Book Review: Super Structures

Super Structures is all about some of the great structures in the world and their history.  Building structures can go all the way back to the pyramids.  In addition to talking a bit about the structures, there is also instructions on how to build your own using different pieces. In addition to pyramids you can also learn about and build pillars and posts, arches, domes, and my personal favorite, bridges.  It features some of my favorite bridges – Golden Gate in San Francisco and Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.  It then goes into towers and sky scrapers, big wheels, and finally wind turbines.  I kind of wish I had the actual model kit so I could try to build some of these structures instead of just the e-book where I can only read about them.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released October 16, 2018 from Quarto Publishing Group.

About the Book

Book Review: The Sea Book

The Sea Book helps you learn all about, what else? The sea! It shows what the bottom of the sea looks like and tells us why the sea is important and then goes into what lives in the sea. Of course there are plenty of fish in the sea – and it tells about some of the things that fish can do and some of the traits that fish in the sea have.  It also talks about other mammals and animals in the sea, and even the life cycle of a sea turtle.  The end of the book talks about some man made problems with the sea and how you can help. This book is pretty short, but is jam-packed with a TON of great information about the sea and some beautiful illustrations as well!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was published February 5th from DK Children.

About the Book

Featuring fascinating fishy facts accompanied by bright, bold, and beautiful illustrations, this book takes children on a journey through the sea and all its zones.

The Sea Book explores a wealth of incredible marine animals and their habitats, from up on the ice, down to colorful coral reefs, underwater forests, and right down to the deepest darkest depths where the weird and wonderful lurk.

Following on from The Bee Book, Charlotte Milner continues to highlight to children important ecological issues faced by our planet, this time with a focus on marine life and the damaging effects humans are having on our seas. Children will discover what they can do to help, and there are tips on how to live plastic-free. Children will even get to craft their own recycled shopping bag!

This charming celebration of the sea shows children just how extraordinary our oceans are, and is a reminder that it is up to us to keep it that way.

Book Review: Storytime: Not-So-Brave Penguin

Not-So-Brave penguin is about Percy and Posy.  Percy is brave and not scared of anything. Posy is scared of just about everything (kind of like me!) When Percy goes out to play and doesn’t come back, Posy gets worried.  Everyone assures her that he is fine and that she just worries too much (also kind of like me!) but she decides to be brave and jump into the sea and try and find Percy.  She finds Percy who is surprised that she made it to him – and Posy starts to get scared because of the dark. But Percy shows her that the sky was actually not scary, but BEAUTIFUL instead. Percy thanks Posy and tells her that she was brave!! She didn’t know she was brave!

At the end of the book is some discussion and comprehension topics based on the topics in the book and being brave and being scared. I thought this was a really cute story.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was published November 13, 2018 on Quarto Publishing.

About the Book

Posy the penguin is scared of many things – snowstorms, loud noises, the dark – but when her adventurous friend Percy is missing, Posy plucks up the courage to overcome her fears and goes on an excursion to find him. After an intrepid journey, Posy finds an injured Percy in a dark cave. She rescues him and brings him home, realising in the end just how brave she can really be. This heartwarming story about friendship, being brave and overcoming fears when it really matters is sure to become a bedtime favourite.

Book Review: The Little Book of Bad Moods

The Little Book of Bad Moods is a workbook that lets you work through your bad moods.  Some chapters include – “Blame Others”, “How to make any day a bad day” (I am excelling at this lately) and “Life Sucks Online”.  Blame Others includes activities like – “How do you spot an idiot…” in traffic, at work, online, etc.  Oh, can I have some fun with this 😉  Unlike the book I read the other day about having a gratitude journal – this book has an ingratitude journal where you list what bothered you each day of the week. (Sadly, I’d have a much easier time filling this out than the other way around.) But maybe once I go through and get all the negativity out of my system I’ll start feeling better? Or maybe I’m just destined to be in a bad mood forever… but at least I’ll have a record of who made me that way in this book.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was published February 12 from Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books.

About the Book

Book Review: Let’s Talk About Sext

When I saw the title “Let’s Talk About Sext” I figured it was going to be a book where the main characters predominately communicated via sexts.  Except, that could not have been further from the plot of this book. In fact, I think they sent about 4 texts (debatable if they were even sexts, really) to each other in the entirety of the book.  Anyway… once I got over that – I had to get over the names of the characters.  I feel like everyone has to give their characters these unique names with unique spellings and half the time it makes it a lot harder for me to really connect with the characters because I can’t pick someone else with that name to think about as that character.  While the male was Brody, which was normal enough, the female was Phebe.  I assumed it was an alternate spelling of Phoebe. I kept reading it as plebe and I wasn’t even sure what that word meant but I knew it wasn’t a name.

