LuLaRoe, a Baby, and Teaching, Oh my!

Since I sadly haven’t posted since October, I need to take a moment to update all of you.

My life feels like it’s been turned upside down since October 7th when I got my call to officially become a LuLaRoe consultant. It’s been exciting and fun meeting new people and helping women find clothes that make them feel confident and comfortable, but it’s also been overwhelming since I also found out that I’m pregnant exactly a week after getting that call! Experiencing 24/7 exhaustion and nausea while taking on a second job, teaching full-time, and being a mom to Jack has been quite the experience to say the least! But I’m beyond thankful for both.

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Another exciting update is that I’m going to have my first student teacher when we return from Christmas break! Her name is Mary and I know she’s going to be great. Because of block scheduling and the fact that I have two honors classes, she’ll be splitting her time between my classroom and my best friend, Lindsay’s, classroom. She’s going to take some of my senior classes and some of Lindsay’s freshman classes. She’ll also get to work with my honors freshmen on occasion and Lindsay’s senior IB students. I think it will be a good experience for her. And since she’s double majoring in special education with an endorsement in Autism, she’ll get to work with some of our special ed teachers during planning periods and such. It might sound like a crazy schedule, but Lindsay and I have it all worked out for her so it’s seamless. Regardless, I’m really excited to guide her over the next few months so she can enter the world of YA and see how wonderful being an English teacher can be.

Anyway, even though I haven’t been blogging, I have been reading still. I’m working on a couple posts to update all of you in that department as well.

Blogging and Reading Resolutions

Reading &Blogging resolutions

I’m honestly not big on resolutions, but when it comes to reading and blogging I’m more confident about them. It’s been tough adjusting to motherhood and more expectations at work, and my blogging and reading life suffered. But blogging and reading are two of my favorite hobbies, so I really want to make an effort to make more time for both in 2016.

I wish I could say that I can do it all as a working mother, but let’s be honest, it’s not easy. At all. I used to finish a book and have time to write a review right after if I wanted to. Now I find myself debating whether I should make time to read or blog. This school year I have just under 200 students because I took on an extra section and lost one of my planning periods. And Jack is toddling all over the place and becoming more fun by the day. So I’ve decided that if I want to hold myself accountable and write more reviews, then I may have to write shorter and/or non-traditional reviews (not that I always write lengthy reviews).

I don’t know how publishers will about me posting shorter reviews, so if I’m sent a book that I specifically requested than I’ll try my best to make sure that book receives a better than quick review. What about you, my blog readers? Would you still be okay with shorter or non-traditional reviews?

I also want to continue expanding my reading repertoire. I read more mystery in 2015 than I normally do, and I found some great historical fiction titles, but I still want to read more of those genres. When I was looking through my list of books read in 2015, I noticed that I didn’t read many LGBT novels or racially diverse novels. That needs to change in 2016. I know in 2014 and during other years I’ve read a good amount of LGBT novels, but I need to make a conscious effort to read more on a regular basis. If you’ve read some really good racially diverse books recently I’d love to hear about them so I can make sure to check them out. Here are a few I already know that I want to read:

My next resolution focuses on audiobooks. I listened to 29 audiobooks in 2015, which isn’t counting the many I abandoned because the audio wasn’t holding my attention (Brutal Youth, The Young Elites, and Because You’ll Never Meet Me are a few). I’m going to attempt to listen to at least 40 audiobooks this year. That means I need to be better about remembering to listen while I fold laundry, and I should start working out more (I REALLY should) because I usually listen then as well.

Also, is anyone else in the habit of starting trilogies or series and then not finishing them? I don’t know why, but this happens to me more than it should. For instance, I still haven’t read Champion by Marie Lu or read the last two books in the Unwind dystology. Yet I love both groups of books! I resolve to fix this in 2016.

So there you have it. It’s a tall order, but I think I can at least chip away at these resolutions this year. I hope some of you will hold me accountable along the way. Are any of you making reading/blogging resolutions in 2016?

Blog Tour Book Review: Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Anne & HenryTitle: Anne & Henry

Author: Dawn Ius

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Interest: Contemporary retelling

Summary (From Goodreads):

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

When Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius was pitched, I knew right away that I wanted to read it. I will admit that retellings haven’t always worked for me, but I’m so intrigued by the Tudors and Anne Boleyn that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Thankfully this retelling didn’t let me down.

