Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 2015 Book List

2014 Book List
2013 Book List
2012 Book List
2011 Book List

*readalouds with my daughter

  1:  Black Night (Black Wings series) by Christina Henry
  2:  How to be Cool by Suzanne Wynn*
  3:  Rancher and Protector by Pamela Britton
  4:  The Case of the Surfing Secret by Cathy East Dubowski*
  5:  The Nightmare Before Christmas junior novel*
  6:  The Messiah Code by Michael Cordy
  7:  Burned (Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning
  8:  Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
  9:  Trixie the Halloween Fairy by Daisy Meadows*
10:  The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes) by Arthur Conan Doyle

11:  The First Wife by Erica Spindler
12:  Pippi Goes on Board b Astrid Lindgren*
13:  The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
14:  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
15:  Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
16:  The Super- Duper Sleepover Party by Megan Stine*

17:  Still Life (The Books of Elsewhere series) by Jacqueline West 

18.  George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl*
19:  The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
20:  Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian
21:  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
22:  Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder*
23:  Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade by Stephanie Green
24:  Ensnared (Splintered series) by A.G. Howard
25:  One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

26:  The Book Thief by Markus Zukas  
27:  The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
28:  Little Bee by Chris Cleave
29:  Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder*
30:  Boo by Neil Smith
31:  Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
32:  Changeling (Order of Darkness series) by Phillippa Gregory
33:  Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson
34:  Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
35:  The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
36:  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville 
37:  James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl* 

38:  North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
39:  The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
40:  The Secret Garden by Elizabeth Hodgson Burnett
41:  Death Note Volume 1:  Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba
42:  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
43:  Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
44:  Death Note Volume 2:  Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba
45:  A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R.R. Martin
46:  Death Note Volume 3:  Hard Run by Tsugumi Ohba
47:  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
48:  Death Note Volume 4:  Love by Tsugumi Ohba
49:  The Capture (Guardians of Ga'Hoole series) by Kathryn Lasky*
50:  Death Note Volume 5: Whiteout by Tsugumi Ohba
51:  ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold

52:  A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay
53:  Alexis Cool as a Cupcake by Coco Simon*
54:  Re Jane by Patricia Park
55.  Death Note Volume 6:  Give-and-Take by Tsugumi Ohba
56:  Garden Spells (Waverly Family series) by Sarah Addison Allen
57:  First Frost (Waverly Family series) by Sarah Addison Allen
58:  Death Note Volume 7:  Zero by Tsugumi Ohba
59:  Death Note Volume 8:  Target by Tsugumi Ohba
60:  I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak 
61:  The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
62:  The Dragon of Lonely Island by Rebecca Rupp*
63:  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
64:  Death Note Volume 9:  Contact by Tsugumi Ohba
65:  Death Note Volume 10:  Deletion by Tsugumi Ohba
66:  The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
67:  Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
68:  The Great Ice Engine by Erica David*
69:  Disney Infinity:  Toy Box Trouble by Walt Disney Company*
70:  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
71:  Death Note Volume 11:  Kindred Spirits by Tsugumi Ohba
72:  Death Note Volume 12:  Finis by Tsugumi Ohba
73:  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

74:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl*
75:  33 Days:  A Memoir by Léon Werth
76:  A Clash of Kings (A Song of Fire and Ice series) by George R.R. Martin
77:  Equestria Girls:  Rainbow Rocks by Perdita Finn*
78:  Ink and Bone (The Great Library series) by Rachel Caine
79:  Jane Eyre:  The Graphic Novel by Charlotte Bronte
80:  Blue Exorcist Volume 1 by Kazue Kato
81:  The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
82:  A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay
83:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
84:  Frozen Fever by Walt Disney Company*
85:  Glitter Beach (Secret Kingdom series) by Rosie Banks*
86:  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

87:  All Hail the Queen by Erica David*
88:  Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
89:  Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
90:  Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary*
91:  The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
92:  Life of Pi by Yann Martel
93:  Mr. Penumbra's 25-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
94:  Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary*
95:  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
96:  Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary*
97:  The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
98:  YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright
99:  The Accident Season by
100: Speak by

114:  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
115:  Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
116:  Fever Moon (Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning
117:  Orphan Number Eight by Kim Van Alkemade

Sunday, December 27, 2015


We normally go the Reenactment at Fort Massac every year but this year we decided to skip it.  I'd had a bad week at work, the girls were cranky, and all three of us just didn't feel like messing with it.

