Category Archives: At Home

What’s on Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for May

nightstand may

Ack! What am I reading?!

I am SO behind in my To-Be-Read (TBR) pile(s)!

My friend, Julie lent me books 5, 6, 7, & 8 of the Louise Penny series (13 total), so I can try to binge-catch up on those wonderful reads, but to be honest, I am slacking…as in way behind and mid-way through about 5 books! Here’s a recap at both, what I finished and am still in the middle of~

*This post contains affiliate links, where if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a small percentage. I include them so that you can find what I am referencing and loving!*

What I listened to:

Finished:

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
This was the one of four choices that I could read for my “The Blended Book Club” reads. I thought it might be sort of boring, so I opted to listen to audio and I was unfortunately right. Several of us in the group found the story quite jumpy in places and the characters a bit under developed. I did learn a lot about Marconi the inventor (or not) of the telegraph, being the first way to send a message over long distances and the ocean. Interesting since Marconi Beach on Cape Cod is somewhere that I have been and never knew the history of…so that was the positive. If you love  literal non-fiction, there is a good book here, but fiction readers might not love the dry narrative-non-fiction take that Larson presents. I found his other book, The Devil in the White City similar in this way, so if you like that one, you may enjoy this.

Still listening:

Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This has been such a good listen! It is all about witches, vampires, and demons…and humans too! So not what I usually read, but fun and so compelling with the storyline of a reluctant witch and taboo-love between a reluctant witch and a hunky vampire…sounds super cheesy, I know, but I have to say it  isn’t written that way and it’s sort of nerd-brainy with all the literary references and academic setting. I am liking this a ton and good news! It’s a series of 3 books so I can keep loving this for two more stories!

Reviewing:

Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders
Loving this but just did not finish- I really can’t read books on my kindle or iPad as fast at all- I just don’t want to read off a screen after being on one all day for work! Paper has my heart!

Reading Now:

Mindset by Carol Dweck
This is sort of a professional development and parenting book for me. I love the concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset set forth in this book- the idea that a person isn’t inherently good at something, but works to be better at it…is just such a great lesson for kids and for the similar concept of “grit” in learning. Thinking that people are just born being the next great athlete or master piano player, and don’t have to work at it is just crazy and limiting…the book is pretty much occupying most of my brain space- I find that I relate everything to it. Very highly recommend!

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Who is Robert Galbraith? The Pen name for J.K. Rowling of course! You know…the woman who wrote Harry Potter!? You probably know that by now, but some people don’t, and no wonder since this 3rd book of the Cormoran Strike series is a far cry from youth and magic- these books are quite grizzly and for crime fans, super reads. I love the characters in these books: a nice and put-upon young twenty something secretary, and her boss, an ex-military, son of a groupie who is the star dectective- our unlikely hero.  I love the setting of London and the weirdness of all the crimes, but they can be a lot of graphic crime…I have to be in a good place before I read one of these and then I always need a break afterwards to read something more uplifting! I am having fun with this one right now though, and since it’s an older book (2013) you can find it easily in the library!

You know that I am reading 5 other books still, but I will have to catch you up later. This is just getting out of hand, and I have to finish some of these up soon! Happy Reading & Doing whatever it is that you ENJOY!

What are you reading? I’d love to know- Lemme’ know in the comments!!

Check out these nightstands at : 5 Minutes for MomBookDate, &  Booknificient along with the Blended Blog Virtual Book Club on Thursday!


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.

 

Make a Photo Book with Blurb

blurb photo-book
*Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced. A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links however, as always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own. See full disclosure.

It is about time that I unloaded my photos from my computer and put them into books I think!

I have about three years worth of pictures just sitting in files, and to be totally honest… My kids are like:

“Mommy- why is this book say 2015? Isn’t it 2017?”

blurb photo-book

I want to say:

“Yes. Yes it is my little love-buckets. It says on the photo-book, “2015” and since I had you, I have had no time to myself, let alone, to put pictures of you into cutesy little books. I only could do that for your sisters who were born first (Back when they couldn’t walk and just napped and napped) sigh.”

