TTT: Books I Am Thankful For

Linking up with Broke & Bookish to share my top ten books I'm thankful for. | NewberyandBeyond.com
I’m linking up with the Broke and Bookish for today’s Top Ten Tuesday post!

Each of these books has a place in my heart for a different reason, but mostly I’m thankful for them because they remind me that we are not alone. Even in tumultuous times like these, we can find unity through our books, and I love that.

Pretty Good Number One–because it showed me that sometimes people are just as nice as you hope they would be. I’ve never before had an author give me a book just because I posted about it on my blog!

The Last Dragonslayer and The Eyre Affair–because sometimes you just need a fun escape from reality.

Good Girls, Bad Girls of the New Testament–because it heartens me that some biblical scholars are paying attention to the amazing women in the Bible.

10% Happier–because this book led me to start meditating, and it really has made me happier.

A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor–because Flannery’s words made me feel less alone in my often imperfect faith.

Her Stories–because women, especially women of color, don’t get nearly as much page time as they should.

Untangled and The Princess Problem–because girls’ childhood and teenage years can be difficult, and these books show parents how to give their daughters the tools they need to navigate those years.

Jesus Feminist–because this book reminds me that there are respected and knowledgeable Christians who are feminists, not just me. (Review to come soon!)

Last Stop on Market Street–because it’s a simple, beautiful story filled with diversity.

Tiny Beautiful Things–because this book reminds me that we are not alone, no matter how horrible our circumstances may seem.

What books are you thankful for this year?

22 Ways to Support Women Around the World with Your Christmas Shopping

16 Ways to Support Women with Your Christmas Shopping | NewberyandBeyond.com
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Every year I update my list of ways you can support women around the world with your Christmas gift purchasing. I’ve used a few of these websites for my Christmas shopping over the years (and as gift requests for myself), and I hope this list will inspire you to do the same!

I have a great passion for people around the world who have been harmed by human trafficking, especially women. Especially in the worldwide chaos that has taken place this year, it is very easy for women in poor or war-torn countries to fall through the cracks and be forced into slave labor.

One of the most important ways we can help prevent human trafficking and provide an escape for those who have already suffered through it is by supporting these women’s new businesses. In this post, I’ve collected some of the websites that (to the best of my knowledge) sell products that are created by women around the world and give the profits back to the women to provide for their families and support the growth of their small businesses. I’m not affiliated in any way with any of these websites; I just want to support these awesome women!

If you’re looking to do some Christmas shopping, start with these websites. I will update this post over the next month with any sales or special offers, in case you’re a deal shopper like me–none of these discounts will cause less money to be given to the women creating the products. I’ve also included some of my favorite organizations that promote justice and healing for victims of human trafficking or protect women’s rights, in case you’d just like to donate.

Buy your Christmas presents here and support women who are making a better life for themselves and their families:

Sudara
This company specializes in Punjammies, which are super comfortable, beautiful lounge pants. All their clothing is made by women in India who have escaped sex slavery. (I got a pair of these for Christmas last year, and I wear them almost every day when I get home from work. They are so comfortable and cute, and they have pockets!)

Preemptive Love Coalition
I absolutely love this company! They sell soaps (one for men, one for women) that are made by refugees who fled from ISIS. This business helps them rebuild their lives and support themselves in a new country.

Picture Birmingham
A blogger that I follow takes these gorgeous photos and turns them into prints, postcards, and notecards. 100% of the profits are donated to The Wellhouse, a ministry that provides support to victims of human trafficking in Alabama.

Made By Survivors
This jewelry, now sold under the name Relevée, is made and sold by survivors of human trafficking. These women and children are given counseling, education, and vocational training to help them create a new way of life.

Better Life Bags
Custom or ready-to-purchase bags. These bags are handmade by women in Detroit, mostly first-generation immigrants, who are unable to find jobs elsewhere.