After a school trip to see a play nearby we decided it was a perfect day to visit the park and see what it looked like without the hundreds of visitors there.  Surprisingly, it felt miniature compared to what we were used to.  We were disappointed we couldn't go into the actual fort but the park was abandoned, it was a beautiful fall day, and we explored our hearts out so it made up for it.

We also made our usual yearly visit to see Bug's boyfriend!

Monday, December 14, 2015

St. Louis Zoo

We live relatively close to St. Louis so it's a fun place to go for day trips.  Every year one grade from my daughter's school gets to spend the day there on a field trip and she was so excited that this year it was her turn.  We left at around 6:45 in the morning and came home around 8:30 that night so I think it's safe to say we had a full day!

I for some reason thought this trip always took place in the spring so we went ahead and went to the St. Louis Zoo over the summer.  I was worried they wouldn't be very interested in it since we had just been there a few months earlier but they had an absolute blast.  From now on we are only going in the fall, never the summer again.  We saw every single animal on full display because it was so cool that they tried to stay outside on the rare chance the sun came out.

The weather was in the mid-sixties but it was overcast and windy so I made sure we all had jackets with hoods on.  Good thing since it sprinkled on and off the whole time.  It never bothered us though since it kept the crowds down and we did so much walking that we stayed warm most of the time.

Goose's favorite animal is the red panda and we managed to catch it twice while it paced around below us.

Bug really wanted to see the zebras and the prairie dogs.  The prairie dog exhibit was empty but she did get to see several zebras.

Their daddy is obsessed with penguins and was disappointed he had to work so we took lots of pictures for him.  They were being absolute hams and swam around trying to splash anyone who got near them.  Bug loved it and I had to drag her out of there since it was freezing.

With the school armband we were able to ride the train all the way around the zoo, ride the carousal as many times as we wanted and have free admission to the Children's Zoo where the jellyfish and naked mole rats (two of my favorites!) live.

The school had to have the kids back at a certain time but since I drove separately we were able to stay longer and backtrack to see whatever we had missed.  They were in the middle of the Boo at the Zoo programs so there was quite a few Halloween scenes around the grounds.  I would have loved to see them all lit up but you have to pay to get into it and since I had already paid a giant bill for parking I didn't want to pay more.

*look at this adorable giant flytrap!*

After we left the zoo we drove up the street to the art museum, something they've been begging to visit for months now.  We didn't stay long enough to see much but they wanted to see the mummies and Van Gogh so we managed that and a few more.

Van Gogh is my favorite painter and I love seeing how much more beautiful his work is in person.  There are no words to describe how they make you feel.

Bug's favorite part was definitely the Egyptian section.  She's still telling people about the oldest statue in the museum.  This statue is over four thousand years old!

Seeing some of the most famous names in history makes me feel guilty that I only had about two hours to explore this huge museum.  One day we want to come back and spend the entire day roaming through all the halls.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thrifty Treasures

I'm a huge fan of yard sales and thrift stores and sometimes I find some really great treasures.  We had a townwide yard sale recently and for around $30 I came home with a car loaded down with bag after bag of lovely new-to-me things.

The main things I wanted from this townwide yard sale were winter clothes for Goose (who is notoriously hard to buy for), a heavy pot to use as a water bowl, and a new coffee mug.  After a couple of hours of browsing and without even hitting half the sales I got everything I needed and more.

The best buy of the day was by far a huge dollhouse for the girls.  They don't need any more toys and I am extremely unpopular for always tossing old ones without asking them, but for $5 there was no way I could pass this thing up.  It even came with a bag of furniture.  It's been almost a week and Bug still rushes inside to play with it every day.

I also got her a Monster High car that was in brand-new condition for just $1.  She has a Barbie car that she's been using for years and it's seen better days so this was perfect for her large collection of dollies.

Anyone that knows me already is aware that I LOVE books.  Old books, new books, children's books, any kind of book has my attention.  So when I heard there was going to be a library book sale happening I made sure it was the first spot I hit up.  I think altogether I paid about $3 for all of these.  When I got home I realized I already owned Three Cups of Tea but it was still so cheap that I don't even care.
My brother and his wife are expecting a baby next year so I have made it my goal to be Awesome Book Aunt and build their library up with cute books and classic books. 

