Books · Product Review

Book Beau-A Book Lover’s Product Review

One morning a few months ago while sipping coffee I was browsing social media and saw something called a Book Beau. Have you ever heard of It? Have you seen It? Do you have one too? I felt like I was seeing it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I was like a fish looking at a baited hook. I needed to know more about it. I did my research. And went about my day wondering what the buzz was all about.

A few weeks later, again while sipping coffee, my social media feeds suggested Book Beau. I checked Amazon and discovered it wasn’t available there. I was hoping to read reviews. I did find some YouTube videos and as you can tell, my interest was piqued. Book Beau’s site was offering a sale on pre-order fabrics so I took the bait and decided to find out what this phenomenon is really about.

Who knew when I ordered these babies that it would take probably twice as long. I ordered them early March under the impression they would be made and delivered in time for Easter. Production issues caused a delay and they were here before May Day! Barely. The company did communicate a couple of times via email with new shipment dates and even offering a coupon on another order the second time they had to advise of the delay.

Now, were I a Beau addict, I may have jumped right on the deal. Having yet to own one, I was slightly annoyed. Perhaps in future they might consider a partial credit for first orders of at least the shipping cost. This is a young company that used kickstarter to get into the business. They honestly care about the product and customers and may not be in a profit margin that gives them much to work with. And honestly their production issues were probably so incredibly stressful for them.

But I have them now and I have been been test driving my beaus for a couple of weeks. I should really stop ranting and get to raving.

When I opened the simple packaging and pulled these too beauties out, I have to say I was nonplussed. Yes…speechless. I saw the online images and I don’t know why I was initially confused. But puzzled, I was.

Believe it or not these babies sat on the floor next to my work space for a few hours as I went to the internet checking into my sanity.

Then I decided to give them a test drive and fell in love.

We have sleeves and covers for our electronic devices and planners. Why not our books?

And they come in the right sizes for paperbacks. Do you toss paperbacks into bags and then they get contorted or damaged? Yeah. It happens.

What I love best is that my self-directed learning books also have room to have designated pens and highlighters stored together. When I am on the go everything is in a neat little package to grab from my bag to pick up right where I left off.

They also are made of water resistant fabric for rainy days and leaking bottles.

It is easy to spot your current read in progress versus your to be read books if using these sleeves too.

Needless to say, I am ready to add to my collection. They keep adding new designs and the sizes are great for mass market and Indie print size. This book lover cannot imagine life without them after only a week.

Time to rethink the budget to add more functional fun to my collection.

Watch for more fun in this space. And if you want to find out more about them or purchase one (I am not getting any perks here.) Book Beau has an easy site to browse and buy.

Have a great weekend. I am off to play with books!

Books · Family · Goals · lists · Planning · Planning · Vision · Writing

Managing Monday-Let’s Talk About Lists, Baby!

As I near the end of March, I start thinking about April. Planning does that to me. I see the next month coming as the pages turn. Ugh! My mind goes into overdrive. To control the chaos, I start thinking about monthly goals, important events and I make lists. Lists help me focus and allow me to be distracted by things in the process. My kids send me texts or come to the door of my room and interrupt. My dogs don’t care that I am in planning mode. If they want affection they get right in my face or sit on my foot. Whatever it takes. So lists are helpful because if I have written it down I won’t forget it. Well, that and it eases my mind.

What on earth do I need lists for? And why do I obsess over them? How many times have you gone to the store and forgotten something? Me? More than I care to admit. And hey, the lists on the phone work for some people but I love what I call a hybrid version of this.

Shopping lists

I have Google Home and I have my household conditioned to tell Google to add items to the shopping list. Best. Thing. Ever. Except for the fact that they cannot see the list so I end up with some items repeated three or four times. That annoys me when shopping from it. Since I meal plan before shopping, I tend to start that list on paper because that is my meal planning method. Pulling up the Home app and looking at the list created through the week to add the needed items is all part of the procesd. Honestly do I need four bottles of ranch dressing? My kids might think so but my budget would argue differently if it could speak. I consolidate to my paper list and chuckle every time I look at that Google list. My kids have jokes. They come up with crazy items. This last time the mystery item was “a stick.” My daughter confessed to this little gem. I mean go in the yard for that one. Obvious right?

Fun Wish lists

All through my planner, you will see wish lists and this is one of my favorites. Concerts and Festivals. Last night after dinner I was enjoying a glass of wine with the family (the legal age drinkers had wine too) and we were all playing music from our Spotify lists and talking about shows. I grabbed my handy wish list and asked which, if any, they would be interested in. What a great time we had looking at other events and finding common artists we all knew and liked.