Ten Thousand Villages
Jewelry, kitchen items, and home accents. The items are made and sold by artisans in Egypt, India, and many other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Naja
This lingerie company employs mostly single mothers or female heads of household in the United States and pays them above-market wages and benefits. The company also employs women in the slums of Colombia and helps them receive the education they need.

Amania Africa
This program trains women in five different African nations to sew and manage their finances, and allows them to sell their handicrafts on this website.

Global Goods Partners
Jewelry, accessories, gifts, home items, and toys.  These products are handmade by women in South America, Asia, and Africa.

Mulxiply
Gorgeous jewelry and accessories, made by at-risk women in Nepal.

Good Paper
These hilarious cards are made by women who escaped sex trafficking in the Philippines and by young adult orphans in Rwanda. I’d love to receive one of these cards for Christmas/birthday/no particular reason, and I bet you know someone who would like them, too.

Sari Bari
Beautiful, handmade bags, blankets, and clothing made from upcycled saris. These are made by Indian women who were rescued from the sex trade. (I recently purchased one of these bags, and it is lovely! It’s colorful and fun and sturdy enough for me to take to work every day.)

Malia Designs
Handbags, wallets, and accessories. Cambodia is a dangerous place for women, and these items are made by Cambodian women who are at risk. The company also donates some of its profits to anti-trafficking organizations.

Stop Traffick Fashion
Most–though not all–of these T-shirts and bracelets are made by survivors of human trafficking around the world. They offer cute and affordable graphic tees and totes.

Thistle Farms
This residential program helps women in the United States who have been victims of trafficking, prostitution, or addiction. They produce lotions, soaps, candles, lip balm, and other bath and body products.

Women’s Peace Coalition
Jewelry, accessories, and home accents made by female artisans around the world. The Coalition supports women’s business enterprises in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Haiti.

Prosperity Candle
This candle company employs female refugees in North America and Haiti. The hand-poured candles give these women a chance to create a new life in the U.S.

SERVV
Jewelry, clothing, kitchen, decor, chocolates, and snacks. This retailer’s artisans come from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and even the United States. (I got several of my Christmas gifts last year from this website, and they were beautiful! I was very pleased with the quality and variety of gifts on this site.)

Global Girlfriend
Clothing, accessories, jewelry, gifts, and more. Products are made by women, and profits go to help send a girl to school (not a given in many places around the world).

MarketPlace India
This program helps around 500 Indian women learn to produce women’s clothing and manage their own business. Their items include dresses, skirts, tops, jackets, pants, and more.

Causebox
If you love subscription boxes (me too!) and want to be continually informed about amazing companies that are run by or support women in need around the world, this is for you. (One of these days, I’ll get one myself!)

Amazon Smile
If you absolutely must do some shopping through Amazon (I get it), don’t forget to shop through Amazon Smile. They will donate a small percentage of your purchase to the charity of your choice.

If you just want to donate:

International Justice Mission
IJM is an organization that I support as often as I can. IJM employs lawyers, case workers, counselors, after care workers, and other professionals in countries around the world in order to fight human trafficking, forced labor, denied citizenship for certain people groups, and many other types of injustice. They work hard to rescue those who are enslaved, and they also work to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Invisible Girl Project
Millions of girls in India and China are never given a chance to live because of the prevalence of gendercide and infanticide, and many more are trafficked because of the dearth of females in these cultures. Give girls a chance by donating here.

International Rescue Committee
I’ve been following the refugee crisis in Syria with concern for over a year now, and I’m always looking for a way to help. IRC works to help refugees restart their lives, providing food, water, shelter, and education to those who need it. (IRC has replaced my former favorite, UNHCR, because a higher percentage of the money they receive goes directly to funding their programs rather than toward other costs.) You can help too by donating here.

I hope this list inspires you to support women who are daring to make something good out of their lives!  Do you have any other ways that you fight human trafficking or support women around the world?

