Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Sundays With Writers: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

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My husband laughs about how much research I do to prepare for these Sundays With Writers interviews, but I love researching about the people behind the books just as much as I love the books themselves. Today’s guest, Erika Swyler, is an author that I have found completely fascinating as I have read more about her.  She wrote a beautiful book called The Book of Speculation and instead of going about the whole writing process the traditional way at a computer, she did it longhand. Instead of sending files to land an editor, she decided to try binding books herself to catch an editor’s eye.

It’s because of her unique methods that I wanted to feature her today in our interview series. I can’t wait for you to read this book and this interview with Erika!

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

I knew I was going to love The Book of Speculation because it had so many ingredients in it for success with me- librarians, old books, a bit of magic, and a glimpse at the old carnival life. The book has been compared to Water For Elephants and Night Circus, but definitely stands on its own and is an ambitious debut novel from this first-time author.

When Simon, a young librarian, receives the gift of a book that is a travel log for a carnival in the 1700’s, he discovers a drowning death of a circus mermaid that is coincidental to his own mother’s drowning death (a former circus mermaid herself) that happened even on the same day. If their family is cursed, his sister could be the next victim and he will do anything to save her. The chapters alternate between the travel log (complete with unique sketch drawings) and present day as Simon tries to stop the curse on his family. The author manages to bring these stories together in a beautiful way with a satisfying conclusion to these mysterious drownings.

You can read my full review of this book here as well as a few other great must-reads for the month of April!

Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Erika Swyler today and learn more about her debut novel! 

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I can admit, I am a bit of a nut about books and movies that have to do with the circus. I understand that you lived at the library for months researching the history of circuses in America to write The Book of Speculation. What is it about the circus life that fascinates you and what is the most surprising discovery you made while doing your research?

Circus life fascinates me because it’s so much about people finding and building family. Shows are living, breathing things with all these fascinating interpersonal dynamics. The life seems so rootless, yet these intense bonds form between people in shows. When you look at circuses and carnivals closely they make you question your ideas about what a home and family are.

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It was surprising to discover how far back some families can trace their history with the circus. The Wallendas were already established and touring in the 1780s. That’s insane. They’ve been practicing circus arts for essentially half of circus’s history. That’s a bigger footprint than P.T. Barnum.

Your book has a lot of unique elements in it, but one of them that really stood out to me was the use of illustration in your story. Did this add more pressure to you to create these and how do you think it makes your book more interactive for your reader?

Illustrating added pressure, but it also offered me far more control than most novelists have their first time out, and it kept me mercifully busy. When most people are sweating and waiting for edits, I was up to my ears in charcoal and graphite. That was a very good thing. I had total freedom as to what the illustrations were, and that let me build on aspect of a characters I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. My circus master, Peabody, sketches in his journal. Actually showing the reader the illustrations says so much about him, his journal, and the plot. Illustration lets readers look at the exact images the characters in the book are seeing. That’s smashing a wall. You’re looking at the drawings, you’re in the book.

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I think the most surprising thing I discovered about you while researching for this interview is that I read that when you prepared your manuscripts of this book to send out to various publishers that you hand bound and tea-stained each of the copies to give them the feel of an old book, similar to the one that Simon receives in the beginning of this novel. Do you think that the work you did to create a unique reader experience for them ultimately helped you land your book deal?

Binding the manuscript put the story on the outside. It’s rare to see a book look exactly like what’s in it. I had an inkling that whoever connected with the manuscript as art would connect with the story, because it is about old books, bibliophiles, and beautiful objects. I also suspected that I was selling myself based on my ability to work hard. Making books like that is a huge time investment. I wanted people to know that I was willing to break my back to make this book happen. Ultimately, that came across. Once the manuscripts were out, things moved quickly. And I found my dream editor.

I understand you are now an expert in Japanese Stab Binding. For those of us reading our pathetic e-books, what is this binding process and why did you chose it for your manuscripts?

I’m more a jack-of-all-trades than an expert, but I’ve gotten pretty good with this type of binding. Japanese Stab Binding is a method where you sew through an entire block of paper rather than stitching together folded signatures. Each stitch goes through both covers and the pages. The stitches are visible, and the thread can be used to make decorative patterns. It’s used a lot in photo albums, for binding loose pages, and for quick and dirty paperback repair.

Stab binding made sense for the manuscripts because it’s relatively cheap, fast when compared to other techniques, and it’s visually striking. Being able to sew loose pages meant I was able to work with standard copy paper and splurge on covers rather than losing money on typesetting and printing. It’s also a very human stitch. When you see a book with a stab binding, you get a sense of how it’s done and that you understand it. It’s a binding that feels like history.

I often feel like I was born in the wrong era and it seems that might be something you and I have in common! I read you do your first drafts in longhand and on your collection of vintage typewriters. Do you have a favorite typewriter in your collection and why do you love these retro methods of book writing so much?

I write a lot longhand and on typewriters because it keeps me from editing. Computers have given us this terrible habit of writing a word then deleting it over and over again. You don’t do that longhand. I also find that characters and scenes demand different voices. Writing by hand feels very different than using a typewriter, which is a universe away from writing a laptop. Some characters want the typewriter. Sometimes if I’m really flying I switch around between hand, typewriter, and computer.

I do hoard typewriters. The oldest I have is an Underwood Champion from the late ’30s, but my favorite is a 1958 Hermes 3000. It’s mint green and fabulous. The keys feel right, it has great control over margins and spacing, and I can really move on it. It’s a beautiful machine. My husband got it for me. He supports what I do in a very deep way. He can’t write the words, but he makes sure I have the tools to write them.

There have been comparisons to The Night Circus and Water for Elephants with this book. In what ways do you think your book is different from these and why do you think there is such a fascination with the circus life in literature?