Why do these go on a wishlist and not right to my calendar? Well, I have to admit that I am budget conscious and won’t put it on the calendar until I bought the tickets. I just don’t like disappointing myself in the reality on that monthly spread by marking something out. I like wishlists better. How about you?

Cleaning Lists

This is a re-try at an old method. My family is ignoring the list posted on the fridge. I suspect that is partly due to everyone’s crazy schedule. When I would like to see things get done seems more like a wishlist of disappointment. The dishes get done and the trash and recycle are taken out but everything else just gets ignored until I make a fuss. So, I am putting this back in my planner and not on the fridge. And when people are home, I will ask nicely and then track who complied. Then i will settle on doing it myself if it is really bugging me. Yesterday was a day where everyone asked what I would like done. So I guess the flow is changing and I will ride the ride.

I picked this format from my stash. I got it from Natalie Rebecca Design several months ago. I think I bought this from her Amazon Store. I am excited to switch it up and see how we get along with it.

Spring Cleaning

I love fellow bloggers who share great tips and tools on cleaning. In preparing for April, I decided this would be a great checklist as I plan my spring clean. De-Clutter Challenge. I actually started some of this last weekend on my own and was frustrated because I was in perfectionist mindset and spent far too long on each task. I went in search of a new method and ran across this saved in my favorites.

Master To Do List

I use a running to do list that follows me from day to day and sometimes week to week. It isn’t always the same format or paper style. This list sits in the middle of my weekly spread where I can note items while I am on conference calls, in meetings, and in those moments of meditation when there is a lot on my mind. The only way to give my mind rest at times is simply to stop and write it down.

Reading…I make lists for this too

I love this planner that Brenda Novak sent in her January Reader’s Box. My reading Vision in 2018 has been to read more. And I set a realistic goal of 2 books per month. Now, what has actually happened is that I have gotten to about 2 per week. Rediscovering this joy makes my heart sing. If you looked all over my house, there are books and my Kindle has a vast virtual library. So I don’t have to go far to make a pile like this.

Every month I have managed to build a pile of self-directed learning and pure enjoyable fiction. Did you notice Erma Bombeck in the pile? My mother always picked up those books. They were her version of the Reader’s Digest for the bathroom quiet time. Sometimes as a mother that is the only room where you tend to spend any amount of time with no interruptions. Well…let me have this moment of fantasy. I have been thinking about these books so I picked a couple up to revisit her wit and wisdom. She was always inspirational.

Oh and plots. Those Works in Progress are eating at me. I have an itch to write chapters after chapters. I am a seat of my pants writer and know I need to find a balance with some structure so this April, I am going to study on story plotting.

Managing Mondays and every day is built on the foundation of lists. What kind of lists do you make? Daily? Weekly? Wishes? Share in the comments. I would love to see pictures and read what you put on your lists.

Have a great week!

Books · Goals · Planning · Reflection · Uncategorized · Vision · Writing

Book Talk – Am I reading more?

Happy Friday! Yes, I’m sipping coffee and I’m wishing I could take the day off to read. It dawned on me that I have yet to share much about my Vision Board and my plans to read more. I used to be an avid reader. A couple of books a week was a typical average. Life got in the way. More like Igot in the way of reading!

I read an article earlier this year about how some of the world’s most successful leaders read every day. So if they can make time to read, why shouldn’t I? In all honesty, I love reading and once I started down this journey of rediscovery this year, I wanted to read more and more. Joining Brenda Novak’s book club and reading challenge was a great launching pad for me. And my “to be read” pile grows larger every day. The more I read, the more I find I want to read.

Let me share with you some (not all) of the books I’ve read so far this year. In each of the books, I will share an overall impression of the book and maybe even a link so that if you want to read it to you can. Full Disclosure: If I provide a link and you use it to purchase it via Amazon, you will be helping me sock away a bit of money to help support this site. I thank you for that.

Reading For a Better Me

<a href=”Shaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure is a great book that is packed full of motivation for physical and spiritual fitness. I love watching her in movies on the Hallmark Channel and I loved watching her grow up in Full House. This book was her way of sharing how she went from that chubby girl to a healthier and happier version of herself. I enjoyed this book because it wasn’t a diet book. It wasn’t a book that pointed out everything I do wrong. It was simply her view on how through faith and family and introspection she worked to make small changes over time that have been maintainable. As such an easy read, I keep it handy and actually pick it up every once in a while to look at end of chapters where she provides recipes and scriptures plus a little practical advice. It never hurts to reconnect. I really enjoyed it and hope you might too. Check it out.