My Top Ten(ish) All-Time Favorite Mysteries

Wanting to pick up some new mysteries? This post is for you! I'm linking up to share my top ten favorite mysteries. | NewberyandBeyond.com
I’m linking up with the Broke and Bookish for today’s Top Ten Tuesday post!

It’s no secret that I love mysteries and have for my entire life. So when I saw that Broke & Bookish themselves chose mysteries for their TTT prompt this week, I knew I had to join in. Since I’ve read such a wide variety of mysteries, I’m going to segment my favorites into groups. If you want to get into mysteries, I think at least one of these will catch your interest!

If you’re looking for a cozy mystery, check out:

  • The Oxford Tearoom series [review copy]. I’ve said many times before how much I enjoy this series of cozies. Gemma is a tea shop owner in Oxford who keeps stumbling upon murders. The setting and characters really shine, and the mysteries are fresh (a rarity for cozy mysteries).
  • The Needlecraft Mystery series. If you’re into cozy mysteries, this series by Monica Ferris is for you. Amateur sleuth and needlework shop owner Betsy is a lot of fun to follow, and the other inhabitants of her small Minnesota town are quirky and sweet. This series is not without its flaws, but it is full of fun, quick, satisfying mysteries.
  • Thus Was Adonis Murdered. This very British mystery revolves around a hapless, clueless barrister on vacation. When she is implicated in a murder, her coworkers back home have to help her out of the mess she’s gotten into. Lighthearted and fun.

If you’re looking for children’s or YA mysteries, start with:

  • The Westing Game. This Newbery book is a classic, and I absolutely love it. It’s convoluted and creepy, but in a way that’s fun and not too frightening.
  • The Three Investigators series. This series of books by Alfred Hitchcock (or at least produced under his brand) was one of my favorites as a kid. It might take a little searching to find them, but if you can get your hands on these books, you (or your child) will probably love the fun adventures the three boys find themselves on.
  • The Dana Girls series. Although I loved the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew series as a kid, the Dana Girls were much more interesting to read about. It’s been a while since I picked up one of these books, so there are likely some outdated and possibly offensive elements within that I’ve forgotten about. Still, I think they’re worth a read if you can get your hands on them.
  • Jackaby. Sherlock Holmes meets Doctor Who. Need I say more? (Bonus: the author has written two sequels so far, and I believe there are more still to come for this series.)
  • The Case of the Cursed Dodo [review copy]. Such a cute mystery! It involves a panda detective, some awesome illustrations, and a fun play on the hardboiled PI tropes.
  • Murder is Bad Manners. This is a great start to a series that revolves around two girls at an English boarding school. Fun and not too creepy.

If you’d rather read a mystery written for adults, look into:

  • The Flavia de Luce series. Although these books have a child protagonist, they are clearly written for adults. Flavia is rude and nosy in the best way, and she ends up poking her nose into matters that are really none of her business. Still, her love of chemistry and her trusty bicycle get her out of most of her scrapes and help her solve mysteries that baffle the adults around her.
  • The Likeness. This book sucked me in. The intense relationships between the characters and the blurring of lines around the undercover detective involved will keep you guessing and turning pages until the very end. I’m looking forward to reading Tana French’s sequel Faithful Place soon.
  • Tommy and Tuppence. Whether you check out The Secret Adversary or my personal favorite N or M?, Agatha Christie’s mystery-solving secret agent couple are sure to bring a smile to your face. The Tommy and Tuppence books are a little more action-packed than Christie’s other novels, so if you’re not sure about taking on the classic Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot mysteries, Tommy and Tuppence are a good place to start.
  • The Junior Bender series. This series has a lot of action and comedy to supplement its mysteries. The characters are fun and unusual, too. Definitely worth checking out.

If your taste in mysteries leans more toward thrillers, read:

  • The Passenger [review copy]. I think of this book as the better version of Girl on the Train. Definitely check it out if you liked that book.
  • All the Missing Girls [review copy]. A murder mystery told backward, this book is another that will keep you guessing till the very end.

