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January 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Picture it…

Top Ten Tuesday is one of my favorite memes ever! Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, TTT involves listing books, etc. based on the week’s topic. This week I’m highlighting my all-time favorite children’s picture books.

The List

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown – I have fond memories of my mom reading this book to my brother and me at bedtime. The love the mommy bunny has for her baby bunny is comforting and precious.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – This is another tale I loved to listen to as I slipped into dreamland. The full-page illustrations are adorable, as is the story – perfect for bedtime!

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – I can totally identify with this story, as I have been attached to MANY stuffed animals and generally assigned feelings to them anyway! I have a special Valentine’s Day edition Eeyore that I got at The Disney Store back in 2003. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of cuddling with a plushie…

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – Winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal, The Snowy Day is another story I recall being read to me as I lay in bed. I love the sense of wonder possessed by the little boy central to the book.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs – I did not realize The Snowman was a book until I recently found and bought it for my sons’ library. My brother and I grew up watching the VHS version at all times. While it’s one of my favorite stories, I could cry just thinking of the ending.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – This precious picture book is almost too cute for words! It’s a book I bought for my boys and my oldest son loves it – the illustrations and story are terrific and so much fun!

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – I remember when I discovered I had been mispronouncing the title character’s name until my grade school librarian began reading the Amelia Bedelia books to my class. Oops!

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag – A lifelong cat lover, how could I not include Millions of Cats? Another book eliciting happy childhood memories, I remember wishing that I in fact had millions of cats myself!

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson – About a witch and featuring fantastic rhymes, Room on a Broom is loved by my son and, of course, got chewed up a bit by one of our dogs. Oh, well. At least the book looks as well-loved as it is!

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen – I’ve always loved fictional characters with poor attitudes and the title fish is quite naturally loved by me. 😀

Love, Maggie

Sporadic Update

January = Reading Rainbow

Hello, hello! 😀 Welcome to the inaugural edition of Sporadic Update! While I hope to post an update at least once near the end of each month, I make no promises to keep to a schedule, hence ‘sporadic’! Sporadic Update was inspired by The Sunday Post meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 😀

Sweet Reads

For the first time EVER, I’m ahead of my Goodreads challenge goal! Yay, me! 😀 I pledged to read 40 books this year and I’m three ahead, as I’ve read six books thus far this month. It’s so nice being a step ahead – I’ve got a nice cushion to take a reading break if necessary and still comfortably meet my goal.

Four of the books I’ve read this year were given either four or five stars by moi. My five star reads were both of the Brian K. Vaughan graphic novels I read –  Saga, Vol. 1 and Paper Girls, Vol. 1. I’m basically obsessed with Vaughan’s work now and with graphic novels!

My four star reads were A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and Leah Remini’s eye-opening memoir Troublemaker. The sole reason I couldn’t give ACOTAR five stars is that Maas used some writing elements that aggravated me, other than that, the story is AMAZING!

Troublemaker, about Remini’s nearly lifelong experience as a Scientologist, was an awesome, educational, and entertaining read. The best part is that Remini discusses Tom Cruise’s role in the religion as well as her nightmare trip to attend his European wedding to Katie Holmes!

Sour Reads

Unfortunately, there were two books I read in January that just weren’t quite my cup of tea. Franklin W. Dixon’s The Tower Treasure, the first in The Hardy Boys series, just got on my nerves. I thought I’d love it, as I ADORE Nancy Drew. Sadly, this was not the case. I gave it two stars.

January’s other two star book was Red Winter by Annette Marie. I was really into this book until I got about 30% through it. I was so interested in the Japanese mythology-based tale and then the story just got goofy and didn’t go where I had hoped. Le sigh.

Welcome to My Library!

In January, I obviously only obtained graphic novels! I’m so tickled to have broken into the graphic novel/comics genre at last! 😀 All by Vaughan, Paper Girls, Vol. 1, Saga, Vol. 2, and Saga, Vol. 3 found their way into my mailbox. 😀

For my Kindle, I got Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None. I’ve never read Christie’s work for some odd reason and I’m excited to start! I’m really looking forward to reading the Hercule Poirot tales as well.

From Kindle Unlimited, I borrowed Red Winter, Figment by Cameron Jace, and Elise Kova’s Air Awakens.


I signed up for three year-long reading challenges this year, in addition to the ever constant Goodreads challenge. First is The Reading Assignment Challenge, hosted by Because Reading and Fantasy is More Fun. I decided to make it easy on myself for this particular challenge and pledged to read one assigned-to-myself book a month. I chose to read The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan this month, which I have yet to do! 😀

I’m really having fun with the 2017 Keyword Reading Challenge, hosted by My Soul Called Life! The chosen words for January were: Court, of, Fall, Way, Deep, and Thousand. Naturally, I chose to read the fabulous ACOTAR! So, I completed this challenge for January! 😀

Finally, I’m doing the Shelf Love Challenge, hosted by Second Run Reviews and This challenge involves reading books from one’s own personal library. I’ve done well with loving my shelf this month; I’ve owned three of the books I’ve finished thus far for a while.

In Real Life

On the home front, things have been really good! *knock on wood* My precious, hardworking husband started training for his new job! 😀 I’m so very proud of him – he stuck it out in a local factory for six years and now he’s movin’ on up!

My itty baby turned four months old on the 17th. I can’t believe it’s been four whole months, but at the same time I can totally believe it! So much has happened since Hank’s September birth!

