Ladybug Girl Giveaway

We are a family of readers. One of my favorite things to do is curl up in bed at the end of the day with G-tot and read him a few stories before bedtime. We hit the library on a weekly basis and bring home no less than 10 new books a week. By the end of the third or fourth day we’ve read them all.

I hope we are nurturing a life long love of reading in our son.

My love of the written word makes me giddy when I have the opportunity to review kid’s books. Even better is when I can give copies away to you fine folks!

Today I have that chance.

I recently received a copies of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad as well as Ladybug Girl at the Beach. Both are charming tales about Lulu, a little girl who loves to dress up in her ladybug costume and use her imagination to create adventure in her life.


In Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, Lulu learns that even though things don’t go as planned at her play date with friends, it’s okay to just go with the flow. Even if that means saying you are sorry when you try to make things go your own way.

In Ladybug Girl at the Beach, Lulu tackles the unknown with a brave face and discovers just how much fun the beach can be beyond sand castles.

Great for both girls and boys, the Ladybug Girl books will enchant you with lovely illustrations and tales that remind us to take chances, be awesome people, and never forget the importance of using your imagination.

Now it’s YOUR turn to read these tales.

Just leave me a comment on this post and you could be one of two lucky winners to get your very own copies of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad and Ladybug Girl at the Beach.

Giveaway will run until the end of the day on Monday, September 5th.

Book values: Hardcover $16.99 each
Prizing & Samples courtesy of Penguin

*Disclosure: I was sent these books to review and offer a giveaway on my site. All opinions are mine.

They Should Bring Back the BookIt Program but for Adults

Trips to the library make me giddy. They always have. Walking on warm spring days to the library with my mom—library bag in tow. The smell of the old cards in the Dewey decimal system. Row upon row of book spines just waiting to be cracked open.

I don’t think we ever left with less than ten new books.

As I got older the walks with my mom would be supplemented by rides with friends on our bikes—library bag still in tow. Kids books replaced by teen novels and books by Stephan King and Edgar Allen Poe. When G-tot came along the library bag once again found itself stuffed full of kids books (along with DVDs and CDs).

Then, a couple of years ago, I realized that I wasn’t reading for ME nearly as much as I used to. Now don’t get me wrong, I was still reading a lot. But instead of novels just for pleasure it was primarily children’s books and books on design theory and technical manuals. Not exactly the kind of page-turning stuff this 30-something was dying to read.

So I set a goal. Read 10 books in 2008 just for me. It renewed my passion for reading. In 2009 I upped the goal to 15 books. And in 2010 I set my goal to read 20 books just for me. I hit that goal in the middle of December.

This is what I read last year.

  1. Restaurant at the End of the Universe—Douglas Adams
  2. Life, the Universe, and Everything—Douglas Adams
  3. Eat, Pray, Love—Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. A Rather Charming Invitation—C.A. Belmond
  5. Bright Lights, Big Ass—Jen Lancaster
  6. Moose (A Fat Camp Memoir)—Stephenie Klein
  7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—Seth Graham
  8. A Bad Day for Pretty—Sophie Littlefield
  9. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner—Stephenie Meyer
  10. The Hunger Games—Suzanne Collins
  11. Catching Fire—Suzanne Collins
  12. Mockingjay—Suzanne Collins
  13. The Alchemyst—Michael Scott
  14. The Magician—Michael Scott
  15. Gods Behaving Badly—Marie Phillips
  16. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish—Douglas Adams
  17. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter—Seth Graham
  18. The Sorceress—Michael Scott
  19. The Necromancer—Michael Scott
  20. Committed—Elizabeth Gilbert

Some were great, some were just okay, and a few were OH MY GOD GET ME THROUGH THIS NOW! My absolute favorites from last year were The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I hated Pride and Prejudice and Zombies but really enjoyed Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter—both written by Seth Graham. Committed was one of those books I could have done without but by the time I realized it was just, eh, I was (ironically) already committed to finishing it.

My goal for this year is 25 books. I’ve already read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire (both by Steig Larsson) and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I’m currently reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (also by Steig Larsson). I think I’m well on my way to hitting my 2011 goal.

How about you? Do you like to read just for pleasure? What are some of the best things you’ve read recently? And are you on Good Reads? If so, have we connected yet?