So those comparisons are huge and humbling. But there are some major differences. First, the fantastic element. Water for Elephants has both feet in a lush reality. The Night Circus floats in the fantastic. The Book of Speculation dances in between. I love the idea of everyday lives being infused with elements of wonder. I’m essentially mythologizing the ordinary—that’s the oldest trick in storytelling, but one that’s often overlooked. Then there’s scope. The Night Circus and Water for Elephants both span a lifetime (albeit magically enhanced in some instances). I went big and set my scope as 250 years of a family’s history. It asks readers to look for overlaps and intertwining stories. Essentially, I got to write historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, mystery, a family saga, and literary fiction all at once.

Circus demands that you gawk, while also maintaining an intense wall of privacy. It’s impossible to watch a circus performance without wondering about artists and what their lives are like. Acts are billed as “the best” or “the only.” It’s the nature of writers to need to know what “the best” is like without makeup and lights. Combine that with a secretive culture and you might as well just wave a red flag at us.

Circus (PBS series)

Do you have any books on the circus or documentaries that you could recommend for people who want to learn more about the circus life?

There’s a wealth of information out there. The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top by Janet M. Davis is pretty fantastic. For that specific carnival cadence, Howard Bone’s Side Show: My Life with Geeks, Freaks and Vagabonds in the Carny Trade is about as atmospheric as it gets while revealing surprisingly little. That perfectly captures the “insiders only” feel of carnivals and circus. PBS also made a six-episode series, Circus, which is incredible. As far as access to modern circus life, it’s unbeatable.

 If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be (we will add it to our list of recommended reads for our readers!)?

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I suggest people read it because it may freak them out. It’s also what fearless narration looks like. It’s bold and bizarre in all the right ways and full of incredible visual writing. It’s a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished. It’s the book I dream about writing.

 You can connect with Erika Swyler on GoodReads or through her website! 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!

 

10 Questions

Friday, July 24th, 2015

In lieu of our typical 3 Little Things, I was tagged by Centsational Girl to answer ten questions today so I thought this might be a fun way to share a little with you today about some things I am loving right now! We used to do these quite often when I first started blogging so it’s a bit of a Throwback Thursday on a Friday today. Happy weekend, everyone! xo

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Share something you’ve pinned (or bookmarked) and why you love it.

I have been wanting to shape up our entryway table in our front room and I have these cardboard deer heads bookmarked for something I would like to hang above my little table. I also scored a 1964 1st Place Home Economics Trophy on Etsy this week as a place to tuck our keys and I am checking the mail every day in sweet anticipation for its arrival.

I’m enjoying personalizing this space right now and have so much fun making our space a little piece of us. I particularly love to add whimsy to our home and have been trying to add a touch of old from vintage pieces that have years of history in our house.  Unique spaces are my jam!

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What’s your favorite color and where have you used it or seen it used in a beautiful way?

Oh, I love just hints of color on neutral surfaces. If I was going to model the color and style of a home in my own space, it would definitely be ANYTHING from The Inspired Room. In fact, I have more than once told Melissa that if she came to my house that it would be awfully awkward since I glean so much from her site. This map wall is something I have bookmarked for our entryway (as we have a narrow one that I never know what to do with) and I love the industrial schoolhouse lamps she has in her house. The pop of green is just perfection! I highly recommend touring her house and snagging her book for inspiration!

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If money was no object, what’s something you’d buy right now.

As many wells as possible for Burkina Faso. Clean water for everyone!!

Books for needy kids and more time to read with them. I have witnessed the transformation of kids learning to read and falling in love with books. It’s so big and it makes my heart so happy. Can you imagine if every poverty-stricken school had shelves overflowing and grown-ups who loved to read that just had time to help them fall in love? MAGIC!

Food for the hungry- can you imagine having the funds to stock the shelves until they overflow for those in need?

And if it was possible, extra time so I could give more time to others and still manage my daily life and work. I’m ashamed how much time I waste that could be serving other people in our community. I want to do better.

And if all the needs of the world were addressed, I would finally renovate that kitchen. Of course, this post really inspired me that it’s okay to wait and put my money somewhere else right now. So that’s what we’ve been doing this year instead and I’m proud we can do that.

Share something that scares you, something that comforts you, or both.

I’m a high-anxiety person so the list can be a long one.  As a mom, my biggest worry is the safety and well-being of my children. I worry so much for them in this world.  The comforting fact though is that we have worked really hard to raise good people and teach them good stuff that I am comforted knowing that someday we will be putting two really incredible people out into the world (that hopefully won’t be highly anxious because of their crazy mother).

I’m also comforted to know genuine love. I am one of the lucky ones to have a spouse who loves me unconditionally for so many years of our life.

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The perfect meal? Name it.

Any meal with people I love, great conversation, and delicious food is a perfect meal to me. My girlfriend’s family had us over one night for a shrimp boil and I thought, “It can’t get more perfect than this.” A spicy one-pot dish thrown on newspaper in the center of the picnic table and shared with great drinks and good friends. The best part? NO DISHES- just throw the paper away. I’m planning to post the recipe we used next week, but I think this is the perfect meal for a hostess who actually wants to hang out with her guests.

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What’s one decorating piece of advice you swear by.

Be you.  It can be easy to look at Pinterest and want to replicate someone else’s style or head to a home store and just buy everything without really thinking about what it will mean in your house. I want everything to have a story from the pieces of art we select from our travels to the handmade goodness that is our centerpiece.

Don’t let decorating hold you back from entertaining though. I still have a bucket list of projects that I want to do on my home to personalize it the way I want. I struggle with patience because I know I am capable of doing these things, but the money and time isn’t there.  Slow decorating is my new motto. I will bask in all the good stuff I am doing and be content knowing how far I have come. My friends will just have to witness the slow transformation!

