books #15

Audiobooks have really been pulling through for me this pregnancy! Here’s the last few I’ve been listening to and my reviews! Spoiler alert: read the first and maybe skip the other two unless they sound up your alley!


book reviews

THE MOMENT OF LIFT: How Empowering Women Changes the World- Melinda Gates

It’s not often that I fist pump while reading. I did a few times while reading this amazing book. Gates did extensive research, data collection and has traveled the world seeing and hearing from those with firsthand experience. She offers amazing stories, both personal and from her travels, she weaves them with data and actionable items. She shares evenly distributed heartbreak and victory. Equal amounts of  what has been accomplished, and what we still need to do. SO well done and everyone should read it. Truly. I’m ready to quit all my jobs and work for Melinda and Bill. I’ll share a couple quotes that I loved (the whole last bit about equality and connection was so good I can’t even paraphrase.)

“What I realized is that by trying to fit in, I was strengthening the culture that made me feel like I didn’t fit in.”

“Opportunities have to be equal before we can determine if abilities are.”

FATES & FURIES –  Lauren Groff

This one had been on my to-read after I heard it was Barack Obama’s favorite book that year, 2015 and also a National Book Award finalist. It is the stories of the marriage and early lives of Lotto and Mathilde, told first from Lotto’s perspective and then Mathilde’s. It is an over-exaggerated, very dramatic, but also hyper-focused story on just these two broken individuals and essentially how their baggage effects their marriage. Almost a cautionary tale that promotes being open, honest, and vulnerable in our relationships… or else.  We read it for a book club which always heightens my sensitivity toward the content because I am thinking about how the other women are taking it, ha! But I think it’s safe to say regardless, there was a LOT of sex. Abuse and sex abuse, prostitution, language. I will say though, the book club discussion was really awesome!

Since Mathilde is originally from France I took that as excuse to get patisserie items from our local bakery Fillings & Emulsions (everything is delicious there!!) Almond croissants, scones, kougin amann, pain au chocolat. I also did Jillee’s crock pot hot chocolate since none of us drink coffee. Super yummy!

Fates and Furies review

PACHINKO – by Min Jin Lee:

Remember Homegoing? You can read my review on this link, but the highly acclaimed, award-winning Pachinko is similar in structure. Pachinko covers several generations of the same family told over decades from many perspectives. And similarly to Homegoing it shows how systemic inequality occurred and shifted over these generations for Koreans, both from the inside and also done from the outside by the Japanese and others. Maybe because Homegoing was such a powerful read for me, Pachinko didn’t quite catch me like that. It wasn’t as interesting or enveloping although I did learn a lot. Content: occasional sexual content, prostitution, abuse.

greek gods matching game!

Sponsored by Disney Book Group.

School starts in less than 1 week and I am feeling bittersweet!! I know my big boys are ready to go back and see their school friends every day, their new teachers seem like they’re going to be amazing, and heaven knows I could use some time to work, BUT it’s always sad to say goodbye to a fun summer. Makes me wonder if year-round school would be easier transition! Greek Gods Matching Game Printable

You all know we took on the Percy Jackson Box Set challenge this summer and we did pretty well! We got through 3 out of 5 books! The third book was my personal favorite so far because there’s so much girl power! There’s a dangerous creature that only Artemis (the goddess of the hunt) can track and she brings on a bunch of strong girls from Percy’s class to help her. So fun to read with Hayes! One of my favorite elements of the series is how it weaves in Greek mythology, and so I wanted to make a little game to help us all remember what we learned from the books!

Greek Gods Matching Game Printable

I made this printable with eight Greek gods to match together. On one card, a symbol that might represent their godly power or presence in the Olympian hierarchy, and then their name and description on the other!Greek Gods Matching Game PrintableJust print onto colored cardstock (you can’t see through this yellow at all!) and cut out into cards. Flip over into a grid and then do your best to make a match!

Greek Gods Matching Game PrintableI let Hayes use his books if he got stumped and I loved watching him flip through the stories and remembering his favorite parts. It’s been an action-packed summer reading all of Percy’s adventures!!Greek Gods Matching GameAnd Raleigh, helpful as always.Greek Gods Matching Game

Thanks to for this fun reading challenge! You can find the box set for a steal right here!


percy jackson day

Sponsored by Disney Book Group.