A Bad Day for Pretty Giveaway

Stella Hardesty is the kind of woman to know. Especially if you were another woman. I could tell that by page six. She likes to drink her Johnny Walker straight and might be considered a little rough around the edges at first glance. But having her cell number programmed into your phone is definitely a good idea.

Stella dealt in matters of crime and punishment, too. Only her methods weren’t exactly endorsed by the Police Union. Her brand of justice was doled out in secret, in back alleys and secluded shacks, in the dead of night, far away from any citizens who might be startled by the screams of the latest woman-abusing cretin who was having his attitude adjusted.

See what I mean?

Stella is the heroine in Sophie Littlefield’s latest crime novel A Bad Day for Pretty and she kicks ass. This funny and surprising adventure sort of sold me just by the book jacket.

The blues, the pink, the anonymous lady with with the baseball bad—there was this air of femininity mixed with grit that made me eager to find out who this Stella was and what her tale might tell.

It was a good one.

And now you have a chance to read it yourself. For free! Blue Dot Literary sent me two copies of A Bad Day for Pretty—one to read and one to give away. How cool is that?

Interested in getting your hands on a brand spankin’ new copy of your own?

Just leave me a comment on this post by midnight EST on Monday, September 20th.

Make sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. On Tuesday, September 21st I’ll pick a winner via random number generator. It could be you.

Man I love free books.

*Disclosure: I received two copies of this book from the publisher. One copy to read and review and one to giveaway.

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed and the winner is…Picture 5Comment #4!

Picture 11Congratulations Nicole! I hope you enjoy the book.

A Charming Tale

The word charming always reminds me of royalty. I can’t help but conjure up visions of grand ballrooms with huge staircases and beautifully inlaid floors. A prince in white with perfectly coiffed hair.

I blame Disney.

But that may change since I recently read a book by C.A. Belmond called A Rather Charming Invitation. It’s not about a prince. Or a grand ballroom.

It’s about an ancient stolen tapestry. And gambling. It’s the story of an adventurous duo named Penny and Jeremy. And maybe even a wedding if all these crazy capers would stop occurring.

After picking up the book I found out that it is the third in a series about this crazy couple. But by no means did I feel lost without having read the other two. The book—albeit kind of slow in the beginning—ended up being rather charming indeed. It was a fun story and oddly a feast for the senses. C.A. Belmond does an excellent job describing the landscapes, the interiors, and all these wonderful little details about various things. Quite a bit of traveling around Europe happens in the story and you can picture it all so well with every turn of the page. You almost feel like you are there.

It would be a great summer read when you’re hanging out in the backyard or by the pool instead of traveling around Europe.

Or even if you are traveling.


And guess what? You don’t even have to go to the library or the book store to pick up a copy because I’m GIVING ONE AWAY!

Yep, I was sent two copies of the book and one of you awesome folks are going to get a brand spanking new copy.


That’s it. Leave a comment with a valid email address so I can get in touch with you if you’re the winner. It can be about anything. Books. Summer plans. Your idea of Prince (or Princess) Charming. Whatever you want.

Easy enough right?

So go do it. Comments close Friday June 4th. Winner will be determined by random number generator.

Good Luck and Read On!

*Disclosure: I received two copies of this book from the publisher through the Business to Blogger program (Check them out they are pretty cool.) One copy to read and review and one to giveaway.

Update 6.5.10: Thanks to all that entered! The winner is:

Picture 2

Comment #11— Vegas Princess! Congratulations!

Picture 3

Do you know your personal legend?

Last month I read a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s a pretty short paperback coming in at just under 200 pages with nice margins and ample thumbspace. Wow that sounded geeky. Anyway… A quick read for most, but what really surprised me was the impact the contents had on me. It was exactly the book I needed to read at that moment in my life. A simple, eye-opening story that leaves you wanting more for yourself. At least it did for me. It tells the story of a sheperd boy who is following his personal legend.

From Goodreads:

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.

Listening to our hearts. Paying attention to the omens. Following our dreams.

So right on. Sometimes so hard to do. Why? What is it going to take to motivate me enough to listen to my heart? To listen to my body. To be more than what I am at this moment. To be exactly what I want to be. To take that leap of faith and just do it.

