Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

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?

 

 

 

 

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!

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

Amy’s Notebook 01.13.16

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Knitting Station via Whipperberry

Source: Whipperberry

 

What a cozy knitting station!

Easy homemade ramen- this looks so good.

Take a 30-day capsule wardrobe challenge!

A round-up of reading challenges for 2016.

3 ways to be more grateful in the new year.

The foolproof way to roast any vegetable.

I just joined this feminist book club. I can’t wait to see the selections!

Colorful Stairs via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

I love a home with unexpected color.

5 steps to inspire kids to love books more than screens.

Why Making a Murderer is more important than church.

It doesn’t matter whether Steven Avery did it…compelling piece.

8 ways to wear a gingham button up.

Inspiring ways to develop a better morning routine.

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: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I am so excited to be sharing our first Sundays With Writers of 2016 with such a special writer today. You know I am all about embracing all the book genres so I am VERY excited to share an interview with Josh Malerman who penned Bird Box, our first horror novel featured on the site.  This book is building so much buzz for a lot of reasons you will discover through this interview, but it also has received incredible reviews from readers too. Just look at those reviews and tell me it doesn’t make you want to snag a copy for yourself!

If you are good friends with me you know that I love a good scare. Horror flicks (scary not gory) are my jam! I only recently discovered that I get this from my Dad and now anytime a good one comes out, we go and get the heck scared out of ourselves together. I don’t have to to worry though because MY DAD is there to protect me.

Horror books though just haven’t captivated my attention as much until I read this gem of a book and the more I read about the story behind his success, the more I wanted him to pull up a virtual chair at my kitchen table and share about his book with you.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Malerman succeeds in writing a perfectly gripping and creepy psychological page-turner. With the creatures lurking, a woman and her two children try to flee to safety blindfolded along a river. If they see what is lurking, they die a horrific death inflicting pain upon themselves to stop seeing the horrors of what they have seen. Interweaving past (pre-creatures) and present (a post-creature world), you go along on a horrific ride as Malorie tries to save herself and her children blindfolded, never knowing what is lurking around every turn.

I am recommending you dig into this one, particularly if you are a Hitchcock fan like me- I just know it is a book he would have loved and would have wanted to create into a film. You will also really love it if you love classic Stephen King or if you enjoyed The Girl With All the Gifts as much as I did. Do yourself a favor and read this one so we can talk about it!

I included this book in our November/December Must-Reads list last month and I am still thinking about it since I shut it. That’s the power of a great book, I tell you!

Now grab your coffee and let’s chat with Josh about his delightfully creepy book, Bird Box.

Josh-Malerman

You are our first author joining us who has written in the Horror genre so I am particularly thrilled to introduce Bird Box to our readers and a completely different genre that I love. How did you come up with this terrifying concept of Infinity and what about it do you think terrifies your readers the most?

Strange germination; long ago (back before I had a personality of my own), an elementary school teacher mentioned that (ahem) “a man might go mad if he were to contemplate infinity.” Every word of this admonition worried me and I have a very strong memory of sitting in the carpeted hall as Mom and Dad got ready to go out… worrying that I might accidentally “contemplate” infinity. Many years late I found myself with an exciting image; a mother and two children are rowing down a river blindfolded… why? What are they fleeing? I didn’t think about it long, the words of said teacher returned, and I had myself a book.

Hitchcock's, The Birds

One of my greatest fears is birds. It’s a deep fear because my mother terrified me of diseases if I picked up feathers and then the fear was solidified after I watched Hitchcock’s, The Birds. I understand you let your pet finches fly around freely around you while writing this book in a pretty unique location. Can you tell us about that so I can have more nightmares?

I’d love to give you more nightmares. Yes, I had five finches and I felt very bad about keeping them locked up, so I left the door to their cage open. It’s not as messy as you might imagine; you get to know their haunts and you lay newspaper below. I was renting the third floor of a magnificent home in Detroit’s Boston-Edison (this is where Motown singers once lived; Berry Gordy had a place; Mark Twain built one of the homes for his daughter), so there was all kinds of ballroom space for the birds to fly. With Bird Box I woke up at 7AM each day, got to work by about 8AM, and wrapped it up by noon. The birds were really active in those hours, constant fly bys, until they eventually landed in the story itself.

