The Baby-sitters Club Is Available On Audible Today!

Audible.com is dropping audio versions of all 131 original Baby-sitter’s Club books today! I’m still hoping they’ll record Super Special #4 which was my very favorite childhood read, but that doesn’t mean I won’t indulge in a little Boy Crazy Stacey sometime soon. Dibble!

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Road Trip Audiobooks For Kids 8-12 and the Grownups Driving The Car

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I brought my two kids on an epic East Coast road trip last week, and as the only driver I really wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for audiobooks. The problem with family road trips though is you have to be selective about the books you pick. Here are several that have been acceptable for all the kids ages 8-42 in my family.

Leave recommendations for our next trip in the comments section!

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Bookish Gifts I'm Giving This Year

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It's no surprise that I give a lot of books for gifts. (Note: I rarely get books because everyone says I have read them all. My TBR says differently! Is this a common book worm problem?)

Here's what I'm giving this year:

For my history loving husband:

Grant by Ron Chernow -- I got him both the hardcover and the audio versions. It would drive me crazy to go back and forth, but this is his new preferred way.

For my reluctant reader son:

Guinness Book of World Records -- My son isn't a big reader, but he loves trivia. I think he'll love finding obscure facts (and might even try to break an obscure record or two!)

For my bookworm jr. daughter:

I know she is going to go nuts over this personal library kit. I predict a lot of playing library in my future. Let's hope she doesn't charge late fees! (She'll be getting several books as well, of course.)

For My Secret Santa:

Food Anatomy by Julia Rothman -- An illustrated history of food- doesn't it sound just perfect for snow day reading? I hope she enjoys it.

What are you gifting this year?

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My favorite fiction from 2016

I read a lot of good books this year, books that had me ignoring my family, missing stops on trains, and hoping that my plane would be delayed just a little bit longer. Here are the stand outs.

End of Watch by Stephen King - This book, the last one in the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, pushed all my good book buttons. I loved the rsolution, and the call backs to King's earlier books.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith - It's been a long time since I felt like I was actually in a book, but The Farm took me to Sweden in the snow. This book had a great ending too.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne - Yeah, I know there's a lot wrong with the timelines, depction of the characters, etc. I just loved being back at Hogwarts.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - An amazing audiobook loved by my whole family. Would be great for a family road trip.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein - My favorite read out loud all year. Had us up reading way past bed time. The first book that ever made my son say "Just one more chapter, please???"

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry - The circumstances of this working mom's day to day were kind of far fetched, but I feel like this is one of the few books that got the details of my experience right.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - I just finished this not too long ago, and loved it. The only thing that made me give it 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 was that it dragged on just a bit too long at the end. Other than that, this is the kind of book that will make you want to curl up and just keep reading.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng - A powerful story about a part of World War II you don't often hear about.

And some re-reads...

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King - A must read after a crazy trip to Maine - still good, and a trip down memory lane to the years before the Red Sox finally won the World Series.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder - My favorite of the series. I'm so glad I got to read it again.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume - I read this for a reading challenge, and it still holds up after all these years.

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Reading in the Bathtub

My dear daughter has a strong personality. I have no doubt she will rule the world one day.

I admire her drive so much. She is the girl that couldn't make it past one monkey bar at kindergarten orientation, and made it her goal to get across by the end of the year. As of now we are a month in and she has been to the nurse twice, but she can make it to 5 monkey bars. She will not give up until it's done.

Unfortunately she can also use her drive in ways that drive me nuts. The latest? She hates the bathtub, and bed time has become a bit of a challenge.

My solution? Same as always. Read.

We have brokered a deal where I will read her story books while she takes her bath. Win win.

Some bath time books we've enjoyed:

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My Five Star Summer Reads

I read a bunch this summer, and I'm happy to say I had six five star reads - pictured above. Click on any of the images to see a description on amazon.

I'm trying to think if there's any common theme among them, and can't come up with anything. They're just awesome books.

What was the best book you read this summer?

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September's Audiobooks

I listened to five audiobooks this month. Some awesome, some not so awesome.

