Author Archive

Sundays With Writers: Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

Happy Sunday, my friends! What a joy it is to share another debut author with you today. As I’ve said before, debut authors are among a favorite of mine because I love the joy of discovery of finding someone new to add to my favorites.  Today Sejal Badani is joining me for a virtual coffee to share more about her beautiful book, Trail of Broken Wings. I discovered this book through her GoodReads Choice Award Nomination for Best Fiction and dove into it over our holiday break. After reading more on Sejal’s backstory, I just knew she would be such an incredible author to feature here for our interview series.

Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

 

In Trail of Broken Wings, domestic abuse is fully brought to light in this account of one family and the man who abused them. As he lays in a coma, each of the sisters and the wife replay the events that happened through their traumatic years and the reader uncovers the dark secrets that they each have carried. 

This one delved a lot into the Indian culture and the traditional roles of women in their culture, many of which I was not aware of! It would make for a compelling book club discussion and did not shy away from some of the demons people battle when they have been abused.

The book had a great twist at the end that really added some depth to one of the character’s storylines. Raw and honest, it would be impossible to read and not feel a new awareness and sadness for those abused.

Editor’s Note: At this time as I write this, the Kindle version is listed for a mere $2.00

I included this book in our November/December Must-Reads list!

Now grab your coffee and let’s settle in with Sejal about her incredible debut novel!

Sejal Badani

I have read in past interviews that you have said that you felt compelled to write Trail of Broken Wings after witnessing and surviving your own childhood abuse. What was that process like writing this story and how hard was it to put such a deeply personal journey out in the world?

This story was one I searched for as a young adult and never found. I mentioned it to my good friend and editor Benee who really got behind the story. The characters’ individual stories were challenging to tell but important. They were three very strong women who had to discover themselves outside the framework of their childhood. Though the events in the story are fictional, the emotions and struggles of the characters felt very familiar to me either because of my research or own experience. When the story was finished, I was relieved but also really pleased that the characters’ stories were honest and inspiring.

Trail of Broken Wings

I’d love to quote a passage from your story… “Everyone must a reach a point in their life when they stop running. When it is easier to stand still than to keep being chased, even if the person chasing you is only in your head.” At what point did you stop running and change the story of your own life?

Though my mom didn’t have a lot of choices when we were growing up, she made it make very clear to us that we should carve out a very different path for our future. Because of her, my sisters and I were very fortunate to believe in ourselves and love. Law school was pivotal in my life because it gave me a better understanding of options available to people in similar situations. Later, in my research for the book, I learned about so many incredible individuals who had to make the decision to stop running. The journeys they took are truly inspiring. This quote is really a testament to their strength and perseverance.

The issues that each of the daughters struggle with in the aftershock of abuse were all written in such a raw and beautiful way, unflinching from many things that most books shy away from. Have you heard from any of your readers who may have suffered these same traumatic moments and how much they could relate to this family’s story and the raw honesty that you wrote it?

I have and every single time I am so touched and amazed by the human spirit. Countless number of readers have reached out to tell me that the book resonated with their own childhoods or those of someone they love. Their honesty and willingness to share their story is incredibly humbling and I’m very grateful. I’ve also had a number of readers tell me this book encouraged them to start their own healing process – that it gave them hope for their future. When I hear that I can’t even describe what it means to me. To know that it has helped even one person is really an extraordinary feeling.

Trail of Broken Wings

I know this may seem a silly question, but was there a reason you chose Brent as the name of the father, which feels so different than the other Indian character names in the book? Do you think that readers sympathize with him since he too suffered as a victim of racism? Do you sympathize with him?

It’s actually a question I get quite a bit so not silly at all.  I consciously chose Brent because I wanted readers to know that there are no racial or socio-economic limitations on abuse. Though the story is set in an Indian-American home, it was very important to me that the characters be seen as universal. Brent is really a composite character from my research. I think his character chose to take the actions he did without thought to the consequences or effects. As an author, I wanted to give background as to why he made those choices but I’m not sure it can excuse them.

Trail of Broken Wings has garnered so many wonderful reviews and has been so well-received, even scoring a GoodReads Choice Award Nomination this year! What has that experience been like with a debut novel and what has surprised you most about this process?

I’ve been so honored and humbled. It’s really been an amazing journey. I’m incredibly grateful that readers have connected with the story and the messages in the book. I’ve been a writer for a number of years and have been on the other end of the spectrum with more rejections than I care to count. So the success of Trail of Broken Wings has been very welcome. From my editor, agent, publishing house and publicist, Trail of Broken Wings has been supported and championed. My biggest surprise is how smooth it has all been. I credit that to the people mentioned above and all the amazing readers and bloggers like yourself who have featured the book. Trail of Broken Wings wouldn’t be where it is without all of you and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

You carved out an excellent twist at the end (which I do not want to give away). Did you always see this as the surprise you wanted to reveal to your readers or was it something that developed once you started writing it?

It was something I had planned for the story from the beginning. Without giving too much away I knew the mother had to discover her own strength. She had endured so much but when her daughter left I think that really made her see what her life had become. She was foremost a mother and just wanted her daughter to come home. To me, the truly heroic moment was when she admitted what she had done. She chanced her own freedom for that of her daughter’s and I think that’s when Sonya finally understood how much her mother really loved her. It finally allowed Sonya to love herself and open her heart to a normal life.

Are you working on your next book? Can you tell us anything about what you might have in store for us next?

I’m actually working on two novels simultaneously right now. One is a novel of a young attorney who journeys to India to discover the tragic story of her grandmother’s love and loss with a member of the British Raj during the 1940’s. The other is a young adult dystopian novel that tackles the issues of choice, freedom and finding your true self in an unrecognizable world.

 Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

It’s so hard to pick one! I’m a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and just finished his book David and Goliath so I’m going to go with that. It’s very insightful and made me think differently about the obstacles we face in life and how overcoming them often helps us develop our greatest strengths. I’m also a huge admirer of J.K. Rowling so I have to throw that in there.