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What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chicago Mix Popcorn, a generous pour of boxed wine, and a really good YA novel. I am working on this one right now and it’s so good!

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Tell a joke, the cornier the better, or share a meme or show that makes you laugh.

Does a t-shirt count? Although, the lack of apostrophe is slaying me right now.

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Congratulations, you just won an all expenses paid trip to           !  Fill in the blank.

ITALY and you can bring your whole family this time. My husband and I have been watching House Hunters International, scoping properties in Italy, and dreaming of how we can save for another trip back there. This trip was a dream come true and I am so thankful I got to do it with my best friend! It also made me realize, this world is so big and so many adventures are out there for us. I can’t wait to see more of it.

What advice would you give your twenty something self?

This will be one of the hardest times in your life- you will get married while your friends are still doing keg stands, you will have a baby and think you are ready for this parenting thing (and you aren’t), you will have a hard time financially, you will have a hard time professionally because you don’t know yourself yet, and you will have debt that will make you cry. You will get through it. Those moments will shape you, your marriage, your new business, and your new financial path… you will be better because you went through this.  The important thing is to never forget those moments because those are the moments where you can connect with others facing those same hardships and truly be empathetic. You will have so much to give to others so take a nap now!

This morning I tag: Hollywood Housewife, Redefined Mom, Blushing Basics, & Dine & Dish to answer the same ten questions!

1. Share something you’ve pinned (or bookmarked) and why you love it.

2. What’s your favorite color and where have you used it or seen it used in a beautiful way?

3. If money was no object, what’s something you’d buy right now.

4. Share something that scares you, something that comforts you, or both.

5. The perfect meal? Name it.

6. What’s one decorating piece of advice you swear by.

7. What’s your guilty pleasure?

8. Tell a joke, the cornier the better, or share a meme or show that makes you laugh.

9. Congratulations, you just won an all expenses paid trip to           !  Fill in the blank.

10. What advice would you give your twenty something self?

 

Amy’s Notebook 07.22.15

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

No Sew Coil Rope Basket via Allice and Lois

Source: Alice & Lois

 

DIY no-sew rope coil basket. NO SEW? I can do this.

I need to up my popcorn game.

Why you should still read “Go Set A Watchman.”

Another great viewpoint from NPR.

Why we don’t stress about choosing a school- AMEN.

Wonder Book Club ideas- so cute!

I love watercolors.

Come anyway- my new entertaining motto.

Poolside playlist!

Bedroom Inspiration via LittleGreenNotebook

Source: Little Green Notebook

 

Bedroom inspiration- love the layering on this bed!

More tiny home inspiration.

Coffee and tonic water – your new favorite summer drink?

The ultimate flower girl must-have.

Adding this to my summer reading list- have you read it?

A year-long shopping ban…I feel INSPIRED.

I want to do a career day with my kids!

Printable car parts for a “drive-in” movie- what a fun summer activity.

Let’s be people who see one another.

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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!

 

Sundays With Writers: The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

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I love a good author interview and I am so excited to share an interview today with Greer Macallister about her book,  The Magician’s Lie!  I shared about this book in our June 2015 Must-Reads list and after finishing it, I emailed Greer to see if she would share a little bit more about the inspiration she had for tackling the topic of a female illusionist in this beautiful book.

It was such an unusual premise for a book and, if you know anything about me, you know that I am fascinated with both magic and the circus. They are my jam.  That is why it is such a treat to talk with Greer today about the inspiration behind her book and about one of the most evil characters I have enjoyed reading. If you love a good evil villain, you have it in this one!

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

In The Magician’s Lie, Macallister writes a beautiful story of a female illusionist, something that was rare and provocative during the turn of the century, in this historical fiction debut. The story shows the reader things are not always as they seem even when it comes to the illusions we create in our own lives.

When a man is killed during her jaw-dropping act of sawing a man in half, The Amazing Arden is arrested and accused of the murder. The thing is, Arden has a story to tell about who that man really is and this murder just might be an illusion too. The story unfolds as she makes her confession to the officer who has arrested her as she confesses to the real crimes that have been committed in her life. There are some great plot twists in this one that kept me flipping the pages until the end and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Greer-Macallister

How did you happen upon the story of Adelaide Herrmann and why did you decide to explore female magicians and illusionists in your debut novel?

It all started with an absence. Books, movies, TV commercials and other media often refer to the classic image of a magician cutting a woman in half. I began to wonder why it’s always the woman cut in half by a man, and never the other way around. Why don’t we see a female magician cutting her male assistant in half? So I decided I wanted to write that book, about that magician. Early in my research I came across Adelaide, who was undoubtedly the most famous female magician of her time. She didn’t fit the profile of someone who would cut a man in half, but she was too good to ignore. So I wove her in, and dozens if not hundreds of readers have told me she’s their favorite character.

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(image source: Wikipedia)

You definitely illustrate some of Adelaide’s wildest tricks especially in the bullet catch trick that you have The Amazing Arden witness in one scene of your book. Were there any other illusions that you thought were really crazy that did not make the cut?

I tried to use the wildest things I could find! So much fun. There were a lot of parts of Adelaide’s act I didn’t use, though. She did a lot of dancing and pantomime. Which is a little less interesting to describe than, say, a woman turning into a tiger. So you understand my choice!

 If you could master any magic trick (in your book or otherwise) what would it be?

I once saw Ricky Jay throw a playing card across the room, where it stuck in the rind of a watermelon. I don’t know how he does it. Mind-blowing.

Do you have any recommendations of other historical fiction books, nonfiction books, or documentaries that you found useful when doing your research or setting the mood for your story about the world of illusion for your readers that would like to dive more into this topic?