You wrote 15 novels before Bird Box was picked up by a publishing house. Do you think that the success of this novel will allow some of your other pieces of work to finally be published? Had you pursued getting these published before or was this your first time trying to get your book out in the world?

I didn’t shop the other books for no reason other than I was completely satisfied with writing one, then moving on to the next. Partly I didn’t know what to do with a manuscript and partly I was touring with the band, writing novels in the passenger seat, and just didn’t see the rising stack of novels with desperation in my eyes. This is not to say it was/is a hobby, it most certainly is not, but for who-knows-why I was content with knowing they existed and nothing more. Now that Bird Box is out I plan to release all 24 of the other books I’ve written. Every last word. To me, they’re all episodes of the same show; Bird Box just felt like a good debut after I’d met the people who could bring her to a publishing house.

This book has been compared to some of Stephen King’s classic novels and I would dare say it feels a little like some of Hitchcock’s creepier works. Do you have any authors or filmmakers that have inspired you as a writer and has this genre always intrigued you?

Oh yeah… I’ve been a horror fan all my life. And because of that, this question is very hard to answer. I love so many of them for so many reasons, but since you asked I’ll tell you that I did go on a real Hitchcock tear after I wrote Bird Box, watched twenty or so of his movies and really started to sink into his world. I loved him. I love Stephen King, too. Charles Beaumont. Richard Matheson. Dan Simmons. Robert McCammon. Kathe Koja. John Skipp. This list gets big fast with me, as it does with most horror lovers. I think we’re all very open minded and will read just about anything that passes through the genre… because you just don’t know. And we’re all looking for that thrill, constantly, and are willing to read things that fall short of that on the way and/or are able to find exciting peaks in books that other people might think are flat.

Are you a horror movie lover as well or just a reader of horror fiction? Can you share some of your favorite films for us to check out after we read Bird Box?

Yeah sure. The first scary movie I saw was Twilight Zone: the Movie. Blew my mind straight up the middle. The Anthony skit, where the boy can do anything with his imagination; so good. The Invisible Man, the original, is crazy and features a Heath Ledger-Joker-esque villain in the title role. It’s one of my favorites. Hitchcock’s Rope is magic.

The ending made the story feel open to a sequel. Do you think we will be able to continue along on this journey with the survivors? Oh, and you can only say yes….

Yes. Or… no. You know what… there are too many ideas right now to spend another year in this world. But that doesn’t mean I’m against returning. Just… not yet.

Andy Muschietti

I read the exciting news that we can expect a movie and that the film was optioned by Universal for six figures back in 2013 when it was only in the manuscript stage! As a writer, can you explain how that happened so early and what will your involvement be in the film?

Universal Studios optioned it, yeah. And you know, I changed some of that manuscript before publication but it’s made its way into the script! So, that’s pretty wild because the book will be different than the movie but I may be responsible for some of those differences despite not writing the script myself. Crazy. The whole thing is nuts, really, and exciting, but I don’t wanna think about it too much. You know what I mean? I wanna keep my mind on the books and if the movie gains traction, is green-lit, starts to roll, then I’ll have the biggest smile in the room.

The High Strungs

source: paste magazine

I also understand that you have quite the juggle with being a musician (in The High Strung) and a writer. As a creative, how do you make time for both of these in your life particularly when you are on tour? How excited were the others in the band about this book being published?

Well we haven’t done much touring since the book deal and I understand that’s mostly my fault. I haven’t written any new songs! And this is something I used to ponder all the time; take a band like the Beatles. People adored them from the get-go, heralded as geniuses long before they actually imagined their genius works of art, they’re middle and later albums. So what happened there? Was the world right? Did the world predict this greatness? Surely they didn’t suspect Sergeant Peppers after hearing “Love Me Do,” right? So maybe they’re achievements have something to do with the encouragement the whole world gave them. You see? In other words; would they have written the White Album without this zany global support? I’m not sure. And I’m experiencing that phenomenon in a different way, but by the same rules: I’m focusing so much of my attention on the books and it’s probably because many people are encouraging me to do so whether they really mean to or not. And the songs have suffered as a result. I’m okay with that, but I need to check my soul (in a manner of speaking) and make sure I’m addressing both and if I’m not addressing both it better be for good, noble reasons.

Since you are a fast producer of words, how many books have you written since Bird Box and any expectations on what you might be publishing next?

