mine + ours: books #16



Small Fry Book Reviews | January 2020


This book is SO funny. Laugh out loud, dry humor, catches you off guard but also makes you think. I don’t even want to blow the plot I feel like the less you know the better. One quote I loved was “They didn’t want the world to burn, they just didn’t to be alone in it.” Poignant for any parent who hasn’t known how to level with a child. But also on a more grand scale, so much general humanity to learn from. I LOVED it! 4 STARS– Language, but otherwise super clean.


This is a WW2 book written from the true story premise of real Milanese partisans. Lots of new angles of the WW2 story that I haven’t read about which is hard at this point considering how much WW2 literature is out there. Spies posing as Nazi drivers, guides that smuggle Jews out to Switzerland. All super cool, but could’ve used a hefty editing job. It’s just too long! And I know I am super ornery and pregnant but the love story parts were a little eye-roll worthy. Sullivan used musical metaphors to describe and it was just too much for me right now. Ha! Otherwise really interesting! 3 STARS!


Small Fry Book Reviews | January 2020


Hayes has been reading this series since Christmas with me and on his own and he is plowing through them! I love that it’s teaching him about history in an exciting way, it’s opening up for lots of good conversations that I don’t normally get from him by asking about school. It’s not super graphic but doesn’t sugar coat some things either, so if your young reader is sensitive might be something to be aware of.

roadtrip audiobooks for men + women


We are back and getting in the swing of life again after our trip to Wisconsin! The ride out took about 22 hours (we stopped at Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drug and several pit stops thanks to one child with some ill-timed runs.TMI!!) The weather was great and we got super lucky! The way home however was a different story. We saw that a storm was coming and would be hovering over both our route options home (South Dakota or Nebraska.) We took Nebraska and it was a doozy. The highway got rerouted through these backwoods detours 3 different times, we were a total stop for about 30 minutes at one point, and then another time cars started slipping crossing through train tracks and getting backed up so we actually had to speed reverse off the tracks before we got hit by oncoming train + the railroad striped arm thing. EXCITING but yet not at all. It took us three days this time about 27 hours that time. Not to mention visiting family between 10-40 min away each day…

All this to say we had A LOT of time on our hands and Russ and I both love a good audiobook, yet have such different tastes.¬†Today I am sharing options that we both enjoyed (**), some I’ve loved and think guys would to (*) and also that you all suggested if you need a common ground audiobook for your next trip! For those who asked we shared an AirPod set up front while kids had their own movies going in the back. Of course the perfect world situation would be an audiobook that two adults and 3 kids 9, 8 and 3 are all enraptured by, but LIFE JUST ISN’T THAT SIMPLE SOMETIMES, OKAY? ūüėČ If it was it would probably be Harry Potter though.

Kid-free listening means I am not worrying about content and language, ya feel?


THE STRANGER SHE LOVED – we loved this one because it was SO insane. And it happened 5 minutes from where we used to live. Somehow I missed all the news coverage on this story so it was thrilling to catch up on it, hear names of people we know from that community, and generally be blown away by an ex-Mormon Bishop slash psychopath. So sad for the family that suffered through it all, but man it’s a good story!

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW –¬† Soon to be a major motion picture, the trailer looks real good! We listened to this one and it takes a while to jump off, there are 100+ quick chapters and tons of description. Lots of plot twists that made for good conversation between Russ and I (we love to try and spoil them) but I’d tell you to actually read a physical book over listening to this one because you can skim through the incessant metaphors and similes.


Thrillers + Page Turners: The Stranger She Loved** // I am Pilgrim* // Davinci Code Series by Dan Brown* // The Silent Patient // Dear Wife // Where the Crawdads Sing // Nothing to See Here //

Roadtrip Audiobooks

I am Pilgrim¬†– Everyone said you need to get about 9 hours into this and then it’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever read. Ratings verify that! We only got about 2 hours in and it was still super interesting, so I look forward to finishing it!

Davinci Code Series by Dan Brown – Oldie but a goodie. Dan Brown is excellent at hooking you to the next chapter. You’ll learn a lot, too!

The Silent Patient Рhighly recommended by Kayti who I share a lot of the same reading taste with!

Dear Wife // Where the Crawdads Sing // Nothing to See Here¬† — All highly recommended by YOU guys!

Social Conversations — Great books that spark excellent conversations, teach you a lot, are research and fact based, but aren’t necessarily political.¬† Being Mortal // Talking to Strangers** // David and Goliath**¬†// Born a Crime* // Just Mercy ¬†// Hillbilly Elegy* // Educated*¬†//¬†Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea // Catch and Kill //

Audiobooks for Road Trips

Being Mortal¬†— If you and your partner have aged parents or grandparents, might one day die or get older, this will spark conversations you never thought you needed.

Talking to Strangers**¬†— I’ve already reviewed this one but Russ is reading it now and loves it too. So many good chats already!

David and Goliath** — We listened to this together a few years ago and both loved it!

