year, and it is such a sweet story, and I love it for J who tells us that sometimes he feels a bit shy.

Frankencrayon. You honestly can’t go wrong with Michael Hall books. The pictures are always vibrant and colorful and the stories always hold the boys interest from beginning to end (which isn’t hard considering they love being read to).

We also have a The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything, that reminds me so much of taking the boys to story time at the library and the sweet librarian who read it to them every Fall. Reading to kids of any age is always a good idea! And if you don’t want to purchase books check to see what your local library is doing for loaning books right now. Our city library actually has curbside pick up for books, and was one of the first in the nation to do so!


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Late Spring Reads

I’ve read my fair share of books these past two months! Determined to put down my iPad, especially on the weekends, I’ve been completing about a book a week, which is a record for me. Here is a quick review of what I’ve read lately.

The Silent Patient. I read this in two days. It’s an intriguing read, but also very fast moving. Prepare a good block of time to read it, because once you start it, you want to find it how it ends. It is unsettling, but one of the most unique books I’ve read so far this year.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. Driven by a family loss, a young girl at the crossroads of her career returns to the town of her parents. It’s about self-discovery, family ties, and the power of food. A fun read, and I really enjoyed it from beginning to end.

The Bookshop of Yesterdays. This was fine, it was a bit of the same theme as Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, but more somber in tone. My favorite part of the book was all the classical literature ties the author brought in throughout the story.

Living Forever Chic. A fun read about French culture and their celebration of food and home. These books are some of my favorite before bed reads. Very calming and inspiring for home ideas!

Ramen and Gyoza. The next book (for me) in the Oishinbo series, it’s a celebration of two of our favorite foods. I love how these books provide the history of the food and the cultural perception and etiquette surrounding them.

And lastly, two more Maisie Dobbs books. If you start this series, you really do want to read it in order. The author has done a wonderful job leading the reader through the historical context that is moving from the ending of World War I towards the start of World War II. Each book has a mystery central to the story, but I really find the discussion of the era intriguing.

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Spring Reads


Save Me the Plums

Written by one of my favorite food writers, Ruth Reichl, this book chronicles her time at Gourmet. True to her writing style it was intriguing, heartfelt, and included recipes I can’t wait to try.

On The Bright Side

Written by Melanie Shankle, this book intertwines scripture and everyday occurrences that will make you laugh, think, and find endless things to take note of and remember. There’s always moments when I read Melanie’s books that I think, “woah I needed that”.

The Scent Keeper

Every moment of reading this book, I kept thinking, “can I assign this to my nonverbal class?”, “how can I use this in my nonverbal class?” It is such a great dive into the world of olfactics in a way that I don’t really think has ever been discussed in fiction writing.

Daisy Jones and the Six

I picked this one because of all the hype behind it. Everywhere I read I kept seeing rave reviews. My consensus? It was okay. I did finish it because I wanted to see how it ended, but it’s not one I would read again.

Nothing to See Here

Even though this was fiction, I found some of the plot a little unbelievable (and I’m not talking about the fire starter children). However, I liked the persistence of spirit in the children who, to me, really made the book.

Forever Chic

This is what I call a perfect wind down read. It is fanciful, filled with fun tips, and captures the essence of classy French style.

Among the Mad

My Maisie Dobbs read of the quarter. I’ve said it before, but I’m always amazed at how she interweaves the story with not only a mystery, but also a perspective on Britain after World War I.

And for a quick update on what the boys are reading…

J just finished all of Stuart Gibbs’ Spy School series and loved it. He is currently reading the nonfiction spy book he got for Easter, and the Henry Huggins series. He also is going back through Mo Willems’ books after we watched Mo’s Lunchtime Doodles and my Mom is reading The Phantom Tollbooth to her class online, so he’s watching those.

And A is reading the Rangers Apprentice series and Stuart Gibbs’ Tyrannosaurus Wrecks.

My Mom, sister, and I rotate books, so here is what I have stacked up to read next:

Happy Reading!

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Current Winter Reads

My resolution for the last year has been continuously reading. Which means that every night I read for at least thirty minutes. This year I resolved to start adding in weekend reading, which means every time during the day on a weekend that I go to grab my iPad or phone, I instead grab a book. Which means I’ve read quite a few books over the past two months! This post is as much for me as anyone else, because I forget what I’ve read and will go to read a book again multiple times (for example, Delicious! A book by Ruth Reichl that I almost bought this past week. Yup, I’ve already read it). Here is my quick review of the books.