Bonus: Here are my top seven favorite murder mystery TV shows–in case you can’t get enough mysteries in your life! (These are all currently available on Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime.)

  • Castle
  • Death in Paradise
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
  • Rosemary and Thyme
  • Broadchurch
  • Sherlock
  • Veronica Mars

What are your favorite mysteries (books or TV shows)? Let me know in the comments–I’m always on the hunt for my next favorite mystery!

July Wrap Up + August Small Goals

I'm reviewing last month and making goals for August in my July wrap up post! | NewberyandBeyond.com
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I’m linking up with writes like a girl for my August small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

Small Goals

To start with, here’s a quick review of my July small goals:

  • Celebrate my third anniversary with my husband. Check! We ate at an Indian restaurant we’ve been wanting to visit, and, of course, ate our wedding cake replica.
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Delicious!
  • Work on my hand lettering. I completed this one about halfway. I ordered some brush pens to experiment with, and I’ve been watching all the how-to videos.
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Yeah, my spacing needs work.
  • Type up a chord and scale sheet for my students. Done!

So two goals completed, two half completed. Not too bad! Now, my goals for August:

  • Prepare my students to perform the national anthem. And probably brush up on my own conducting skills–I haven’t directed a group since I was in college! Still, I’m excited to lead my kids in singing at our local baseball game.
  • Review Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Oh yes, I read it. But if you want to know what I thought, you’ll have to check back next week.
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Review coming soon…
  • Get paperwork done! I have several nagging paperwork-related tasks that have been on my to do list for a while. Now is the time for me to actually get them done. Not the most fun goal, but a necessary one.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: As part of my classic books challenge, I’m currently working my way through Middlemarch. I haven’t had much time recently to read it, but I’m really looking forward to picking it up again this month.

TV shows I’ve been watching: I was looking for something to put on in the background while I work on cross stitching a stocking (a project that has turned out to be much more involved than I anticipated), and I ended up selecting Guy’s Grocery Games. I’m not a huge fan of Guy Fieri, but this game show/cooking competition is funny, lighthearted, and something that I don’t have to watch every second to enjoy.

Music I’m loving: I’ve had Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” and Adele’s “Send My Love” stuck in my head on repeat for weeks.

Podcasts I’m listening to: If you enjoy Gretchen Rubin’s books about happiness and habits, you’ll love the podcast she hosts with her sister Elizabeth. It’s called Happier, and it covers the same topics as The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. Gretchen and Elizabeth are fun to listen to, and they always have interesting tips and tricks to make your life better.

My favorite Instagram:

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Some of my all-time favorite books

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

If you want to see more of what I’m into every month, along with sneak peeks and my favorite posts from the blog, sign up for my email newsletter! It’ll show up in your inbox once a month and bring you the latest blog news and the things I’m loving.

Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do

Linking up with Broke & Bookish to share the top ten things books have made me want to do or learn. | NewberyandBeyond.com
This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s TTT prompt is all about things that books have made me want to do or learn in real life. I love this! So often, books inspire me to try something new, and in some cases, I have. Many of these books are nonfiction (their ideas are easy to turn into projects), but a few are fiction books that have inspired me nonetheless.

  1. The Year of Reading Dangerously. Although I thought this book was just okay, it inspired me to make my own list of classics that I’ve skipped out on and challenge myself to actually read them. (If you want to join me, link up with me here!)
  2. Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day. The author’s adventures in famous tourist cities using only an outdated book as a guide sounded super fun! I’d still like to try it one day.
  3. I tend to hate poetry, but Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry made me want to try reading a bit more. (The poetry of Langston Hughes is now on my classics list.)
  4. #GIRLBOSS made me want to stretch myself in my business ventures.
  5. Pretty Good Number One. This book that I was sent for review (by one of my favorite podcasters!) made me desperately want to travel to Tokyo and eat all. the. food.
  6. The Palest Ink (another review copy) made me realize how little I know about the history of Asian countries and made me want to learn more.
  7. Ready Player One. I never thought I’d say a book made me want to play video games, but this one did.
  8. Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery. This amazing children’s book gave me a fascinating glimpse into Eleanor Roosevelt’s life and made me want to learn everything I could about her.
  9. Roller Girl made me want to learn about roller derby. I’d never want to participate (yikes!), but I’d love to watch a match.
  10. 10% Happier. I found this book really interesting. It actually inspired me to give meditation (basically mindfulness training for your brain) a try.