Born a Crime* — super funny and also eye opening about Apartheid.

Just Mercy¬†— highly recommended and now an award nominated movie!¬†¬†Catch and Kill / also came highly recommended!

Hillbilly Elegy* //¬†¬†Educated*¬†//¬†Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea /– guys love these one and they’re fascinating!

Humor: The Sisters Brothers* // The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo** // Bossypants* // Dad is Fat //  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine* // David Sedaris //

Audiobooks for Roadtrips

The Sisters Brothers¬†— If your man likes the Cohen Brothers movies, Tarantino or Wes Anderson he’ll probably love this!

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo –¬†Russ and I both have super crass senses of humor so take this with a grain of salt, but we laughed a lot!

Bossypants¬†— less crass still funny!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine РI loved this one and the narrator is super fun.

Dad is Fat //¬†David Sedaris¬†— two super highly recommended titles! I know I know how have I never read David Sedaris. I tried in college and it wasn’t my thing, I should probably try again.

Common Ground: Ready Player One* // The Way of Kings* // Peace Like a River* // Ender’s Game** // The Martian // Count of Monte Cristo¬†//¬†Tattoos on the Heart*

Audiobooks for Road TripsThis grouping is me making sweeping general stereotypes that don’t factor any nuances. I apologize, I even roll my eyes at some of these statements! In my experience books with 10k or more reviews are typically a good unisex read. Also, if when you search for them they have study guides or summaries listed they’re typically a busy-man fave (think corporate guy who needs to be brushed up on water cooler talk or golf game chatter) and also this list includes what my husband and his friends deem worth

Ready Player One*— dripping with 80’s nostalgia and trivia, dudes love this. I enjoyed it, too!

The Way of Kings* — I can’t count how many real life conversations with I have had about this book with guys. The LOVE it.

Peace Like a River*¬†— The storyline feels like it would be something a guy could resonate with! Fathers and sons, protective brothers, high school bullies. One of my all time faves.

Ender’s Game** — Russ and I listened to this on a road trip YEARS ago and we both loved it.

The Martian¬†— highly recommended and the movie was hilarious so I can only imagine. Lots of language.

Count of Monte Cristo¬†— This is on so many of my guys friends’ top book picks. Its like the Shawshank Redemption of books. ūüėČ Pretty sure it is book but you know what I mean.

Tattoos on the Heart*¬†— a good social conversation as well as lots of funny stories about gangsters. I think guys would enjoy!

Any to add to this list?! Here’s a HUGE graphic for your pinning pleasure and the links to my makeup ;): Continue reading roadtrip audiobooks for men + women

mine + ours: books #15

The monthly series where I review books I read on myself and books I read with my kids! Find the whole series of posts here!


November 2019 Book Reviews

You can see I am definitely on a kick of sorts!

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone — I picked up this one on a whim because it had such high reviews! It’s the memoir of a therapist and she weaves her own personal stories of therapy through the stories of her patients and fact-based research type points throughout. There were some really heart warming parts, and then some that dragged on. Her personal relationship with “boyfriend” was a big theme and I see why it was good to humanize her, it started to wear on me. — 3 stars!

Being Mortal — The last few months Russ and I have been faced with his grandparents’ health decline and he’s been put as the executor of their wills. The situation is so complicated and the problem solver in me is so frustrated. It’s had me thinking about end of life care, and although it’s easy to say what I think I’d want in their shoes, I truly have no idea. This book is a must read for all humans. You can’t know until you’re there and this book maps out the highs and lows of end of life care, what works statistically, and anecdotes from actual people. So well written and held my attention the whole time. — 4 stars!

Talking to Strangers — I am a HUGE Malcolm Gladwell fan and heard his interview with Oprah on her podcast and that convinced me to read this book in about 5 minutes. Gladwell does what he does best. Weaves seemingly unrelated points/stories together and in the process changes perspectives and initiate change. This book covers the three ways we as humans get each other wrong. And how these fatal flaws are keeping us from learning from our mistakes in some of the hottest political topics we hear about daily. I loved this on Audible because it’s more like a podcast. He uses actual audio files from the interviews and stories he includes, it’s captivating and so EYE-OPENING. Changed my whole perspective in so many areas. His chapter on our misconceptions about alcohol (8) alone had me sending links and quotes out like a mad woman. — 5 Stars!


small fry book reviews

Big Cat: A cute little story about a grandma who can’t find her glasses and some funny situations they get in while she’s looking for them. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and there is¬† lots to look at on each page!

Can You See Me?: Think of this one like finding shapes in clouds or constellations. All the shapes make different animals and you read through to guess! A fun book that you can spend time on each page using your imagination. Raleigh loved it!

Language Theater: This author offered to send this title and I jumped at it because I think having a good understanding and intuition on grammar is priceless. This book is all about teaching the rules and intricacies of grammar in a bedtime reading style.



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 ReadRiordan.com 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. ūüėČ

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!