But I don’t say that. I just sigh again, and start trying to get these pics in order with Blurb!

How I Organized Before I Even Started

      1. I am trying to get all these pics in order first on my computer, so I put all my photos into files first, by year.
      2. After I have year folders made, I create month folders within each year. That way I have a little bit of a sense of what was happening in those folders (birthdays, vacations, or whatever).
      3. I decided what  book I wanted to make: On the website, select the area for making Photo Books- they have some other products. Then they prompt you for choosing the size. Do that. Then choose the cover- you can change this later, but know I did the hardcover with dust jacket, but the photo-wrap is nice too, since dust jackets can get torn or removed.
      4. Next you install BookWright, their software with templates and fonts and all kinds of design fun, to put the book in the order and way that makes it unique to you. I don’t get too fancy, as I have more pictures than space, so I sort of jam them all in there. I loved the various layouts that they offer here. Now I didn’t intend to put ALL the photos in there, but I sort of just decided to put a page (or two) per month. Birthday months and Christmas time had more pictures, so we needed more pages for those months. You upload what photos you want and will fit to your format.
      5. Once your pages are done, you are done and you can proof it and order your book!

I have used lots of other photo book makers before, and I like them a lot in general- I am constantly switching around the companies to get the best deal and the highest quality. Blurb is not very well known I don’t think, and until I started with them, I probably would still be making my same old option without all the customization. But I am not very up to date on photo-apps I guess, I just realized last week that the Blurb app is built into my husband’s phone and I didn’t even know it until I started working with them.

Here’s what I like:

      • The book quality is awesome
      • The options for upgrading are plentiful: hardcover, hardcover with jacket, nice paper or really nice paper. The Blurb concept rewards you for ordering in quantity too, so say you are getting married or having a baby and want to share a book with all your loved ones…that is an awesome idea by the way, and I wish I had done that(!), you can order a bunch, send them out and save some cash. Sweet!
      • They are constantly sending me coupons for great discounts (sometimes up to 50% off!)
      • There are really nice fonts, sizes, and ideas for making your most unique book ever. Mine was boring, but EASY with their online templates but you are more creative than me no doubt and will love the BookWright or InDesign features! My next book is going to rock it! LOL!

Blurb is actually a company for making books of all kinds, not just photo books. If you are a great photographer and say you want to showcase a whole book of pictures (maybe of your favorite island vacation), you can then create a travel photobook with lots of text options- not just a generic text box, and you have your new book ready to go- It might make a great present for a new baby visit or engagement party too! You can even sell your book on Amazon when you’re done. Just saying. Not that I did, but you could. You so could! Make your own book with Blurb!

Have you used Blurb before? What do you use for photo-books if you don’t use them? Are you as bad as I am at getting books made of your pictures?!


*Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced. A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links however, as always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own. See full disclosure.

 

What’s on Your Nightstand? April Edition

Let’s talk about BOOKS! It’s the last Tuesday of the month, and I actually got a lot done as far as reading goes this April, but not nearly as much as last month… but I was reading and I am slowing getting through my pile! Scroll through and have your Goodreads account open- there are lots you will add to your “To Be Read (TBR)” piles!

nightstand (2)


*This post contains affiliate links, where if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a small percentage. I include them so that you can find what I am referencing and loving!*

“The Blended Book (Tbb)” reads:

Actually, this month, the TBB group had 4 chosen books, only 2 of which I wanted to read.

The first, was Small Great Things, by Jodi Piccoult:

I really enjoyed this book and am still thinking about it a week later! It is classic Jodi Piccolt, where you learn a lot about a topic and also see all sides of a story. I always like this approach, as I love to learn about new important topics, and I also tend to see all sides of an issue myself, so this resonates with me. The topic is racism both explicit and unintended. How interesting and disturbing and uncomfortable it was to read how I myself have privileges that are assumed, rather than earned as opposed to people who feel they are under a microscope to constantly prove themselves. A current issue and very important to read books that challenge ourselves like this. I didn’t love it half way through, but her style of writing is so good, that it propelled me forward and the conclusion of the books was very satisfactory for me. I would recommend this for sure for Piccoult fans.

