A Review of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Oh, how I want to work at the Bright Ideas Bookstore! I saw this book recommended by one of the bookish bloggers I follow on Instagram, @topshelftext, and I loved the cover. Also, I just loved the name of the book. Throw in the review I read, and this book was a must read for me. Luckily, my library had it, and I was number one in line, so I was able to get it pretty quickly. Whew! I loathe waiting on a book I am anxious to read. (Plus, I am *trying* (wink, wink) not to buy books for a little while, but it is so hard.)

Anyhoo…back to this book…

The protagonist in this story, Lydia, a bookseller at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, has a mysterious past. When Joey, one of the intriguing Bookfrogs who frequents the bookstore, dies, it is up to Lydia to piece together what has happened and why.

I don’t want to give much more of a plot summary, because you just have to read it. The less you know going in, the better.

I loved this book. It is a twisty mystery, and it is plot driven; however, unlike a lot of suspense books I read, this book has well-developed characters, a colorful setting, and a lot more literary merit than I usually find in this genre. This is not to say it is not a page-turner, because it is. This book combines everything I love in a book–characters who have depth and are worth rooting for, an interesting backdrop for the story, and an immersive plot that kept me guessing. The only thing I can say that is at all negative, is that I was left wanting to know more about the Bookfrogs, the group of social misfits who find solace and camaraderie in the bookstore. (Don’t worry-you will learn a little more about the Bookfrogs in the first few chapters of the book.)

Bottom Line: Read it! I give it a 5/5.

Great Middle Grade Books That Have Mass Appeal

I taught in a middle school for 7 years. Middle Schoolers are tricky, because they are ready for heavier content than they were reading in elementary school, but not mature enough to handle the content of some Young Adult fare. YA can be challenging to navigate in the middle grades because some kids are fine with any book thrown at them, while others may need choices vetted for uncomfortable material.

The six books mentioned above have mass appeal and really resonate with middle school kids.  All of these books have protagonists worthy of rooting for and real life situations that kids can relate to in different ways. In addition, these books have some “meat” to them and provide a great opportunity for in-depth discussion.

Questions on these books? Let me know in the comments! Have you read or taught these books? Leave a comment!

Can we all be a Superhero?

Since my son’s obsession with Batman began when he was three years old (seriously, he wore a Batman costume everywhere–to the grocery store, to church, to a restaurant), I often wondered what is the definition of a superhero. What makes Batman or Wonder Woman or Spiderman a superhero? In the case of Batman, (who I happen to be well-versed in, thanks to my son) he was an extremely intelligent, but otherwise ordinary man doing extraordinary things. While I have always been Team Wonder Woman, and love her, she still has some supernatural type abilities, so she doesn’t qualify as an “ordinary” woman doing extraordinary things. I am sure you are thinking…where is she going with this. (I tend to get excited when I am at my computer with uninterrupted time to write, therefore, perhaps I get wordier than I should…oh well…)

Okay, so I am going to switch gears right now, but this will all come together in the end (Promise!). Last January, I was in a bad place. Unhappy with my health and overall wellness. I had not been exercising. I was in a bad place at work. I was just an overall mess. I was perusing the internet one night after the kiddos were in bed (I mean, who doesn’t?!) and I was looking for some motivation.  I was looking for brain and physical wellness. I was looking for a way to get out of a bad spot. Enter Emily Schromm’s 21 Day Superhero Challenge. Seriously, I just happened upon it. I was on Pinterest (I can waste hours of time on Pinterest…who’s with me? (Please tell me you do this too…please…)) and looking at exercise pins. Then I clicked on something, then clicked on something else, then I was at this website with this ripped girl on the landing page and an Unleashed Fitness logo in the corner.  I looked at the bottom of the page, and I saw something that said EmFit Superhero Challenge, so I clicked on it. My curiosity about all things superhero (thanks, son) got the best of me. I came to a page where I could sign up for a 21 day challenge described as “…a 3-week informational challenge to improve your health, fitness, & habits.” The entry cost was only $21, so I was like, what the heck, I have spent more in two trips to Starbucks, so I signed up. You can sign up here:

21 Day Challenge

When I clicked the button to begin this challenge, this was the beginning of something that totally changed my view on how I eat, exercise, and view wellness, as well as a complete paradigm shift in everything I thought about health.