You can connect with Sejal Badani on her website or through Facebook!  I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Magic, Pet Hair Free, & Card Game Hilarity

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

birthday

Well, hello there! I hope you guys are having another wonderful week! It has been a cold one in Indiana so the fireplace has been going, the cocoa has been flowing, and I have been curled up with a good stack of books this week.  I’m really looking forward to diving into this one this weekend. Her books are always such a special treat and I’m hoping I can snag the author for an interview for the Sundays With Writers series too- fingers crossed!

I also started Parks & Recreation over on Netflix. Is it okay to admit that I have never seen a single episode of this show? I have been laughing hysterically at this one and so happy I waited so I can binge on them all with my husband. It’s been our new favorite evening routine at our house!

weekly-chore-chart

I promised our newsletter subscribers we would continue to build on our home management binder and today you will be receiving a brand new weekly chore chart to add to your binders. If you haven’t used one before, here is a great tutorial on how to make this organizational tool work for you! Be sure to check your email for our newsletter!

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Here are 3 other little things that are bringing me joy this week! 

Just Add Magic

Just Add Magic

We just finished the first season of the Great British Baking Show over here, which was such a delightful little cooking show to watch with my daughter. We don’t use our Prime membership as much as we could so we have been trying to watch more shows through that since we pay for those member perks.

Just Add Magic is our next obsession together and it is an adorable show for tweens that is fun and family-friendly and something that is definitely worth indulging in with your Prime membership.  Kelly Quinn and her two best friends, Darbie and Hannah, stumble upon her grandmother’s mysterious cookbook in the attic and discover some far from ordinary recipes. Part mystery with just the right amount of spookiness, this show is a great one to watch with your daughter as you try to unravel where this cookbook came from and what potential dangers cooking from the book unlocks.

It reminds me of the evenings I spent with my own family on Friday nights watching TGI Fridays and getting a few life lessons in each episode. When Kelly’s mom has a spell cast on her that makes her only tell the truth, she admits that she feels like her daughter ditches her for her friends. That led to such a great talk with my girl about how special our time together is and even how moms feel left out of their lives sometimes. It’s just been such good stuff for conversation and for snuggling.

This first season is exclusively available on Amazon Prime and I hope you love it as much as we do!

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Pet hair can be a bit problematic around here especially when it comes to my couches and chairs. I decided to get this Bissell Pet Hair Eraser and it is THE BEST investment for tidying up your upholstery. It has a rubber nozzle head for gathering and suctioning the pet hair off your your surfaces and then another attachment that can be used on hard surfaces, like cleaning up a food or litter spill.

The first time I used it on my couch, I suctioned the equivalent of a small cat off my furniture. Who knew? If you are battling pet hair too, it’s a fantastic investment and only $24.99!

Exploding Kittens Card Game

Exploding Kittens

Have you heard of the Exploding Kittens card game? I happened to find this game when searching for something else on Amazon and it sounded like a game that my kids would love. What I didn’t realize was how much WE would love it and how often we would be playing it…even after those kids went to bed.

Exploding Kittens is a highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The deck is made up of cards that let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck.

The game gets more and more intense with each card you draw because fewer cards left in the deck means a greater chance of drawing the kitten and exploding in a fiery ball of feline hyperbole.

This game was created by Elan Lee (Xbox, ARGs), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), and Shane Small (Xbox, Marvel).  It’s smartly designed, a bit of family-friendly potty humor, and a blast with kids (or with a couple glasses of wine when your children retire for the night!).  They also sell an adult version, if that’s your thing. I’m talking to you Cards Against Humanity crazies!
I can’t recommend this one enough and this can be played with up to five people and is intended for ages 7 and up. The best part? It should only take you about two minutes to catch on and costs a mere $20.
*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

 

Our First Community Reads Day

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Community (1)

Keeping up with the Books section of our site and the author interviews for our Sundays With Writers is fun and challenging. I feel so honored to share about great books with you. The pacing to keep things fresh is challenging for a single reader though!  With that in mind, today we kick off a new monthly feature called Community Reads. If you are a part of our MomAdvice Hangout Group, each month I will ask about what you are reading and ask for a short blurb on a book.  You can also email books you are loving to me to amy(at)momadvice(dot)com and I can also add them to our monthly lists.

My hope is to inspire you to connect with at least one incredible book this year and I hope you will enjoy this new feature with even more reads each month!

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Read It: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Recommended by: Kristen (who also happens to be a librarian- DREAM JOB!)

Maud is an elderly widow with dementia. Her daughter is getting fed up with Maud’s insistence on finding her friend Elizabeth. The whole thing reminds Maud of something else- when she was a child, her beloved sister also disappeared suddenly. Maud’s unreliable narration fascinated me in a similar way to The Girl on a Train or the film Memento.”

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Read It: In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Recommended by: Rhonda

This was an awesome thriller that kept me turning the pages! I can usually figure things out but this had a few good twists!

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Read It: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Recommended by: Ana

This was a quick read and I really enjoyed it. If you love food and good writing, you won’t be disappointed.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Read It: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Recommended by: Beth

I just read Elizabeth Strout’s MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON. I loved it. It is a simple but deep story about a woman and her relationship with her family.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

A Pocket Full of Shells by Jean Reinhardt

 

Read It: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom & A Pocket Full of Shells by Jean Reinhardt

Recommended by: Mimi

I enjoyed The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. It’s about a young girl from Ireland who was stolen and forced into slavery. It is an older novel, 2010, but worth reading.

I also read the first of a series, A Pocket Full of Shells by Jean Reinhardt. It’s the story of an Irish family that survived the great hunger. I am Irish and have been on an Irish novel reading jag for a few years now.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Read It: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Recommended By: Elly

The Orpheus Clock by Simon Goodman

Read It: The Orpheus Clock by Simon Goodman

Recommended by: Alice

Goodman seeks restitution for his Jewish family’s stolen heirlooms during World War II. The first half of the book is the story of the his great-grandparents and grandparents who collected the priceless pieces, many of whom lost their lives during the Holocaust. The second half of the book is the story of finding these lost pieces and restoring them to his family. Because of the first half, the reader is invested in his family and cheers Goodman on to vindicate them in this small way.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get these books and read them myself! What did you read this month that you loved? Feel free to recommend your favorite reads below or join us in the group to chat about your favorites! We love new friends!