I feel so close to it and yet…I’m just not there. Sometimes I feel like it is a money thing. Like, if I just had SOME, things would be easier. Or if I knew how to reach out, how to write for grants, how to find those interested in helping out. Sometimes I feel like it’s because of who I don’t know. Because of my ridiculous fear of introducing myself to strangers and making small talk. It’s bizarre. So much so that it almost kept me from attending a design-related function tonight. Which is ridiculous. But I’m trying to get over that and did indeed go to the event. Where of course I had a good time and met new people.

Most of all I feel like it is just me. It is me being lazy. It is me being responsible. It is me being afraid.

But I’m working on it.

Why my library card is my favorite piece of plastic

This morning I got to cross another item off of my 101 in 1001 list. This was one of those goals that couldn’t be done in an instant and actually took me 11 months to complete. It was also a goal that I couldn’t start until January of this year—read 15 books in 2009. Now, I always feel like I need a disclaimer after I tell somebody about that goal. One that specifically spells out the fact that I’m not a moron and I do read more than 15 books in a given year. I actually read quite a bit but it is usually academic books, books related to design theory and art, children’s books—tons of these, magazines, etc. I realized a couple of years ago that I wasn’t really reading anything just for pleasure. Well, maybe the kid’s books but that is a completely different. Nothing just for me. So I made it a goal when I wrote the list to read 10 books in 2008 and 15 books in 2009 just for pleasure. No ulterior motive than to just enjoy a book.

I hit the 2008 goal in August of last year and this morning I hit the 2009 goal. I’m considering exchanging an unfinished item on my list with a new goal—read 20 books in 2010. Either way, setting those two goals have me back on the path to enjoying all the great—and not so great—literature out there. Plus, there is just something special about reading an actual book. Not listening to one—which is also great—or reading one on an electronic device, but an actual book. The crisp pages, the black ink set in a specific font, the cover art, the smell of the pages that instantly declare whether the book is new or old. I love it.

So here is what I read this year to hit my goal. Some were better than others with #13 and #14 being the worst. In any other situation I would have given up on #14 but I got to a certain point and I was committed. I could not give up. But the payoff? Not worth it. Oh well. I do find it interesting that entirely by accident I started and ended with a books written by David Sedaris. I guess I like his writing, #15 was a quick 2 day read after two painstaking weeks of reading a poorly typeset 250+ page crap heap that might have been a good story had it been only 20 pages.

But anyway, the list.

  1. Me Talk Pretty One Day—David Sedaris, 1.09
  2. The Graveyard Book—Neil Gaiman, 2.09
  3. Watchmen—Moore/Gibbons, 2.09
  4. Tuesdays with Morrie—Mitch Albom, 3.09
  5. When You are Engulfed in Flames—David Sedaris, 5.09
  6. It Sucked and Then I Cried—Heather Armstrong, 6.09
  7. The Road—Cormac McCarthy, 6.09
  8. Ender’s Game—Orson Scott Card, 7.09
  9. World War Z—Max Brooks, 9.09
  10. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone—Stephanie Kuehnart, 9.09
  11. Slaughterhouse Five—Kurt Vonnegut, 9.09
  12. The Alchemist—Paulo Coelho, 10.09
  13. The House on Mango Street—Sandra Cisneros, 10.09
  14. The Picture of Dorian Gray—Oscar Wilde, 10.09
  15. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim—David Sedaris, 11.09

Next up is Mercury Falls written by fellow blogger Rob “Diesel” Kroese. I’ll let you know what I think.

Like your name in lights, only different

This morning was story time at the library for G-tot and I. We went through our weekly ritual of dropping of last week’s books in the return bin and then headed toward the back of the library to the children’s section. We barely made it twenty feet from the front desk when something caught my eye.

It was sitting on the bottom shelf of a movable cart that showcases new books. If I didn’t feel like such a turd I would have pulled out my phone and taken of a picture of it. That’s how excited I was. “G-tot, G-tot look!” I exclaimed. “This is the book that Mommy worked on! See! There’s Mommy right there!”

G-tot could have cared less but I was so geeked to see the book I worked on showcasing the visual history of the college where I work sitting on the shelf of the public library. The spreads I worked so hard on designing, my name (and several photographs of me & JQ—that somebody else put in) in print, PUBLISHED, and sitting on the ‘New Books’ shelf for the public to peruse.

It was a pretty exciting moment for me.