First, I think you need to know that Anne & Henry is DRAMATIC! But it is also witty and fast-paced. The drama stems from quite a few character cliches like the jealous girlfriend, the jerky best friend, and the mysterious new girl, but those characters fit the retelling. In history Catherine was Henry’s ex-wife and Anne was this mysterious new mistress with a shady past. (Please forgive my loose history here.) I can think of some students who will eat this story up because of all the juicy drama. I don’t write this to deter anyone from reading Ius’s book, but I think it’s worth mentioning. It’s also worth mentioning that the storyline kept me engaged throughout.

One of the main reasons I was so engaged in the story is that Dawn Ius creatively modernized this historical relationship. I wasn’t sure how it would pan out, but once the story started moving along everything began to click. Henry “rules” his clique and the school. His family has blazed the trails for him to become a political leader. Anne’s character fits with Anne Boleyn’s history well because Anne has a troubled history with her sister and hooks Henry right away. Anne Boleyn was accused of witch craft and a couple times in Anne & Henry she’s described as “bewitching.” Catherine is repeatedly described as the more suitable partner for Henry and is therefor at odds with Anne. If you know the history then you know that Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Our Anne doesn’t actually lose her head, but heads certainly roll by the end of the book.

There were moments when Anne and Henry made choices (or chose not to make a choice) that upset me, but overall I enjoyed this book. The themes in Anne & Henry will resonate with my students, so I’m really looking forward to talking to them about this once they read it.

 

Books Everywhere!

My husband and I are closing on our house in a couple weeks and the buyers have immediate access which means I’m busy packing up our house. We packed up quite a bit before we put our house on the market to help eliminate clutter. During that process I packed a very large suitcase full of books. I would include a picture of that, but it’s heavy and it’s hidden in a closet.

Today I decided that packing up the office, guest room, and all of my books would be the best place to start. I’ve posted pictures of my classroom library before, but never any pictures of my collection at home. This is mostly because my classroom library is much more organized and looks nicer 😉 So today you get to see my many piles of books. The house we plan on buying has a small space at the top of the stairs that I plan on making into a library. I’ll share pictures once that happens.

What does your home library look like? I’d love to see some pictures! Tweet me pictures (@yaloveblog), share them on Instagram (sanderse), or write a blog post and link it here.

This is where most of my books are held. Can you believe this used to hold more books?!

This is where most of my books are held. Can you believe this used to hold more books?! A lot of books here are signed.

I always have books to read & review sitting on my coffee table.

I always have books to read & review sitting on my coffee table.

This used to be my "to read next" stack under my coffee table, but I never stick to that.

This used to be my “to read next” stack under my coffee table, but I never stick to that.

This is the top half of our hallway built in bookcase.

This is the top half of our hallway built in bookcase.

The bottom half has cookbooks, miscellaneous stuff, and more books to read.

The bottom half has cookbooks, miscellaneous stuff, and more books to read.

And I added some books to our guest room.

And I added some books to our guest room.

Welcome to the world, Jack William

If you regularly follow my blog or follow me on Twitter, then you most likely know that I had a baby on the way. On August 21st at 9:34 pm, Jack William Andersen made his early arrival! He was due September 9th, but he must have really wanted to meet me and his dad 🙂 He’s the reason why I wasn’t blogging that much this year and why I haven’t blogged at all since the end of the summer. We’ve also been in the process of selling our house and buying a new one. Two major life changes happening at one time is just a wee bit stressful!

To be honest, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to keep up my blog, but I do know that I’m not abandoning it. I’m on maternity leave right now, and I think once I return to work and Jack’s not quite so new I’ll be able to blog more. We shall see!

Anyway, here are some pictures of my sweet little boy. I have some professional newborn pictures that were taken when he was about a week old and some pictures I’ve taken since then.

Pink or Blue? Either Will Do :)

I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret since the beginning of January. My husband and I are expecting our first baby! We couldn’t be more thrilled. 😀 As the announcement says, the baby is due September 9th. Next month we’ll be able to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl if the baby cooperates. I sure hope it does because I can’t wait to find out!

Pink or Blue

Right now I’m really grateful to be past the first trimester (although I’m grateful to have even experienced a first trimester). I had zero attention span (what was I just doing?), was extremely exhausted (taking three hour naps like they’re going out of style), and dealt with nausea in the evening and before I went to bed (such a miserable experience). I barely read any books because they either weren’t holding my attention or I couldn’t stay awake long enough to read them. Already, though, I’ve been feeling more energized and more focused. I’m hoping this will last for a while so I can get some more books read and start keeping up with my blog again.