This post contains affiliate links. I fully trust and back my community of readers and their opinions on their favorite books!

The Virtual Librarian Experience: Easy to Digest Books For Busy Moms

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

Moms get busy and reading time ends up getting put on the backburner as so many of us struggle to keep with our kids, running a home, and jobs. I remember when I came to the revelation just a few years ago that I missed my favorite hobby and made a resolution to make reading a priority again in my life. I am so glad I renewed my commitment to get reading again and I am hoping that this series is inspiring to you so that you can find some new books for your stack. My hope is one of these readers sounds just like you and you will want to try out a few of the recommendations of your own.

If you would like me to pick some books for you, just fill out this quick questionnaire and submit it. I will send you an email when your post is live to let you know my favorite picks for you! You can also leave comments on books you would recommend for this reader too in our comment section below!

reader-profile

Reader Profile

Name?

AnneMarie

What is Your Favorite Book Genre?

Fiction

Who Are Your Favorite Authors?

Any who write well.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What is Your Favorite Book of All-Time? 

Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott

What Do You Look for In a Book?

It must be fast-paced. 

Anything else I should know?

Right now, easier/quicker engrossing reads are what I am looking for! Honestly, I have been reading lots of YA books lately, but “grown-up” books are good, too!

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

The Virtual Librarian Selects…

Easy and engrossing books are something many people look for especially in these dreary winter months when you need a quick pick-me-up. I love YA books and I also love to read lighter books in between heavier selections so I don’t get too bogged down with my reading. The first recommendation I would make for someone like AnneMarie is that she explore the world of audiobooks. Since I know that she happens to be a local, my favorite resource right now for audiobooks is through hoopla which is connected with our library. You can check up to ten out over the course of a month and this can be a great way to get in a easy read rather effortlessly between running kids and doing household chores! 

I love YA, but thought it might be fun to pick some books that are out of that genre, but easily as engrossing!

Here are my top selections for AnneMarie based on her reading profile:

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

I know that AnneMarie will love this deliciously fast-paced chick-lit book because I count it among my absolute favorites in this genre. I admit that the premise sounds a little cheesy, but once I really fell in love with this one and think she will too.

Anne Blythe seems to have everything. She has sold her first book, has a fabulous life, and fabulous friends. When it comes to being lucky in love though, she can’t seem to ever find the right guy. novel. After her best friend announces her engagement and her latest relationship ends, she decides to take a risk and contact a dating service in hopes of finding the perfect match. Upon her first appointment with the dating service though, she realizes that it is not a dating service at all, but a matchmaking service for an arranged marriage.

Once she starts the process, there is no turning back and Anne finds herself traveling to a Mexican resort where she will meet and marry (all in the same weekend) her “perfect,” guy.

This book has great twists and turns that you will really enjoy and can be devoured in a single day making it a fantastic reading escape for AnneMarie! 

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is one of those authors that I always recommend when people are looking for something quick and a book that is easy to fall into. Necessary Lies is the first historical fiction book I have read by her and one of her meatier novels! 

Necessary Lies is one of those books you just want to share with a book club because it lends itself to such a great discussion on what role our government should play (if any)  in our lives when they happen to be the system our families need to rely on in financial struggles. I know AnneMarie loves a good political discussion so that is why I am recommending it for her. 

Chamberlain weaves a fictional story about the very real North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program that was in effect from 1929 to 1975. In this story, 15-year-old Ivy Hart, her mentally slow 17-year-old sister, and young nephew “Baby” William all live with their grandmother who is in failing health. Jane Forrester becomes Ivy’s family’s social worker and she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize “mental defectives,” among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate.

Although I felt this one had a slower build for me, it was worth powering through for the incredible discussion and the endearing characters that are told through this story.  I just can’t stop thinking about this one! If you love this book, be sure to check out her prequel!

the-rosie-project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I’m hoping that AnneMarie hasn’t tackled this one yet because I can’t recommend this one enough for an unusually fun & sweet love story.  I just know if she started this one, she couldn’t stop! 

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

I fell in love with Don and found myself laughing out loud often at so many of the scenes in this one. I wish the ending had not felt so rushed and I did have a hard time figuring out The Father Project results (told from Don’s perspective), but I adored this book anyway! This was a great summer read!

Did you read the sequel to this one? I’m not seeing great reviews on it so I’m on the fence if I want to read it or not! Let me know!

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

The story is set in 1987. June Elbus is at the tender age of fourteen and her uncle (and best friend), a renowned painter has passed away from AIDS. At the time, it is still an illness that few people understand and there is much shame and secrecy about Finn’s death.

At Finn’s funeral though, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days after the funeral, June receives a package that has a note from a man named Toby, who claims to be a friend of Finn’s. He sends to her Finn’s teapot, a treasured item that June has always loved, and says that he woud like to meet with her.
An unlikely friendship is forged, but it is a secret friendship that threatens her family in unlikely ways.
This book is so beautiful it makes your heart hurt and pitch-perfect. Brunt writes the angst and emotions of a teenage girl in an achingly beautiful way that will remind you of your own youth.It is a really beautiful coming-of-age story that I think AnneMarie will really appreciate. I also though this one moved at a good pace so it will easily grab her attention. 
A-Tree-Grows-In-Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Since I know AnneMarie loves classics, I am going to add one classic to today’s book selections because this one is such a readable and enjoyable classic. 

This book was one of the most unbelievably beautiful, heart-wrenching, unexpectedly laugh-out-loud funny in portions, make me weep in others, and heartwarming books that I have read in my life.The story is about Mary Frances Nolan (also known as Francie) and she shares the story of her life from the tender age of eleven until she turns sixteen.