OOLA: Find Balance in an Unbalance World by Troy and Dave the OOLA Masters. Now this book is not new to me. I got it a few years back and with my refocus using a Vision Board, I decided to pick this one back up because I wanted to revisit it. Everyone talks about work life balance and how important it is. I hear it all the time at the office. I preach it all the time to my colleagues. Does anyone really know what it means or how to do it? This book is full of how to put that into practice. I love that it even gives you an assessment to help you learn which of the 7 areas of a balance life may be needing more attention. The OOLA masters don’t tell you “how” to fix yourself. They share real stories and examples which allow you to reflect. Then they offer encouring nudges on how to find your action plan starting small and going bigger and bigger until you feel OOLA complete.

If you don’t get any other book this year, get this one! I have enjoyed reading it again and I’ve also enjoyed comparing my Vision Board for 2018 to their suggestions of an OOLA board and recognize that I have work to do to help me get balance. I also realized that I think reading this book in the past truly helped me subconciously as I was building my vision. My focus areas are closely aligned to the Seven Fs.

Reading for Joy

I have to be honest that I don’t always read books that show me “how I can do things better.” I have to read for the sheer joy of reading. It is my great escape. I love diving into other settings with fun characters and seeing what happens in their lives. Sometimes I have books that I really wanted to read but I struggle to find the time or just have a challenge connecting. Don’t you? Then there are times where I’m so engaged that I cannot put the book down and procrastinate everything else I should be doing. It is important to make time for this kind of joy. I think that even the world’s leaders have had books of fiction or non-fiction that really and truly were escapes into other settings. I learn from these characters and story lines too. So, I made sure I read from this “To Be Read” pile too. Here are some highlights on some of these other books I read in the past two months.

Edge of Darkness (The Cincinnati Series)

“>Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose was a great book. This was part of Brenda Novak’s Readers Book Club. Last night was the book club discussion where Brenda visited Karen and they hosted a Facebook Live discussion that allowed all of us to be part of the interview and discussion. I haven’t been much into mystery and supsense books but I’m a converted fan after reading this book. It is part of a series and I have added all of the other books in the series to by TBR pile because this book was that good. Her characters are real. Her settings were vivid in my imagination. And I didn’t know who did it for certain until she revealed it. I had a good guess, but I wasn’t 100 percent certain. In the discussion she let us know which of her characters in the series she has planned to “star” in upcoming books and I was very excited to know that I can look forward to some of my favorite secondary characters taking the front seat in future books. I learned a lot about how Karen manages her writing including how she keeps track of all of the characters in the series. As a writer myself insight to the writer’s life and learning tools and tips I might apply to my own work in progress and ideation process always gets me motivated and excited. She is a huge fan of Tami Hoag so I’ve decided I must prioritize some of my TBR list to ensure that I read one of those books this year instead of continuing to put it off. Funny, how an interaction with people can change your thinking in only an hour’s time.

Any Dream Will Do: A Novel

“>Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber is probably my favorite of the books I’ve read recently. Do you watch Hallmark Channel Movies? I do. And Debbie is one of those writers who has had several novels made into movies. Her stories are just that captivating and full of real people and sweet outcomes that they lend so perfectly to the Hallmark lineup. I’ve watched so many and realized that I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book. So when I was taking up the challenge to read a book in February based on the look of the cover, this one stood out to me at the supermarket. And I’m so glad it did. I just loved Shay and Caden’s story. Shay is so imperfecttly perfect that she melts my heart. So much of her personality resonated with me. I felt a kinship of parts of me in my younger years when it comes to choices in trust and relationships. And much y favorite character really was probably Caden’s daughter, Sarah. She said it as she saw it as any youngster would but her insights and observations were just so simple and true. Perhaps she reminded me of my daughter at that age. Such wisdom from those so young! I hope you pick this book up and just dive into the characters and watch them grow personally and together to make a new heartwarming family unit. You will feel so good at the end. I assure you.

Her Secret Daughter (Grace Haven)

“>Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne was a sweet “commercial” and I picked this book up so that I would have a quick read. I like the Harlequin series books for the short read. Often this is a book length that I can finish in an afternoon while sipping coffee. I enjoyed this book about Josie and I really fell in love with the characters from Grace Haven. Have you ever read a book where you love the secondary characters more than the main ones? This was definitely one of these books for me. Addie is the “secret daughter” and she was a little girl who could have been written so differently considering what she had been through in life. The author, Ruth, really had me cheering this sweet girl on because I just knew that she was surrounded by people who loved her and having a chance to know her biological mother would maybe confuse her but in the end could just be the thing to help bring her that much more joy. I was rooting for Addie more than I was rooting for Josie. And honestly, at first I wasn’t sure I liked Josie and wasn’t sure I wanted her for Jacob. In the end, Addie is who changed my mind about that. Check this book out one afternoon and enjoy it with your favorite beverage in a comfy chair.

