My Reading Week #IMWAYR- November 4, 2019/ October Update

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!
Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Recent Posts:
My Seattle Vacation
My Bookish Seattle Vacation
17th Ever Library Hop: Seattle Carnegie Libraries Edition

October has been crazy busy. Once I got back from my cruise, it was non-stop work and volunteering. So much so, I needed to take another mini-getaway to not go crazy. Unfortunately, it’s the same old thing once I got back. I really need to find better balance in my life especially when I want to do so many things before the year ends.

I’m at 262.5 hours of volunteering for the year so far. A fun event I helped out with was PlayDate put on by Mutlnomah County Library‘s Every Child in partnership with East County Health Dept/Gresham WIC. We basically set up an indoor playground and gave out books.

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I’m still at 1777 boxes for the Soul Box Project so that’s something I want to work on to reach my goal of 2000 boxes.

For the past eight Halloweens, I had been helping “The Book Lady” give out books to trick or treaters in her neighborhood. It’s my favorite time of the year. She’s been doing this for over two decades. I’ve loved hearing kids run up and say, “This is the book house.” And it’s great when kids return year after year to add another book to their library. It’s these kinds of wonderful people who do nice things for other out of the goodness of their hearts that brings me joy.

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I’m up to 526 books read for 2019.

Reading Challenges Update:
-Nonfiction Picture Books- 109 out of 104
-Middle Grade & Early Chapter- 50 out of 104 (I may have overshot my expectations with this one. Plus I had other reading challenges that kind of took away from it.)

And, now for some book reviews…

Kiki and Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of FriendshipKiki and Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship by Marie Kondō

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was super cute and a great way to introduce kids to the fun of tidying up.

Giovanni’s RoomGiovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this and I’m glad I finally did because it’s become one of my favorite favorites. The writing is superb immediately drawing you into the story. And even though you know how it’s going to turn out, James Baldwin has created something so alive that you think it might somehow change.

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic MemoirI Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wish I liked this graphic novel memoir more because it’s about growing up mixed race in America but it didn’t really grip me.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

My favorite podcast to listen to is Grace Lin and Alvina Ling’s Book Friends Forever.

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On their most recent episode- Episode #35-, they answered my question about what they thought of Amazon.com. I really appreciated their thoughts. I should really do a post about why even though I think we should avoid the monopolizing, nonpaying of taxes, and undervaluing local businesses corporation, I find it almost unavoidable- I copy/paste my reviews from Goodreads, after all- because of its convenience. Until then, listen to that episode and feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Seattle Vacation

I recently went back to Seattle for a quick getaway.

It had been a busy couple of weeks at work and I needed a bit of a rest. But I’ve never been good in going away and not doing anything. In fact, my first day in Seattle, I went on one of my library hops.

Aside from all the bookish parts of my Seattle vacation, I also took the time to explore more of the city I hadn’t before. I enjoyed walking around the University of Washington campus. (OK, fine. I got lost looking for its library so I ended up walking a lot.)

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I also finally saw the infamous Fremont Troll!

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I stayed at the Hostelling International Seattle at the American Hotel in the Chinatown-International District again. I was glad to be on the bottom bunk this time around because I’m getting too old to be climbing up ladders just to lay down.

There was a Filipino bakery- Hood Famous Cafe + Bar– just around the corner where I definitely got my ube fix on.

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I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was such a strong Filipino cultural legacy in Seattle. I’d been meaning to check out Dr. Jose P. Rizal Park which was close to the hostel so I finally went. It was quite an ordeal to get there since I got lost. What was supposed to be half an hour walk turned out to be twice as long! And, a bird pooped on me.

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The bridge adjacent was also named after the national hero of the Philippines. It provided a spectacular view of the city!

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Afterwards, I took the bus to Tukwila where there was a Filipino restaurant I wanted to try. Jollibee is the McDonald’s of the Philippines with locations popping up all over the world.

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After a quick lunch and a visit to a couple of bookstores and a library at the mall, I went to explore Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood where they had rainbow crosswalks!

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Of course, I was drawn to Volunteer Park with its name. (Apparently, it was called that for the people who volunteered to fight during the 1898 Spanish-American War.) For someone who doesn’t really like nature, I love enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. And there was definitely lots to appreciate here.

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I enjoyed climbing up the Volunteer Park water tower. Naturally, with my vertigo, it was difficult coming down.

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I met up with a friend for dinner at a Filipino walk-up/takeout window- Jeepney.

Then, we headed to the Capitol Hill Branch. Late Night Tales at the Library was basically an after-hours spooky story time for grown-ups part of Booktoberfest and LitCrawl. It was a fun and festive way to end my second day in Seattle.

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My last day had me taking a ferry to Bainbridge Island. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the ferry was. And the views of Seattle were amazing.

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I walked a bit of the Waterfront Park Trail before it started to rain. Luckily, I brought an umbrella!

