Thursday, October 30, 2014

5 Things: Family

5 Things to Brighten Your Day
Despite the BS that May Get in Your Way

1. You know what's big time BS in any language-BOIL ORDER!  Especially with a baby around you have to be very careful with washing everything.  So I'm super thankful for my Aunt Roxie and dad being around to help out this week.  I didn't plan it this way, but it's wonderful!  I think that having a full-time, live-in nanny would be the way to go after all the good care that Aunt Roxie has given us!

2.  Running errands is never fun, but when you are running work errands, it means coming into work a little late, and picking up a nice coffee treat on the way in (paid for by me, not your tax dollars!)

3.  Burt's Bees has a new Vanilla Bean lip balm out and it is delightful.

4.  Kate Spade has done a line of kids clothing for GapKids!  True, Ali is too small to wear it right now, but with the way this girl is growing, she'll be in it in no time.  And when she is big enough, she'll wear this shirt.  

5.  Family, Family, Family.  My dad, my hubby, my aunt, my baby.  All of them, all the time!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Things: Headphones

5 Things to Brighten Your Day
Despite the BS that May Get in Your Way

1. Early morning smiles from my little baby.  She's such a happy girl in the mornings, unlike her mama.

2.  Looking chic in my cheap scarf.

3.  Seeing Ali Rose with her grandpa.  Thank goodness for visits!

4.  Green tea with honey.

5.  Matt Nathanson's new song Headphones, and the moving video.  Check it out here.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Things: Can you believe this weather?

5 Things to Brighten Your Day
Despite the BS that May Get in Your Way

1. Highs in the upper 70s today!  I'll take that for late October, and enjoy an after work walk with my two favorite girls.

2.  I had a great time shopping with some girlfriends yesterday.  Beautiful weather and great company.

3.  And since I went shopping, I now have pants that fit!  It's amazing what a decent pair of work pants can do for you attitude.

4.  Little Miss Alice was fast asleep when I dropped her off at school today (and by school I mean daycare--I call it school to lessen my guilt).  She was so precious all asleep in her carseat, and hopefully stayed asleep for them for a while.

5.  A picked up a new journal for my daily 5 Things.  It's a funky little think that brightens my day before I even get started on my list.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Back in the Saddle

I know that my posting has been sporadic at best these last three months, and you've likely guessed that it's because of my baby.  Darn adorable little time suck!  I just don't get to do that reading that I used to do (or the sleeping, showering, eating, cleaning, etc, etc for that matter).  But now that my little girl is the big 12 weeks, life around the house is getting a little easier.  Not that I'll get to do more reading, but hopefully I'll be able to cobble together some posts about the book life, or the mom life, or just life to keep this thing going.  Because the truth is, I like Miss Tiff Reads.  It connects to me a part of my life that I've been desperately missing, and anything to connect you to your former life once you have a little person is very important!

So, I'm back in the saddle of this whole blog thing.  And to everyone that missed me, I'm sorry I was gone so long, but you know-life got in the way.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Review: The Cure for Dreaming

The Cure for Dreaming
By Cat Winters
Amulet Books, 2014
Reviewed from NetGalley
Audience: Grades 8 to 12
ISBN:  9781419712166
Expected Publication Date:  October 14, 2014

Olivia Mead is a headstrong girl living with her dentist father in Portland, Oregon, 1900.  She goes to a hypnotist show on her birthday, October 31, and is brought up on stage by the charismatic Henri Reverie and taken under.  Her submissiveness and cooperation catch the attention of playboy Percy Adkins and word gets back to her father that she was the perfect subject for hypnosis.  He decides that maybe hypnosis is the answer to his troubles, as Olivia has started having dreams above her station-of wanting to vote, attend college, and be independent like her mother.  Dr. Mead contracts Henri Reverie to hypnotize Olivia into being the ideal daughter.  What Henri instructs her to do however is see the world as it truly is, and what Olivia sees are monsters and fading women and other terrifying sights.  Amidst her visions, Olivia is trying to find her voice in the world, while men want to take that voice away.  This is a frightening book that addresses history and women's rights while still remaining spellbinding.  Truly magical.  

Fresh off the success of In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Winters brings another amazing book that weaves the paranormal with history.  It is well worth noting that Olivia was not nearly as headstrong in the being of the book as her father thought, rather it was his actions that made her crave a voice even more.  And Dr. Mead is a frightening man--his dentistry scenes may be the most chilling in the book.  Dentistry in the 1900's was little more than torture, and some of what he did to get his way is positively shocking.  At one point, I did not know if what Olivia was seeing in her father's study was  another gruesome vision or the truth.  

