Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Satt by Hannah Moskowitz

     I received a copy of Salt from Netgalley and Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review.

      Salt is about a boy named Indi, who is 17. He and his siblings are orphaned after their parents disappear while hunting a sea creature named El Diamante.The kids live on their boat and continue to try to hunt these sea monsters, hoping for a possibility that they will discover what happened to their parents. 
     I wanted to like this book. The concept of being sics, people who see and hunt sea monsters, was interesting to me. I was hoping that I would hear more about the creatures they would encounter. There was a journal kept by their parents and a promise of treasure. There were aspects of the storyline that I really liked and wish the author had gone further into. There were also a few moments where I thought this book would have some nice family values thrown in.
       What I didn't like about the book is that the kids were involved with a lot of stuff that weren't really necessary. Both the older sister, Beleza and Indi had sexual encounters in the story, and it sounded like this was the norm. They also smoked and drank. There was also a lot of swearing in the book. I mentioned family values. I just felt weird going back and forth between a character expressing admiration about an older sibling and then a 6 year old swearing at her 12 year old brother. Then there were tender spots where a younger character would lovingly place their head on an older sibling's shoulder... and the 12 year old would routinely smack the 6 year old in the head or something. So, I don't know. I will say that I tend to be pretty conservative and that this book is geared to teens/young adults. I also thought about character development. Maybe these kids were the way they were because they've always lived at sea, daringly catching monsters and having to make things work on their own. I thought about whether I would pass this on to my sons to read. Ultimately I decided, I will not pass it on. There's not enough of a story to make the characters worth it to me. I do think that lots of young teens will enjoy the story, but it just wasn't for me. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Treated myself

     I'm not usually one to worry about beauty products or pampering myself, but I saw a commercials about Lush shampoo bars and became interested. I decided to go to our local LUSH store to check them out. I also wanted to take a look at some of their foot care products. As always, the second I walked into the store, I felt compelled to smell everything. Ha ha. Luckily, my tiny apartment doesn't have a bathtub so I don't have to worry about all of the bath bombs!
       Because I'm not rich, I'm always a little conscientious about price but this shampoo bar is supposed to last up to 80 washes, so that's like 2-3 bottles, right? I looked at the display and saw quite a few choices. The first shampoo bar that I saw was the Jason and the Argan Oil. I have had shampoo with Argan oil before and it was nice, but I LOVED the smell of this bar. I hated the smell of Seanik. A clerk came up to talk to me about what I was looking for and I told her I wanted to check out the shampoo bars and the foot care products. I told her that I liked the Jason and the Argan Oil bar. She said it's great but wondered if another shampoo bar, that was out of stock, might be better for my curly (and sometimes oily) hair. She told me they were getting more product on Thursday. I decided that I might come back another time for the bar. Then we went over to the foot care section.
      She showed me a few products: Volcano foot mask- My skin felt great but I'm probably not going to sit around with stuff drying on my feet so I knew this was a no go. (Plus, my bathroom is SUPER small so there's really nowhere to sit in there other than the obvious.)  Pumice Power: I liked the orange-y smell of this and it felt great on my skin. Pink Peppermint Foot Cream: I thought I would really like this. It was rich, creamy and luxurious feeling. It was also kind of cooling. Softy Foot Lotion: Initially I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay but I hadn't known about it before that visit so I wasn't super interested.
       I ended up buying the Pumice Power and getting a sample of Pink Peppermint.
Pumice Power     This is what the Pumice Power looks like. It exfoliates dead skin and I noticed a big difference after my first use. It contains orange oil and smells great.  Ironically, after using the Peppermint lotion, I decided I didn't really like it. It did make my feet softer and it did feel nice, but not as nice as some other lotions I have used. Also, I noticed that when I left the store, I kept getting a clean scent from somewhere. I noticed it was the arm that she used Softy on. It smelled very fresh and was super soft. It might be my next purchase.