How is your kiddos’ summer reading going? With the holiday we hardly had time to think let alone read, so I am happy things have slowed down a bit! To get us back in the swing and back on track with our reading goal of finishing the Percy Jackson and the Olympians box set we had a whole Percy Jackson day! Starting with breakfast!Percy Jackson Blue FoodsIf you haven’t read it I’ll fill you in on this little inside joke slash piece of backstory! Percy doesn’t know his father growing up, but his mom has a grumpy new husband. He thinks he’s pretty awesome and loves to make arrogant remarks. One of which was that he was certain there were no blue foods. Instead of arguing with him she proceeds to bring home blue foods whenever possible.

Percy Jackson Blue FoodsSo blue food becomes a theme throughout and we took the challenge for breakfast this week. Want to see?

Blue mason jars make everything look blue, so that’s an easy shortcut!

Percy Jackson Blue Foods

Blue Smoothie bowls (yogurt + fruit!)

Percy Jackson Blue Foods

Percy Jackson Blue Foods

And one of Hayes’ favorite parts of the book is Camp Half-Blood — basically the summer camp of any kid’s dreams. There are 12 camp teams named after different Greek Gods and so the boys chose theirs and made their very special flags. Capture the Flag is a huge deal at  Camp Half-Blood so we thought it would be fun to play with our own flags!

Just have them choose their flag shape, create their crest and write their team name! Raleigh of course wanted to be involved with the scraps. 😉

Concentration face!


Their finished flags!!

We brought our flags to the park and somehow realized we had never played before with the kids! Tragedy. But they loved it!

We are about halfway through the 2nd book so we gotta step up the pace to finish the series this summer!! You can grab the box set right here, it’s 30% off right now and $5 a book!

mine + ours: books #14

YOU GUYS! I just looked and the last time I did this post was September of 2018. Do you want to know why? One of my book clubs (yes I am in two, ha!) choice for the month was called The Way of Kings which is 1200+ pages. I had it on Audible and it was 44 hours long. Typically my books are less than 10 hours, if that gives you any idea. May Book Reviews

Image via 

The trouble was is that the book is really good and I had a bunch of book club girls telling me that it was the best thing they ever read and the reviews are insane: 5 stars for 6000+ reviews?! So I couldn’t give it up. It sounds dramatic, but it felt like the most challenging thing for my brain I had done since college. HA.

Anyway, its a complex storyline and I didn’t think I could keep it straight while reading other books, so I just didn’t. FOR MONTHS, until I finally finished this a couple months ago. But that’s where I was. But I am back on the reading train and here’s what we’ve been up to!


May Book Reviews

THE SISTERS BROTHERS – Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, it’s a movie now but I haven’t seen it! This book is SO funny. Like Wes Anderson meets Quentin Tarantino. Or a Cohen Brothers movie. Dry, gory, hilarious. Ive never read anything like it, and I loved every second. My cheeks hurt from smiling the whole time.

THE WAR THAT CHANGED MY LIFE  – Newberry Medal Winner 2016, NYT Bestseller – Another book about WWII but this time the war actually betters this little girl’s life. A sweet read, I think depending on the kid a 10-12 year old could handle and enjoy it! There are themes of abuse and neglect in the beginning so be on hand to chat if you read it with a kiddo! I loved it.

NORMAL PEOPLE – Another NYT Bestseller and Hulu picked it up for 2020! This one ached to read. Sally Rooney gets the emotions of your first love, or a love that spans many years SO well. How you grow and change from someone that was such a huge part of your life. Trauma and mental illness and how we cope. It’s not flowery in any way, but it is so smartly written. I wrote down certain line and phrases which I haven’t done with many fiction books. A lot of sex talk as a warning.

and OURS!

You know about our reading challenge for the Summer with Percy Jackson, but here are a couple other books that my kids EAT UP!

More than any other books, Hayes and Cal both retain this information better than any. I love hearing all the little factoids that interest them, how they recall and share them with friends. National Geographic does such a good job with these!

Books for Curious Kids

WEIRD BUT TRUE || WHY? ANSWERS TO EVERYTHING (and a version for younger kids, too!) ||  2020 Kids Almanac

Summer Reading Challenge

In Partnership with Disney Book Group.
Summer is on our heels and I felt like last summer I finally got things into a good system to enjoy the season, have spontaneity but also structure!
We did this summer check list each day and I loved all the reading I was seeing! My older boys are really enjoying reading for fun more this year so I wanted to step it up a bit and turn it into a challenge!Percy Jackson Summer Reading Challenge
We’ll have cool toys, gadgets and games they can earn for books they finish. As well as experiences, like an afternoon rock climbing, or tickets to a play, and then privileges as well, like extra screen time, picking dessert that night, or getting to take a break from chores for a day! What better way to inspire a summer of reading than an awesome series?! I have heard for YEARS that Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a boy mom’s dream and we’ve already started the first book and can totally see why!Percy Jackson Summer Reading Challenge
The Percy Jackson series is the perfect mix of action, friendship, humor, fantasy, and storyline. It’s an exciting way to learn about Greek mythology and gods and monsters, but at the root, it is about being true to yourself and your limitless potential. Rick Riordan really has created something special and we love that we’re finally a part of the club!Percy Jackson Summer Reading Challenge
Disney has this whole amazing Percy Jackson set, perfect for a summer reading challenge!! We are going to be checking in all summer long on this challenge and would love to make it a Small Fry party!! Join us and let’s do it together!! We are giving away this set on Instagram today, so go enter or let us know you’ll be reading along!Percy Jackson Summer Reading Challenge