What new things have books inspired you to learn or do? Leave your TTT links in the comments; I’d love to check them out!

Ten Facts About Me + July Small Goals + What I’m Into

Ten facts about me, plus my (overdue) small goals for July and my "what I'm into" contribution for June. | NewberyandBeyond.com
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I’m linking up with the Broke & the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday, writes like a girl for my July small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

I’m so behind on all my monthly link ups! (I blame my 4th of July vacation.) So I decided to combine my link ups into one big post. If you’re one of those people who likes seeing behind the scenes of the blog, you’re going to love this post.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Facts You Should Know About Me

  1. I was born in Nebraska, spent some time living in Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee, and currently live in Florida. I never know what to say when people ask me where I’m from.
  2. My husband and I own two gerbils named Ethel and Millie. One day we’ll have cats (once we’re no longer living with our deathly-allergic roommate!).
  3. I’m afraid of whales. Why? Because they’re enormous, and that freaks me out.
  4. Animal friends are my favorite. I love seeing pictures of different species hanging out together.
  5. I actually hate coffee. (Hot tea forever!)
  6. I play Neko Atsume. Yes, I’ve collected all the cats.
  7. When I was in college, I went on a four-day trip to visit thirteen states with some friends. It was such a ridiculous idea, but some of my fondest college memories came out of that trip.
  8. I like to cross stitch. Mostly because I’m too impatient to learn to knit better.
  9. I don’t have any piercings or tattoos because I’m phobic about needles.
  10. I’ve never met a fruit I didn’t like.

July Small Goals

First, a review of my June goals. I actually did pretty well this month!

  • Plan a staycation. Done! And this was so fun. My husband and I spent several days going to the beach, visiting the local wildlife park, and eating at new local restaurants. It was relaxing, fun, and cheap (three of my favorite words!).
  • Contact our wedding cake baker. Also done! The cake is ordered, and we should be receiving it a few days after our anniversary this month.

Goals for July (now that we’re halfway through):

  • Celebrate my third anniversary with my husband. Three years doesn’t sound like much, I admit, but I’m still surprised at how quickly they went!
  • Work on my hand lettering. I’ve just gotten into this, and I’m really excited about it. I’m not very good, but I’m hoping to get better!
  • Type up a chord and scale sheet for my students. I have a few students who are starting to work on their technical skills, and I’m having a hard time remembering what each one is doing. I want to make a chart of some kind to track their progress.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: The Princess Problem by Rebecca Hains; Magyk by Angie Sage; Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal.

TV shows I’ve been watching: My husband and I are making our way through the newest collection of Good Eats on Netflix. Alton Brown knows how to make cooking (and even science) fun.

Music I’m loving: I created a singalong playlist on my Spotify account that’s full of old favorites from my high school and college days. When I’m upset or stressed, I crank it up and destress!

Podcasts I’m listening to: The maelstrom of political talk online is no good for my sanity, so I’ve turned to the Pant Suit Politics podcast for my political news. I’ve just started listening, but so far I’m loving it. The two women who run the show (one on the left, one on the right) are polite and thoughtful even in their disagreements, and they keep me apprised of the latest political happenings without the vitriol that’s so prevalent elsewhere.

My favorite Instagram:

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Feeding the birds on vacation

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

If you want to see more of what I’m into every month, along with sneak peeks and my favorite posts from the blog, sign up for my email newsletter! It’ll show up in your inbox once a month and bring you the latest blog news and the things I’m loving.