There is shockingly little writing on the history of women in stage magic, but then again, the ratio of women to men in magic in general is pretty darn small, so it follows. If you’re interested in Adelaide Herrmann, she did write a memoir, which was published a couple of years back. As far as setting the mood, you can do a lot worse than spend an evening watching The Prestige. One of my favorite movies. I often had the music playing in the background while I wrote.

You truly immerse yourself in your storytelling from the way people would have spoken back then, to the dishes they are eating, to the dress, and the feel of the city. I really felt like I was seeing much of your details firsthand. How much research did you need to do to really create these moments in your story and has this era always been a fascination for you?

Oh, the research ate me alive. I tell people I’m an accidental historical fiction writer. If it had made more sense to write about a contemporary female magician cutting men in half, I would’ve done it that way; it’s just that the story I wanted to tell fit so perfectly back in the 1890s to 1900s, when stage magic was something most people would have seen on a Vaudeville stage. So it had to be historical. But once I picked my era I really dove in, and I really wanted to have exactly that effect you’re describing – I want the reader to see and smell and taste the world. The New York Public Library has a great collection of old menus, so I literally had the image of an early 1900s menu from Keens Steakhouse in front of me, picking out what the characters could order from that.

Do you think titling your book this way helps the reader to expect that our narrator is going to be an unreliable one? Was this to create a necessary tension while reading that we were about to discover something?

Oh yes! That was very, very intentional. What is she lying about? (Assuming the magician narrating the story is the same magician referenced in the title…) And is there really only one lie? I definitely wanted the reader to be suspicious of Arden, and the title was a great way to raise some doubt from the get-go.

You really develop the character of Ray in a way that had me on the edge of my seat and rapidly flipping the pages. Was there a scene in particular that you really struggled writing for him because he was so vile or did you really get swept away into creating such an evil character?

One of the best things about being a fiction writer is the opportunity to get into the heads of the characters you’re writing. The flip side of that is that sometimes you have to go into heads you don’t like. That was Ray. The struggle with him was to make him more than a cardboard nemesis – he has his own reasons why he does the things that he does, and it all makes perfect sense to him, so some of that has to come across to the reader, even if we’re appalled by the results.

If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be? (see our list of ALL our recommendations HERE!)

My favorite book is almost always the book I’ve read most recently, since it’s fresh in my mind. In this case, that’s The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett. It’s about an Arctic expedition in the 1850s, during a time where men died regularly exploring that area. The story weaves together what happens on a particular ship with the lives of those waiting back at home for the ship to return. Barrett writes so beautifully and precisely about both the emotional and physical dimensions of her characters’ lives. It’s gorgeous and brutal. I loved it.

You can connect with Greer Macallister on GoodReads, on Facebook, or through her website! 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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Amy’s Notebook 07.15.15

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Roman Caprese salad via Camille Styles

Source: Camille Styles

 

This Roman Caprese salad looks divine.

4 People, 500 square feet. INSPIRING!

I want to try this cauliflower pizza crust recipe.

What an incredible life (and gift to read her words!)

Summer reading list: 23 Books to Read About Money

A little girl’s swan party- PRECIOUS.

TED Talks to watch instead of shopping.

DIY wildflower soap via Kelle Hampton blog

Source: Kelle Hampton

 

What a fun rainy day activity (Lord knows we have enough of them right now!)

The happiest of news.

A budget-friendly deck makeover. So lovely.

How this guy made seeing the world happen- really inspiring!

Bring on the lobster rolls.

One day I would love one of these.

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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!

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Sundays With Writers: Weightless by Sarah Bannan

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

I have been so blessed to have such a great Sundays With Writers line-up this month. I hope you are enjoying this series half as much as I am!  I have another incredible writer to feature today and I think her book should be mandatory reading for parents of teens and also a great book for older teens to read.

Today I am sharing a virtual cup of coffee with Sarah Bannan to talk about her debut novel WeightlessThis book was an eye-opener for me about bullying today and how different it is from when we were kids… and, yet, in many ways how it is still the same. This is not a feel-good book today, but an unsettling look at how teens bully one another. I find her use of narrators (read more in our interview below) is what makes this book so compelling.

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean girl bone in her body Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take.

Bannan sheds light on how bullying happens now that kids have access to social media and creatively utilizes an undisclosed narrator who acts as an observer and participant in the bullying of a new girl at their school. Well-written and unflinching, it would be a great read for your older teen or for parents who want to see how bullying occurs today. I highly recommend this one! 

Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Sarah Bannan to learn more about the story behind this story!

Sarah Bannan

What prompted you, as a writer, to tackle the topic of bullying? Were there any real-life cases that were an inspiration to you when telling the fictional story of Carolyn?

When I was thirteen, my family moved to a small town in Alabama. I was in eighth grade at the time, and the move was something of a culture shock. My school was full of football and cheerleaders and cliques and the high school had an honest-to-god beauty pageant. We voted on class favorites and our cheerleaders and homecoming court. Everything seemed like a looks or personality contest, and that was a contest I knew I would never be in the running for, let alone win.

I had fantastic friends, and a great experience all through my time in Alabama, but I think I always knew that there was something in the town and the atmosphere of my high school that might lend itself to fiction. I’ve also found that my high school years and my friendships from that period still stick in my mind, all these years later. I’ve done a lot of reading about this – our obsession with our teenage years – and apparently it’s a time when you make some of your most lasting memories, in large part because this is the very time in which you are shaping and determining your sense of self, your individual identity. It’s also a time of firsts – first kiss, first drive, first break-up, first time away from home. And firsts are always a little easier to remember than second and third and fourth times. It’s one of the things about WEIGHTLESS that’s worth remembering, the degree to which it’s a document of memory: the narrators are looking back and trying to cobble together a shared truth of what happened over one school year. But they’re being really careful in the way that they do it, as they’re paranoid about accepting culpability or blame. Or defining themselves by what happened during the year.