The book alternates from her POV to his – she is a big successful rich business woman, he dropped everything to take over his uncle’s bar and is barely making ends meet.  The two seem to have chemistry from the moment they meet and end up entering into some weird FWB set up that was just stupid from the get go.  But I guess without it the book would be pretty short.  The romance parts were great, the rest kind of fell flat.  Not the worst I’ve read but not the best either.  And would it kill them to actually add the images of the emojis into the book instead of just the text descriptions of them? lol

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book is being released February 19, 2019 from Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept.

About the Book

Back To The Island 2019

Back to the Island 2019 was off to a stressful start.  We were supposed to get some rain turning to snow Tuesday into Wednesday, and my flight was at 5:45am Wednesday morning.  Southwest issued a waiver so I could change it for free but the forecast couldn’t be pinned down and the airport was supposed to be getting anywhere from a coating to 6 inches.  I became obsessed with using FlightAware to track what planes were going to become my flights and ultimately decided to get a cheap hotel room up the street from the airport the night before. (Which ended up being the same one we stayed at when we stayed up at the casino way too late to try andmeet Joey Fatone… the hotel of bad decisions.)  Turns out it was a good decision because despite having to clear off my car while in snow up to my ankles, the highway I need to take to get to the airport was a mess and was shut down due to an accident and I probably would have gotten stuck.  My flight from Hartford to Baltimore went off without a hitch and Baltimore seemed to have no snow at all, or it had stopped early enough that they were able to clear it all out before I arrived.  On our shuttle bus to Jamaica, the sky seemed to be getting darker and as we approached our resort it was raining.  We made it to the resort, checked into our room, and got a golf cart ride to the door.  As we were settling in, it just started to downpour so we decided rather than try to go get food somewhere we would order room service.  We were quoted 45 minutes until it came.  2 hours later… our feast arrived.

At 10pm it was time for the first show of the trip – themed “Rock All Night”.  The setlist was basically the same as 2017s Middle of Everywhere tour with a few Members Only songs thrown in and a few made up on the spot songs for good measure – neither of which I recorded or really remember anymore but with all the phones that were in the air at the time I am sure there are videos somewhere.  Looking at the setlists there aren’t any real standouts but I did like that they played You Never Know. We also got 2 songs we knew would be repeats – This Time Around and Where’s the Love since the next night’s theme was “Surprise Me” which ended up as String Theory aka the setlist that has NO surprises because it is the same every show. *shrug*

Day 2 we got up and went to the beach for a bit, grabbed some lunch at the super slow Level only grill, then got ready for the String Theory Q&A.  The guys admitted that when they were planning the event we didn’t know much about String Theory and they thought that the Q&A would be a good idea but that now that they toured the US with it we knew what it was.  A mic was set up in the middle aisle and allowed for fans to stand up and ask their questions and I was actually really impressed with the questions asked – relevant to the topic of String Theory and some pretty decent stumpers for the guys. Not the usual ones that I can answer or don’t care to even know an answer to.

That evening the shows kicked off with Zac’s solo set.  It was a great set and may be tied with Taylor’s for my favorite – he did The Ballad of Seymour Better Times which he had debuted last year at the event and mentioned that it would be on the Members Only EP.  He also finished his set with a new song called Reading Your Mind that he said was beach boys inspired that would also be on the new EP.  (So I guess we know we are getting at least 2 Zac leads in May!)

The concert that night as I had already mentioned was String Theory – except rather than playing with an orchestra they played with the instrumental CD as a backing track.  It was kind of cool to hear some of those arrangements without the orchestra really being there – but this set choice kind of left me confused.  Also the behavior of some fans in the ADA section that didn’t belong there before the show left me kind of bitter before the show even started and I had even considered leaving the area half way through the set but decided that I shouldn’t have my show ruined because of them.


After the show Zac set up in the main street to play some Super Smash Bros with fans who lined up to play.  We watched for a little bit and then headed back to the room to sleep.