I just applied for a job as a school-based therapist in a neighboring county and I’m excited about the prospects! I wasn’t actively searching for a job, but an ad for this one popped into my email and I jumped on the chance – it seemingly fell in my lap!

I’m a social worker and children are my favorite people to work with, so fingers crossed! Plus, the job is listed as a 12-month position. It’s nice knowing that if I am able to secure the job, I will have the opportunity to move on in a year if it just doesn’t work out.

February Forecast

Book wise, I’m planning to read Marissa Meyer’s Heartless as my February pick for the Reading Assignment Challenge. I figured this one would be appropriate for Valentine’s Day! 😀 I have seen mixed reviews for Meyer’s retelling, but I’m hopeful!

As far as the Keyword Challenge, I’m at a loss as to which book to choose. If anyone has any suggestions for books with at least one of the following words (or a variation), I will ADORE YOU FOREVER!

  • and
  • Rose
  • Promise
  • Every
  • Deception
  • Blazing

I had the good fortune of obtaining an e-ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James, which publishes February 14, so I plan to read it before its release.

In Closing

I hope all of you have a FABULOUS week! 😀

Love, Maggie


My Blogging Mantras

TGIF! 😀 Welcome to Feature and Follow Friday, hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee! The weekly meme features a question and answer format, with a new prompt each Friday. In addition, Feature and Follow Friday gives bloggers a means of promoting their work as well as the chance to discover new blogs.

The Prompt

What are some tips that help you with blogging?

The Answer

As a dabbler in blogging for the past two years (!), I’ve mainly learned how to curate my space by learning from my mistakes. I’ve also had to teach myself to go my own way – to really personalize my spot. Following are my top four tips:

  • ALWAYS contact other bloggers whose ideas may have sparked a creative burst within you. I learned this early in my blogging ‘career’ by starting a project on my former blog that was too similar to another blog’s established community. While the thought to contact the blogger whom I was inspired by crossed my mind, I neglected to do so and felt repercussions. I managed to apologize and mend fences, but I was absolutely mortified. Just remember to maintain open lines of communication with others in the blogging community.
  • Reading comments on my posts makes me so happy. Knowing that someone actually read my writing and thought enough about my words to leave a reply is validating. I do my best to blog hop and support other bloggers when I can. Even if I can’t actively visit other blogs as often as I like, I always reply to comments I receive, unless I overlook one. I feel that engaging readers in conversation is very important and uplifting to fellow bloggers.
  • I know a lot of bloggers give this next bit of advice, but it’s so true – blog for yourself first; remain true to your passions and don’t feel imperfect by comparing your blog to those of others. I have been guilty of feeling less than by comparing my follower counts to that of more established blogs, which I had to realize was silly. This is something that I have to remind myself often!

How to Follow The Caramel Files

If you’d like to follow along, feel free to do so in any way you choose! Social media links are located in the footer and there’s always the classic email follow! 😀

P.S. If you do follow my blog, please drop me a little note in the comments so I can follow back!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Love, Maggie

Mostly Mag

Freshly Picked

Hi, y’all! I’m Maggie and I no longer consider myself to be new to the blogging community; however, I’m giving myself a fresh start here at The Caramel Files.

I have a blast as a co-blogger at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets, an amazing bookish blog where I write alongside Lila and Claire.

While I adore bookish blogging, especially review writing, I decided that I need my own nook of the internet – a place where I can decorate on a whim and learn to spread my bent blogging wings again.

P.S. I am in no way planning to abandon my post at The Bookkeeper’s Secrets!

As of this moment, I am starting this particular blog with no clear direction on where I’m going. Book blogging is part of my wheelhouse – I definitely want to sprinkle The Caramel Files with reading-focused content. My hope is to generate new and creative content as well, to try to stay away from specifically categorizing my brand spanking new blogging space.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that I will be dabbling in book talk quite often, but, as I said above, I’m hoping to incorporate more creative content, perhaps more writing-focused stuff.

I grew up living on books and pens – reading and writing at every opportune moment. While I’ve successfully reignited my love affair with books, I have yet to get back into the writing groove.

I have tons of memories of the creative writing adventures I undertook with my childhood best friend, Rachel. Practically every school year, we’d come up with new crazy characters and spend semesters focusing on developing said characters.

We made up some hilarious stuff! For example, I created a pathetic guy, Poor Johnny, who, in each story, had horrible luck and would sometimes lose multiple body parts. I remember giving Poor Johnny a glass eye complete with a smiley face as well as a hand missing every appendage save for his birdie finger. This feature often got Poor Johnny into severe arguments, typically with thugs.

Another of my favorite characters to write about was another pretty pathetic guy, Larry Lobo. I wrote of the misadventures of the Lobo family, which included wife Bertha, a truck driver, and a set of Siamese twins. My favorite part of the Larry Lobo tales is that the family’s neighbors live in a mansion dubbed Breaking Winds!

My own longest running series, The Cats Series, started as a school project in fourth grade and evolved over the remainder of my elementary school years. The Cats (and dogs) in the stories were based on my pets and those of friends and was a soap opera of sorts. Speaking of soap operas, I’m suddenly reminded of a ‘script’ I created years ago called As the Hairball Turns!

I feel that I was such a creative child and would like to build off the characters I made up so long ago. My hope is that as I work to evolve and polish my characters of yore that I will have a new creative burst. So, we’ll see what happens here!

To those reading this, I thank you for beginning with me my journey at The Caramel Files!

Love, Maggie