Welcome to Round 45 of this little series I started of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately! Here you’ll find everything from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. or movie watcher). If you want to check out past editions of the series, click here.
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- We just got back from being in Hawaii for a week, and before the trip, I picked up a lot of various things I was hoping would help with the two very long travel days we would have (9 hours of flying plus 1-2 hours of driving on the trip out there and the trip back). The biggest lifesaver ended up being this 3-pack of LCD writing tablets (one for each kid), which were not only super affordable but a big hit with all three of our children, including the two-year-old. We’re now keeping these in our car to help with the “Are we there yet?” scaries.
- I mentioned this in another roundup post a couple months ago, but my son ended up also getting one of these kids cameras (except his was blue). This ended up being another lifesaver on the trip because not only did it make the kids excited to look for things to take pictures of (including on the airplane), but the cameras actually also came with three games built into them, which the two older kids played for hours on the plane. Definitely something I’m super glad we had with us, for many reasons!
- A couple other notable activities that were big hits with my 7-year-old anyway were these Melissa and Doug sticker pad sets (although I wish they would have been much smaller — they were a bit unwieldy to use on a plane, which is why the 4-year-old didn’t use his much) and this simple How To Draw book, which my budding artist absolutely loved.
- We get the majority of our kids’ clothing and such secondhand from our siblings who have had kids before us, but one thing we seem to always need to buy every year is sandals for each child. This year, the sandals I bought for the boys were these ones from Old Navy, and I’ve been so impressed! They are easy for my 4-year-old to get on by himself (even my 2-year-old is getting close to figuring his out), and they have held up extremely well over the course of the summer thus far. Definitely worth the purchase!
Current and Recent Reads
I was so impressed by Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute that I immediately put this title on last year’s summer reading list the second I heard about it. (Ironically, I’m only just now getting around this summer to many of the titles I’d put on last year’s list, partly just because that’s how long it took me to get my hands on a free copy!) I really, really wanted to like this as much as Tweet Cute, but it just wasn’t there. The main story is that the protagonist finds out right before the summer that she has a biological sister she never knew about, and they plan to meet up at summer camp. That storyline held plenty of meat in it, but then the author tried to throw a love story into it that just kept feeling a bit like an afterthought, which muddled the story. I also found the main character to be pretty obnoxious throughout. I gave this one just two and a half stars, which is pretty low considering it was a book I was so excited about. Not a must read for sure.
This was the first book I read off of this year’s summer reading list, and it did not disappoint! Basically, a mysterious reading list keeps showing up in random places and ends up drawing a community and a struggling library together through the power of great literature. This is the exact kind of book that will remind you about why you love reading in the first place — it will make you think of the transformative books you read growing up, and it will remind you of your first taste of the classics and what that felt like. Although this ended up going sadder near the end than I was expecting, the story was still a beautiful and engaging story that made me happy I’d picked it up in the end. Four stars.
Can you believe I’ve never read this series before? I let my husband pick our last read aloud, and he’s been wanting me to read these forever, so he chose this. While the second book is starting to get into themes that are out of my 7-year-old’s realm (like having crushes and going out with boys for the first time), the series thus far has been a fun one, and my daughter positively begs me to read “just a little bit more” every night. This first book especially was about just right for her, although there were some kinda intense moments and scary things at the end. Basically, a girl and her brother are sent to their grandparents’ house for the summer, which they’ve never been to. While there, they discover it’s actually a special preserve for magical creatures, and quite quickly thanks to her mischievous brother, they find themselves in over their heads. This is a good one to read aloud, though in general I’d say to probably wait until your kid is around 9 or 10 or so to start the series, just so that they’re closer in age to the protagonist (who is either 13 or 14 in the second book). Four stars, but that’s a bit rounded up, just because my daughter has been enjoying it so much.
I’m a huge fan of Dana K. White, and her books have had an enormous influence on me, especially because I totally get how her “slob brain” works since mine works the same way. Housework and tidiness may never be my strong suit, but thanks to the strategies I’ve gotten from her books, I’m much better than I used to be. This latest release of hers is basically a rehash of much of the content in her other two, just condensed into a different format (that of just sharing 100 general tips to keeping your house tidy rather than teaching you a full paradigm throughout the whole book). While I did like that this one included pictures, overall I would say that her other two books (How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind and Decluttering at the Speed of Life) are much more “must read” and this one can be filed under “refresher course.”
Apparently summers are becoming synonymous with reading Emily Henry, since I’m now 3 for 3 on finishing a book of hers for the past three summers. Romance will never be my favorite genre, but I do like how the books tend to be quick-paced, easy to get into, and not too heavy. This definitely hit all those notes, and nobody does witty banter as well as Emily Henry. I also like how two out of the three books I’ve read of hers (this and Beach Read) both had reading and writing and the publishing world featuring heavily, which is just fun for bibliophiles. However, I did have to knock off a half star because of the liberal use of profanity (which was so absolutely unnecessary and which actually made the dialogue pretty disjointed for me multiple times), and be warned that there are multiple open door scenes in this one. Three and a half stars altogether.
What kinds of things have you been up to this summer? Any traveling? If so, what have been your favorite traveling essentials?