The Giver of Stars: I don’t know if this was the actual intent of the story, but what I really enjoyed about this book was the drive of the characters to bring education to rural areas. Through treacherous conditions, difficult antagonists, and class related struggles, the main characters worked to create a real moving library in Kentucky. And it’s based on a true story!

Messenger of Truth: While each Maisie Dobbs book has an element of mystery, what I’ve enjoyed even more is the scope of understanding that Jacqueline Winspear brings to the time period of the stories. Each story is connected to the next, and you see the characters triumph and also fall in different ways as they deal with the aftermath of The Great War.

An Incomplete Revenge: Continuing with what I said before about Maisie Dobbs books, this story shows the stereotyping and fear that can come from wars and the ramifications and devastation of those fears. I was honestly shocked about the turn of events in this one.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain: A novel that interweaves multiple stories that almost seem like separate short soliloquies, but they eventually start running closer and closer together until you have the singular conclusion. I had a little trouble following it at certain points, but it was an incredibly unique read.

Conviction: I read this so fast, because I had to find out what happened at the end! The main character is incredibly flawed, but embraces the flaws so relentlessly that you root for her to figure out the mystery and to make it to the other side.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home: I was worried that this book was going to be incredibly sad, but at the end I felt incredibly uplifted. The sense of peace that the author not only found, but creates through the true story will stay with you a long time after you read it. I could honestly read it again.

The Last House Guest: A mystery that cuts back and forth from a year earlier and then present day, the main character tries to piece together the death of her friend, while also trying to overcome her struggles in a small town that she can’t seem to leave.

The Great Alone: This is one you’ll want to set aside a long time to read. It’s long. It’s at times, tiring. I may have skipped to the end to see if the characters were going to come out on the other side of the enormous walls they were up against. It is definitely an investment of time, but it is worth it. Kristin Hannah creates characters so intricately that you not only become invested, but you seek to understand who they are from the beginning to the end.

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Summer to Fall Reads

Reading is still our favorite wind down activity, and while my to read list is longer than what I’ve read, I’m steadily working through my pile. Here are my July to October reads!

Tip of the Iceberg

An excellent travel read. It takes you on an exploration of Alaska and gives you insight into many of the less traveled roads. My favorite story from the book involves two baby bears, an island, and a getaway boat!

The Night Tiger

A fictional mystery weaved with Chinese cultural traditions. It is insightful, captivating, and will keep you guessing until the end. It has three parallel stories that interweave throughout and come to connection at the end…which I realized was a theme of my reading…


This novel had two intertwined stories that are running kind of parallel in time line, but not exactly? I enjoyed the story, but did have to go back and read several sections. I was also reading it exclusively at night and kept falling asleep while I read it, so that probably didn’t help either. It expertly captures the vast and deserted sense of the “Wild West” in the 1800s.

The Ride of a Lifetime

I found this after coming across an interview with Robert Iger about Disney and crisis communication. I enjoyed the interview so much that I immediately ordered the book. I read the book in one weekend and enjoyed it thoroughly. If you love Disney like we do, have an interest in their organization, and want a behind the scenes look, you’ll love it to. It also gave me great material to discuss with my students!

J has worked his way through the first six 39 clues books and is now reading Percy Jackson. The perils of being the youngest, he wants to keep up with all his older cousins and brother and he’s not interested in reading Henry Huggins anymore, much to my dismay.

A is anxiously awaiting for several of his favorite series to release new books, and has read in the meantime several books including; Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli, Ungifted by Gordon Korman, and Regifted by Gordon Korman. However, he would want to share that his very favorite read and re-read of the season is Mike Lowery’s latest book: Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Beasts!

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Currently reading…summer edition

A bit of what we’ve been reading this summer….

We are all about the series this summer! And a Crisis Communication Textbook. Ha! Along with the boys’ reads and my work read, here are some of the other books I’ve read from May-July.

About the Night

A story about star crossed lovers, who are forever changed by the divide of Jerusalem. It is sad in parts, but so wonderfully written and insightful. You’ll remember it long after you read it.

Park Avenue Summer

Perfect for summer, this story is historical fiction of sorts, featuring an up and coming photographer and the editor who changed the entire direction of the original Cosmopolitan magazine.

