Reading Challenge: 2016 Final Standing

The last two months of my 2016 reading challenge left me with 8 more books to read, and I almost made it! I finished with 34 out of 36 books. Not too bad, but still sad that I didn’t quite eek out the last two.

The Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Book Club)
This is the story follows two storylines, one of a young Irish Immigrant who loses her family and is forced into foster care in the 1920’s and takes the Orphan Train from New York to Minnesota to be selected by foster parents; the other, set in present time about a girl who is about to age out of the welfare system who helps an elderly woman clean out her home as community service to stay out of juvie. We read this for book club, it was a very interesting story and I’m a sucker for those split timeline books. Definitely, recommend for those interested in historical fiction.  Learn more!
The TrespasserThe Trespasser by Tana French
I’m a big fan of Tana French and have read most of these Dublin Murder Squad books, this is the latest in the series and was not my favorite. It was a little slow for me and honestly, I just really didn’t like the main character. I thought she was whiney and it got old. It won’t deter me from reading upcoming Dublin Murder Squad books, I was just a little disappointed with this one. Learn more!
Full BellyFull Belly: Good Eats for a Healthy Pregnancy by Tara Mataraza Desmond
This book was recommended by a friend, it has lots of healthy recipes that would be great to eat during pregnancy. However, most of these recipes require a lot of ingredients that most people don’t stock, you’d really only have to go up and stock up on these things but these recipes take some planning. The other problem is that they are relatively involved. I was so exhausted during this time in my pregnancy, there was no way I was going to make time for this. I think it just depends on how you’re feeling and how much effort you want to put into good meals. I love cooking and making meal plans but it wasn’t something I had energy for at the start of my pregnancy. Good news is, these recipes are just as delicious and healthy when you’re not pregnant so it’s a good resource for the future. Learn more!
Belly LaughsBelly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy
I actually read this book a while back and thought it was hilarious, so I figured reading it as a pregnant person would be more relevant and a good laugh. I actually found it kind of annoying. Nothing that crazy really happened, most of the things Jenny wrote about were pretty typical pregnancy issues, albeit she describes them in much funnier ways than most people can relay. I found myself annoyed by her constant whining. Learn more!




Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
This illustrated edition came out in the fall and I always save them to read at Christmas time. As you know, I’m a Harry Potter nerd and I love the illustrated edition even more than the original books!  Learn more!





Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
In this story, a black nurse, Ruth, is asked not to treat the baby of white supremacist parents, when things take a tragic turn Ruth finds herself in the midst of an ugly legal battle. Picoult addresses both the overt and subtleties of racism through the voice of three characters, Ruth, Tuck (the father of the baby), and Kennedy (Ruth’s public defender). I really enjoyed this book and it definitely makes you think about the small ways that racism seems into our lives. The only thing that I didn’t really like was that Ruth was written in a way that made me think she was much older than she was. She’s only in her 40s in the book but she comes across twenty years older, that might have been the audio book voice actress, though. Learn more!

And that’s a wrap on 2016!

A Harry Potter Baby Shower

Harry Potter Baby Shower Theme


Few people love Harry Potter as much as I do. Okay that’s probably an overstatement because millions of people love Harry Potter, but when I meet a fellow HP kindred spirit, I get really excited. My friend Bailey is one of those people! I knew that her level of HP fanaticism was as intense as mine so when I heard that she was doing an HP themed nursery for her little one, I knew that we needed to throw an amazing baby shower for her!

Some friends and I collaborated, divvying up the to-dos and put together what turned out to be a truly beautiful and epic Harry Potter baby shower.

Harry Potter Baby Shower Photo Booth

Harry Potter Baby Shower Photo Booth with props.

Harry Potter Baby Shower Wands

Harry Potter Baby Shower Pretzel Wands.

Harry Potter Baby Shower Butterbeer Cupcakes

Butterbeer Cupcakes

Harry Potter baby shower treats

Anything from the trolley car? Chocolate frogs, licorice wands, every flavor beans and lemon drops made for sweet baby shower treats!

Harry Potter baby shower platform

Platform 9 and 3/4 served as a photo booth back drop for our wizarding guests.

Harry Potter baby shower butterbeer

Butterbeer with gold sprinkles.

Harry Potter Baby Shower sorting

Our sorting ceremony involved the “sorting fedora” and drawing houses from the fishbowl.

Harry Potter baby shower snacks

Herbology Bites, Hogs Head Cornished Balls and Golden Snitches.

Harry Potter baby shower feast

A feast for our guests. Trolley treats, wands, and more.

Harry Potter themed baby shower decorations.

Harry Potter themed baby shower decorations.

Harry Potter baby shower house portraits

Guests were sorted into houses and given ties in their house colors. We took house pictures with the photo booth back drop.

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Reading Challenge: December 2015

Reading Challenge ImageWell folks, I did it! I made it to 35 books in 2015! If you remember I had some goals about the kinds of books that I wanted to read and realized that I was a bit ambitious. I did however reach my goal toward happiness/self improvement type books, but only ready a handful of actual biographies – if you count comedian memoir books I definitely made the goal though. The only one I didn’t really meet was business related books and I’m okay with that! So here are the final books of the year!


I just kind of happened upon this book at Barnes & Noble. It was facing out on one of the shelves and I love tea so I was drawn to it. I ended up reading this in one sitting. It’s very short and has a lot of recipes in it so it’s a quick read. Very good reference for what different kinds of teas are good for and  has great healthy recipes. I will say that I halfheartedly attempted this cleanse and did not lose 10 lbs in one week but good book all the same! …Learn more here. 



I love Mindy Kaling something fierce. Her first book is one of my favorites so I was really excited to read this one! Sometimes it’s hard to read comedic memoir-like essays in the correct voice (which is why I recommend audio books for these) but somehow I can almost hear Mindy reading this out loud in my mind. It’s like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while but picking up right where you left off. It also happens that shortly after reading this I caught up completely on the new season of The Mindy Project on Hulu so yeah December was a good month…  Learn more here. 



Okay I know I don’t really need to say much here. Everyone knows I’m a complete Harry Potter nerd. I saved this for December because I love reading Harry Potter at Christmas time and I was heading to Harry Potter World for a vacation around Christmas so I knew I would be in a magical mood. The illustrations add so much to this story and it’s a really, really beautiful book. I can’t wait for the rest to come out! In case you didn’t know, I believe one per year are slated over the next several years…  Learn more here. 


I’m a big fan of the Heros of Olympus and Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, and BONUS am 75% Norwegian so when I found out that his newest series is about the Gods of Asgard I was very excited. My husband got me this book for Christmas and it was a great final read of the year! In the spirit of the demi-god quest format, this does not disappoint. The only thing that makes me sad is I have to wait until Fall 2016 for the next installation, which is basically torture … Learn more here.


COMPLETE! (35/35)

In 2016, I’m upping the anti and shooting for 36 books, and in addition will try to check off all the boxes on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 reading checklist!