Growing up as a poor girl in Brooklyn, she shares the story of the survival that they must go through to keep food on the table and the difficulties of family life when ends just don’t meet. With a mother who is doing the best she can to keep their family afloat and an unreliable, but loving father who works as a singing waiter and takes to drinking at night to cope with the realities of his life, the family lives in a tiny flat in Brooklyn where they try to make the most on the very least.

Francie is forced to be older than she is from the very beginning of her life. Often saddled with the task of bartering at the grocery store, figuring out a way to get into a better school so she can get her education, and made to get jobs to help with the family finances or assist her mother on jobs, you can’t help but admire Francie’s resourcefulness throughout the book.

The Christmas scenes, the things that the children treasured the most, the tin can filling with pennies of earnings that would later feed them, the diary entries carefully edited because of her mother who didn’t want Francie writing about her father’s alcoholism, the impractical gifts that the children gave to each other (and their mother let them) only to discover their mother was right, those feelings of first love- all beautifully captured in prose that held me and wouldn’t let me go.

While I can’t say that there is a definite plot to the story, the book is told almost in short story format sharing the daily trials and tribulations of growing up in a poor family, it really did not need a focused plot because the writing was so beautiful. Since it is written in this format, I think AnneMarie will really enjoy it since it can be read in small batches like a short story collection. 

I would say that it mainly focused on the self-discovery that Francie makes about herself and about her parents as she becomes more aware of what is happening around her and as the responsibilities later shift to Francie’s shoulders when she struggles with wanting to be an adult and support the family, but also desires to get an education.

No words can describe what a treasure this book is to read. Despite being written so long ago, the themes are still so current- the need to keep up with one’s reputation, the importance of hard work and honesty in life, the discovery that money isn’t everything, but that it does make it easier when you don’t have to focus on it, and the importance of loyalty to your family.

What would you pick out for AnneMarie based on her preferences? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love though! 

 

Amy’s Notebook 01.20.16

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Paint it Black via SF Girl By Bay

Source: SF Girl By Bay

 

Paint it black. WOW!

Finger knit a statement necklace.

I love peeking at other people’s favorite books of the year!

Quinoa Bowl with Kung Pao Edamame- this combo sounds heavenly!

15 genius tips for living in a small space.

This looks like an effortless weeknight meal.

Bookshelves envy.

Pesto-Roasted Tomato Omelette via Cup of Jo

Source: Cup of Jo

 

This pesto and roasted tomato omelette sounds divine!

Wow! An impressive grout makeover.

12 other documentaries you might like if you loved Making a Murderer.

Contentment often requires boundaries. This really spoke to me!

Did you read all of the Oscar nominations?

Being a bookworm is hard work.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

How To Make a Dream Catcher (GIVEAWAY- Star Darlings Book Sets)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

I am so very excited to share with you an incredible new book series from Disney that just recently launched, perfect for girls in the age ranges of 8-12 years old.  Star Darlings  focuses on answering the question of where wishes come from, and features a diverse array of star-charmed girls who encourage and help others to fulfill their heartfelt wishes. Each Star Darling has her own wish that she pursues with the help of her faithful friends.

These shared journeys and experiences provide exceptionally positive examples to inspire tweens to follow their dreams and helps to  harness the power of their individuality, highlighting the power of making positive choices, and shows that they can make anything possible.

Star Darlings Book Review

Star Darlings A Wisher's Guide to Starland

These books are rich with themes of friendship, confidence, leadership, and teamwork, the Star Darlings as they are known, go on many magical adventures together. Determined to succeed in spite of their youthful inexperience, the girls show courage and ingenuity—plus a whole lot of humor—as they guide Wishers to discover happiness and fulfillment.  You can learn lots more about the Star Darlings series on their webpage and find fun activities, music, and videos to watch about these inspiring girls!

My daughter is an advanced reader at ten and found these books to be fun AND challenging. Within record time she had finished the first book and could not wait to start diving into the next ones.  If you have a tween girl, these have been a great step towards reading more advanced books! She really loved them and also told me that she has already found something in each character that feels a little like her.

Since the new Star Darlings series is all about the power of wishes, we wanted to share with you a few of our dreams and wishes for this year and show you a fun way to capture those by crafting a DIY dream catcher together. Not only that, but we would love to share with you the chance to win these books for a special young lady in your life so be sure to scroll all the way to the end of this post to participate in the giveaway!

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed:

Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

Embroidery Hoop (we detached the inner hoop for our project)

Fabric Scraps or squares

Hemp Cord (available in the jewelry supplies section of your craft store)

Feathers (any amount/color- we used 3)

Colorful embroidery thread

Scissors

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Dreamcatcher

1. Begin by cutting a small cut on the longest side of your fabric piece and then begin ripping it down until you have a nice even piece.  Holding it in place at the top, begin wrapping the fabric around and round the hoop. When you come to the end, add a dab of hot glue to secure it and then repeat the process until you have covered the entire hoop. Once you get to the end, finish again with a dab of hot glue.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

(source)

2. The most challenging part is, of course, creating the webbing inside the dreamcatcher.  Here are lots of examples that you can see on Pinterest. Depending on your child’s age and craft level you can make this very easy, like we are showing here, or more difficult!

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

Measure approximately five feet of hemp and start with a knot at the top of your dreamcatcher. Then begin creating loops, twisting and looping until you get to the beginning again. Then begin the next loop of webbing by going between those circles to create the next round of loops. You can then keep repeating this pattern, as the circle begins to get smaller and smaller.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

3. Have your child tear strips of fabric to tie to the bottom of the dream catcher. We chose two colors and alternated them in our dream catcher.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

4. Finish with decorative details like feathers or beads to complete the look. We used a little embroidery thread to secure these to our dreamcatcher.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

When I asked Emily what her big wishes and dreams were for this year, they were all focused on our big jump to middle school next year. Starting at a new school is a big challenge and I can tell that this has been on her mind a lot as she asks her brother many questions about the school and how her day will look there. She said that her big dream is for middle school to be full of good stuff. Doing this craft together gave us time to really talk about that and focus on catching all the good things in life and focusing on the positivities of new friends and new experiences at a new school.