The next day started off with group photos – a little switch to the schedule we are used to due to the excursion the next day.  We lined up pretty early because I wanted to try and stay out of the sun after getting burned the first day.  I also was worried about the waterfall excursion and was having FOMO if I didn’t go, but was worried I may injure myself if I did.  When I approached them for the photo I was like “Soooo… this waterfall… are you guys going to be there?” and Taylor said there was something but he didn’t want it to get out. [The event has passed now so I think I can tell the rest] I said “I promise I won’t tell anyone but I just want to make an informed decision.”  We were told to pose for the photo and then Taylor said, “It is up to you, but I’ll be waiting for you at the end. But I will be here like 3 hours later!” and Isaac chimed in and said “it is a lot of walking”   Well, yeah, but that’s not so much the problem as CLIMBING A WATERFALL is lol  When Maribeth got up to Zac and I hadn’t quite left yet, Zac turned to her and said something about how we were “telling secrets”  Taylor told me to “pinky promise” and I left even more conflicted than when I had walked up to him. (But my main concern was them ALL being there and me missing a song)

Then it was time for Isaac’s solo show – I feel like Isaac finds something that worked in the past – and just sticks with it.  Usually his solo sets are my favorite but this year he didn’t hit the spot for me.  He didn’t do any new songs – he did A Life Without You AGAIN… (it was fun the first time…) and he continues to throw Smile into his set but we only liked that the first time because he thought he was singing something completely different… and allowed for some requests as well but shot down anything that was too old/rare because he didn’t know the lyrics.  He also started with his David Garza cover again because he said it didn’t work that well last year so he was going to keep doing it until it worked out.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the set, but I guess I am just looking for more variety in setlists from him over the years. (Or I’m spoiled.)

That evening were the guest show.  We went to dinner at the steak restaurant and I was wanting to check out the guests performances.  Jacob Tovar was on first and a bit too country for my liking.  I did get a kick about him singing about Tulsa and me knowing what streets and stuff he was singing about.  Lewis Watson was up next and I watched a couple of his songs as well but spent most of the night listening from bed to rest up to watch Zac prepare to take on fans in Mario Kart for a bit that night.

The final day everyone in my group went to climb a waterfall while I opted to stay back and sleep in.  I read a bit on the back porch and wandered to one of the restaurants for lunch as people started getting back from the trip and letting me know that Taylor was there! (See, I was a good secret keeper!)  Then we went swimming for a bit and got ready for Taylor’s solo show.

Due to the setup of the ADA section and my assumption that Taylor would be at the piano for most of his set, I opted to watch the show from my porch. (I did pay extra for a stage view, after all!)  I was happy with his setlist and he was tied with Zac for favorite but after sleeping on it for a bit I think he is going to come out with the win for the solo sets this year, even though he did a lot of songs I am kind of over hearing.  Never Let Go used to be rare, not so much anymore. (*dodges tomatoes*) I did like the new sound to Runaway Run, which is one of my favorites and upon first listen (I’ll listen 100 more times over the weekend to figure out lyrics) I really enjoyed This Is Criminal and it would be criminal if it is indeed the “first and last” time he ever plays it.  Feeling Alive as a solo was a really nice way to close out his set as well.

After Taylor’s set was the banquet on the beach.  Aside from the steakhouse, I really felt like the food at this resort left something to desire.  I admit I am a bit of a picky eater, but even the things I did like to eat didn’t really taste all that great.

Then it was time for the last show of the trip – the member’s only show – which historically has been one of my favorites.  This set actually wasn’t terrible at all – but if you’re going to call it member’s only – stick to the theme.   I know I have complained a bit about the setlists and really they weren’t bad – if we went into this with no theme voting at all – I’d have been pleasantly surprised and happy with them.  The fact that we had themes that weren’t stuck to is what my problem is.  And voting on the same themes year after year has gotten old too.  Let’s mix things up. I want to hear some things that have never been played live. Some new things. Some rare things. (I know, I know you’re all complaining that I’m complaining because I’ve been able to go all 7 years.)   Somehow On and On was a stand out to me this year and it is a song I usually a not much of a fan of. Not sure why the switch there.  White Collar Crime was also a highlight and ending it (sort of) with Don’t Stop Believing made the entire trip worth it. (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating juuuust a bit there.)