MontalbanoJason And The Argan Oil   
      Ok, back to the shampoo. After about a week, I decided to go check out the new stock of shampoo bars. The one recommended to me, Montalbano, was in and had quite a few bars. Jason and the Argan Oil had 1 bar. This trip to LUSH was pretty entertaining because I had Tim with me. He's super careful at certain places because he has some allergies that can be in food or beauty products. (We once discovered a woman who made lotion with pumpkin oil, which he's deathly allergic to.) I asked his opinion on which one he liked better. Jason and the Argan Oil has a rosy smell, which I loved but my husband had previously mentioned that he didn't like. Montalbano smells lemony. Ultimately I decided to get the Montalbano since the clerk suggested it to me. When I was checking out, Tim joked with the cashier that I was making the wrong choice. The woman told Tim to go get the shampoo bar he thought I should get. Then she "gifted" it to us. She said that it was obvious that I had been trying to decide between the 2. I had already come back because they were out of stock. She didn't want me to regret not getting the Jason and the Argan Oil in case I had second thoughts. Now I could try both. (And for only $11.95!) Score! 
       I mainly use the Montalbano since that was "mine." I like to shower in the morning. The fresh, citrus smell in the morning is really refreshing to me. My hair feels clean and the bar lathers up very well. I have been wondering if it's making my hair a little less curly, but it could be our super humid weather. Multiple people have randomly mentioned that my hair looks really "glossy." My hair also feels super soft. I am really glad that I got this. I also tried the other bar. I love the smell of that one too. As a matter of fact, I mentioned that our bathroom was tiny. Every time I walk in, I can smell whatever shampoo bar was last used and it's made my bathroom smell great!
       A humorous side effect of my LUSH trip is that Tim has been using these too. He's used the Pumice Power a few times. He says: "It feels really nice. It felt really gritty at first, not in a bad way, and it really made my skin so much softer. I also tried it on my arm (where I have keratosis pilaris) and it cleared most of the extra rough spots."  The shampoo bar: "It was very, very, very delicious smelling and I was tempted to take a bite out of it. When I washed my hair my hair felt very silky but not in a very good way. Then, as I dried my hair it became soft and delicate." Don't tell his friends he's a LUSH addict. ha ha. Hey, anything that will get a 12 year old guy to willingly shower often is okay in my book.
        Have you ever tried any of these products? If so, what did you think? I think the next time I want to treat myself, I'm going to try Softy.

Latest Postcrossing cards

      It has been a while since I've written about Postcrossing. If you've never heard of Postcrossing, it's a great site that hosts a postcard exchange across the world. Basically, you register at their site, enter your preferences and sign up to send a card. Once your card is received, your address is assigned for someone else to send a card to. I love catching up during the summer and getting a ton of great mail over the summer. Both of the boys also do Postcrossing. I used it to teach them geography as well as to practice their writing. We all wrote a bunch of cards today so our mailbox will start getting busy again. Here are the cards I got last week:

This was a special one for me. The man assigned to send me a card has a daughter who is a music teacher at a university in Germany. So, he asked her to pick me a special card. The message on the back was great too. She told me about a children's book about Mozart and the new concert hall in Hamburg, which was also on the stamp. It's a pretty cool building that I had not seen before. Here's the stamp:

This second postcard impacted me a lot. It is of Kauhajoki, University of Applied Sciences, the site of a school shooting on September 23, 2008. As a teacher, school shootings make me absolutely nauseous. It's an upsetting topic for me, but this woman's daughter was a survivor of this incident. One of the things I really appreciate about Postcrossing is that you get to learn the stories of other people and how they live. I can't even imagine what I would feel if something like that happened at a school my children were in.

  I also loved the stamp on this one, Northern Lights:

My third postcard is from Ruby from England. This was the best mail of my week. She was thoughtful enough to send a card that she thought the boys might want to color. She also sent some currency, which the boys thought was super cool. Her chatty card talked about her birthday, the card, currency, music, Dodie and LUSH.

Last of all, I received this card from Margarita in Russia. I imagine that my boys would love playing in such a tree house. It also had a cool World Cup stamp.

    I have been sending a lot of Postcrossing cards out too. This is a card heading to Saint Petersburg, Russia tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Hangman's Secret


      This is my first Laura Joh Rowland book, but it will not be my last. Photographer Sarah Bain is awoken by a tap on her window by a source that sends her to photograph a crime scene. When she arrives at the scene with her friends Mick and Hugh, she finds a gory scene that is thought to be a suicide. However, there are signs that foul play might be present. First of all, the victim, Harry Warbrick is hung, but ended up decapitated in the process. He is the owner of a pub, but also serves as a hangman at the local prison. Furthermore, it is discovered that there is something missing from his pub that has to do with his latest hanging.  This execution was the hanging of Amelia Carlisle, who was known as the "Baby-Butcher."  She had been convicted of baby farming- taking in babies to send to new homes, but killing them instead. 
      Sarah's boss, Sir Gerald- head of the Daily World, assigns her to investigate this murder and basically challenges the police to a contest of who can solve the mystery first. Investigation of the murder mainly focus on the people present at Amelia's hanging. Conveniently, they are all bound by The Official Secrets Act- which prevents the 7 people from divulging anything that happened at the execution. 
    In addition to the mystery of who killed Warbrick, there are many subplots- Sarah's relationship with one of the police investigating the murder, a fame hungry reporter, Sarah's missing father and other family secrets. This book is set in Victorian London. 
      I received this book from NetGalley. (Thank you!) It is published by Crooked Lane Books and  will be published in January of next year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

        I live in a 2 family house and our upstairs neighbor, a woman in her 60/70s will occasionally send me the books she finishes. This is how I've gotten most of my James Patterson books (and perhaps how she reads anything by anyone other than James This is part of the Michael Bennett series.I enjoyed this one a lot. I don't think I've read any of the previous Michael Bennett books, but I might go find some after reading this. The story lines were simple and there was a lot of humor in the dialogue. There was some violence, but compared to other books that I have read the violence was not super descriptive or gratuitous.

