Friday, June 30, 2017

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Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, a book review

Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, illustrated by the same, is a simple picture book for children. A little fish invites the reader to follow him as he swims around seeing other fish. The text describes the fish it sees.

The illustrations for this story make it enjoyable for little children. The words are few, so without the art, it wouldn't be much. The art is very colorful, big, and bold.

My children really enjoy looking at this book and ask for it repeatedly. So, it is worth having for the children because they find it so enjoyable.

I would not have bought it, but am happy to have it for my kiddos.

Have you read Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins? What did you think of it?

Monday, June 26, 2017

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Supernaturally by Kiersten White, a book review

Supernaturally by Kierten White is a good continuation of Evelyn's story which began in Paranormalcy. Again, my girls will have to wait until they are older to read this series. But it could be appropriate for those older than fourteen.

I like that Evelyn begins to realize some changes she needs to make in her approach to thinking about things in this book. She is less vapid throughout, but especially by the end. Her fighting skills are seriously lacking, especially compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thankfully Evie doesn't have as much need for them in this book as the last.

Have you read Supernaturally by Kiersten White? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 23, 2017

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Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, a book review

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, illustrated by the same, is a fun story about a Texan armadillo. It is also a little less about cowboy boots, the armadillo's mom, and brothers.

The artwork for this story is really fun with lots for little ones to look at as a parent or older sibling reads to them. The pictures are primarily bright reds, blues, greens with plenty of browns mixed in. One of the things I enjoy so much about these illustrations is that it gives a feel for Texas, probably mostly western Texas, and the cowboy culture. Another thing I enjoy and appreciate is that the secondary story of the armadillo's mom and brothers looking for him is illustrated in smaller artwork at the outside of each page once the main armadillo has wandered off. Those parts of the artwork definitely add a great deal more than what the text describes.

My children really love looking at this book and ask for it repeatedly. They will readily sit and look at it quietly many times over. That, in truth, is the best recommendation for this book's artwork!

The story is good, too. The voice is very easily Texan, which is fun… even more now that we live in Texas. However, we enjoyed this story very well while we were still in Florida. Florida also has many armadillos and cowboys, in case you didn't know.

Have you read Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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writing life: when it gets hot, part 2

Have you ever chosen to live without central air and continued to work in the heat? I sure would enjoy hearing from you if you have! Whether your experience is similar or totally different! Make sure to let me know if you are someone who prefers hotter or cooler weather. That definitely does make a difference.

You see, I used to believe I loved winter. Most of the homes I lived in while I was growing up had central air and heat. So, I thought I loved the cold weather because you could always put on extra clothes and blankets. While this is still true, I have learned that I do not prefer either the extreme of cold or heat. I love the temperate days of spring and fall!

The heat of summer, though, still has the most difficult-for-me to endure temperatures. I have felt as though I would melt a few times, in all honesty. When the heat is combined with more than mugginess… with wetness hanging in the air, I have experienced oppression. Just to be clear, I refer to the last definition of oppression, which is: mental pressure or distress. Seriously! I believe it was sort of a perfect-storm-for-Tori (PSFT) situation that came as a result of the actual weight and pressure that abounds when the temps skyrocket and the weight of water in the air combine in #just# the right (or wrong!) way.

There have been a few days when I accomplish very little as a result of the “PSFT”. I freely admit those days are more frequent when I've been preggie than at other times! Though I am not proud of it, I have a tendency to be a bit weaker when preggie than when I'm not.

Have you experienced any personal difficulties with actually working because of the weather? Please share!

Monday, June 19, 2017

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Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, a book review

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is the beginning of a series about Evelyn, a teen who bags and tags supernatural beings. In my imagination she looks a bit like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Evelyn lacks the series fighting skills of Buffy. In fact Evelyn in Paranormalcy, compared to Buffy, is rather vapid. Thankfully she does begin to change before the end of this novel.

I did enjoy this novel, though I won't have my girls read it until they are fourteen or older. Some of the paranormal creatures would likely be a bit nightmare inducing to my girls. Also, the way that Evie is so very self-centered might be more of an example to them than how she's changed by the end of this novel.

Have you read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 16, 2017

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One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, a book review

One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch, is an unlikely, but sweet story. And since, by now, maybe you know my predilection for rhyming children's stories, if you are familiar with this one, you might guess that I really enjoyed it.

My children and I really enjoy the artwork that both attends to and expounds upon the text of the story perfectly. If I could have Karen Hillard Crouch illustrate for me, I would. Something about Hillard's watercolor art is very compelling. I enjoy her use of muted colors, even though that is not usually my preference for children's book illustrations. And the varied layout is well done and appealing.

The rhyme and rhythm are really well done in One Enchanted Evening. So, it is easy to read out loud again, and again.

All about bugs getting together for a ball, this story focuses mostly on the queen spider. And a field mouse knight. The unlikely pair attend the ball together, just for fun. Apparently, the mouse is sought after throughout the kingdom. Spider queen says yes and they attend and dance the night away. At the end of the story, the two get married and the last two pages end with sweet rhymes about love. The second to last, has a few overarching and true couplets about love while the last page directs us:

“So if you're wishing for true love
what's important, it seem,

is to accept

all the difference…

and to share

the same dreams.”

While that finale is truly wonderful and, of course, true, you really are missing out if you don't know the rest of the story. I highly recommend this book. It has a sweet tale of a mouse and a spider. Even more wonderfully, it puts poignant truth into the story in a fitting and easily way to which most anyone can relate.