On the way home,  I wasn’t sure if my 1.5 hour layover at BWI was going to be enough to clear customs/immigration and security again.  Once the government shut down had ended I thought I’d be in better shape but it turned out that 1.5 hours was PLENTY of time.  I was through Customs/Immigration in about 5 minutes (the guy pushing my wheelchair said that I was the fastest person to fill out the customs form he had ever seen – we weren’t given any on the plane because most people use the kiosks but wheelchairs go to an agent) and then security with pre-check took about 20 minutes because there was not a dedicated precheck line, we just got to cut in.  The TSA officers at BWI were also *amazing* and so, so helpful. Usually that is not the case but they didn’t have a cane for me to use and I was offered everyone’s arm or hand to hold as I needed to get through. I got to my gate just as the Super Bowl halftime show was starting.

Another highlight / fun story – The first night we decided to nap before the 10pm concert due to being up so early to travel.  We didn’t lock the door so housekeeping came in to offer turn down service but once they saw us sleeping, left. (I was only trying to sleep and failing miserably. Did not get much sleep the whole trip!)   I was a bit freaked out – so when the door was being knocked on AGAIN and the person on the other side said “housekeeping”, I ended up jumping up and locking all the extra locks on the door instead of opening it to see what they wanted.  It turned out that it was just my friends coming to surprise me as one friend I did not know was going to be attending and she surprised all of us at the last second! Once I explained why I didn’t answer the door and that I was freaked out that someone had come in the room we all had a good laugh at their choice to say “housekeeping” when they knocked!

Overall I added 3 new songs to my count – 2 that had never been played before and 1 cover.  Only spotted one crab and it was dead and had been stepped on :*(  I bought a really nice wood sun with the Hanson symbol carved in the middle.  Totally overdid it swimming to the point that my legs still are not happy with me 4 days later (honestly probably a good problem to have and maybe I should swim some more this summer at home.)

I’m ready took book for year 8 but hoping we will either have new setlist themes or us voting will be thrown out the window. I just hope a trip with NO setlist voting doesn’t backfire even more…

Book Review: You Goal, Girl

You Goal, Girl is a goal setting work book to help you plan out and achieve your goals. The book explains that goals are the steps you take to make your dreams a reality. Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T – that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.  This is something that I struggle with – but I am trying to make things that are more measurable – that way it is easier to track your progress and know what you need to do to continue to get there and achieve it.

At the end of Chapter 1 you are encouraged to “Brain Dump”, that is write down all the goals you have whether they be specific or not – throughout the rest of the chapters in the book you prioritize sort them into categories, figure out what you need to do in order to achieve them, create a gratitude log, track your progress, create a focus for what needs to be done each month and each week of the month, re-evaluate everything when you are at the half-way point to your goals, and reflecting on the goal once you make it to the end.

I think right now my goals are in the “brain dump” portion of this book. I know what I want to do (scrapbook all the things!) but need to break them down more so that it is less overwhelming so I don’t just look at a pile of things to scrap and decide to nap instead because I don’t know where to begin.  I’ve also started making monthly to do lists with things broken down in different areas of my life and I try to get all (or most) done by the end of each month.  This has led to me budgeting my time out a bit better and actually accomplishing things rather than realizing I have some free time and then just not knowing where to begin.  I think if I use the work pages in this book along with some of the changes I have been trying to make for myself, I will find that by the end of the year I am achieving many more of my goals than I had been in the past.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released on December 11, 2018 from Quarto Publishing Group – Rock Point.

About the Book


There’s no better feeling than when you complete a task and get to check it off your to-do list, right? This goal-setting workbook combines that feeling of productivity with the motivation you need to actually get stuff done. You Goal, Girl is a personal tool kit for making your goals a reality. With this guided workbook, you will learn how to design your own goals and even learn some new investment strategies in real estates. Because it’s not enough to simply write down your goals and call it a day, prompts, tips, and worksheets help to determine and then track your goal’s progress every step of the way, in addition to providing plenty of space to capture doodles, notes, and brainstorms. Included in this action-oriented workbook are:

• Habit-tracking and reflection pages to measure progress
• Gratitude logs to stay positive
• Daily and weekly prompts to help you self-assess

You Goal, Girl is designed to help plan, track, and achieve your most important goals— because you absolutely deserve the life you want, you just have to put in the work!

Book Review: Dawn of the Code War

Over the summer I started a grad school class in Cyber Security so when Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Risking Global Cyber Threat came up on NetGalley for review, I knew I needed to check it out.  It was a little bit weird to be reading bout subject matter that had come up in class when I was “skipping” class to travel (I just never registered because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully commit to keeping up with the course work) and maybe part of the reason why I read it was because I felt a little bit guilty about not being in class.

