Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bio Girl's Reading Corner: 2014 Spring Edition

So I have been meaning to do another Bio Girl Reading Corner for some time, thinking that I was really falling down on that quarterly series I have been doing, only to discover after a quick search of the archives that I have only ever done it three times... Do you know how shocking that is to me?  Here I was thinking I did it four times a year for at least a couple of years... but not so much.  I also thought the last one I did was maybe in February, but alas, it was October. 

Funny how sometimes I think I am much better at something than I actually am...

(like blogging perhaps..)


Cinder Series by Marissa Meyer: Let's just jump right in with my love of young adult dystopian books and talk about the Cinder series.  Cinder is the first book in a four part series (book four will be released this year) that is set in the future and based on different fairy tales.  Let me tell you, I was skeptical about this series.  Even with my love of YA, somehow reading a Cinderella story felt so childish.  Add in that the basic story is about the struggle around being a cyborg while the people who live on the moon attempt to take over earth, and I was down right embarrassed to be reading it.  BUT, you all, this is an awesome series!  I can't help myself, I love it so damn much.  Plus it is one of those extremely rare series that gets BETTER as the books go on!  I feel like again and again I get hook on a book only to trudge through the series and be disappointed in the end.  (I am looking at you ALLEGIANT) I know this has one book left, but so far it has only gotten better.  I cannot WAIT for book four!
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson:  *Deep Sigh*.  Life After Life... I wanted to like it.  I really did.  And I almost, sorta was a fan.  I would have considered myself a fan maybe half way through, but by the end, it just all felt pointless.  The story is about a girl reliving her life again and again, dying time after time in different ways, as she works her way up to... what?  I guess her ultimate life's purpose?  I can't say I completely understood the final point of the book.  Because once it was said and done, and she "got it right", it all ended up feeling meaningless to me.  Other people loved this book, but it left me shaking my head.
Paper Towns by John Green: This is the third John Green book I have read, and I place it between The Fault in Our Stars, which I adored, and Looking for Alaska, which was lukewarm on.  I thought this was funny, cleaver, and entertaining, but the end left a little to be desired.  Still, I am excited it will be the next John Green movie, and I will be there to see it.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gainman: This was a little odd, but at the same time strangely enjoyable.  I read it because it was highly recommended by Hank Green of the VlogBrothers.  I am not even sure how to describe it actually... it's the story of a man returning to a place that held importance to him as a child, but the details he can't seem to remember.  It's a story of magic and monsters, and it is very unusual.  I am happy I took the time to read it, but wouldn't read it again.
Legend Series by Marie Lu:  Another Young Adult dystopian trilogy!  They never get old!  I actually loved all three of these books, although the last one had some issues with brain trauma that hit a little too close to home and made me nervous of what was to come the entire book.  Still, these were quick enjoyable reads that made me think rather long and hard about how different forms of government are viewed from both the inside and out. That makes it sound boring, but it's not, I promise. I highly recommend this series.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.  I absolutely adore the Hyperbole and a Half blog, and looked forward to this book for a long time, but in the end I felt like a lot of the books best material was from her blog, and the other posts felt a little more like add ons.  I understand that actually.  As a blogger, I am sure Allie never knew she should save her best stories for the random day when she is asked to write a book.  Still, I was happy to support her, but wish the book had a little more meat to it.
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor: This was the much anticipated (by me) third book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and I adored it.  This is a high fantasy series, with angels and chimera and different worlds stacked on top of each other... if you are not into that sort of thing, you might not like it.  But I AM into that sort of thing, and found the series original and addictive.  The final book in the series did not disappoint.
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley:  This was yet another book that hit a little too close to home, talking about the potential loss of a beloved sibling.  I didn't realize that was what it was about when I started it, and once I knew, I was already hook into the story.  It's a coming of age story, and a good one, it just wasn't the best fit for me personally.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: Another YA trilogy with a strong female lead??  Am I getting predictable?  I really enjoyed all three of these books.  Maybe not as much as some of the other series I have read, but still enough to read and definitely recommend.  The lead character is unique and uncharacteristic for this type of series.  It's worth reading.
The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: I first read about orphan trains in a book I reviewed for BlogHer, and I was so interested in them.  I had no idea there was a time when children were rounded up in New York City and put on trains to be adopted out to people across the county.  This book is the story of a train rider, now in her 90's, and the relationship she builds with a foster child in her town.  It's a good book, although sad at times.  It left me thinking a lot about the real lives of these children on the trains. The Orphan Train is definitely worth reading.
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon: AHHH!!  Do you all remember my love of the Outlander series?  WELL IT IS ALIVE AND WELL.  and I just finished REREADING the 7th book in the series in order to get ready for book 8, which is FINALLY coming out on June 10th.  Not that I am excited or anything...

So that's it!  A comprehensive guide into what I have read since last October.  Have any of you read anything good?  Let me know and I will add it to my reading list!  You can also follow me on GoodReads if you want to share book lists.  I do better at updating it than I do my blog's reading corner, I promise.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

This and That and Nothing at All

So this past weekend, a three day holiday weekend at that, we somehow found ourselves with absolutely no plans.  Do you know how insane that is?  Nick and I are pretty sure it is the first weekend in 2014 that we haven't had official plans on the calendar.  (No doubt about it if you count homework and surgery recovery as 'plans'.)  Some people out there might be depressed to find they have no holiday weekend plans, but when people asked us what we were doing we joyfully announced "NOTHING AT ALL!!  It will be SO GREAT!"

And it was. 

Three nights in a row I actually cooked dinner, twice using the grill, because come on... MEMORIAL DAY.

We walked down to the Farmer's Market, and on the walk back Henry and Cici ate half a basket of strawberries.