Top Ten Books That Have Under 2000 Ratings

Linking up with Broke & Bookish to share my top ten bookworm delights. | NewberyandBeyond.com
This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme by The Broke and the Bookish.

I love to promote books that I’ve enjoyed that haven’t gotten the attention they should! Here’s my list of the best books I’ve read recently that have fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. (A couple of these are review copies or ARCs that I was given for free in exchange for an honest review–those are marked below with the signifier review copy. As always, all opinions are my own.)

  • Travel Far, Pay No Fare by Anne Lindbergh (107 ratings). A fun children’s novel about a magical bookmark that allows the kids to go into the stories. So fun!
  • Warlock Holmes – A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning (108 ratings). [Review copy–review coming soon!] This supernatural retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story is pretty funny. It’s brand new, so word hasn’t yet spread about how fun it is.
  • My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons (199 ratings). I can’t even explain how much I enjoyed this book. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. If you want a look into one of the most closed off countries in the world (complete with tons of photos), you need to read this.
  • Excellent Daughters by Katherine Zoepf (299 ratings). A really well done book about women’s varied experiences living in the Arab world. It’s fascinating and disconcerting.
  • Untangled by Lisa Damour (345 ratings). I’ve said it before: I’m sticking this book in a file for later, when I have a teenage daughter of my own. It’s packed with great information and stories about teenagers and how to help them grow and learn.
  • A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna (474 ratings). [Review copy] A fun, fresh cozy mystery set in Oxford. Definitely worth a look if you’re into mysteries as much as I am.
  • Pretty Good Number One by Matthew Amster-Burton (662 ratings). [Review copy] This love letter to Japan will make you want to visit and eat all the things Matthew and his family eat.
  • Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt (1,370 ratings). An adorable picture-book retelling of Cinderella, set in space. So cute!
  • Pick Your Poison by Leann Sweeney (1,463 ratings). I ordered this fun cozy mystery in anticipation of my vacation this week. It was a ton of fun and packed with southern sayings and that Texas feel.
  • Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens (1,599 ratings). This book was awesome! (Review to come soon.) It’s a murder mystery set at an English boarding school, and I can’t wait to read the second one in the series.

What lesser-known books do you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

June Small Goals

I'm sharing my June small goals in today's linkup post. | NewberyandBeyond.com
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I’m linking up with Nicole from writes like a girl to share my June small goals.

So it’s June, and summer is officially here (although in Florida summer starts a good six weeks before June does). I’ve got some goals for the summer that I’m super excited about, but first I’ll review my goals for May.

 

  1. Complete my 25 good deeds for my 25th birthday. Done! I’m hoping to write a blog post about this eventually.
  2. Reflect on the past year of my life. Yep! I made a list of the things I’ve learned and the things I’m most proud of from the past year.
  3. Create new games for my music students. My kids were super excited about the musical truth or dare game I brought them this month.
  4. Participate in Armchair BEA. Yes, and this was SO. FUN. I wrote discussion posts (you can read them here, here, here, here, and here), discovered my new love of bookstagramming, and even won a few books in the giveaways. Someday I’ll make it to the physical BEA conference, but I was amazed at how fun this virtual get together was.
  5. Watch Hamilton. Not yet. It’s still on my list, but the mood just hasn’t struck me yet.

Goals for June:

  1. Plan a staycation. Much as we like to travel, money is tight for me and my husband this year, so we’re going to have a staycation at the end of this month. I’m really excited to explore some cheap local places that we rarely have time to see during our daily lives.
  2. Contact our wedding cake baker. My only regret from my wedding (almost three years ago) is that I only got one bite of our gorgeous, delicious wedding cake. I’m hoping I can order a small cake for our anniversary this summer so we can actually enjoy it.

 

What are your small goals for June? Let me know in the comments!

ABEA: Fictional Worlds

Which fictional worlds would you like to live in? Which ones would you not survive? That's today's ABEA post. | NewberyandBeyond.com
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Today’s ABEA topic is about surviving fictional worlds. As someone who reads a lot of dystopian fiction, I know of plenty of worlds I would never want to visit! Here’s my quick list of worlds I don’t think I could survive.