Phoebe Prince

When I started writing WEIGHTLESS, I had my high school in the back of my mind. But I was also reading a lot about bullying, and cyber-bullying, in the news. I was very much haunted by the story of Phoebe Prince, the young Irish girl who moved to South Hadley, MA when she was 15. She was bullied, and ultimately took her own life. I read a great deal about her story, and the complexities that surrounded it, and also about similar, less high profile cases back in Ireland, and I started to get a picture of what it looks like to be a teenager now, in the age of social media. This frightened me, to a significant degree, but it also made me feel that this was exactly the story I should be telling.

The narration in your story is told in first person plural.  If that wasn’t unique enough, you don’t ever know the names of these narrators as they observe (and participate) in the bullying of Carolyn. Why did you choose this type of narration and why do you think this angle was the best way to capture the story?

I’ve said before that WEIGHTLESS began as a voice in my head that I just couldn’t shake. And that’s totally true. I had this chorus, in my head: a group of girls, sitting back, watching cheerleaders perform in front of them. They’re obsessed with the girls – with their childhoods, their appearances, their sex lives – and they seem to want to be them as much as they want to tear them down.

I tried, when I was first drafting the novel, to put it in first and third person voices – but it just didn’t work or, perhaps, I just didn’t have access to any voice else except this group of girls. They are watching from the outside, and passing comment on what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, what they think they know.

It was only after I finished the novel that I realized what an effect the voice actually has and I think that’s why I felt I had to keep it, sustain it. Why I felt like it was the right way to go. The voice underlines the role of gossip in a town like this. Group-think. Rumor. Memory. Dissipation of responsibility. Avoidance of guilt.

Readers will notice when reading the book that it’s intercut with other forms of narration: Facebook feeds, newspaper articles, transcripts, committee reports. This was all in an effort to layer the narrative (the “we” can be awfully claustrophobic!) and highlight how the way in which what we hear often contrasts to what is reported. I wanted readers to feel as if they were picking up a kind of unofficial scrapbook for the year.

 There are so many moments in this book that feel like you are inside the head of a teenager; in fact, I had a few flashbacks of my own moments when I was young. For example this line: “We sat outside Sbarro’s and ordered cheese pizza and we took off the cheese and blotted it with our napkins. We would eat frozen yogurt later, topped with Oreos and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and M&Ms.” I REALLY remember doing this as a teen and had completely forgot about it.  How did you capture these teenage voices so perfectly?

It’s sad: it was eerily easy for me to access the actual teenage mentality, as I have not entirely matured, despite being 37 years of age! I don’t know. I mean, I just remember the boredom and contradictions of that time very clearly, and the same insecurities that plagued me then, still plague me today, but they are (thankfully!) not so pronounced or life-consuming.

In terms of some of the detail, one of my sisters is a high school English teacher in California and very kindly gave me advice around some technical things: brand names, technology in schools, cultural preoccupations. My other sister lives in Connecticut is the mother of two teenagers, and she was also able to give me insight into those matters – and her daughter kindly helped me with a number of important details, as did a cousin of mine. In some earlier drafts there are a few clangers – I think I may have even referenced a Nokia ring tone somewhere!

Raising compassionate kids is a really big thing for me as a mom. After all your research on cyberbullying, could you offer just one piece of advice for parents on how we can help our kids stand up to bullying?

Well, this is advice coming from a fiction writer…but I think we just need to encourage kids (and adults!) to be kinder to one another. When I went to school, I feel like there was a huge emphasis on self-confidence and achievement, and not much on character or empathy. I’m not saying we need to drop the first two, but we need more attention to the latter…and I think the best way to do this is to… read more literary fiction. I’m sure you’ve seen the countless studies about how reading literary fiction increases empathy and I know this to be true. It’s one of the few ways in which we can really get into somebody else’s shoes, imagine things from somebody else’s perspective. So…my advice is, surprise, to get kids to read more!

Were you ever bullied as a child or did you ever feel like you contributed in some way to the bullying of another? Was there one character in the story, in particular, you really related to?

I think there’s a distinction between bad behavior – or meanness – and bullying, and I was both the victim and the perpetrator of the former, but not the latter. I think this is the case, at least. I’m not sure that makes it better, but I think it’s worth making the distinction, and one of the things in WEIGHTLESS that emerges is the way in which we are sometimes a bit too quick to point fingers and apply labels of ‘bully’. And then ‘bullies’ end up being bullied and round and round and round it goes.

As I mentioned, I moved around a lot growing up, and every place we lived seem to contain these rituals and traditions that were almost designed to make kids, especially girls, compete against one another. And not in a healthy, esteem-boosting kind of way. In retrospect, it’s shocking to me that more shocking things didn’t happen, that there wasn’t more bullying. Kids, by and large, tried to be kind to one another, but only within our set little cliques. There wasn’t much mixing.

I love Carolyn the most, of course, of all the characters, but I was nothing like her in school: I was awkward and nerdy and of zero interest to guys. In many ways, in retrospect, I can see that this was a blessing. I wasn’t a threat to anyone at my school or in my town.

I suppose I identify with the narrators the most, and I’m sure this will make readers think I’m a horrible person, but I think young people, and adults, can be scarily lacking in empathy. And I was probably happy in the fact that I was rarely outwardly mean to anybody, but I also wasn’t in a position of power within my high school to do so. The narrators are neither as cool as they’d like to be, nor as lame as they think they are. They occupy this very important place in the middle of high school hierarchies, and I’m pretty sure it’s the place I occupied myself. I was never bullied, or not really, and I never bullied anyone, or not really. But I watched a lot of things happen. And I talked about it. And, in retrospect, I wish I had done more.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

I think that’s almost impossible for me as I read constantly, and I am forever discovering my newest favorite novel…So, I’m going to choose my novel of the moment, which is Sarah Crossan’s ONE, which will be published by Bloomsbury in August. It’s a verse novel for young adults, and it’s a beautiful story about conjoined twins. It’s completely consuming and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

(I should also say that I reread, every summer, Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP. Two completely amazing feats of literary fiction and coming of age…I know this is cheating but it’s hard for me!)