Awesome, Friendly Kid

Are your kids on the Jeff Kinney train? I have loved watching both my boys with very different interests, personalities, and attention spans LOVE the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books! Jeff Kinney just released a new angle on the Wimpy Kid series — from Rowley’s perspective and we’re thrilled to share it with you in partnership with them and ABRAMS Books!

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid

Both my kids agree that Rowley is their favorite character in this series, so they were so happy to see a whole journal devoted to Rowley– from Rowley’s perspective. You still get all the antics of Greg since they are best friends, but with that lovable Rowley spin. Diary of an Awesome Friendly KidCal is my tough sell on books! It’s been harder to get him to pick up stories on his own, but he has chosen to read this story each night with his dad, brought it to Hayes’ endless baseball games, and read it during quiet times each weekend! As someone who loves books, and the way they’ve shaped my own personality, ethics, and sense of empathy, it makes my heart soar! I’ve been so proud watching Cal, who is a little bit more of an introvert make so many friends this year at a new school. I remember the first day of school, I met him at his cafeteria and brought him his favorite lunch. He didn’t know a soul, and I ate lunch choking back tears worried about him and hoping he wouldn’t ever have to feel alone. I gave him the goal of being kind to every kid at school and finding someone new to talk to each day. Each day after school, we’d talk about who he had met that day, and I loved getting to know his classmates through his interactions as well! His teachers commended him on his friendliness and even said he was too chatty sometimes (hey I’ll take it!). I’m so grateful he was willing to be brave and friendly this year! And grateful for awesome, friendly kids at his school who welcomed him, too! Diary of an Awesome friendly KidIf you’re new to the series, Kinney weaves cartoon line drawings through short journal entries, filled with humor and personality — these characters come to life for my kids! Diary of an Awesome Friendly KidDepending on your kids’ reading interest and levels, we’ve been at this since Hayes was in Kindergarten, Cal is in 1st grade and just started to get into them! I see 6th graders pouring over them, too! I love that it’s for everyone! You can grab a hardcover copy for $6! Also keep your eyes out for the 14th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series out later this year! 

Wee Society!

Giving away the entire Wee Society line of books today on my Instagram! Their flawless graphics and quirky content make my heart soar and I can’t wait to gift someone all of these beautiful books!

Linking them all here in case you want to check them out!WEE SOCIETY

WEE HEE HEE (not pictured but its a joke book that is so freaking cute you’ll squeal. Big and beautiful and looks amazing out on the shelf. // ME: A COMPENDIUM FILL IN THE BLANK this journal is something Im gifting both my boys and can’t wait to see what they do with it! // INCOMPLETE BOOK OF AWESOME THINGS a book of words and pictures that toddlers will love! // MATCHING GAME a fun game that you won’t be mad if they leave out! // ADVENTURE JOURNAL (comes in other colors, too!) if you’re going anywhere at all this year this journal will help you keep every memory and even some you didn’t know you wanted to remember– all from your child’s perspective. So clever and darling! // POSTCARDS you could hang these like a banner in a nursery or break them off and send sweet little notes to friends. Either way you use it, its so cute!

books for tween girls!

I asked on Instagram for your Tween girl’s favorite books to read and promised I’d share the results! SO many good ones I’ve never heard of and ALL have amazing reviews online! Check it out!

One I missed after this post was made were the “I Survived” books (boys LOVE them but there are a few about girls specifically too, not that it matters necessarily.) Also the mystery books by Blue Balliet! All steeped in art history and exciting stories to boot! I love that kids get to learn more about art while reading. Two of my favorite things! The Calder Game, The Wright 3 and Chasing Vermeer were all suggested!