I wanted to read another TBB pick, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, as most of my friends have read and loved this, but I am bogged down with too many other reads in my pile. I did go back and read (listened) to this one from January’s TBB picks and really enjoyed it:

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

It was the audio version, and I read My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by the same author, but this was read by a different person. Actually, it was weird because the narrator of this one also read another book, Moonglow (reviewed last month) so I was totally thrown off until the 2nd disk or so. He is such a talented story-teller, this author. I am going to read Brit Marie next, as I just love his writing style- kind of weird characters, showing complete honesty in a sort of dark, but also funny way. Sort of Fargo-like (the movie). It features a man Ove (pronounce, UVah) who is grumpy, and somewhat obsessive/compulsive, and a loner. He lives in a housing complex surrounded by people whom he despises and tries never to deal with, until one day when a new family moves in, disrupting his routine, and his life changes to open him up to the world around him. A beautifully written book. Highly recommend this author.

What I listened to:

 Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley

I loved this audio book. I am not sure I would ever have read this, although it was highly recommended, but as audio, it was really good. About a plane crash and the survivors and how their lives unfold.  There is mystery surrounding the reasons why the plane crashed at all and the book is told backwards from the event, showing each character’s viewpoint (and possible motivation).  While I was mad at myself for picking another plane crash book (Judy Blume’s book), this was quite different in that it is more about the survivors and the crash then the plane industry. Quite a fun little history lesson on Jack LaLane within the story too- Recommended.

Currently, I am listening to:

Comfort Food, by Kate Jacobs

I honestly just picked this up because I needed an audio book STAT- and this seemed interesting: A food-network star ages out of a job and has to reinvent herself and finds that she learns a lot about herself in the process. This author wrote The Friday Night Knitting Club, which was a big hit, so I thought maybe I’d like it. So far, it’s okay. Seems like a Martha Stewart based persona and I don’t really love her, so I am having to remind myself that this is NOT about her, but is Fiction! I am still reading this though, so if you are considering it, I will have more information on my rating on Goodreads later.

Reviewed:

Super Genes, by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi

See my full review from last week.

Reading Now:

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

OMG. This is an unbelievable book. It is short stories, all about women. Some strong, some crazy. The stories. This book is staying with me. Her ability to get right to the core of who women are and their inner lives is just amazing. I am seriously crushing on Roxane Gay, who if you don’t know her, take a look at this TED talk– it is long, but she is fierce. I like her personality, her views on life, but her writing…whoa. So good! Another of her books, Bad Feminist is on my list!

Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

I just started this but already I am intrigued by the story of a woman after a dark and abusive relationship, leaves and tries to move on- is she able to move forward with her life get beyond the bad and not only survive, but actually live and possibly love (this IS a contemporary Romance book!)? Her second book just came out, but I wanted to read this first in the series before I moved on- I have put the full series on TBR. This is going to be a fun read, I can tell, but stay tuned for a full review next month!


So that is IT! Whew! I am loving all this reading and wondering if I can keep up the awesome pace as my Spring is just so crazy with kid-events and blogging and job craziness. H.A.G. is supposed to remind us women that we don’t have to do EVERYTHING, we just need to try to enjoy the things that we DO, do. I am enjoying the reading that I’m doing, and the activities too, so I won’t complain- but my house. That is the “something’s gotta give” that gave! I think I will Spring-clean soon…or… at least clean the bathrooms. HAha!

Happy Reading & Doing whatever it is that you ENJOY!

What are you reading? I’d love to know- Lemme’ know in the comments!!

Check out these nightstands at : 5 Minutes for MomBookDate, &  Booknificient along with the Blended Blog Virtual Book Club on Thursday!

What are you reading and loving right now?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page