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Some art on Bainbridge Island, on the trail and heading back to Seattle…

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When I travel, I also love visiting places that inspire and encourage kindness and change. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center is that in Seattle. Their current exhibit- We the Future: Young Leaders of Social Change– was inspiring. There were lots of interactive elements to engage visitors.

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By the Space Needle, there was a Peace Garden.

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In Denny Park, Seattle’s oldest park, was a labyrinth, which, of course, I walked.

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Some other sights…

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I met up with my friend one last time for dinner before I headed back to Portland. Writing this recap post, I can’t believe how much I managed to cram in in such a short time!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- October 28, 2019

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!
Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Recent Posts:
#NFPB2019- October 16, 2019
17th Ever Library Hop: Seattle Carnegie Libraries Edition– I recently went back to Seattle for a quick getaway. I’ll write more about it soon but this is just a quick recap of some of the libraries I visited.

My favorite podcast to listen to is Grace Lin and Alvina Ling’s Book Friends Forever.

BFF_logo1

On their most recent episode- Episode #35-, they answered my question about what they thought of Amazon.com. I really appreciated their thoughts. I should really do a post about why even though I think we should avoid the monopolizing, nonpaying of taxes, and undervaluing local businesses corporation, I find it almost unavoidable- I copy/paste my reviews from Goodreads, after all- because of its convenience. Until then, listen to that episode and feel free to share your thoughts with me.

The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital CityThe Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City by Tara Lazar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful with a capital D. Readers who love punny humor will LOL through this mystery of the missing capital letters.

Sunny Day: A Celebration of Sesame StreetSunny Day: A Celebration of Sesame Street by Joe Raposo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The classic theme song from the beloved children’s television program is brought to life by many of today’s most talented illustrators in time for the show’s fifty-year anniversary.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (The Questioneers Book 4)Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meet Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist’s classmate Sofia Valdez as she takes on city hall to set up a park on the landfill site that injured her Abuelo.

Small in the CitySmall in the City by Sydney Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been getting a lot of positive reviews and I finally read it. This would be a good example of a picture book to not read the summary before experiencing the story. It’s amazing what Sydney Smith was able to accomplish with this.

Come Next SeasonCome Next Season by Kim Norman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a year in the lives of two kids as they savor each season and anticipate all the possibilities of what comes next. Beautiful illustrations pair well with the lyrical text.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

#NFPB2019- October 16, 2019

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Hedy Lamarr's Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant InventorHedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An utterly fascinating nonfiction picture book about an actress who also invented a safety protocol that we still use today with our current technology.

What Miss Mitchell SawWhat Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley  Barrett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This gorgeous picture book tells the story of someone I didn’t know before but am glad I do now. Readers will be inspired to look up at the stars after learning about Maria Mitchell and her accomplishments.

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to VoteBold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote by Kirsten Gillibrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another compilation of amazing women with a focus on those who fought for women’s right to vote. Maria Kalman’s art makes this book even more special.

Nine Months: Before a Baby Is BornNine Months: Before a Baby Is Born by Miranda  Paul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great book to have to learn about the miracle of life. Jason Chin’s illustrations perfectly complements Miranda Paul’s text- both the storyline of a family expecting a new member and the nonfiction element.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- October 14, 2019

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!
Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Recent Posts:
#NFPB2019- October 9, 2019
September Update

I spent a good portion of the past week blogging up a storm so I can share My Cruise Vacation stories. I hope you can get a sense of how amazing it was when you read the posts!
My Cruise Vacation, Part 1: Boston and On Board
My Cruise Vacation, Part 2: Canada and At Sea
My Cruise Vacation, Part 3: Bar Harbor and Portland
My Cruise Vacation, Part 4: Serenade of the Seas and Back to Boston
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 1: Boston, Ship, and Saint John
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 2: Lunenburg, Bar Harbor, and Portland
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 3: Boston Again

Pedro and T MonkeyPedro and T Monkey by Robert D. San Souci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This trickster tale from the Philippines will entertain readers as they try and figure out how a corn-stealing monkey helps a poor farmer become rich and marry the girl of his dreams.

It reminded me that I should reread the Puss in Boots story since I can’t seem to remember what happened there so I can compare these two versions of the same story plot.

When Aidan Became A BrotherWhen Aidan Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet story about being an older sibling featuring a trans boy as the main character.

The Shortest DayThe Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers who seek out hard-to-find winter solstice books will want to grab a copy of this one. Susan Cooper’s poem is gorgeously illustrated by Carson Ellis.

This Is BabyThis Is Baby by Jimmy Fallon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jimmy Fallon’s books are cute enough and lots of people seem to enjoy them. I am just waiting on the day when they’ll put Miguel Ordóñez’s (the illustrator) name on the cover as well on this picture book. Maybe in the eventual board book version?

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Cruise Vacation, Part 4: Serenade of the Seas and Back to Boston

Previous Posts:
My Cruise Vacation, Part 1: Boston and On Board
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 1: Boston, Ship, and Saint John
My Cruise Vacation, Part 2: Canada and At Sea
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 2: Lunenburg, Bar Harbor, and Portland
My Cruise Vacation, Part 3: Bar Harbor and Portland
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 3: Boston Again

The end of the cruise brought us back to Boston. I was on my own since my BFF had a plane to catch. I didn’t really know what I was going to do since most places didn’t open until later in the day and I couldn’t walk as quickly and as much as I wanted to since I had my luggage with me.