Of course, I already have a copy of my own so I took a few shots with iPhoto so you could see the book. And…a few months ago the book won a Crystal Award for “excellence in communications in NW Ohio and SE Michigan”. It’s nice to be a part of something award winning that actually has your name on it. So much of design requires the designer to be invisible.

Ignore the scary looking woman in on the left and just look at the cover.

A portion of one of my spreads.

My name in print—the only woman that worked on the book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

This was a fantastic book. I had read just one other book by Gaiman prior to picking up The Graveyard Book. The book was American Gods and that was almost 6 years ago. I recommended it to everybody I knew and I am doing the exact same thing with The Graveyard Book.

After reading a synopsis of the book in late September—just prior to the books release—I marked it as a ‘to-read’ in my Good Reads book list. During one of our weekly trips to the library a couple of weeks ago, I picked The Graveyard Book for JQ to read. I thought he might enjoy it and I was reading Dead Until Dark at the time. He flew through it. I had no choice but to put DUD down and read TGB as soon as he was finished. I wanted to be able to talk about the book with him while it was still fresh for both of us. Right after I started the book I found out it was the named the 2009 Newbery Medal winner. Well deserved if you ask me.

Simple and brilliant. Written for teens but great for adults. JQ and I read it back-to-back in a handful of days. It’s riveting and a must read for anyone with a lively imagination. Now if we could just get to the theater to see Coraline.

I’m not wearing any pants

A couple of weeks ago, Lindsay over at Rock and Roll Mama was giving away a copy of Stephanie Kuehnert’s I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Readers had to leave a comment on this post stating the name of your all time favorite band. On Friday, August 15th she would use the random number generator to pick a winner. That’s it. Easy-peasy. I left my comment—The Beatles (with Pink Floyd coming in a close second) and mentioned that I should win since the drawing would be held on my birthday.

Well, apparently the little gnomes that run the random number generator felt the same way because my number was picked! This morning when I checked the mail there was a package from the USPS leaning up against the house. My book had arrived!

As soon as I had the package in my hand I knew I had to blog about winning. And aren’t all posts better when accompanied by a photo? Why, yes they are, so here is a shot of G-tot, me, and my prize taken with Photo Booth moments after checking the mail. It may not be the most flattering shot of me but I don’t care. This is reality at its finest people.

I hadn’t showered yet, my hair is all funky, I’ve got a stupid look on my face, and I’m wearing the oldest shirt I own (that I still wear). It just happens to be the perfect shirt for this post.

It’s my Pink Floyd concert shirt from their 1994 tour. It’s full of tiny holes and is so ragged looking that I only wear it to bed—but it is one of the most comfortable shirts I own. Plus, it has sentimental value. Over the years I’ve owned dozens of shirts from concerts I’ve attended. And over the years those shirts have disappeared. Gone is my Motley Crue shirt from the Dr. Feelgood tour. Gone are my Anthrax shirt from the Headbanger’s Ball tour. Gone are the Bulletboys, Metallica, Poison, Skid Row, Pantera, Tesla, and Faster Pussycat t-shirts—along with so many others.

I have just three concert shirts left—a Ted Nugent shirt from my very first concert (I was just nine years old with my Dad at Cobo Hall in Detroit), a Tom Petty shirt from a concert JQ & I went to in 2002, and my beloved Pink Floyd shirt. Which I wear all the time. I fear the day when I pull it out of the dryer and it’s in shreds.

So, up there in that picture I’m wearing my Floyd shirt 14 years after I bought it. Oh…and I’m not wearing any pants.

I don’t hang on to the shirt merely because of it’s comfort factor. I hang on to it because of the memories entwined in its fibers. Memories that are full of music. Music has this amazing ability to touch our lives in so many ways. So many important moments in my life have a soundtrack connected to them. It sounds like that’s also true for Emily in I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. According to Lindsay, “Stephanie Kuehnert delivers a raw, pitch perfect story of a daughter longing to connect to her mother through music.” I can’t wait to start reading. Thanks, Lindsay!

Happy Birthday to me!

I’ve always thought I’d make a good editor

A couple of weeks ago a blogger buddy of mine sent me a copy of the first chapter of a book she is writing. How cool is that? I haven’t had any time to actually read it yet but I’m looking forward to it. She sent it to a handful of people and is looking for honest feedback. I think it’s awesome that she values my opinion enough to include me in such a vulnerable process. Three years ago my inbox would not have contained such a personal project from a virtual stranger. I heart blogging.