With our busy schedules these days, crafting together has gotten pushed off and I loved making time to create with her this week. This was an easy one hour project that really gave us some time to bond and talk about our wishes for the upcoming year.

Star Darlings

Star Darlings Book Review

In honor of this new series I am giving away a Star Darlings prize pack. One (1) winner will receive:

  • A Wisher’s Guide to Starland
  • Sage and the Journey to Wishworld
  • Libby and the Class Election
  • Leona’s Unlucky Mission
  • Scarlet Discovers True Strength
  • Vega and the Fashion Disaster

This giveaway open to US addresses only and prizing and samples will be provided by Disney Press.  Please check out the widget below for more details on this contest! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

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Sundays With Writers: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

It has been awhile since we have featured a YA pick on Sundays With Writers so I am excited to share with you a book that I think offers the same charm that I have appreciated so much, like in Rainbow Rowell’s, Eleanor & Park. I am big on quirky characters and I’m also big on coming-of-age adventures and Mosquitoland now tops my list of incredible YA debuts with this heartfelt story of an oddly charming girl, named Mim,  who runs away from home and takes a Greyhound bus to be reunited with her mother.

I am so excited to be sharing a little behind David Arnold’s journey as he brings the story of Mim to life for us. I really appreciate hearing how he figured out a way to balance his dream of writing with being a new father and his conscious effort to develop a real and true partnership with his literary agent. It’s really inspiring to hear about!

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

I really began to fall in love with all of these well-crafted characters that Arnold created in this charming book. Each character that she encounters comes with his own set of quirky oddities as Mim’s bus ends up making an unexpected detour and she ends up on a road trip with two unlikely friends in search of her mom. I really loved this one!

Can we also talk about that cover? SWOON!

Grab your coffee and let’s settle in with David Arnold and hear more about his incredible novel, Mosquitoland!

David Arnold

I am always so thrilled to feature debut novelists and Mim and the other characters you created for Mosquitoland completely captured my heart in such a beautiful way in this debut. I understand that you never had intended to go the YA fiction route, but found yourself down that path with this book. How did Mosquitoland end up falling in this genre and do you think you have found your niche moving forward as a writer?

Thank you so much for having me! And yeah, it’s true I never really set out to write “young adult”—but it’s not like I set out to write “adult,” either. As an author, I feel it’s my job to tell whatever story I have in me at the time, and to do so as honestly as possible. As this was my first real serious go at writing a novel, I didn’t focus on what kind of book it would be or where it would be shelved, because I honestly didn’t think it would ever get to that point. I wrote Mosquitoland because I had to, because this voice wasn’t going to leave me alone, but only in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would get published. So yeah, I didn’t necessarily intend to write young adult, but I absolutely could not be happier about it.

The last couple of YA books that I have read have shared about the struggles with mental illness in those teenage years. All the Bright Places & Every Last Word are just two books we have featured on the site recently that speak to this struggle with mental illness. You said in a past interview that there are some very brave writers out there in the YA genre and I also find your own writing to be quite brave too in talking about this topic. Why do you think so many YA writers are sharing about this and did you do any research in order to prepare for writing these scenes with Mim?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but (much like my answer above) I didn’t set out to write a book about mental illness. However, once I realized this would be part of Mim’s story, I did feel a certain burden of responsibility, a duty to get it right. In addition to extensive reading on the front end, I ran the manuscript by a number of mental health professionals. Mental illness looks so different for so many different people, it was important Mim’s experience, her responses and reactions, be plausible. It’s a tough thing writing outside your own experiences—I did everything I could to get this one right, and I can only hope it was enough.

  Greyhound Bus source: wikipedia

Fleshing out a whole Greyhound bus of characters seems like a challenge as a writer and this book overflows with both passengers and new friends that Mim meets along the way. First of all, do you diagram out the bus and all the people on it with a seating chart or do you just dive in and create them as you are writing out the story? Secondly, have you ever taken a Greyhound bus anywhere and did you use any of that experience to help create Mim’s crazy adventures (I’m hoping there is a funny backed-up toilet story for us!)

To answer the first part of your question: no, I never did a seating chart, though I should have! That would have been helpful. I do pretty extensive timelines for my characters, so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this. But yes, I did take a Greyhound from Nashville to Newark, though this mostly shaped the descriptive language of traveling by bus (sorry to disappoint! All toilets functioned properly. :/), rather than provide any actual fodder for Mim’s experiences.

You are the second musician that also happens to be a book writer to be featured on our Sundays With Writers series this month (we just got to chat with Josh Malerman from The High Strung who also wrote Bird Box this past week.) He spoke very honestly about the difficulties to do both and that now that his book has garnered attention and praise that he is struggling to make the time for writing music. Do you face the same balance struggle now that Mosquitoland has gotten such incredible reviews?

It’s sad, but I haven’t written any new music in probably two years or so. I used to have a home studio where I wrote and recorded music for indie films, commercials, and youth camp videos. That all fell by the wayside when my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby (surprise!). I said goodbye to music (though at the time I would have sworn this would be a temporary goodbye) and became a stay-at-home dad. You can’t really record music with a newborn, but whatever down time I got became writing time. I wrote most of Mosquitoland while he napped or, when he got a little older, watched Sesame Street. Any stay-at-homes out there who are looking for time to write, but also happen to be on a budget, I have a helpful tip: child care at the YMCA is free (with membership), and while they don’t allow you to leave the premises, they say nothing of setting up your laptop in the lobby. A huge portion of Mosquitoland was written at the YMCA. Writers write, under any circumstances. But I digress. Yeah, music has definitely taken a backseat to writing novels. But I’m okay with it, because I want to take every advantage of the opportunities I’m given, and right now, that means pouring everything I have into my books.

Why did you decide to put that age gap between Mim & Beck when you know we wanted them to be together so bad? Darn you, David! Although my mom heart would be pleased if my daughter was reading it…so maybe that is why?