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I fell in love with the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I loved all the art and the green space.

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I was debating whether or not to walk the Freedom Trail but I decided to take public transportation to Boston’s neighboring town, Brookline, instead.

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Click on the image to read my bookish recap of Boston and Brookline.

Before I knew it, it was time to go back home.

* * *

Life at sea- especially on a cruise ship- is a very odd experience. It was basically like staying at a floating Las Vegas hotel and casino. There was the central lobby where most of the performances took place and people on the higher floors could look down and watch. There was a casino and a pricey shopping area. There were a couple theaters, a few restaurants, the main dining room, a cafe, a snack bar, and a buffet. There were a couple pools, a spa, a club, a fitness center, arcade, kids area, rock climbing, and mini golf.

I enjoyed finding a spot on the ship and hanging out with my BFF just talking or playing Qwixx.

It was weird to have practically unlimited access to all the food you can eat at any time you want at no additional cost but drinks like soda and alcohol weren’t free. My favorite dish was dessert- their creme brulee.

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Eating at the main dining room was a whole sort of fancy experience. The first night had a crazy long line to get in. Luckily it wasn’t that way every night. The last evening was fun because we all did the chicken dance.

I enjoyed walking on the top deck for my daily exercise. We had mostly smooth sailing the whole time. We were also lucky weather-wise.

I watched a few shows but my favorite was the Almost Elton John performance.

I participated in a few trivia/game show type events. There was even a “puzzle mystery” that was like an escape room and no one- ABSOLUTELY NO ONE- solved it. But it was fun since it was a team of some of the Celebrity Volunteers and we worked together as a team solving the different puzzles.

I also decided to do something I normally wouldn’t have done: line dancing! It was 70’s Disco Night and it was nice to let loose a little. I can laugh at how horrible I was at it!

There were some events we had to attend as part of the Cabot Cheese crew. (I actually wished there were more and volunteering together would have been amazing.) The first event was team-building. With the time zone changes, my phone was acting wacky and my alarm didn’t go off so I was a few minutes late. We did a fun scavenger hunt throughout the ship.

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Another event was the group photo. We also took individual ones but I didn’t like how mine turned out so those will remain unseen.

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We also sat through a presentation about Cabot Cheese, its farmers co-op , and why they do the things they do. I am so impressed by them. I’ll ask everyone reading this to seek out their products to enjoy some tasty cheese. Check out their Reward Volunteers program as well!

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I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t shy or anything. (We also wore sashes during our time on the ship and other guests on the ship would ask what it was for. It was nice to be able to talk about Cabot Cheese and the opportunity they gave me.)

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But once I got to spend more time with the other volunteers, it was a bit easier to talk to them. Of course, by then, it was almost time to leave. So I was proud of myself for suggesting a gathering on our last night on the ship to say goodbye and such.

Thank you for reading this- and all the related posts. It’s been great looking back at the pictures and reminiscing about this special time.

Thank you again to Cabot Cheese for this once-in-a-lifetime moment. I will always remember my cruise vacation with a smile and a sense of gratitude.

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My Cruise Vacation, Part 3: Bar Harbor and Portland

Previous Posts:
My Cruise Vacation, Part 1: Boston and On Board
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 1: Boston, Ship, and Saint John
My Cruise Vacation, Part 2: Canada and At Sea
My Bookish Cruise Vacation, Part 2: Lunenburg, Bar Harbor, and Portland

It was great to visit Canada. But before we knew it, it was time to head back to the States!

Our first stop was Bar Harbor, Maine.

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This was the day I forgot my phone on the ship so I’ll update this when my BFF send me more of the pics she was kind enough to take.

After that, we sailed on to Portland, Maine. I was quite tickled that I went from one Portland to another.

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Click on the image to read my bookish recap of the Portland Public Library.

I was able to visit so many bookstores and even managed to go to a park where there was a Farmer’s Market going on.

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It seemed I managed to see a lot the first half of the day in Portland but we were also scheduled for a lighthouse tour in the afternoon.

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Tour Stop #1: Portland Head Lighthouse

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Museum & Gift Shop and Battery Blair

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Battery Keyes

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Tour Stop #2: Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse- I did something silly.  Despite knowing it wasn’t encouraged (yet it wasn’t not discouraged), I walked the unsteady rocky breakwater leading to the lighthouse. With my vertigo, I knew I shouldn’t have done it but I figured I could do it. It turns out I couldn’t. I started getting dizzy a quarter of the way out but I managed to go halfway before turning back, scuttling like a crab all the way back to the safety of land.

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Tour Stop #3: South Portland Breakwater Light a.k.a. Bug Light

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Portland, Maine was our final port before heading back to Boston. I’ll share some of the things I did on the cruise ship on the next post!