The next book is coming out early 2017. Sounds like a long time and it is. I’m working hard on fixing that scenario and I’ll have it righted by then. Regarding how many books: the total is something close to 25 books now and like I said earlier, I see them all as episodes of the same television show, my own Outer Limits, and so the way I see it I’ve probably written the first two seasons by now.

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)

The Howling Man(TOR 1988) Charles Beaumont. It’s got about 30 of his short stories and for those who don’t know him… hang on tight; you’re about to feel a tidal wave of wonder wash over you.

You can connect with Josh Malerman on 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: True Crime, Sir Mix A Lot, & Cozy Legs

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Christmas Eve

As much as I enjoyed my break, it has felt weird to not share here! Can I say that we had the best Christmas ever? Not only did we have fun with both sides of our family on Christmas Eve, but we had a really untraditional and fantastic Christmas Day, just us four. That day involved playing hours and hours of Just Dance 2016 and then gorging ourselves on a sushi dinner called THE OCEAN PLATTER intended for 4 people, but ate by just my husband and I while our kids slurped calamari. We certainly are a weird bunch.

We did ask if we could get our names on the wall or something for the ridiculous amount of food we ate, but apparently it was only a big event for us and must be quite common in our town. We still felt proud!

You Serious Clark T-Shirt

I also showed up to the Clark Christmas wearing this shirt (be sure to size up if you are buying it)  from this famous movie scene. It seemed like a great shirt for the Clark Christmas, don’t you think? It will be my new favorite holiday pajama shirt now because it makes me laugh.

I also consumed way too much good food, snuck in almost four books, binged repeatedly on Netflix, and got to try a load of new classes at my gym since we weren’t on a tight schedule. Overall, GREAT stuff and a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of our typical weeks.  I dove into this book this week and I am LOVING it. Have you read it yet?

Here are three other things I enjoyed this week!

Baby Got Book Tote

Baby Got Book Tote

I sure do love a good book bag for my library trips and got this Baby Got Book Tote after adding it to my Christmas wish list this year from my in-laws.  How funny is that? I certainly loaded it up a few times over break and I can attest that not only is it funny, but it has a big bottom…I’m not lying. I’m dead serious. It stands up on its own and is the perfect library book bag for a book hoarder like me! I highly recommend it for your favorite book lover! ($19.99)

Netflix Making a Murderer

A True Crime Addiction

When I was growing up, my parents regularly watched Unsolved Mysteries.  Since indulging in last season’s Serial, I have found a new love for discussing and learning about true crime cases.  People were chattering about the Netflix Making a Murderer documentary in our MomAdvice Hangout group over the holidays so I thought I would dive into that over my break.

There are no words for my frustration and sadness for both of these families that the case centers around. I don’t want to give too many details away, but Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted of a crime that he spent many years in jail for and then goes after the police for wrongfully convicting him to receive a settlement. Two years later, he has to stand trial again and is accused of murder by the same people he sued. There is a lot of shadiness going on that you see over and over again as the series unfolds and it was super frustrating to witness. It led to a lot of dinner discussions between my husband and I about these two families.

It also sheds light on things that I felt like I read about so much in Bryan Stevenson’s, Just Mercy, and what happens when our judicial system fails those who are unable to help themselves.

The Jinx

Once I finished this series, my husband and I rented, The Jinxa six part miniseries that focused on Robert Durst and the his possible involvement in three murders. If you haven’t watched it, it’s absolutely fascinating from beginning to end and binge-worthy about the life and deaths of Robert Durst.  I now want to watch All Good Things (also available on Netflix) that was based upon Durst’s life too.

Not only is the whole case absolutely bizarre and unbelievable, but you find yourself sympathizing so much with Durst from things that happened in his childhood and his struggles with having such a well-known family. Just when you think you have it figured out, the last episode leaves you reeling with some crazy clues and confessions that will just blow your mind. We were able to snag this from the local library and I can’t recommend it enough for true crime fans. It was really well done and worthy of your time.

Free People Marled Legwarmers

Cozy Legs

I love to wear capri pants to the gym (I scored a few pairs that were gently used off of thredUP now that they sell activewear), but I hate to run errands in them in the colder months because my legs freeze to death. My sister-in-law got me these Free People Marled Legwarmers and they are so awesome for throwing on over my workout capris to keep my legs warm while I am out running around after class. The fabric is super soft, warm, and I like the neutral colors of them. I can’t recommend these enough for a way to stay cozy after working out in the winter!  ($24)

*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?