You can connect with Sarah Bannan on GoodReads, on Facebook, or through her website! 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: Addictive Shows, A New Way to Consume Books, & Distraction-Free Days

Friday, July 10th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday to you all! After so many fun guest posts for the 3 Little Things, it’s so great to be back sharing with you today! On this weekend’s agenda? Host a sleepover for my son in honor of his THIRTEENTH birthday (hold me!). Luckily, the only request is video games and takeout pizza- I would say that is completely doable!

This is 13

I started this site when he was just one- barely, toddling around and filling up his mama’s days chasing him. I know many of you have witnessed him growing up online over the years. He is now bigger than me and I keep turning around and thinking, “Who is this man in my house?”

I feel blessed to call this sweet boy mine and I know God has BIG things planned for him. We hosted a family cookout to celebrate where we consumed this chocolate cake again, big buckets of fried chicken, and grilled corn on the cob. It was a sweet celebration! I still can’t believe I am OLD ENOUGH for this. So crazy! When they say that time with your kids goes by fast, it’s really true. I blinked and here we are.

Let’s get on to the happy list this week!

Orphan Black

Orphan Black

If you are looking to get sucked into  a series this summer, I can’t recommend Orphan Black enough. When browsing through what was available with our Amazon Prime membership we found this show on there. I suggested we watch it one night and it was one of those…How about one more? Well, maybe one more. Okay, seriously, last episode tonight….I mean it…Okay, just one more.

If you are late to the party like me, this series has everything in it it. It’s about a girl who is down on her luck financially. When a woman jumps in front of a train and commits suicide in front of her she happens to leave her purse behind.  The girl decides to go through it to grab some money, yet, the picture on her identification looks just like her so she decides to use her identity to break into her apartment. What she doesn’t know is that the lady was a cop…and that she isn’t the only one who looks like her.

What is amazing is that the same actress plays ALL the roles (I was counting them on IMDB and it’s about a dozen) and every single one feels like a completely different character. It is absolutely incredible how they shoot it and how amazing this actress is.

Get sucked into this one if you haven’t already! Luckily, Season 1 & 2 are on Prime so we should be set for about three days! (FREE-ish, With Amazon Prime)

Scribd Membership

Scribd

My Scribd membership had lapsed and I went to dig into another book and realized that I need to update my account information. I lasted about one day without it. I learned about it through working with them on a campaign, but now I am just an enthusiast for myself.  You can read my review of the services over here, but one new thing they now offer is unlimited audiobooks with your membership.

I have started utilizing my membership to listen to business books while I tackle the business of running this house (that sounds a lot better than cleaning toilets, doesn’t it?) and working on photography for our site.

I’m also challenging myself to dig into some books that might not be current, but should be on my radar. Next on my reading agenda is Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. It is coming out in a film this fall (check out this trailer below- I’m in love already!) so I want to read this one before it hits the big screen.

If you haven’t tried Scribd, I can’t recommend it enough. As you put together your book lists of things you love, your preferences on the page for recommendations really begin to shape and it’s a lot like Netflix where you learn and discover new things based on what you like. Even more awesome is this kid’s selection which has helped keep my little bookworms busy this summer. Series books that are never available for my daughter have the entire series listed on Scribd (hundreds of Nancy Drew books!!) and you can read as many books and listen to as many books as you want all month long for about the price of one Kindle book.  We are loving it! (8.99 per month)

Kill News Feed Extension

Distraction Free Facebook

I can’t give up Facebook since most of my work relies upon social media sharing, but I found myself trying to update my Facebook page and I would be down a downward spiral of emotion trying to update my page. I felt like I should like and comment on EVERYTHING which is absolutely impossible and I was losing valuable hours of my day, oftentimes on things that no one would have noticed if I said anything or not. I was also losing out on time with my kids and my work was falling behind.

Enter Kills News Feed extension (available on all the different browsers- I’m just linking to Chrome). This throws up this message (see above) on my Facebook feed now and I don’t see anything at all. I can work, update, share on my pages and see comments on my own stuff, but I’m not being bombarded by the newsfeed anymore. Now when I have moments at appointments, downtime at the pool, or time to kill while running errands…I can see the newsfeed on my phone and like things, but it isn’t interfering with my day.

This is a WAY better idea for someone like me and WAY better for our family too. My productivity skyrocketed (well, sort of…) and I do feel a lot better without the weight of the world running in my head all the time. (FREE!)

*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?

 

 

Amy’s Notebook 07.08.15

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Washi Tape Straws via Paper & Pin

Source: Paper & Pin

 

Sweet & simple- washi tape paper straws.

A guide to extreme food budgeting.

This would make rearranging a gallery wall easier.

S’mores hand pies recipe- how fun!

On cloud wine!

9 books to help you be a better person.

Narrow Entry Hall via Decorology

Source: Decorology

 

So inspired by this skinny hall entry that works hard and looks good.

Tour Judy Blume’s old neighborhood- so sweet!

25 Ways To Simplify Your Life

A stained vintage quilt solution- I love this!

Swoon over this beautifully curated home.

amys_notebook

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!

Sundays With Writers: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this interview today! It’s not every day that a girl gets to feature the author of the #1 book on Amazon of 2014 so today is incredibly special. I have a feeling that many of you have read Everything I Never Told You and will enjoy hearing the story behind the story on this book.

