Archives for July 2015

Up Close and Personal with Animation

One of my friends told me about a new exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science that she thought my boys would be interested to see so last Monday, Leao and I took them to the museum to see it. It is called, “The Science Behind Pixar”. The boys were so thrilled when I told them we were going to see this exhibit. They both love Pixar movies and looked forward to some hands-on experiences.  I too, was excited to learn more about the people behind the magic.

pixar2The boys loved it and I was very impressed with the layout and organization of this exhibit. There was so much to see and learn that honestly, I think we could go again and learn more.  I liked that they had hands-on activities. It help to break up the amount of information for the boys. I know that Leao and I definitely found the video segments with different staff people facinating. The boys watched a few but loved the hands-on. That’s why I think there is plenty more for them to learn.

pixar3We arrived around 1 and it was actually perfect. No huge crowds and after all of our exhibits we headed to the cafe and had a great window seat overlooking the Charles River.  What a treat. Then of course they boys had to go to the gift shop.  Despite some of the overpriced goods, I do enjoy seeing the things they have in stock.

pixar1There was a good amount of life-size characters to pose with. I of course found Sully from Monster’s University and Apollo found Dory. We even renewed our membership so that we will be better about going more frequently. Summer is so special because it takes away some of our crazy scheduling to allow for more fun outings. I look forward to many more.

Have a blessed day friends!


Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Copyright: February 3, 2015
Genre: historical fiction
Format: audio book and book  Narrator: Polly Stone Pages: 438

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

My thoughts:

I heard about this book on booktube and had decided I had to buy it. It was one of my books I received from my birthday book haul. I have been meaning to share my haul with you so stay tuned for that. I did something very different with this book. I began reading the physical book and then I downloaded the audio book version on to my iPhone. Some background here, I took Spanish in high school and Japanese in college so to say my French is lacking is quite an understatement. Sadly, I don’t even know where to begin with pronunciation of French words. So after reading a bit, I tried out the audio version and instead of just listening, I followed along in the book.  It was the best thing ever. I was able to hear the correct pronunciation for all the characters and locations in the book. So when I did read without the audio, I sounded pretty darn good in my head!

This book focused on two sisters, Vianne and her sister, Isabelle who lived in a small village called Carriveau beginning in 1939.  The book also jumps to present day in America where one of the sister is speaking of her life today and reflecting on the past and her experience during war time. The death of the girls’ mother puts them both in a predicament with their grieving father and he sends them away.

 In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. 

What a way to start this book. I think at some point or other we all think about what it would like to be in war and wonder how we respond. We never truly know until we are thrust into the thick of it. Because so many factors are hard to imagine.

The book explores many things but one thing that sets the two sister’s apart in their journey moving forward is their perception of the relationship they have with their father. Vianne tended to be more forgiving and looks for love and finds it with her husband and little girl. Isabelle’s perception leaves her to constantly run back to her father to seek his love and  his “rejection” eventually develops a strong will in Isabelle that leads her to join forces with the French resistance when Hitler’s regime pushes past the Maginot Line to occupy France. The Maginot Line was miles and miles of concrete walls and obstacle sand weapons that had been constructed along the German border after the Great War to protect France.

One thing I really loved about this book is that is shows the strength both sisters have despite the different paths they choose. They both are very strong women in a very difficult time. I really liked that. I liked that the author didn’t make you feel one was better for the choices they made. They both were amazing women and now that I think about it, all of the women in this book were resilient from Vianne’s Jewish neighbor and best friend, Rachel, to the Mother Marie-Therese at the orphanage, to one of the lead contacts for the Resistance, Micheline. None of these women were simple victims. They made difficult decisions and followed their hearts.

As I write this review, I realize I like this book even more. The detail the author provides, pulls you right in like you are standing there next to the characters. The denial they all felt when Hitler’s regime began invading felt so real. Because when crisis strikes, we always feel a sense of disbelief that it can happen to us. The lack of necessities when the German soldiers invaded and confiscated food and fine goods was written in such a way that it allowed the reader to see the transformation from life before to after the invasion.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s hard to forget,” she said quietly. “And I’ll never forgive.” “But love has to be stronger than hate or there is no future for us.”
– Vianne to Sophie

This quote is Vianne talking to her daughter Sophie about a choice she had to make for their safety. It’s a very raw and heartbreaking part of the book but it helped to keep perspective of the dark realities of the times.

This book is so worth the read, for it isn’t just a book about the war, it’s about people and love, and loss, and redemption and so much more. Just read it already!