I guess I was all about the kids in my books this month. And it proves to me that secondary characters are critcal to any story line and matter to readers. I am looking forward to the next few books on my pile. If you pick up and read any of these books, please come back and let me know what you thought of them. I’d love to hear. What else should I put on my list? Any suggestions?

Books · Goals · Planning · Vision

Reading Inspires and Relaxes

Are you like me? Do you have books stored in your Kindle? Is there a “to be read” list in your GoodReads account? Are hard covers stacked on a bookshelf? Are random paperbacks lying around the house or stored in boxes in a closet that still need to be unpacked? Are these books something you intend to read and never seem to get to? I have a plan for 2018 that is going to change that.

It all starts with…Why?

Why am I not reading? Why do I want to read? Why do I have books and lists about books everywhere?

As I sip coffee and get honest with myself I know why. I have been allowing myself to waste time on other activities. And one of the biggest time wasters is the ever present screen: the laptop, the television, the mobile device. I get quick reading fixes on social media and justify my lack of time to read a book by hopping in to read articles or blogs or tweets as sufficient. Reality check! Before social media I would have opened a book and read a few pages.

Coming home and turning on the television or sitting down with my teenage daughter to mirror her zombie-like stare at the big screen watching whatever she has on is almost a Pavlovian response at the end of a busy work day. And with streaming devices everywhere in my house picking something to watch that is new or an old favorite takes no time at all. Let’s face it, there is a certain instant escapism in these actions. It wasn’t so long ago that books were my friends and the characters and settings took me away from day-to-day life. How did that happen? I tried telling myself that life got in the way. Liar! I got in my way by choices I made. It was easier to watch endless hours of screens and hop from article to blog, from tweet to movie or series binge. I used to binge read books: two or three a week!

Now let’s move to How…

Sipping from my second (or maybe third) cup of coffee, I have to ask myself, the girl who always has a list or a plan in mind, how will I ever change? I love movies and T.V. I have YouTube channels that I subscribe to. My mobile devices are full of apps that quickly take me to some mindless place in cyberspace to waste time. Well, I have a planner for that and a place of accountability.

Late last year I joined the Facebook group of one of my favorite authors, Brenda Novak. This amazing community is filled with avid readers, wanna be avid readers, and lurkers. I was admittedly a lurker. I follow a lot of authors on social media and have for years. I have big dreams of getting published (that’s a story for another day) so having them in my social feeds is inspiring and educational. Brenda’s community is always buzzing because she is a genius. She hosts games, chats, a book club, and she sponsors a Book Buddy program. I decided in December that I should hop off the lurker shelf and join in the fun. I signed up to participate in the book club, checked in to accept the book reading challenge, and asked to be matched to a Book Buddy. Instant Accountability!

Are you overwhelmed by everything I agreed to do? I was too. Not for long. Brenda certainly knew someone like me might be. She offers a monthly subscription box program for readers. You can also opt in from month to month based on availability and order in advance. I am so glad I jumped in to try the January box. Her boxes always include a couple of box and some extras. January’s box was sheer perfection for this reader because it included this planner and basic supplies.

Washi tape! A pencil holder! Pencils! I was in heaven. And two very creative reminders…

She also sent these cute coasters. Readers love to enjoy beverages while they read. My cup looks great on it. Doesn’t it?

My crafty brain is already thinking of how I might repurpose a couple of them another way.

In the planner she has important events and activities already pre-printed. She included places to take notes, make lists, set goals, plan, and all the white space is just waiting for sticker, washi tape, and pen colors. As a girl who loves planners and likes to focus certain planners by purpose or life areas you know I am in love!

What next?

I am going to get the pens, washi, and stickers out today and personalize as I plan all my 2018 aspirations to be an avid reader. I want to turn off the screens more as I make choices to discover new writers, make new friends, see what inspires other readers, dust off the kindle and the shelves, unpack the boxes and ultimately….in December…see what I accomplished on this journey.

I need recommendations to fill up these pages and so I can exceed my goal of 50 books in 2018. Please post your suggestions in the comments below. Are you in a book club? Share what you and your club are reading right now. What is your reading goal? Are you part of a particular author’s group? Which one?