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey was full of quotable lines: "Parenting is more than a duty to make your kids happy." Wow. Something I always knew, but I appreciated the reminder via this audiobook. This was a great option for the weeks before my kids went back to school.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud was not such a great option. I don't recommend the mentally unstable 3rd grade teacher genre as an option for any parent's back to school reading. I probably would have stopped, but had a lot of laundry to do and nothing else to listen to.

I wasn't a huge fan of The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan, but my son who "hates reading" couldn't get enough of this audiobook. As soon as we finished he started begging for the next one. I guess I'm in for a whole lot of Percy Jackson this year.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan was not a favorite for my kids, but I bawled through most of it. In a good way. Glenn Close was the narrator and I thought she did a great job.

I listened to the free version of O Pioneers by Willa Cather, and the story lost something from that. Still, this was a pleasant story that I would have never appreciated had I been forced to read it in high school.

Life According to Steph

 

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Pa is getting on my nerves

We took an epic road trip last week through Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. We got pretty close to Little House territory, and I even saw a sign for a slough at one point. I had plenty of time for car reading on this trip, and given the setting I decided to catch up on my favorite pioneer family.

I forgot just how much Pa annoys me in this book. I know it was a different time, but man. He really just does what he wants doesn't he? His only concession to his wife and girls is that he is only moving them to a shack in DeSmet instead of Oregon.

I think I need to keep reading to the next book (The Long Winter), because I like when Ma finally loses her patience and lets Pa have it. Rosin your fiddle with that Ingalls.

Best books about World War II

Like a lot of people I read a lot of books about World War II. It's an interesting subject, and there's a lot of material. Here are some of my favorites.

Novels

Margot by Jillian Cantor

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Diaries

Mr. Brown's War Ed. by Helen D. Millgate

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Non-Fiction

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

D-Day by Stephen Ambrose

Kids and YA

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wain

World War II Spies (Choose Your Own Adventure)

Cookbooks

Cooking on the Home Front by Hugh and Judy Gowan

Lost Recipes by Marion Cunningham

What am I missing? What are your favorite books about this fascinating time period?

Books for little gardners

As any good parent would, I'm trying to brainwash my kids into liking all of the things I do -- mostly the Red Sox, hiking, reading, and gardening.  These books about the garden and vegetables help with the last two.

Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A Summer Crop of Counting is a rhyming book with vibrant pictures.  It makes for a great read aloud.

A Cottage Garden Alphabet doesn't have much of a story, but is wonderful to flip though on a rainy day with your favorite little person.

Eating the Alphabet has long been a favorite of ours -- and my go to baby shower or 1st birthday gift.  The pictures are so lovely, I sometimes find myself looking through it when my kids aren't around.


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The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook

I've been hunting around for kid's cook books at my local library, and I really like what I see in this Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook.  The recipes are fun without being too out there -- although I was surprised that their recipe for Roast Beast used chicken instead of beef.

This book would also be great for birthday party food.

Have you tried anything from this book?  Do your kids have a favorite cook book?

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The 8 books I gave 5 star ratings to in 2015

As of today, I have read 125 books in 2015. Almost all of them were rated 3 stars or above, simply because I have no qualms about abandoning anything that I don't like. It takes something special to rate 5 stars though. Here are the eight books that I ranked with 5 stars in 2015.

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space -- an amazing biography that made me want to dust off my physics degree and launch myself into space.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 -- I listened to the audiobook with my kids, and it's just as good as it was when I was 8.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell -- I didn't think I would like this book, but ended up not being able to put it down. Being stuck in a snow storm in Cleveland with this book is one of my best memories of 2015.

Above All Things -- This was fiction told so vividly you felt like you were there. If you're a fan of Into Thin Air read this one.

On Writing -- I read this once a year. It remains a five star book. Don't just read this if you want to learn about writing. Read it to learn about life.

Destiny of the Republic -- Another great audiobook. I got a lot of extra ironing done when I was listening to this.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk -- The tips in this book really work. They should hand it out to every new kindergarten parent.

Doctor Sleep -- This was another book I put off reading. I finally took it on vacation with me, and couldn't put it down. This is the older brother to many of King's early hits. Just a bit more calm and rational, but still very, very good.

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