This book went into a bit more detail on some of the topics that were touched upon in my Fall semester and so it was interesting to not only read more indepth about some of the topics but learn about some other topics as well that may or may not come up in the future in class like attribution and deterrence, P2P file sharing issues, learning more about what is a hacker and how the definition of that has changed over the years.

One thing that seems to be consistent throughout all my reading on these topics is the mention of the movie War Games with Matthew Broderick.  It is from the 80s and I haven’t seen it, but my next order of business is to track down where I can watch it because this (fictional) movie seems to be the backbone for a lot of what has become cyber security laws and policies.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book was published October 16, 2018from Perseus Books, Public Affairs.

About the Book

The inside story of how America’s enemies launched a cyber war against us-and how we’ve learned to fight back
With each passing year, the internet-linked attacks on America’s interests have grown in both frequency and severity. Overmatched by our military, countries like North Korea, China, Iran, and Russia have found us vulnerable in cyberspace. The “Code War” is upon us.
In this dramatic book, former Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin takes readers to the front lines of a global but little-understood fight as the Justice Department and the FBI chases down hackers, online terrorist recruiters, and spies. Today, as our entire economy goes digital, from banking to manufacturing to transportation, the potential targets for our enemies multiply. This firsthand account is both a remarkable untold story and a warning of dangers yet to come.

Book Review: Beautiful Press-Out Flying Butterflies

This book contains 24 different butterflies that have all been turned into a one-size-fits-all flying model. All you need to do is press out the butterfly, fold it as shown in the book, put some tape and a nickel on it and try flying it like a paper airplane! Unfortunately I received only an e-copy of this book so I can’t easily press out the butterflies to try it out and see how they work.  The butterflies in this book all are truly beautiful and there is even information on some of the butterflies along with their press-out pages.

A fun activity for that nature lover in your life.  They all are so pretty and I’m sure would be a ton of fun to have flying around the house!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book will be released February 13, 2019 from Dover Publications.

About the Book

They’re about three times bigger than their real-life equivalents, but these dramatic renderings of butterflies are scrupulously accurate—and they really fly! Just press out along the perforations, follow simple folding instructions, add a coin for weight, and send them soaring. All of them feature captions that include their Latin names and information about their habitats and behaviors plus pointers on where to look for them.
In addition to the fun of making and flying the beautiful insects, this book offers a great way to learn how to identify butterflies. Richard Merrill, a former aerospace design engineer, has created vivid and recognizable depictions of these majestic creatures’ wing patterns. The twenty-four models include American Copper, Australian Red Lacewing, Blue Morpho, Painted Lady, and others. Nature lovers of all ages will appreciate this opportunity to understand and get to know butterflies—as well as the chance to play with them!

Book Review: Whimsical Cross-Stitch

When I was little I used to do a lot of cross stitch with the images printed on.  I have recently bought a counted cross stitch kit and depending on how well that goes, I may start trying some other designs.  So when I saw there was a book of more than 130 whimsical designs I knew I had to check it out to see if it sparked any ideas for me. And within 2 pages there was a dragon, so I was sold!  Each design is shown completed as well as the charting for it and recommended colors to use.  Each color corresponds to an  icon that can be found in the chart.  I was also excited to see there was one labeled “pansies” but it was not the same as the flowers I know and love so I’ll skip that one for now – but there are definitely a good number in this book that look amazing and probably way over my head to try, but I will dream about doing them anyway.  In addition to designs of animals and flowers and sayings for around the house, there’s also alphabets, borders, etc so you could really customize anything you want and make it look great by combining different items from the book.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book will be released on February 13, 2019 from Dover Publications.

About the Book

A Book of the Month Club’s Crafter’s Choice!
Cross-stitch is a traditional hobby — but your designs don’t have to be! These more than 130 patterns reflect a modern sensibility, with motifs ranging from trendy to vintage to kitschy, so there’s something here for everyone. All are designed to fit into a 6-inch or smaller embroidery hoop, making them quick projects that can be finished in an evening or weekend. If you’re feeling ambitious, the small designs can be assembled to form a larger piece.
Patterns are organized according to theme: animals; designs, including flowers and snowflakes; home and hearth, consisting of more than 40 patterns that range from a patchwork heart and an antique sewing machine to teapots, a watering can, and variations on “home sweet home”; nature; and charming patterns for special occasions. A brief introductory section offers advice on getting started, tools and supplies, and stitching.

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