Ha, yeah. There may be something to the parent thing, but the real reason I wrote it that way—and man, I’m going to take some flack for this—is because generally speaking (NOT in every case, you understand) I am fairly indifferent toward love interests in books. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS. Plenty, actually. But I never wanted a love interest for Mim. I mean—it just didn’t feel like part of her story. But when I toyed around with the age gap between Beck and Mim, I found myself intrigued in a way I hadn’t been before. Here’s this guy who is just old enough to make a romantic relationship morally questionable, but just young enough that it almost wouldn’t be. It was a challenging in-between, but also opened up a whole new arena of writing for me.

As a writer, I know as soon as that book hits the world (and often before that), you are already working on the next book project which can be so challenging to push forward. What do you have in store for us next and was it hard to move into something else after spending two years on Mosquitoland?

Book two is the worst. I don’t mean, you know, as a book (at least, I hope not). I mean its execution. In my case, I had a two-book deal, so when Penguin bought Mosquitoland they also bought a second novel based on a one-paragraph synopsis. When the time came to actually write the thing I was paralyzed. As I mentioned before, I wrote Mosquitoland for myself, on my own time, with zero expectations. I was now being asked to write a book, which had already been paid for, on someone else’s time, with many expectations. I’m not complaining by any means—I know how lucky I am to have gotten the opportunity. But I think there’s a romanticized notion that once you get a book deal, you’ve got it made in the shade. Aside from parenting, writing a novel is the most challenging thing I’ve done. This was exponentially true of book two. That said, I absolutely struck gold with my professional writing team—my editor and publisher, my agent, everyone has been incredibly patient and smart and kind. I’ve only written two novels (the second comes out in September), but they are both a product of teamwork.

One thing that really stands out to me about you is that in other interviews you have shared about taking your time to find the right literary agent that gets you and not just going with the first one who gets back with you. I had the same experience as a writer and find that there is something magical when you find someone who just gets you and gets what you write about. Can you speak to that for just a moment about why you really took your time selecting your agent and do you think the time you spent on selecting this partnership really helped with the success of your book?

Absolutely! As professional relationships go, your editor is buying your book; your agent is buying you. If things go well, the writer/agent relationship could last years, even decades. I think there’s this common misconception that just getting an agent is enough. But just like all manuscripts and authors are different, so too are agents. This is part of why form queries are a horrible idea. Each agent has their own personality, and each agent looks for something different on the page, which is why you hear now famous authors talk about their stacks of rejection letters. I spent about two months getting a query letter into shape, then another 4-6 weeks researching agents—who they represented, what they were looking for, even their tones during interviews. Agents can tell when an author has done their homework.

Your cover is just perfection and one of my favorite covers probably ever. How did your team come up with such a great concept and is there anywhere we can purchase a print of it? It’s just fantastic!

THANK YOU. I love it too, and would love to say I had even an ounce of its conception/execution, but alas… I have very limited artistic skills. The cover was designed by the very talented Theresa Evangelista at Penguin, and illustrated by Andrew Fairclough at Kindred Studios. I had some small input toward the end, but they’d already done such a fantastic job there was little for me to say or do.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

I have “Raise High the Roof Beam” tattooed on my forearm. I am unapologetic in my love of J.D. Salinger, specifically the Glass family novellas. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters really struck a chord in me, and of course, the original poem by Sappho is outstanding.

You can connect with David Arnold on his website or through Facebook!  I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

It’s the 3 Little Things: Art Forgery, Defying My Age, & Locking it Down

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Italy-Edits-21

Hello, my friends! I hope you are having a wonderful week. I admit that I have been doing a lot of reminiscing about our trip to Italy this week as I peek through our photos. It is, perhaps, because I am celebrating my birthday this weekend and remembering what a lucky lady I am to have experienced that this year. I am looking forward to celebrating with my family & friends this weekend and also have planned a much needed (and deserved) pedicure on my agenda.

It’s going to be an embarrassing visit, I admit!

I’m also looking forward to consuming some books this weekend and I have two good ones in this week’s stack. I have never read short stories before, but this collection is just amazing. Each time I finish a story, I’m just wowed and sit in that moment for a minute. To think they were all written by one woman.  I also started this one on audiobook  and it is fantastic and such a great narrator. Thank you, hoopla!

Here are a few things I have been indulging in this week:

Beltracchi: The Art Forgery

Beltracchi: The Art Forgery

My husband and I LOVE watching documentaries about art and I have to say that Beltracchi: The Art Forgery is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have seen about a man who managed to dupe the art world for over 40 years. Wolfgang Beltracchi is an incredible artist that could have painted anything for himself, but instead decided to forge the art of famous artists for fun. The documentary starts just before he head to jail and tells how he, his wife, and two accomplices sold hundreds of these pieces as original works by famous artists including Max Ernst, Heinrich Campendonk, Fernand Léger and Kees van Dongen. In 2011, Beltracchi was sentenced to six years in prison and in this documentary he explains how they pulled it off and his reasoning for doing it.

You can stream this documentary through Netflix or it is available for streaming on Amazon!

I would not say they are apologetic about the work that they did so if things like that frustrate you, this one might not be for you. We found it be very compelling and gave this one a solid 4 out of 5 stars!

Clairol Age Defy

Clairol Age Defy Hair Color

I have been coloring my hair at home for years and years.  At first I started doing this because it of the cost and now that I could afford the splurge I do at home because of my time constraints and frequency I would need to visit the salon (HELOOOOO, GRAYS!). I bounce around trying new color brands and I found out that my favorite brand (Nice ‘N Easy) has started a new Age Defy line that claims to fight the seven signs of aging. I can’t speak to the marketing slant on this product, but I can tell you that I absolutely LOVE this hair color. It has a little more depth in it than the original product and my hair actually felt healthier than it did before I colored it.

There is one extra step with this one though. It has a pre-treatment that you apply before adding the color on. You put it on your hair, but no additional rinsing or anything like that. It’s still really easy to use.

I have been getting lots of compliments on my locks after I used this so I’m feeling good and I love that it costs less than $10. For those that have dark brown hair like me, I stuck with the Medium Brown color and it is perfect!

I don’t know if I look ten years younger, but I was really pleased with the results!