I rarely give a 5 butterfly rating but I think that this book did everything it meant to do and more. This was my first Kristin Hannah book that I have read but it was a great first read.

5ratingHappy Reading!


Beach Day!


Hello my friends!! It has been way too long. Summer is so tricky for me. I never seem to sit down to update my blog as often as I would like. So pardon the infrequency.

We decided to get up early today and head on over to Crane Beach in Ipswich. There’s still something special about the whole beach experience. First you have the preparation – What to bring? In what? Seating? Towels? What to read? Is it reasonable to tote across the sand? Then there is the packing. This time around I took a totally different approach. I was busy yesterday so running to the store wasn’t an option for snacks. So we packed the cooler this morning with a bunch of water bottles I had put in the refrigerator the night before, bread, and a few pieces of fruit. On our way we stopped at Trader Joes and picked up some fruit, turkey and some chips. Then off we went to the beach. On one occasion, last year, we arrived late and had to park and take the shuttle. This time we went early so that we could park in the lot. Then there is the choosing of the ideal place to set up your stuff at the beach.

beachjuly12aMy current read was hardcover and I didn’t want to bring a hardcover to the beach so I brought a new book and and old one from my shelf to consider for my beach read. I ended up starting The Hypnotist’s Love Story. I get more reading in when it’s only Leao and I but I don’t let that stop me from bringing a book. It just wouldn’t be right for me not to bring a book.

beachjuly12eNicholas took a comic and a graphic novel with him to read. After we played in the water for a bit which in my opinion, is still too cold, we came back and had a snack then began reading. Apollo brought his word search book and did a little but he enjoys playing in the sand more than reading.

beachjuly12fApollo had a scone after his sandwich and he got more crumbs on the towel than sand!  Did he offer his mom any of his yummy scone? No, absolutely not! I tried to pretend it didn’t hurt.

beachjuly12cWhen I was younger I didn’t care much for beach hats. Now I love wearing them. They provide the extra shade I need and protect my hair.  So I all for them. Last year we bought a beach cart and boy does it make life so much easier at the beach.

Now we are home and Leao is preparing the grill so we can have a quick dinner that doesn’t heat the house up!! Yeah!  I love weekends! I hope you had a great one too.


Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray


Title: Secrets of Sloane House
Author: Shelley Gray
Copyright: July 29th 2014
Genre: fiction, mystery
Format: audio book  Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Pages: 352

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

One woman’s search for the truth of her sister’s disappearance leads her to deceit and danger in 1893 Chicago.

Rosalind Perry has left her family’s rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family-she’s at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister’s mysterious disappearance.

Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago’s elite because their wealth comes from “new money” obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family’s position in society-the lifelong dream of his ailing father.

When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind’s life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he’s not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price.

Set against the backdrop of Chicago’s Gilded Age and the 1893 World’s Fair, Secrets of Sloane House takes us on a whirlwind journey of romance and mystery.

My Thoughts:

I stumbled across this book on Overdrive and loved the sound of the audio sample. One of the characters sounded like Mrs. Hughes or Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey. I am not saying the book was anything like the show just the accents were familiar and I liked the summary for the story. It seemed like the perfect audio book for work.

Tavia Gilbert is the narrator and I thoroughly enjoyed her narration. Here is a little bit more about her:

Tavia Gilbert is an award-winning narrator with 300 audiobooks under her belt. Contemporary and literary fiction, biography and memoir, fantasy, romance, children’s literature, science, religion…Tavia’s range of genres is a direct result of her intuitive interpretation, clever diction and pacing, and sensitivity to each author’s or publisher’s needs. She makes her home in Brooklyn, where she produces, directs, and narrates audiobooks and full-cast recordings.

I enjoyed the story of this girl posing as a housemaid to find out what happened to her sister. It was fun trying to figure out who did it. I had just finished a summer reading book with Apollo entitled, “Mr. Ferris and His Wheel” about American inventor George Ferris and how he defied the odds to invent the Ferris Wheel in time for the 1893 World Fair in Chicago.  I did not know much about him myself even though I have ridden many Ferris wheels. So it was really cool to find that my audio book was set in the same time at the World Fair.  I grinned like I knew a little secret when the main character took her first ride on the Ferris Wheel.

The story gave a glimpse of the servants life as well as the upper class that they served while still focusing on the main plot of the story.

I found myself engrossed in the story from time to time waiting to see what would happen. I am definitely going to check out more books narrated by the narrator. It made the experience so much fun.

I would give this book 4 butterflies. Check it out if you are need of a good audio book.


Happy Reading!



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