Have you read One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch? What did you think about it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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my thoughts: on owning a business and writing

Writing can be a full-time job. Running one's own business can be a full-time job. Combine the two and you have… chaos! Or, at least, the potential for it. What it means is you have to get more organized and prioritize activities daily and sometimes throughout the day.

Those who are already published, may find that is all they need to earn what they want to earn. Most writers, even those who are published, make around $10,000 per year. If it is a supplemental income, read: spouse has a job that pays most of the bills, that may well be enough.

As for me, writing has not moved into the “paying” phase yet. Therefore, and because I have goals that outstrip my husband's income, I work at home as an Independent Lilla Rose Stylist for myself and help my children with their business. I have a great deal to manage without writing and business running, so I'm becoming significantly better at organizing and prioritizing.

Planning and scheduling (especially social media and blog posts) have become exceedingly important to me. For some things, posts are scheduled out as much as a year in advance. Doing so relieves me of a great deal of “daily” work, which results in a much calmer homeschool mama.

Basically, though, it really just gets more challenging. Add more to one's plate and the plate gets heavier… sometimes that's good, but not always. I suppose that is as it should be… as one matures, life gets heavier and at least a little more difficult. However, if either the writing or the business running are necessary for any given reason or set of reasons or important enough to the person doing them, then the owner/writer will make it work!

Do you write and run your own business? I'd like to know what you do! What's your genre? What's your business?

Monday, June 12, 2017

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The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston, a book review

The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston is a good book. I did not absolutely fawningly love it. I do not highly recommend it to other conservative Christian Mamas. However, if you, like me, consider yourself a city girl striving to go country, there is much that you will recognize and commiserate with in the pages of Ralston's story about her own move from the city to the country. She is unabashedly (as we all should be about our own beliefs) liberal and proclaims her opinions frequently within the story. If such would bother you, do not read this book.

I particularly appreciate how she describes the process of becoming the lavender queen. It's interesting and enjoyable. Even more interesting is the end and how her work with lavender turns out. So, while there are many things I didn't enjoy or appreciate, I do think it's an interesting story and worth a read.

Have you read The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 9, 2017

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Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, a book review

Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Williams, is a good book for emerging readers. There is a good deal of repetition, which, of course, will help with word recognition.

As for the artwork… the bunny looks like a bunny and the others animals look like you'd expect. I don't see much of a style peculiar to Williams, unfortunately. The art does fit the story. It also explains some of the text well. So, it accomplishes its purpose, for sure.

The story follows a bunny who is looking for a new home. He stops to ask a robin where it lives and knows it cannot live in a tree. It asks a frog and a groundhog as well as knows it cannot live where they do. After leaving the groundhog, the bunny comes across another bunny. The two end up living together in a hole in the ground.

It is a simple story and relatively easy to read. It would not be the kind of story a mama would necessarily love reading over and over again, though. So, if that's the kind of story you're looking for, make sure to pass this one. However, if you'd like your children to learn that bunnies live in holes in the ground (which is true), then this will be a great addition to your children's book library.

Have you read Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

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writing life: when it gets hot

If you didn't already know, my family and I live off-grid. I'll have a series about our experiences starting sooner or later. Suffice it to say, for the purposes of this post, that we have a small solar energy generation system, so we choose to live without certain amenities that most folks consider necessities. Admittedly, many of those amenities are almost necessities once you live with them long enough, but most are not actually necessary to sustain life. Thankfully we do have running water. And hot water. Those two amenities are “necessities” to and for me.

We choose to do without central air. Really, the only air moving we have is when we choose to use it are the fans we have. Most of the time, if it's hot, instead of using fans, we go outside. Amazingly, perhaps, it's almost always cooler outside… in the shade, of course.

One of the unexpected difficulties of being a writer and business owner in my situation (off-grid, choosing no central air) is the intolerance electronics have to the heat! Did you know? Have you experienced an overheating laptop, tablet, or phone? I've literally worked with these devices on cold pads I've jimmy-rigged together so that I could continue to work. Some days I do interpret electronics overheating as my break time. But if I did that all summer long, I wouldn't get any “platform” maintenance done, much less writing anything in any of the works in progress I have going. There would be no social media updating or checking on my down-line via the internet without the electronics that so disdain the heat!

Thankfully, I do have enough scheduled ahead in much of my platform and other business social media that I don't have to worry about taking a break for a day (or few) here and there. It is definitely important to schedule ahead to be prepared!

Have you experienced any unexpected difficulties as a writer or business owner because of the heat?

Monday, June 5, 2017

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Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale, a book review

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale is an enjoyable mystery romance. I started it in the afternoon and finished it before I fell asleep for the night.

Charlotte might just remind many a Mama of themselves. She, however, is far more financially successful than I have yet to be. Still, her vacation taking is perhaps a fulfillment of many ladies fantasy: to submerge into the idealized world of Jane Eyer.

Neither the mystery aspect nor the actual story are surprising. Yet even though I figured out the mystery before it was revealed on the page, I thoroughly enjoyed the author's story telling! I highly recommend this book for adults. Especially adult women. I will not allow my girls, 12 and younger, to read it until they are significantly older.

Have you read Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 2, 2017

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Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, a book review

Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos is a wonderful children's picture book about making a soup. It is especially wonderful because of the way the story easily teaches the reader some Spanish words and what they mean. It is a story with a good deal of repetition like 'The Farmer in the Dell'. So, the story is told and one or a few words originally in English become Spanish in the repetition. In the back of the story there is a pronunciation guide and definitions of each of the Spanish words, just in case you didn't know what they meant via context clues in the story.

This is a wonderful book for the library of those who want their children to learn Spanish bit by bit. I hope to add it to our library.

Have you read Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos? What did you think?