Circle Internet Monitoring Tool

Circle- One Month Later…

I have been getting a lot of texts and emails from friends asking how we are feeling now about Circle, the internet monitoring device we decided to use after things got admittedly BAD in our family. I can honestly say that it is working really well for us, but we did have one minor snafu that I would like to mention.

If you haven’t heard of it, Circle was created through a partnership with Disney and it is an internet monitoring device that you can purchase for a flat rate of $99 (no additional fees or monthly fees). You plug it in, it connects to your Wifi, and then you use an app to set up profiles for each family member so you can monitor each person in the home with their own settings, time limits, and bedtimes. You can also use the pause button on the app to pause a family member’s internet time or the whole family if you need family time.

When my son got behind on his science fair project this week, we made it “easy” for him to focus by pausing him until his project was done. As a punishment tool, it is easier than requesting his device or worrying if he was getting sneaky with us by sneaking it back. Super simple and a great way to take away privileges.

Our snafu was putting the devices to bed at a certain time and then going out on a date and them having no way to contact us which was kind of a scary evening when no one was responding to me. We now need to remember to extend the bedtime those evenings or make sure that we provide them another device (assigned to us) for them to be able to text us. Other than that though, this has honestly been super easy to implement and has been a wonderful addition to our home. It’s put us back in the control seat and I feel really good about that!

I would recommend this as an affordable and smart tool for any family with kids. Feel free to ask me questions on this one!

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

 

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Tracking PixelGluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Lingham’s Hot Sauce. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site! 

Sloppy Joes are nothing fancy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love them. When my husband and I were in high school, we would hit a local deli each week where he would enjoy a good old-fashioned sloppy joe sandwich and I would indulge in a flaky spinach & feta croissant as a special treat. When you have been with your partner as long as I have, almost every memory, every dish, and every life moment is laced with each other. I always think of those lunches when I make this dish for him, these high school moments that later shaped my life and family.

We have held steady and true to this classic sandwich over the years, but this week I’m partnering up with Lingham’s Hot Sauce and thought it would be fun to switch up this classic comfort food in their honor. My husband, a lover of traditions when it comes to the classics, was not too sure about my Sloppy Buffalo Joes idea, but after one bite of these delicious sandwiches, we all agreed that this was just as good as the classic version and a fun gourmet twist on a cafeteria staple.

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

Lingham’s Hot Sauces were new to me, but have actually been around since 1908! They come in a variety of flavors from garlic to ginger and they offer an extra hot variety for those of you that like your hot sauce with an extra kick. Their original hot sauce is absolutely divine and the closest I have tasted to homemade from the supermarket. It has a complex flavor on the tongue that at first tastes sweet and then the heat travels through, just like an experience that you get with a good glass of wine.

The sauce is thick and requires a good shake before you use it since they don’t use any bulking agents, something the brand really is proud of. The best part for this gluten-free gal is not only is it gluten free is that it is 100% all natural, verified non GMO, Halal and Kosher…

Oh, and did I mention you can find it at Walmart stores nationwide? Yay!

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

Sloppy Buffalo Joes are a healthier take on a big plate of buffalo wings as we get back to more balanced eating in the new year. This sloppy joe mixture consists all white ground chicken meat, garlic, diced onions, diced celery, and diced carrots. Next is a spicy sauce layer with our Lingham’s Hot Sauce (feel free to go Extra Hot on this one!), tomato sauce, chicken broth, and a worcestershire sauce finish. Once this cooks down together, it has that perfect balance of sweet and spicy, just like the hot sauce we added and I love that there is a healthy serving of veggies in these for my kids!

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

The thing that really brings this whole thing together on this sandwich are those finishing touches. Blue Cheese crumbles are sprinkled on top and the addition of a toasty bun completes this deliciously sloppy joe treat. The creaminess of that blue cheese really adds balance to the spicy sauce on this.

I usually avoid the gluten-free buns, but have discovered that a gluten-free bun slathered with a tiny bit of butter and then toasted on a hot cast iron skillet improves the flavor of these 100% for me.  Of course, you could also serve this delicious filling stuffed in a sweet potato or over a big pile of brown rice.

The true test if a dish is a success is if the leftovers are eaten in our house. Not only did our whole family love this, but they begged to eat those leftovers the next day. This one is going into our regular meal rotation and I have a feeling if you try it, it will go into yours too. What a fun spin on an old classic!

Be sure to pick up some Lingham’s Hot Sauce to add that perfect balance of sweet and spicy to your dishes!

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Take classic sloppy joes up a notch with this spicy buffalo flavoring and creamy blue cheese finish. It's sure to be a new family favorite!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼-1/3 cup Lingham's Hot Sauce (Original or Extra Hot- we used a ¼ cup in our house)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 8 gluten-free buns, split and toasted
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 large dill pickles, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the meat and break it up with wooden spoon, then cook for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add in the carrots, celery, onions and garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cook for 7-8 minutes more.
  3. In a bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, tomato sauce and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer until the mixture comes together, five minutes or so.
  4. Pile the sloppy Buffalo filling onto the toasted buns and top with blue cheese and chopped pickles.

 Adapted from Rachael Ray

This post is sponsored by Lingham’s Hot Sauce. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site! 

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The Virtual Librarian Experience: Fast Paced For A Patterson Lover

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

I really hope you are enjoying our fresh new series on the blog as I virtually select books for our readers. Today I am selecting books for a reader that loves a fast-paced thriller and I have to say that I have read a lot of these over the years. I think there is no greater pleasure than those especially when they keep me up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish it.

I stay away from the big names that crank out the books that are often found on the bestsellers list because I love discovering new writers and sharing about them with you all. That might put me at a disadvantage since I can’t always speak to those writer’s styles that, but simply their genre. Fingers crossed I can still deliver on today’s selections despite not being as familiar with these writers as our reader is!

If you would like me to pick some books for you, just fill out this questionnaire and submit it. I will send you an email when your post is live to let you know my favorite picks for you! You can also leave comments on books you would recommend for this reader too in our comment section below!