    I've mentioned before that I really like how short Patterson's chapters are because I can devote a few minutes to reading- or, like today, a bunch of hours while I'm hiding from the heat outside. Seriously, I hid inside all day. At lunch time I decided that I would treat the boys to Panera just to get out of the house. However, when I got back in my car after Panera:
Gross. I was not designed to live in hot, humid weather. So, we went back home and hid from the sun read a lot. 

      Next up is an advanced reader copy that is set in the Victorian Era. I'm happy to be catching up on my reading challenges:

Goodreads: 24/60
Mount TBR 14/36
Keyword Reading 7/12 

    Now I just need to catch up with cleaning and writing. :/

Monday, July 2, 2018

Something in the Water

      I had heard lots of good things about this book so I was excited to get an e-galley from NetGalley. This is the debut book from authot Catherine Steadman, who is also an actress from Downton Abby.  This book was just okay for me. I didn't dislike the whole book but I read a lot of thrillers and found this one to be slightly predictable. 
     The book is about a couple, Erin and Mark, who discover something life-changing on their honeymoon. From reading the cover, I assumed they would find that "something" in the water. I was a little frustrated that the book starts with the main character, Erin, burying a body. I just wanted to get to what they discovered I guess. Coming back to that burial later in the book, I see why she may have put it first, but I think that's what gave most of the book away for me. There were parts of the story I would've liked to go more in depth with. I found myself a little aggravated with the personalities of the couple a few times. 
      This book fulfills my Keyword Reading Challenge for July. (Water)

    Next up. another James Patterson hand me down from my neighbor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


        Ah, summer! I'm not going to lie, this was a really hard school year for me and I am desperately in need of a mental break. I've been off since last Thursday and still don't quite feel like myself. My children get out of school tomorrow, so I'm hoping to feel like a human again by then. ;) Despite the fact that MANY people seem to think that teachers do nothing over the summer, I have quite a few things to do to wrap up this year and prepare for the next year. I plan to gradually do both of those over the course of the summer- except clean my classroom. I really need to get into school to do that this week.

       Here are some good things going on:

1. Timmy made the All-Star team again. He's been working hard during 2 hour practices every day. He has scrimmaged 3 teams and their team has won all of them. The reason that this year is so important is that if they win, they can possibly compete in the Little League World Series in PA. That would be quite an accomplishment. He's worked hard for years to make this team.  In addition to this, it's his last year of little league. There is an award given out for good sportsmanship. His first year of baseball he told me that he really wanted that award. He has mentioned it every year since. I hope he's considered for it. Honestly, I know that winning that award would mean more to him than even getting chosen for the All-Star team.

2. David and I got to spend some time at school together. Normally, as a teacher, I lose out on the opportunities to chaperone field trips, volunteer in class and sometimes I even miss important school events since I'm teaching at the same time. On Friday we went to the Boston Tea Party museum. Maybe I will add a post about the museum another day this week. Monday I helped with a clean water presentation. My job was to show the kids a map of our watershed and help them to see where our water that is not processed ends up flowing. In other news, I was not designed to teach 4th grade. lol.

3.   I'm slowly catching up on life. I spent a little time this morning getting some chores done.  I still have lots of stuff to do, but I see progress and that feels great. I've sent a few Postcrossing cards. I am 2 pages into a letter. I have read a few books!I'm currently 6 books behind on my Goodreads challenge. I'm hoping to break even by August!  My last book was:

 This is the 3rd book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. Based on the Goodreads reviews, I wasn't sure that I would. This book follows Jacob Portman on his quest to free the peculiars who had been captured in the second book. I will say that, if it is possible, reading the third book shortly after the second book probably would've been helpful to me. It took me a little time to remember exactly what had happened in the last story. I was not as excited about some of the photographs in this book as I was in the past two, but I think that's just because they aren't as "new and different" as they seemed when the first book came out. I was excited to hear that Ransom Riggs will be coming out with a fourth book, Map of Days. I will definitely check it out. Does anybody know when Map of Days is coming out?

        Next on my to read schedule is: 

 I have heard lots of buzz about this book. Luckily, I scored an e-galley on NetGalley. Have any of you read it yet? 
         I also read a lot with the kids over the summer. David plans on reading some of the Massachusetts Children's Book Award Books. This is a list of the nominees. I'll be curious to see which ones David picks. I haven't heard anything about most of these books. Hopefully they are as enjoyable as last year's books. Timothy would like to read Les Miserables. Seriously. Our high school will be performing a "school appropriate version" of the musical in the fall. The directors sent someone to the middle school explaining that there were a few parts for younger kids. Tim immediately decided that he wanted to try out. As soon as he told me, I secretly geeked out because I love that musical and Tim could make a perfect Gavroche. He has never acted before so who knows if he will even get a part but... cool. Little did he know, Les Miserables is also my favorite book. Although Tim is an incredibly smart kid and an avid reader, I don't think he's ready for Les Miserables without a little bit of adult supervision. We're pretty strict about what kind of media our kids "consume" so there will be a lot of things in this book he hasn't really been exposed to before. I will not let him read it on his own but if he wants to read it together, I'm all in. It will be interesting. 

         What are you currently reading?