Henry and I rode our bike/big wheel to the park, then stayed as long as we liked, with no rush to be anywhere else.

We bought a new rug!  Oh the joy of being an adult and finding joy in a new rug.  It's BEAUTIFUL!  (It's just an ivory shag rug, but BEAUTIFUL IVORY SHAG!) 

We replaced the garbage disposal!  Even more adult!  Even more boring!  I was THRILLED!

I weeded the flower beds and Nick worked on a new stone path to the back yard.

I read an entire book.  (The Orphan Train.  Excellent.)

Now that I think about it, that doesn't sound much like a weekend of nothing, it sounds rather full.  But there were no time restraints and no plans.  It felt like summer, and it was exactly (EXACTLY) what we all three needed.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Game Ball!

I wasn't really sure Henry understood the idea of the game ball, but I was wrong.  When the coach called his name out after the game and said "Great hitting today Henry! Game ball!" and rolled it his way, his smile could have lit up a room.  I didn't catch it on camera of course... I was too busy grinning from ear to ear myself. 

Well done, sweet boy.   We sure do love watching you play.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mark and April's Wedding!

So it turns out that last weekend was actually pretty busy.  Not only did we have Henry's birthday party (!!!) but we ALSO had Mark and April's wedding!  A wedding I was actually in!!  So, you know... it was sorta a big deal.

( I mean, it's a big deal either way because LOVE and MARRIAGE and FAMILY and all that, but since this LOVE and MARRIAGE and FAMILY also had ME READING IN PUBLIC, it felt pretty monumental to me personally on many levels.)
Why am I talking about me?  Let's talk about them!  How adorable are they??
The wedding party
My aunt, uncle and family.  Love them!
Boo, Liz and I.  Boo was also a reader.  What we do, we do together...
Liz and her boy
So the wedding was a catholic wedding, and I myself am not catholic, so I rarely (never) go into Catholic churches... turns out they are beautiful!  You Catholics know how to build places.
The priest was awesome and the entire ceremony was just so sweet.  I loved every single second of it! (I am sure you are shocked...)
After the wedding we headed to the... wait for it... Reception!  
The newest married couple !
Liz, Cory and Wes, all part of the wedding party!
These three had a blast!
Nick and I (with Cory photobombing us in the background...)
Boo and Chris
Nanny and Papaw with Cici
You think Henry looks up to Wes?  Just a little??
My Nana with her girls
Mama and her boy. (there are lots of pictures of MEEEE, but then again, I was a reader...a very important role)
First Dance.  I am really pleased with this picture...
Father daughter dance.  Also love this one...
And this one as well.
Okay, I love them all!

Congratulations Mark and April!  We are so happy for you!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Captain Henry's Pirate Birthday Bash!

Two years ago I really thought we were as big as we would ever get with the Angry Bird Birthday. I reassured myself thinking, well THIS was crazy, but at least we got it out of our system while he was little. Then last year he picked Nintendo Land, and I knew Nick was going to get really into it, but that's okay! He's just four. We will dial it back next year. And then we started talking Pirate Party...and I realized  that this is just who we are.  We are crazy birthday people.  We think of something like, say, an actual working cannon, and where normal people might say "Nooooo..." we say "That sounds sorta cool...." So, here were are. The crazy birthday people. Welcome to our favorite day of the year...
Our five year old Birthday Boy!
A pirate ship cake, with cannon candles, because why not?  This cake was very nearly a shipwreck disaster.  As we finished up decorating it we noticed a small crack... that then got bigger and bigger and then 'CRAP HOLD IT UP!" See that box in the back?  Yeah, it's totally holding the cake together.  Stack 4 layers of cake only on one side at your own risk... But still, pretty cool, right?
Here is the cannon... it shot 2-liter bottles....
And the fine ship, The Salty Owl.  (Our neighbors happen to cut down their old privacy fence last week and Nick saw nothing but opportunity in that old pile of wood)

If you are curious if it actually worked, here is a video, including the taking down of the ship where the crows nest drops and spills treasure.  Seriously, sometimes Nick amazes me.
Other games included walking the plank... (I drew those signs!  I mean, they might not be as impressive as a working cannon, but still.  PROUD)
That is an actual pit full of water that Nick dug... just in case you were curious.  The kids had to walk out on the plank and grab their pirate bandanna in order to move on to the next pirate map obstacle on the way to the treasure
I am happy to report the plank was able to hold an adult as well... 
Bandannas were quickly put to good use
Next up, in order to win a sword they had to toss a ring on the hook!
I am happy to report every pirate was successful
Oh, they got eye patches too...
Next up was firing the cannon
Which I am sure you are shocked to hear they were VERY EXCITED ABOUT
Just after taking down the left side of the sail (Nick has everything rigged so that when it was hit it would drop... I can't even...)
The dropping of the crows nest...
The mad dash for treasure.. (Henry wins!)
It's a madhouse!
Our pirates and the ship builder with the now defeated Salty Owl
Then there was sword fighting...
And birthday cake
nun chuck practice (SAFE!)
All in all, a perfect pirate party!

And now for lots (and lots) more pictures!

Mama and Papa with the birthday boy
What party is complete without special bottle labels?  Most, actually. But not this one!
The kids table!  
Adorable Thank Ye Matey suckers made by Nanny!
Captain Henry
Charing and Carter
Nana and Henry
Cory, Wes and Liz

Aunt Boo and Uncle Chris
Ryan and Arielle

Me, stealing some baby Freddy time!
Aunt Candice and Lucas
Grandaddy and GrandVal
Nanny and Papaw
Great Grandma stealing a quick hug 
James with his treasure
Aunt Nicole, Uncle Chris and Nieem
my girls
Grayson and his Mama
Charing with Freddy
Henry and Hawk

A proud Mama and Papa