The Murmur of Bees

This by far one of my favorite reads of the year. I don’t want to give anything away, but essentially it is about a baby who is found and taken in by a family, and his journey with and apart from them. It’s a story about the strong ties of family and overcoming adversity.

Cat Among the Pigeons

My most current Agatha Christie read. It is a mystery (obviously) surrounding a school setting, with a murderous hunt for treasure.

A Piece of the World

Another historical fiction based on Andrew Wyeth’s inspiration for the painting Christina’s World, this was a very interesting read. So much so that I now have the Museum of Modern Art on my list to go see the painting in person.

Maisie Dobbs

This has been on my list for awhile. I’m a fan of Forever 35 podcast, and one of the hosts has talked about this series being her favorite, and they interviewed the author. It is kind of along the lines of Agatha Christie, but it has a much more personal connection to the investigator. It is also set in a very specific time period (right after World War I), and the author does a lovely job of intertwining the effects of the war with the mystery.

A has read every Percy Jackson book, and is re-reading the ones discussing Greek mythology:

Mythology was one of my favorite classes in high school and college, so we’ve had lots of fun discussions about the different myths!

J’s series of the summer has been Harry Potter. We are only letting him read books 1-3 for now, but this is the first time (and he loves to read) that he is reading everywhere we go. In the car, waiting at the pool, first thing when he gets up in the morning:

He’s been asking to watch The Chamber of Secrets all week, so this past weekend we watched it:

He was so excited! His favorite characters right now are Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall. And Harry Potter, of course. We are still debating if he can watch the third movie, but he’s already planning to go back and read the first three again.

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Friday Favorites


The kiddos have one week of swim lessons down! They boys are definitely stretching their skills this year, working on diving, backstroke, and longer periods of freestyle. And our newest swim lesson participant, my niece, is doing great working on her back float! This weekend we are headed to our local art walk downtown, and doing some hiking and biking with B’s parents if the weather holds out. I can’t believe we are winding down the second half of summer! Only three more weeks until school schedules, sports, and everything else is in full swing again!

Organization ideas from Target.

The puzzle we finished over the weekend.

Summertime lemonade options.

My yoga schedule for the month.

And a plan to get my heels on the ground for downward dog.

A cookbook dedicated to my most favorite food.

My Bible reading plan for the month.

Food meal planning ideas for high/low macro days.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe.

Six herbs to grow inside when it’s too cold or hot out.

Corn fritters for a veggie filled weeknight dinner.

And, I’m not shopping the Nordstrom sale until next week, but if there is anything left, I’m picking up these sneakers, this tank, and these pants.

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Summer learning routine

Every summer since the boys started in school, I have a plan to avoid the “summer slump”. The boys are so used to this that they have even started setting their own goals for the summer! A’s major goal is to read, read, read. J wants to learn to tie his shoes (we’ve attempted this several times without success), write correctly with his pencil (more on that in a minute), and learn his math facts fast! Here are a few more of our summer learning plans.

First, back to J’s writing. I noticed about a year ago that J tended to hold his pencil oddly. We tried several things to help him, and figured as he continued to write it would begin to work itself out. However, it hasn’t, and so we really need to get him back on track so he doesn’t get behind in the classroom. My Mom gave me a pencil grip corrector and a writing tablet and we are slowly beginning the process of helping him re-learn how to hold his pencil to write. I’m very thankful that he is super pumped about this because it is not an easy process.

Second, is finally nailing down shoe tying for BOTH kids. I really feel like I knew how to do this in kindergarten, but good gracious it’s been difficult to teach them. J really wants to learn, and A could really care less, but they are both going to learn because their shoes for fall will be lace-ups. In part because they stay on their feet better (if they are tied). J desperately wants shoes like these:

So that’s one of our end goals for the summer.

Third, J has the goal of nailing down his math facts (addition and subtraction), and I want him to be able to do it without using his fingers to count. We already have addition and subtraction cards like these:

But I also have plans to get this fun little math matching game:

While I’m working on math facts with J, A will be working through some Khan Academy math programs.

Now that we’ve covered J (and some A) goals, here are a few of my learning goals for the summer! First up, I’m planning to sign up for a free two months of Skillshare and take this class with the boys:

The boys love drawing, and so I thought it would be fun to test our hand at some drawings and watercolors.

Second, A is all about math and storytelling write now so we have plans for this Pixar in a Box series on just that idea.