Goose already has a winter coat but this white one is so soft and fluffy and I could just see her wearing it and running her fingers through it.  She loves soft things and refuses to wear anything that isn't comfortable on her sensitive skin so for $1 this was a great unneeded but totally wanted present.  It had a $4 price on it but there was a huge stain up the sleeve that the owner hadn't noticed so she knocked it down to $1.  I brought it home and sprayed with some Shout and it came out looking brand new.

And since I can't forget Bug (who also already had a winter coat and did not in the slightest way need another one) I picked up this one from a slightly more expensive sale.  It was $10 which is still a steal from what the original price would have been.  It also comes with a muffler that still has the tag on it.  It's slightly too big on her right now so maybe she won't need it until her current coat is too small which means I didn't buy it for nothing.

I love buying my girls new clothes, espcially since they are at a size where finding nice used ones is getting harder and harder, but I also love coming across some great cheap things to help our seasonal clothes spending.  I got Goose a bag of leggings, pajamas and some plain-colored cotton tops that I know she will get great use out of this winter!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Goose and Bug Adventures- Heron Pond

Heron Pond, located just west of Vienna, is one of the easiest hikes we've done this year.  The terrain is flat and the paths are large.  This would be a great walk for people who aren't use to hiking.
We convinced a couple of people to join us on this trip.  My mother and Goose's best friend both came along for the ride and I'm hoping we turned them into adventurers like we are!

When you first enter the trail you cross a large bridge and it's beautiful rippling water on either side of you.

As you travel along you stay right beside the river for a while, turning with the water until you come to a fork where you can choose to continue on the trail and hike for as long as you want or you can go out onto a floating bridge and go right into the middle of the swamp.

We chose to do both paths.  First we went down the regular hiking trail where you come to a State Champion tree.  The girls were disappointed that the tree is a champion because of its girth and not the height.

After we turned around to head back we did the swamp bridge and it cheered them up a lot.  They loved that you go directly into the middle of the swamp until you can no longer see land around you.  It really feels like you are in the middle of nature, more than if you were on a paved hiking trail.

This was the farthest we've traveled for a trail so far and overall they enjoyed it.  They're already asking when we can go back and try one of the longer trails.  I had fun, but I like the scenic trails a lot more.  I want big rocks and mountains and hills to climb rather than easy breezy trails.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nail Polish Coffee Mug

I've seen this craft everywhere lately and wanted to try it since I love coffee mugs and I have been adding a lot to my collection lately.
Since it's almost Halloween I really wanted to try a themed mug so I bought orange and black nail polish to try. 

What you need:

-White mug (I bought mine for $4 at Wal-Mart but I think going to a yard sale or Goodwill would be a better bet)
-  Painters tape
-  Nail polish
-  Deep bowl
-  Sealer (next time I'm going to look for a spray sealer instead of this one because it made the cut super slick)

Fill the bowl with water and tape around the rim of the cup.  You don't want polish or sealer where you put your lips.  Drip however much you want of each color into the water.  Do this quickly!  It starts to firm up after just a few seconds.  Dip the mug into the water being careful not to get any inside.  Pull it up and turn it upside down to dry.  I let mine sit for a few days just to be extra-careful.  Once it's dry cover it with your sealer and peel the tape off.  Make sure you let it dry a few more days before giving it a good handwash and always continue to handwash every time you use it.

As you can see the paint was lighter on the sides because I dipped it at a tilt so they didn't get much color but I love it like that.  I love all the layers and colors it made. 

The downside to this craft was that when the mug is filled with hot water the nail polish smell continued to stink up the room and I could not stomach trying to lift it to my lips to drink.  So to solve this problem I would continuously fill it with water every time I used my Keurig.  I'd turn it on, fill it up with the largest setting, set it off to the side until it cooled, and then drink my normal coffee out of a different mug.  After a week or so of doing this two times a day the smell disappeared.

Now I have a super cute and cheap Halloween coffee mug to only bring out once a year and cherish!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Goose and Bug Adventures- Bell Smith Springs

We've gone to Bell Smith Springs before but it was very confusing with all of the trails branching off from the main one and after about a half hour the girls were finished and ready to head home.  After that they had zero desire to go back even though I tried to tell them that this time we would go slow and not leave until we felt we had adequately visited the trail.
After forcing them out of the car we set off and the first thing we came across that they really enjoyed was a staircase leading down below the cliffs.  It pointed us towards the creek where we traveled parallel to it, snug in between the water and the high rock walls.