What do you get when you sign up for a Superhero Challenge? You get incredibly useful information on how to begin your journey into health and wellness from someone who knows her stuff. You get custom exercise programs from an industry expert. You get access to a community of superheroes who support you, answer your questions, and are just in general, totally bad ass. Seriously, signing up for this challenge is one of the best things I ever did. I have learned so much and become so much more aware of my health and the health of my family. It is seriously AMAZING!

Now, we come full circle back to the discussion of all things (conventional) superhero. So, like I said, Batman is an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. What I have learned from the 21 Day Superhero Challenge from the lead superhero, Emily Schromm, is that we all have a superhero within us. We are ordinary humans, but we can do extraordinary things when we combine heart, discipline, and willingness to learn. So, Emily’s vision is that we can all harness the superhero within us and do amazing things. We do not have to rely on other superheroes–we can find one within our self! Her 21 Day Superhero Challenge gives us the tools to do that. So to answer the question posed in the title of this post–YES, we can! Won’t you sign up and join us on August 22nd? It is going to be spectacular!

Disclaimer: I am an Embassador for the Challenge. However, I participate in the challenge, and I believe that it can change your perspective on wellness. You will NOT be disappointed. 

Windmill fun for everyone, Post #1

My son is finishing his 2nd grade year, and it has been an amazing one for him. He has always loved science and been an inventor extraordinaire at home; however, this year his rock-star teacher has ignited a love of history in him. He has come home talking about Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, and more recently, Helen Keller. He is amazed by her story and cannot believe how much she accomplished (my word, not his. I am taking some liberties with paraphrasing.) in her life. He was particularly enthusiastic about an activity he did in class wherein he created a word in braille. This got me thinking about the summertime, when I have the great fortune to be home with the kids and activities we could do together. So, this activity is one that is not my idea, but one I became aware of when I taught eighth graders which I have adapted to meet the needs of my younger children.

Enter the remarkable story of William Kamkwamba, a then 14-year-old boy who was inspired to build a windmill in his Malawian village after seeing the devastation caused by excessive drought in his area.  I think my son will love this story. William reminds me of Helen Keller in the diversity he has overcome to be the success he is today.  So, the cool thing about this story is there are three different versions of this story to choose from based on the age level of the reader. There is the full version, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, there is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition, which is recommended for grades 4-7, and lastly, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Picture Book Edition for younger elementary students.

My plan for my kiddos this summer is to do an interactive activity with them centered around William. I think my son especially will love it, but I think as long as there is an art component my daughter will buy in.  I am on a quest to find enriching activities for them this summer that do not cost a fortune. I will leave you with this for now, but I will be back with a second post to let you know what I did and how I did it with some pictures to illustrate.

Disclaimer: This is not an original idea. I happened upon this story and ancillary materials during a teaching conference; however, the activity I did at the conference was not very exciting, so I am going to try something new.  More to come on this in the future!

Lindsay Brin and Moms Into Fitness

When I was pregnant with my first baby way back in 2008, I searched high and low for fitness videos that would help me stay fit during and after pregnancy. I bought a few exercise videos while pregnant that were okay, but nothing great. Then, after I had my precious, bundle of joy, I was search one of my fave sites-Amazon.com (Really, whose isn’t?), and found this video call Moms Into Fitness with Lindsay Brin Boot Camp. It was a post-natal fitness program, and it looked promising, so I bought it. Let me tell you, it was one of my favorite workouts I had ever done! As an instructor, Lindsay is SO down-to-earth, and as a mother, I found her incredibly authentic, because she is also a mother. If you check out her website at https://www.momsintofitness.com/ , you can find out more about her. What I love about her as a trainer is that she is so personable, an
d she shares her story (battles with infertility, getting her body back after baby, etc.) with her clients. I am in no way being compensated for this post. These are 100% my thoughts on Lindsay and her programs.  Click the image below to see all the ‘awesomeness’ available!

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I have done ALL of her post-natal programs, all of her super-fit programs, and most recently her 30 day core program.  I am continuously delighted at what she brings to the table and the variety in her workouts.  If you are looking for an challenging, body-changing workout program, I highly recommend her Pretty Fierce Lean-Out program. I have been working out pretty consistently for the last two years, and that program still whips my butt.  I have yet to find a workout harder than the Total Body Endurance workout from that program. Whew! Now, that workout is no joke. If you are interested in that program, you can click the image below. (Again, I am in no way compensated for this.  I am just trying to offer what I have learned to my readers!) I have to say the $59.95 price tag is a steal, compared to the price of other similar workout programs.

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