To be honest, I don’t know what all of this means for my blog. I’m going to do my best to balance everything, but if it comes down to choosing to read a book or writing a blog post, I’m probably going to choose to read my book because that makes a greater impact in my classroom. But like I said, I’m going to do my best because this blog is important to me. Hopefully all of you will understand 🙂

Book Trailer Thursday (129)–Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Book Trailer Thursday

Kami Garcia’s first solo book, Unbreakable, released on October 1st. I’m really looking forward to reading this after reading the summary and watching the trailer. It sounds like a great fall/Halloween read! Based on what I know about it, I’m thinking my Anna Dressed in Blood and The Mortal Instruments fans will be interested in reading this.

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableSummary (From Goodreads):

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia.

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

Book Trailer Thursday (86)–The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I loved The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, so I’m super excited about the release of the sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer.  I would like this trailer if there was less making out and more scenes related to the conflict outside of Mara and Noah, but I’m still okay with it.  I really want to find out what Michelle Hodkin has in store for Mara, but I’ll have to wait until I get The Evolution of Mara Dyer back from a very excited student (I bought my copy on its release day and gave it to her the following day to read).

If you haven’t read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, or if you haven’t seen the trailer for that book, here’s a link.

Summary (From Goodreads):

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Ten Things You’ll Learn from Whispers at Moonrise by CC Hunter

C Hunter’s newest book in the Shadow Falls series, Whispers at Moonrise, released on October 2nd!  To help spread the excitement over this release, I’m featuring a guest post written by CC 🙂

Ten Things You’ll Learn from Whispers at Moonrise

  1. Kicking your boyfriend’s father’s butt might not be good for the relationship.
  2. Sometimes following your heart means breaking some rules.
  3. Getting trapped in a grave with three dead girls is not a walk in the park.
  4. Your parents breaking up sucks. Your mom having a boyfriend, and kissing him in front of you, sucks BIG TIME.
  5. When your boyfriend says one thing, but does another, what do you believe? His actions or his words?
  6. You can’t always protect the ones you love. Sometimes the only way to protect them is to tell them the truth—even if it hurts.
  7. When you are in love, you usually want to talk a lot more about your boyfriend than your girlfriends care to hear.
  8. You shouldn’t mess with magic if you don’t know what you’re doing. Especially when someone could end up sterile.
  9. Sometimes it is the little choices we make, and not the big ones, that define who we are.
  10. Be careful what you wish for or you might end up turning a bright shade of red in the boys’ bathroom.

Summary of Whispers at Moonrise (From the publisher):

 “It’s not often that I love a series as much as Shadow Falls. I find myself thinking of nothing else!  This has been one of my favorite series of all time.” –Open Book Society

Shadow Falls Camp is back in session with the most explosive installment yet.  A shocking new threat will rock Shadow Falls—changing it forever and altering Kylie’s journey in ways she never imagined.

 Even at a camp for supernatural teens, Kylie Galen has never been normal. Not only can she see ghosts, but she doesn’t seem to belong to any one species—she exhibits traits from them all. As Kylie struggles to unlock the secrets of her identity, she begins to worry that Lucas will never be able to accept her for what she is, and what she isn’t…a werewolf.  With his pack standing in their way, Kylie finds herself turning more and more to Derek, the only person in her life who’s willing to accept the impossible.

 As if life isn’t hard enough, she starts getting visits from the ghost of Holiday, her closest confidante.  Trouble is, Holiday isn’t dead…not yet anyway.  Now Kylie must race to save one of her own from an unseen danger before it’s too late—all while trying to stop her relationship with Lucas from slipping away forever.   In a world of constant confusion, there’s only one thing Kylie knows for sure.  Change is inevitable and all things must come to an end…maybe even her time at Shadow Falls.

Readership Survey

I’m taking things in a slightly different direction today, and I hope you can help me!  I’ve been blogging for almost two years now, and in that time my blog has grown quite a bit.  Next week I’ll be part of a group of bloggers who will be posting on a variety of topics related to blogging.  I decided to focus on community and accountability since that’s something that’s important to me.

My readership survey will help me construct my post, but it will also give me some important insight about my audience.  I have a pretty good feeling about who makes up my readership, but I don’t know that for sure, nor do I know which posts you find the most useful and want more of.  The survey I created is brief, but it and your responses will hopefully help me make Y.A. Love a better blog!  I truly appreciate your time and help 🙂  If you feel there’s something else you’d like to add that isn’t addressed in the survey, please feel free to leave it in the comments or email me.

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