And third, a brand new Magic Treehouse Book on Benjamin Franklin comes out in July. So I’ve got a book club lesson plan for the boys:

And that’s it! The boys have two weeks of swim lessons, a week of FCA camp, and we’ve got a beach vacation as well, so in between all of that we are going to sleep in, go to the pool, catch up on all the reading, and eat all the popsicles! If you want to check out last year’s learning plan it’s here.

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Current Reads

There are so many books on my list right now, I tend to get distracted while reading one, because I’m thinking about the next one I need to get to on my list! I’ve also got the boys’ latest reads on this list, with some titles that just came out last week!

First up is Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach.

A carefully curated travel novel, this is a fast and fun read that explores the ups and downs of traveling solo, while also providing incredibly descriptive imagery of different Europe locations. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling along with the writer!

Second is Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie.

I have to say this wasn’t one of my favorite Agatha Christie reads. It was good, but I saw the twist early, and there were parts of it that were a bit slow, and the description of the victim as dumb, idiotic, etc. was a little much.

Third, is a Bite Sized History of France by Stephane Henaut & Jeni Mitchell.

This is a slower read because there is A LOT of history embedded within the book. I really enjoyed how the authors wove modern foods with historical knowledge to create a better understanding of the France’s food obsession.

Finally, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.

This book explores culture, adoption, and the connected ties of family. It was moving and at times heartbreaking, but overall an incredibly dynamic and intriguing story. This is a must read, friends.

And A read the brand new Stuart Gibbs’ Spy School book:

A thought it was a magnificent and satisfactory read that had a hint of mystery with twists and turns that kept the reader engaged until the end. And if you know A, yes, that was his exact wording.

While J read the new Boxcar Children book:

J said that he liked it and that’s his only opinion. And yup, that was his exact wording.

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Current Reads

Besides reading my textbook for the new course I’m teaching this fall, we’ve been reading a whole bunch of books around here, so I thought it would be a good idea to update our current reading list and reviews!

In December I read (my heaviest reading month of the year because I’m off work for several weeks):

One Day in December. Good romantic read, it got a little tedious towards the end, but if you like the movie Serendipity (which is one of my all time favorites), then this book is definitely for you.

Where the Crawdads Sing. Set in North Carolina, the tale of a girl who grows up in the marshes it runs parallel to a modern day mystery. Absolutely amazing, perfection. You must, must read this book, just prepare to not be able to put it down once you start.

Less. The story of a middle aged man, who upon learning his previous partner is to be married, says yes to all of the speech requests he received and sets off to travel the world. This was okay, I thought it was going to be more about travel, and it was more of a romance of love loss, and love rediscovered.

The Mystery of the Blue Train. An good Agatha Christie read, that if you liked Murder on the Orient Express, you’ll like this one.

In January I read:

Why Didn’t they ask Evans? An excellent Agatha Christie read that threw me off completely. I thought I had it figured out and I was wrong!

The Library Book. I discussed all about this book in a previous post. It is absolutely lovely, and I love to mix in nonfiction with fiction reads.

The Nightingale. Set in France during WWII this is the story of two sisters during the German occupation of France. Oh my goodness. This was incredibly captivating. It is sad, heart wrenching, but a powerful story.

In February I read:

The Proposal. Set in LA, this is a fun romantic fiction that supports the power of friendship and the power of food (two of my favorite things).

Oishinbo: Sake. These manga are a fun insight into Japanese food and culture. I’m steadily working my way through all of them.

The Storytellers Secret. Set in India it follows the paths of a grieving woman and her Grandmother’s tale that she has never learned until now. It is so incredibly well written that I stayed up extra late several nights to complete it.

And the boys wanted to share their current favorite series!

A just finished ALL and I mean ALL of the Percy Jackson series, including the original series and The Heroes of Olympus. The stories are based on mythology (Greek, Norse, Roman, etc….he said it really covers all of them). Mythology was one of my very favorite subjects in school, so I’ve loved discussing the stories with him!

And J, well he has read over 500 books or chapters within the last six weeks. He did wonderfully with his school’s reading program and we are so proud of him! To encourage his reading, I bought him Henry Huggins, because the story is about a boy and his dog. I thought he would like it, but he didn’t just like it, he loved it. Of all the books he’s read, this is one of the first that he really discusses without any prompting at all.

Happy Reading!


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