We read this book in my local book club and I thought a lot about it after I closed it. It dealt with racial tensions that I had not been aware of and also spoke to me because so many of us have things we never tell the people we love and it makes you think about your own family and words that are unspoken.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You is a beautiful debut novel and Ng’s descriptive language is such a treat to read. When a family’s daughter goes missing the lives of her family members begin unraveling through Ng’s beautiful storytelling. The reader is taken on a journey from the very beginning of the relationship of the parents and moving through each family member, including Lydia, their missing daughter. Everything I Never Told You is every character’s story that was never told- from the disappointment felt by parents to not fitting in due to their race to what roles they were expected to fill in the family (whether wanted or not).

This is a book that would lend itself well to a book club discussion since it tackles the big issues of parental roles/expectations as well as the heartache of youth and the challenges with fitting in. I think it is important to set expectations though with genres and I did not find this to read like a mystery or thriller, but more of a character-driven piece. This is a beautifully written family drama and for fans of this genre, you will really fall in love with Ng’s storytelling.

This book was featured in our Must-Read List for March!

It is such an honor to have Celeste Ng join me today. If you don’t know how to pronounce her name- check out her Twitter handle (AWESOME!). Now that you know the important stuff, let’s settle in with a cup of coffee and hear more from Celeste about her debut novel.

Celeste Ng

You open with the death of Lydia in the very opening sentences of the book and then build the story from there. Why did you decide to start with her tragic death and then work your way out in the story?

In earlier drafts, the book began quite differently: “At first, they don’t know where Lydia has gone.” And neither did the reader, until about thirty or forty pages in. What I realized, eventually, was that this pointed the reader in the wrong direction. It prompted the reader to focus on whether Lydia was alive or dead, rather than on what happened within the family to lead to her death.

So in the last draft of the novel, I changed the opening and put Lydia’s fate right up front. Once you know that Lydia is dead, that information colors everything you read afterwards.

Race plays a big part in this novel and, to be honest, I was embarrassingly unaware of racial discrimination among Asians in the 70’s, particularly in the disapproval of the relationship between the white mother (Marilyn) & the Asian father (James) in the Lee family. Was this something that you had heard about, researched, or have you experienced this discrimination firsthand?

Unfortunately, discrimination among Asians isn’t just limited to the 1970s. It still happens today, both overtly and in what we might now call microaggressions: small actions, often not intended as malicious, that remind people of their otherness. With one exception, every moment of racism or racial tension in the novel is something that I or someone I know personally has experiences firsthand. And these moments aren’t rare: every person of color I’ve spoken with has experienced something similar, no matter where they live.

Your book was selected as the #1 book of the ENTIRE YEAR on Amazon in 2014. First, what was it like to find out that your debut novel was selected as this and, secondly, do you feel added pressure to deliver something just as epic in your next book?

Here’s how I found out about the Amazon pick: I was sitting in my living room drinking tea and playing with my son when someone tweeted “Congratulations!” at me. I actually had to tweet back, “On what?!” So the whole experience has been surreal, and I’m very grateful to Amazon’s editorial team for championing the book.

I do feel some pressure to deliver another book that will live up to the response for this first one—how could I not? But honestly, the expectations have an upside as well. Writing is such an uncertain job; you work for years on a single project and hope that when it’s done, someone will read it. Having so many people read and respond to the book makes me more optimistic that people will want to read the next one, too.

The title of your book, Everything I Never Told You, is the anthem of every character in this book as they all have their own secrets and struggles that they can’t seem to share with others. Was there anything you have never shared with someone that you wished you would have and what message do you hope your readers will walk away with from reading this book?

My father passed away unexpectedly over a decade ago, and I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye properly. (None of us did.) I think about that a lot, about what I’d have said if we’d have another chance to talk. And even now, I often think of things that I’d like to share with him—not important things necessarily, just jokes he’d have enjoyed or observations he’d have gotten a kick out of.  More than the Big Important Topics, those kind of small things are the glue that holds a relationship together. I guess I hope that readers will close the book thinking about how life is short—and precious—and will make a conscious choice to never take the time they have with loved ones for granted.

As a mom, I really struggled with Marilyn leaving her family behind in this book because she felt she did not get to pursue her own dreams. I will admit, I was actually pretty angry with her as this family hobbled along in her absence. I think being a mom does mean sometimes we have to put our dreams on hold in order to make our family lives work. Did you sympathize with Marilyn? Have you ever had to put anything on hold in your own life because of your family?

It’s totally okay to be angry with Marilyn! (She makes some questionable choices, as do all the other characters.) But you’re right, being a mom, you’re in a constant juggling act trying to balance the needs of your family and your own needs. This is true for any parent, of course, but in today’s world, it’s especially true for mothers.

As a working mom myself, I end up putting my family before my own wants a lot of the time—as do most parents, I think. Sometimes these are small things: maybe I’d rather have chicken one night but I cook spaghetti because that is what my kid will eat. Sometimes they’re larger: for example, I’d love to go on a writing retreat, like the ones at McDowell (where someone brings you your lunch every day while you work!) But that would be a huge strain on my family, so it’s off the table, at least for a while.

And in fact, I’d miss them too much if I were away for so long.  That’s the thing that makes it hardest: you’re not just choosing between something you want and something they want, you’re choosing between something you want and something they want that you want too. Your desires get all mixed up with your family’s and it becomes hard to even tell what you yourself want.  So yes, I have a lot of sympathy for Marilyn.

What can we expect from you in your next book?

The next book is still very much in draft form, so I won’t say too much about it yet—I’m still working out the details! But it takes place in my hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and focuses on a family living there and a mother-daughter pair (with some secrets in their past) who move in from out of town, and the ways those two families get entangled and stir up trouble for one another.

If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be? (read all the recommendations from authors HERE)

Just one? That’s a very hard choice to make. I’d go with The Bluest Eye, because Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors and that book says so much about race and culture and identity and love, and it’s beautifully written to boot.