Goose loved the Natural Arch section of the trail.  She thought the tree growing out of the middle was beautiful and informed me that this was her new favorite trail.

There's a really gorgeous staircase on the other side of the trail that we didn't get to visit this time around but we had already been there a while and our feet were wet from crossing the creek to get to the arch so we decided to go home.  Next time we'll visit the staircase!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Goose and Bug Adventures- Rim Rock

In my first Shawnee National Forest post I mentioned a couple of our favorite places to go hiking but there are so many more in our area.  Every time we find a new one we decide that it's our new favorite.

One of my top places to explore is Rim Rock.  Rim Rock is located just a few minutes down the road from Garden of the Gods so the last time we went we did both of them the same day.  It was a hot and sweaty afternoon but the girls loved it.

As you enter Rim Rock the first thing you notice are the lines of giant stones all over the hill.  This area was home to an ancient Indian wall that was built somewhere around 1,500 years ago. 

The highlight of Rim Rock is without a doubt Ox-Lot Cave.  The viewing area on the way to it is beautiful and my girls love running back and forth on the deck.  To get to the cave you have to do a bit of work.  There's steps leading down from the main trail and you have to squeeze through a very tight crevice between two rocks.  Then there's some rocks that are occasionally slippery you have to get past. 

The cave is so large that I can't even fit it into the frame of my camera. 

The last time we hiked at Rim Rock we bypassed the main trail and took a side trail back to the car.  It was a great decision because we saw so much more scenery and were under the cliff's instead of just walking through trees.

The only downside I've noticed at Rim Rock is that it's not near as popular as some of the other trails.  The first time we went this summer there were zero cars there and it wasn't until we were almost back to our car that we saw someone else out there.  That's a little scary when you're alone with two little girls.  But out of all the places we've visited this summer Rim Rock is my definite favorite.  I think it's the prettiest and the hiking is more strenuous on the lower trail which is something I like.  My kids loved going through the tight squeezes and climbing the steps. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Goose and Bug Adventures- Garden of the Gods and Giant City State Park

My girls have recently discovered that they are hiking junkies.  They want to go every week and they argue over whose turn it is to pick where we go.  Luckily we live right smack dab in the middle of a huge protected forest so there are no limit to the places we can visit.
A couple of the beautiful places we've ventured lately include:

Garden of the Gods

This area is most known for Camel Rock but there are a ton of breathtaking views all along the main trail.  I think Garden of the Gods is the most well-known area in the Shawnee National Forest but it's honestly not my favorite.  It's gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but it's always packed to the gills with visitors and there are usually a handful of falls off the rocks each year by people who don't believe in staying away from the edges.

Giant City State Park

We've been here twice this summer and really enjoyed it both times.  The trails are wide and we managed them with no problem and if you are lucky enough to come in the Spring it's easier to go off-trail and into the hidden nooks and crannies.  Our second time back was during the heat of July and it was too green to get far off the main track.
The first time we went this year was for a school field trip and our guide was really great.  He told us a lot about the history of the area and that the reason it's called Giant City is because of the huge stones that are lined up like skyscrapers.  So when the first settlers wrote home about it they described it as a 'giant city'.  The more you know.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of them without my children in view so I will make sure and take more next time we visit.

Friday, July 31, 2015


If I'm going to go all in on readathons then I might as well just do all of them I think.
I mean, normal people read until their eyes hurt, right?
Readathons are fun because I enjoy the challenge aspect and I like searching for books that go along with them.  Even if I don't actually end up reading them (and I didn't with the last one but I still read a ton of books so I'm okay with it), it's just exciting to see a happy little stack of books on my dresser that are waiting for me to read.
Booktubeathon is starting in a few days and even though I work every day that week they're short shifts so I'll still have lots of time left over to read, read, read.

The Challenges:

1) Read a book with blue on the cover
     I just checked out two new library books that both have blue on the cover so I could go with either one.   The Other Daughter is shortish and is a historical fiction which is a genre I normally fly through.  The Truth According to Us is on the longer side so I don't know if I want to use it for the readathon or wait until it's over.  It really just depends on my mood.  Sometimes picking a book is based on how I feel at that moment.

2) Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name
      I think I'm going to go with Cry Wolf because the book was a quarter and I want to read it and ship it on out.  Also it looks short.