  • Hunger GamesBecause obviously.
  • Life After Life. Having to live my life over and over again until I got it right? Sounds good in theory, but I don’t think I’d enjoy that in practice.
  • DivergentYeah, nope. I would probably die in training.
  • The Age of MiraclesI loved this fascinating book, but I would never want to live in a world in which the earth actually stopped turning.
  • The MartianBeing stranded alone in space is pretty much my second worst nightmare (the first one being drowning in a Titanic-esque wreck).
  • DuneDesert planet, giant worms, and political drama? No thank you.

 

On the other hand, there are a few fictional worlds (even some dystopian ones!) that I think I might be okay with living in. Here’s that list.

  • Sharon CreechCreech’s worlds are down home countryside and slightly magical. Love, love, love them.
  • Lunar ChroniclesThis is one dystopian world I think I could actually survive. Especially if I can hang out with Cinder, Cress, and the rest of the gang.
  • Bee and Puppycat. I never got around to posting a review of this awesome, adorable comic that I got for Christmas, but it is amazing. I would love to go on crazy adventures with Bee and Puppycat and then hang out and eat chips with them afterward.
  • JackabyThese paranormal YA mysteries, a cross between Sherlock and Doctor Who, really make me smile. I want to investigate paranormal creatures with a possibly crazy detective.
  • Ready Player OneAnother dystopian world that I think I could survive (although I wouldn’t necessarily want to go there if I had the choice). Sure, I’m no good at video games right now, but if that was my only escape from a desperately poor neighborhood, I would probably get better.
  • The Girl from EverywhereTime traveling ship with mythical enhancements and fascinating (and attractive) shipmates? Sign me up!

 

What worlds would you want to live in? Or which ones would you rather stay far away from?

May Small Goals

It's my birth month! I'm kicking off the celebration by sharing my May small goals. | NewberyandBeyond.com
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I’m linking up with Nicole from writes like a girl to share my May goals.

I’m always excited when May rolls around, mostly because I get to celebrate my birthday this month! I’m thrilled to be turning 25, and in honor of that, I’m keeping this month’s goals light and happy. But first, I’ll check in with how I did on last month’s goals.

  1. Get my students ready for their recital. This year’s recital was awesome. I was so proud of all my students and their hard work on their music.
  2. Select the 25 good deeds that I want to do for my 25th birthday. I’ve got them all picked out! Now I just need to get started on them.
  3. Double date with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. Nope, this didn’t get done. A lack of time and money kept me and my husband from completing this goal. It’s going on the future goals list.
  4. Finish reading the books on my Kindle. Check! I’ve cleared out plenty of space on my Kindle, and just yesterday I requested books from the library for the first time in six weeks.

 

So 4/5 isn’t too bad. Now, my goals for my birthday month!

  1. Complete my 25 good deeds for my 25th birthday. I’ve picked them all out, and now I need to get started. I always feel so loved and celebrated on my birthday (by my friends and family, of course, but also by all the free food I tend to collect!), and I want to share that love with others this month.
  2. Reflect on the past year of my life. I used to do this every year around New Year’s Day, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. I want to use my birthday this year to remember the good, the bad, and the learning experiences I’ve had this year.
  3. Create new games for my music students. My kids love to play games, and I like it too because it keeps them focused and having fun. I want to add at least a couple new games for them to play this month.
  4. Participate in Armchair BEA. I’d love to have the time and money to attend this book expo (one day!), but until then, I’m looking forward to participating from afar through Armchair BEA. They offer blog post prompts, social media linkups, giveaways, and, of course, information from the event itself.
  5. Watch Hamilton. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this musical, but I haven’t yet taken the time to listen to any of the music. I’m planning to take some time to relax and watch or listen to it on YouTube.

 

What are your small goals for May? Let me know in the comments!

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