You can connect with Celeste Ng on GoodReads, on Facebook, or through her website! 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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June 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

June 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

 

June flew by, didn’t it? I had hoped to tackle a ton of books this month, but we have had so many fun projects going on for the site that I found myself barely able to stay awake for my evening reading routines.  These kids are just wearing me out this summer, I tell you! I have a huge list of books that I would like to work through this summer and I am also trying to read some advanced readers so I can get great new books on your radar before they come out!

Did you see this list I have been working on just for you? After each of our Sundays With Writers interviews, I finish the interview by asking our featured author to share one book that they think everyone should read (other than their own). After a year of responses, I thought it was time to start sharing those answers in one post with you. This list will be updated WEEKLY as we have new writers on for our interview series so be sure to bookmark it for your library visits!

This month I tackled two historical fiction, one incredible YA book, a thriller, and a romance! All of these books are beach bag worthy so let’s dig into my picks for June!

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

What a fantastic read this was! Macallister writes a beautiful story of a female illusionist, something that was rare and provocative during the turn of the century, in this historical fiction debut. The story shows the reader things are not always as they seem even when it comes to the illusions we create in our own lives.

When a man is killed during her jaw-dropping act of sawing a man in half, The Amazing Arden is arrested and accused of the murder. The thing is, Arden has a story to tell about who that man really is and this murder just might be an illusion too. The story unfolds as she makes her confession to the officer who has arrested her as she confesses to the real crimes that have been committed in her life. There are some great plot twists in this one that kept me flipping the pages until the end and I really enjoyed it- I can’t wait to read more from this author!

If I had one critique on this one, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and the book could have really benefited from an epilogue. With that tiny tweak, it would have been a really perfect read for me. I am still giving it a high rating for most perfectly written evil character and for tackling the topic of a female illusionist!

I have invited Greer Macallister to join us in our Sundays With Writers series and I look forward to sharing more behind this fantastic story!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month and I have to say, I have been thinking a lot about this book since I finished it. This is an incredible YA book on bullying today and the ramifications of what can happen when a child is pushed too far.

When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean girl bone in her body Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take.

Bannan sheds light on how bullying happens now that kids have access to social media and creatively utilizes an undisclosed narrator who acts as an observer and participant in the bullying of a new girl at their school. Well-written and unflinching, it would be a great read for your older teen or for parents who want to see how bullying occurs today. I highly recommend this one!

I have invited Sarah Bannan to join us in our Sundays With Writers series to discuss cyberbullying and her inspiration for this incredible book.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

I have never read Barbara Delinsky before, but got the opportunity to assist with promotion for this book and so I toted this one back and forth in my beach bag. I didn’t realize how many of my readers do read her books though so I apologize that I haven’t read these books before to share them with you here!

On Caroline MacAfee’s 56th birthday, she is told that she is too old to continue hosting the home improvement show, “Gut It!” that she has been a part of for years. Her replacement doesn’t want to tell her about the switch. I mean, how do you break it to your own mother that her replacement is…well, her very own daughter? There is, of course, conflict knowing that the job that Caroline loves and knows so well is being taken from her and there is sadness as Jamie finds the relationship she has with her mom is slipping away from her in this new role. When a traumatic death happens in their family, not only do these two realize that they will have to work together to pick up the pieces of their loss, but their entire life has went into a different direction than either of them expect.

Since this book tells the story of Caroline, at the age of 56, and Jamie, in her thirties, it is a book that you could share with your own mother and will appeal to women of all ages. The story of friendship between this mother & daughter duo made for a beautiful read and would be a great beach read escape this summer. The story particularly shines as Jamie learns to find herself and finds love for the unexpected family she has been shouldered with. Caroline’s blossoming relationship between her and her longtime pal also builds into a beautiful love story in the golden years of life.

At the heart of it all, this story is all about how the blueprints of our life change over time. We all have plans, but let’s face it… they rarely work out the way we expect them to.

I would recommend this book for fans of Kristen Hannah and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favorite authors for a fun escape from the heavier books.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens (available for pre-order, hits stores on July 7th)

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month.

Chevy Stevens delivers another fast page-turner that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It’s the type of thriller you devour quickly, flipping pages until the wee hours of the morning, and perfect for your summer beach bag.

The story centers around three sisters growing up in an abusive home who must escape with no food or money to avoid the foster care system. When their car breaks down on the side of the road, two boys pull over and offer to help fix their car in exchange for work at the family ranch. Despite the bad feelings, the girls go along with these two….and their lives will never be the same again. Switching from all different perspectives, this dark thriller is a well-woven game of cat and mouse from start to finish!

I spent two glorious nights with this book and even woke up in the middle of the night to sneak a few more pages in. Now I will have to wait impatiently for Chevy Stevens next twisty thriller!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month.

If you have been waiting for the next The Help, friends, this is it. I really want to get this book on your radar because the story is so beautifully told and it is about something that happened in history that I was never aware of. A perfect balance of fact and fiction, you will get swept away in the storm that hits Heron Key in 1935.

It is hard to believe that this was a debut novel- it was so perfectly executed. I love when I am transported into time in a historical fiction novel and learn something I have never known before and that was the case in this one. This well-researched book perfectly combines fact and fiction into an incredible story about a hurricane that ripped through the Florida Keys. The racial tensions of the people combined with a camp of misplaced disturbed war veterans creates an incredible conflict within the town when all of their safety is at risk as a hurricane approaches. I just know you will fall in love with this perfectly woven story (and learn a lot about the 1930’s in the process!

5 Out of 5 Star

 

Amy’s 2015 Bookshelf (join me on GoodReads):

Books I Have Read in 2015

 

June 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Read With Me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 2015 Must-Reads

May 2015 Must-Reads

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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