3) Read someone else’s favorite book
     There's not many people I talk to in person about books so I don't actually know anyone's favorites but I do know my mom loves Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston books.  She's the one who made me start reading them and I enjoy them a lot now, too.  So I'm grabbing Brimstone.  I know it's part of a series and I've read a couple of them out of order already.  They are usually pretty good as standalones.

4) Read the last book you acquired
     Going to kill two birds with one stone and use my book from the first challenge for this one, too.

5) Finish a book without letting go of it
     This might be a readaloud with Bug since we read together all the time or I might pick up My House in Umbria if I have time because it's a tiny slip of a book.

6) Read a book you really want to read
     The easiest challenge for me.  I'm finally going to read A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I've been putting it off for ages since it's the only Khaled Hosseini book I haven't read yet and finishing all of his books makes me hurt.  It's time though since I want to do a reread of all of them in a row one day.

7) Read seven books
     I'm going to hold off on naming a book for this since I will be busy with work and I don't want to commit to another book.  There's a couple of library books en route to me that could work for this or I could just use the ones Bug and I read together.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

TBR Takedown Update

I started TBR Takedown a day early since I knew the last day I wouldn't have time to read much so even though I started it before I was supposed to, I still ended up reading the same amount of days so I'm calling it fair :D

The books I read for this readathon were:

       1:  Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
       2:  Jane Eyre:  The Graphic Novel by Charlotte Bronte
       3:  Blue Exorcist Volume 1 by Kazue Kato
       4:  The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
       5:  A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay
       6:  The Help by Kathryn Stocket
       7:  Frozen Fever by Walt Disney Company
       8:  Glitter Beach by Rosie Banks
       9:  Equestria Girls by Perdita Finn

My youngest daughter and I read aloud together every single night and even more when it's summer since she's bored during the day so we finished off three chapter books this week.

My reviews for some of them are under the links.  I'm not big on written reviews, I would rather babble on in your face for an hour but I try to at least do a tiny review for most of the books I read!

I actually didn't realize I had read so much until I listed them all out.   My two favorites were without a doubt Ink and Bone and The Help.  I couldn't put them down and you could find me many a day during the readathon sitting out on my back porch or in my recliner with them stuck firm in my hands.

During the week I also had a great time at my libary's Christmas in July sale.  All of the books in the used bookstore are half off so paperbacks are a quarter, hardbacks are fifty cents, and newish books are around one to three dollars.
I spent nine dollars.

Nine beautiful dollars well spent because LOOK at this pile.  A couple of these I've already read but I wanted my own copies since I'm cheap and use the library 95% of the time.  A few I've never even heard of but for being so cheap I couldn't pass them up!  There's a couple I plan on using for the Booktubeathon next week!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Some of my favorite things lately:

Someone on Facebook was selling a huge stack of scrapbook paper for $8.  I think there was almost 100 sheets and most of the packs had multiple designs so I jumped on it.  They've already used a bunch of these for birthday cards and special "I love you" cards for family members.


The Buried Giant wasn't the best book I've read this year but it IS one of the most beautiful.  I wish I had this cover on a t-shirt because I just want to look at it all day.
Also I made those cupcakes.  It was a s'more.  I don't even like s'mores and I wanted to bury my face in them.


One of my big reading goals is to read all of the Newbery Classics.  I love how most of them deal with nature and are incredibly diverse.  Unfortunately this book was about as a dry as a cracker.  I made myself finish it just to mark it off my list but otherwise I would have built a bonfire and roasted it.


Remember when I read North and South and I LOVED it and wanted my own beautiful copy?  Well I finally got it!  It holds a place of honor on my Favorites shelf.  I also watched the miniseries which made me fall in love with the story all over again.


I recently discovered Sarah Addison Allen's books and became completely obsessed.  When I say obsessed I mean I read every book my library had by her in less than a week.  I think there's one more I need to order and after that I will be up to date.  Her writing is cheesy, not going to lie, but sometimes you need a little fluff in your life.  I read a lot of stiff classics and books where people are killed every other page (hello Game of Thrones book two...) so it was nice to just have a week where I read nothing but happy stories.


And last pretty picture for this post is the new magazine I bought on a whim.  I'm not big on buying unread books or magazines since I have the library for that but they grabbed me with Machu Picchu.  I wasn't aware until I got it home that it was so expensive...  Worth it!
I bought a subscription to the National Geographic History version of the magazine and it. blows. my. mind.  I have gotten two so far and they're definitely magazines that will be kept on my bookshelf for years and years.