Books for Tween Girls

Fish in a Tree: If you like Wonder by RJ Palacio check this one out! // Rules: I reviewed this one earlier this year and since then it’s won several awards! The story of a 12 year old girl navigating life with her Autistic brother. // “Sisters” or “Smile” Graphic Novels by Raina Telgmeier. This author has several titles with great reviews but these two specifically were suggested! // Paint By Stickers: These books are so so much fun. So great for a quiet time bag, road trips, or budding artists who want something cool to hang on their wall. // Penderwicks Series: This series comes as a box set, or individually! “No more engaging sisters since Little Women!” high praise!! // Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: Another book I’ve reviewed with 100+ stories about awesome women in history! So well done! // Wolf Hollow: Lost count of how many awards this book has won!! We read it in my adult book club but this story about injustice and bullying will sweep you (I mean her!) away. 😉 // Walk Two Moons: I read this as a kid and love that its still so well-loved! Two stories woven together and a good challenge for a budding reader! //  Rollergirl Graphic Novel – another graphic novel that came highly recommended! // Roald Dahl Collection: This one is a selfish add, because Roald Dahl was one of my childhood favorites that sparked a love of reading in me that propelled the direction of my life forever! There’s no one like Roald Dahl! // Chronicles of Narnia Series: another series that stands the test of time! Deals heavily in symbolism which makes for good conversations! // In college I took a class on Adolescent Lit and these were two of the titles that I felt were actually age appropriate but also challenge and improve reading ability!: Watsons go to Birmingham! // Missing May //

By far the most recommended was basically anything by Kate DiCamillo butThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane specifically had 3000 4+ reviews! Flora and Ulysses was another multiple suggestion by the same author! She wrote Because of Winn-Dixie as well and I didn’t realize she had made such a dent! So many titles and all very highly reviewed!

kate dicamillo


mine + ours: books #13


small fry book reviews


LISTEN: I loved Trevor Noah’s narration of his autobiography Born A Crime. I learned so much about Apartheid in South Africa and am absolutely shocked it continued virtually the same until 1994. Just boggles my mind!! The book was so funny, so sweet and touching, so eye opening, so well written, and so heartbreaking. Definitely worth a listen. 5 Stars

READ: A Visit From the Good Squad has been on my list for years because as a English Lit major I heard it’s a must. For people who study literature and get excited by something they’ve never seen done before. Tricky to follow, challenging for sure, a lot of messed up characters, but something cool to take on if you feel like you fall into that category of readers. Three stars.


STICK CAT series by Tom Watson + MY WEIRDEST SCHOOL series by Dan Gutman (Book 12 releases next month!) We reviewed these for a sponsored post and My Weirdest School is a joke a minute! I love that it would help an early reader be exposed to a more casual voice when storytelling or learning how to use their own voice in their writing! Stick Cat is more subtle jokes but still awesome! Both series are boasted as getting even the most reluctant reader on board, so if you have one of those, check these out!

4 Weeks to Read

I’ve been testing this reading system out for a few weeks and am finally ready to share. It’s pretty freaking good, I must say!

4 Weeks To Read has a 98% rate, is $99 (they also do $25/month for 5 months!) — use SMALLFRY10 for 10% off –AND it’s guaranteed so after 30 days, if it didn’t work for you, you can get your money back! Here’s the run down:

4 Weeks to ReadLearning Dynamics is a school in Utah that is easily the top 3 schools for early education. They pride themselves in having preschoolers 100% ready for Kindergarten. Reading and ready to go! Since their schools aren’t in every state or worldwide they wanted to create a reading program for people who couldn’t attend their school, or like me, who chose a less expensive option for schooling. My friends who have taken their kids there swear by it and said it was worth every penny! I don’t doubt it after seeing their 4 year olds reading up a storm! I went a different path and have really had to work extra hard with my first grader. But, NOW I can have that same gold standard education for Raleigh with 4 Weeks to Read!4 Weeks to ReadThe owner told me about how this program came to be and I loved the story! They had a team of teachers, educators, experts look through every literacy program they could get their hands on. 13 years of research later they were unimpressed. So they wrote their own! He was telling me 3rd grade reading ability is a predictor of people who end up in jail! While they have a kindergarten through 2nd grade to catch up, by 3rd grade it’s not just playing catch up, but it’s typically falling further behind. Which is why, at least in Utah, their prevention programs are in 1st grade!4 Weeks to ReadI know for my 1st grader, it’s his confidence that sets the tone for us practicing reading. Struggling through a book really derails that. What I really like about the system is that it helps them master a grouping of letters at a time so they can master an entire book and have that confidence boost! Also their lessons are 15 minutes which is about all I can get out of him! So even though this system is for a much younger age demographic we’ve been reading them to his baby brother and of course he’s flying through them and feeling so confident! I love that I can help him strengthen his skills in such a quick way. Use my code for 10% off SMALLFRY10 and you can win one on my Instagram as well!!