 

The Virtual Librarian Experience from MomAdvice.com

Reader Profile

Name?

Kelly

What is Your Favorite Book Genre?

Thrillers

Who Are Your Favorite Authors?

Stuart Woods, James Patterson, Carol O’Connell

harry-potter-series

What is Your Favorite Book of All-Time? 

The Harry Potter Series

What Do You Look for In a Book?

It must be fast paced.

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

 

The Virtual Librarian Selects…

If there is one thing I REALLY love it is a fast-paced thriller. For me, thrillers often sound spectacular on their jackets and then end up missing the mark so I am REALLY choosy about this genre and few reach over a 3-star potential for me. That’s why I feel REALLY good about my choices for Kelly today. I also would love to introduce her to a new writer she may not have known about before so I am selecting a few fast-paced reads that have kept me up until the wee hours of the morning!

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Into the Darkest Corner is just the book for you if you are looking for a book that you just can’t turn the pages fast enough and causes you to be groggy the next day because you just had to finish it!

Catherine Bailey is a young, single, and beautiful woman that catches the eye of a guy named Lee who is working at a nightclub one night that she is at one night with her friends. She is quickly taken in by him and she isn’t the only one. All of her friends seem just as smitten with Lee as she is.

While their relationship starts out with a passionate fury and a surprising attentiveness that Catherine has never experienced before, she soon realizes that there is also another darker side to Lee that, frankly, scares her. Lee continually is both physically and mentally abusive to Catherine and begins to wedge doubt of her own character by planting seeds in the minds of all of her friends who all begin to question Catherine’s own stability.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine, who is now going under the name Cathy, has become a shell of her former self, and is riddled with obsessive compulsive disorder as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. Although she has no friends and no one to lean on, an unlikely relationship blossoms between herself and the her upstairs neighbor, Stuart. Just when she begins she thinks she can find happiness, Lee is released from prison and first on his agenda of people to visit….Cathy. What happens though when everyone believes you just have OCD and there really IS someone after you?

At several points I realized I was holding my breath because the book was so suspenseful as the character, Lee, is in pursuit of her. For those of you left wondering is there any life after Gone Girlthis book is for you.  This book is perfectly timed with a great story build of a woman before and after an abusive relationship came into her life.  
This is a fantastic read, but not for the faint of heart due to extreme violence and graphic sex scenes.  This is just as dark and twisted as Gone Girl,  but brings a level of suspense that I have been waiting a long time for in a book.
If Kelly isn’t faint of heart (ha!) and can handle the darkness in this one, then I think she will love this one for its quick pacing! 

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

If you are looking for a fast page-turner of a book, this is it. This is a beautifully written mystery that echoes some of my favorite thrillers from Chevy Stevens. When a woman discover a bullet in her body that she was never aware of it, it sends her life spiraling in a direction that she never expected.

The origin of that bullet and the people around her that it has affected, cause this cold case to be reopened… reopening wounds of the family and friends around her.

Despite the gravity of the case and the circumstances surrounding it, the book is laced with great humor and a cast of endearing characters. I really enjoyed this one for a quick escape!

I have NO DOUBT that Kelly will love this one! After finishing it, I highly recommend our interview with Mary Louise Kelly to find out how she came up with such a creative concept for her storyline! 

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

 The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The book opens with the following words, “I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia is unlike her parents in every way, content with her life as an inner-city school teacher. When she finds herself at a bar one night alone, after being stood up by her boyfriend,  she meets a guy. Her plans for a one-night stand turns into the worst mistake of her life.

I don’t want to say anymore because the beauty in this book is those plot twists you never see coming! This is such a strong debut novel from Kubica and I also loved her second thriller too, just in case you haven’t checked it out yet!

I am recommending this one to Kelly because I think the plot twists are stellar in it and the pacing is quick. After she finishes, Mary joined us in our Sundays With Writers series to talk about her debut as a writer! 

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Legal thrillers aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I REALLY loved this one and I think Kelly will too!

Andy Barber has been a district attorney for over twenty years. He is well respected and knows how to command the courtroom. When a murder happens at his son’s school, he is among the first on the scene and is ready to help bring vindication to the murderer.

What Andy never suspects is that his own son is the one who is charged with the murder. Andy is removed from the case when all clues begin to point towards his son. Andy doesn’t want to believe that his son could commit such a heinous crime, but as mounting evidence points towards Jacob, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Does he hide the evidence he finds that he knows that the police might be after or let the justice system decide the fate of his child?

Part family drama, part thriller, I could not put this book down. My heart ached for this family who is now ostracized from their friends and coworkers, while the other part of me ached that Jacob would be proven guilty of the crime. The reader will be taken on a wild ride from start to finish with this book. It is a twisty ending that will leave you breathless.

Whatever you do, add this deeply moving book to your list. I highly recommend this read for book clubs because it gives readers a chance to think what they might do to protect their child.

I think this will be a variation on the typical thriller I would recommend for Kelly and found it to be REALLY compelling with some great twists! 

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

Hush Little Baby is the story of a woman named Jillian Kane who has the life that she always dreamed of. She is a successful businesswoman, she has two beautiful kids, she wants for nothing financially, and her husband is a well-respected cop who every woman wish she had. Jillian is living with a secret though.  For nine years, her husband has abused her and he is calculating enough to abuse her in ways that no one would ever suspect that she is a victim.

When things escalate too far, Jillian decides to run away from him with her two kids. Unfortunately, she has no money, no plan, and no one that she can turn to.  It is in this most pivotal moment of her life that she develops unlikely friendships and learns to finally save herself and her kids. Her husband though, is a cop and is determined to do everything in his power to get his children back…and kill her.

I could not put this book down because I was so worried about Jillian and her kids. For two days, every moment I had, I was reading this to make sure that they could get to safety. When I say that I had my heart all wrapped up in this one, it would not be an understatement.

I have a feeling that Kelly will love this well-paced psychological thriller and recommend reading this interview with Suzanne Redfearn about her book after she is done! 

What would you pick out for Kelly based on her preferences? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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