Olivia begins a partnership with Henri in order to overcome his hypnosis and still appease her father, all while still fighting for women's rights.  This partnership turns romantic, but thankfully, Olivia does not lose her way in the relationship.  I think that I was most impressed by how Winters resolved that plot line.  

There is such richness in the book that I can't begin to cover it all.  The parallels with Dracula, the fight for voting rights and women's place in society, the hypnosis and visions.  It was all wonderfully crafted.  Another perfect book for a cool fall evening.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Thursdays with the Crown

Thursdays with the Crown
By Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA Children's, 2014
Reviewed from NetGalley
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
ISBN:  9781619632998
Expected Publication Date:  October 7, 2014

Celie and her friends have been transported to the original home of the Castle Glower, the Glorious Arkover, and have no way of getting back home.  This land is sparsely inhabited by people, but surprisingly inhabited by griffins, including Rufus' parents.  After splitting up, the gang finds an Arkish wizard, but they aren't sure if they can trust him, and it turns out they can't.  When Celie escapes his cave, she finds a Hathelocke wizard, who is just as shady.  Once the gang is reunited, they discover the Tomb of the Builder and bring back some relics that may help their father speak to the castle, that is if they can ever get home.  The plot continues to twist and turn and double back on itself until there is finally a conclusion and another hint at a following book.

Tuesdays at the Castle was excellent and inventive.  Wednesdays in the Tower was entertaining although involved.  Thursdays with the Crown is forced and confusing.  I sincerely hope that George lets the Castle Glower rest.

What bothered me most about this book was that it focused more on a centuries old rivalry between the Arkish and the Hathelockes that was never resolved, although it is implied that is might be roughly resolved by the marriage of Celie's parents.  So much of the book was just the children trying to figure out who built the castle and why, and who actually has rights to it.  I guess this is an important part of the castle's back story, but at the same time, it really slowed down the story.  What also bothered me was once they discovered the relics, they seemed to take a strange hold on Rolf which was never explained.  I felt like many things were written so that readers would just have to accept that it worked, rather than showing why this needed to happen.

Also the ending was unusually tidy in my opinion, although I guess in the other books that was also the case.  After pages and pages of complicated history and adventuring, the castle goes back, the plague is cured and everyone goes home happy with a griffin.  Sorry-spoilers.  

I should do a better job of hiding my displeasure with this book, but when the first book was so much fun, I'm very disappointed to see the following books cheapen that experience.  I would highly recommend Tuesdays at the Castle to readers, and then I would recommend that they stop.  The rest of the series just does not seem to live up to that first book, and if not for the fact that I continue to find copies on NetGalley, I would have given up by now too.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish
By Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014
Reviewed from NetGalley
Audience: Grades 4 to 8
ISBN:  9780375870644
Expected Publication Date:  August 26, 2014

Ellie's life is certainly different now that she is in 5th grade and attending middle school.  Her best friend is only concerned about the volleyball team and Ellie is struggling to fit in without her.  To make matters worse, her grandfather recently discovered a way to make himself decades younger, so now she is attending classes with her 76, going on 14,-year old grandfather, Melvin, in tow.  Melvin is trying to figure out how he can break into his old lab to save this ground-breaking discovery, and trying to get along with his theatre-loving daughter, Ellie's mother, all while inspiring a love of science in Ellie.  With the help of goth-boy Raj, this trio makes some breakthroughs, both scientifically and ethically, that will surprise and delight readers.  A great book that mixes science and heart.

I really hope that I don't have to tell the Caudill committee that this book is excellent.  They love Jennifer Holm, so I hope they pick up on this one all by themselves.  In some ways, The Fourteenth Goldfish reminded me a lot of Frank Einstein.  It uses real scientific facts in fiction as a way to get readers thinking more about the sciences, but it does it in a way that is fun, not too forced.  Melvin regularly referenced other famous scientists like Sauk and Oppenheimer, and made their stories seem so interesting that I bet some readers at least Google them.  Plus, the whole ethical debt about de-aging and the atomic bomb was very interesting.  I love how Holm was able to question the ethics of science in a simple way.

But aside from the science, this is a book about growing pains.  Ellie misses her friend, and she's excited to make a new friend in Raj.  Ellie has great instincts about relationships, which she can relate back to science.  And the adolescent Melvin is pretty funny, and I'm sure a few readers will wish that their own grandfathers could becomes teens for a day just to get the same experience.  

This book is getting quite a bit of well-deserved buzz and I hope that all readers find it lives up to the hype.

Happy Reading!