 

The Virtual Librarian Experience: It’s All About the Characters for a Kingsolver Lover

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

The Virtual Librarian Experience from MomAdvice.com

I am so excited to be unveiling a new feature on MomAdvice this year. The main features that many of our readers come here for are the book reviews and to check out the stories behind the stories in our Sundays With Writers series. As a ferocious reader,  I have reviewed hundreds of books on here, but so many of these reviews for incredible books have sunk to the bottom of our archives and I just have not found a way to bring them back to life…

Until now.

Welcome to the MomAdvice Virtual Librarian series! I have created a quick questionnaire you can fill out to share with me a little about your reading tastes, your favorite authors, and what you look for in a good book. I will act as your virtual librarian to create a list of suggestions for you that I think you will enjoy based on books and authors you already love. My hope is to pair you with a book that may have never been on your radar and it will give the books that I have loved over the years a time to shine again on the site. My favorite thing in the world to do is to share good books with friends so this is a way that I can do that for you and share it with our readers in the process.

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!

I put this questionnaire together and asked my own Facebook friends if they would fill it out so we could get a solid start on our series. 30 people have submitted questionnaires so I am excited to start diving in and pairing readers with new books this year. I will answer your requests in the order they are received and send you an email with a link to my responses when your turn comes up. At times, this series may be a substitute for our favorite things list when nothing really is standing out to me as something to share for the week. I always want to be honest with my favorites and sometimes I don’t buy/do/use anything worth mentioning so I would rather not force it and keep the consistency true. I think this will be a great substitution for those quieter weeks!

The Virtual Librarian Experience from MomAdvice.com

Reader Profile

Name?

Helen

What is Your Favorite Book Genre?

Fiction

Who Are Your Favorite Authors?

Barbara Kingsolver, Robert B. Parker, Diane Chamberlain, Suzanne Collins, Diana Gabaldon, Anne LaMott

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

What is Your Favorite Book of All-Time? 

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

What Do You Look for In a Book?

It’s all about the characters

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

 

The Virtual Librarian Selects…

Helen has such a wide range in personal taste, but you can instantly tell that she loves a good storyteller. I have read most of the authors she has listed and have enjoyed books by them so I feel pretty confident in making some good recommendations for strong storytellers that I think she will love.

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

 

The Stories Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore that changes his life forever…

This story is enchanting from start to finish. This book is a must-read for book lovers as it references so many of my favorite books and centers around a little bookshop in a seaside town. I could not put this one down and, truly, did not want the story of these beautiful characters to end.

I think Helen would love this book because it is a book that really targets the heart of a true book lover and storyteller and is very character driven, which is something you can tell she really loves.

The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis

The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis

This book is absolutely stunning from start to finish. It was filled with words that begged to be read again because they felt like poetry to me.  It is a  beautifully woven story with big moral messages about love, forgiveness, and redemption. The plot twists? I never saw them coming, which happens rarely when you are an avid reader like I am.

Set in the close-knit Portuguese community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Orphans of Race Point traces the relationship between Hallie Costa and Gus Silva, who meet as children in the wake of a terrible crime that leaves Gus parentless. Their friendship evolves into an enduring and passionate love that will ask more of them than they ever imagined.

On the night of their high school prom, a terrible tragedy devastates their relationship and profoundly alters the course of their lives. And when, a decade later, Gus—now a priest—becomes entangled with a distraught woman named Ava and her daughter Mila, troubled souls who bring back vivid memories of his own damaged past, the unthinkable happens: he is charged with murder. Can Hallie save the man she’s never stopped loving, by not only freeing him from prison but also—finally—the curse of his past?

Told in alternating voices, The Orphans of Race Point illuminates the transformative power of love and the myriad ways we find meaning in our lives.

The author is just as fabulous as this book so be sure to read my interview with her after you finish it- her story of becoming an author is REALLY inspiring and made me appreciate this beautiful book even more!

I am recommending this one for Helen because of her love for Diane Chamberlain. I am a huge fan of her writing and found The Orphans of Race Point to be as compelling as some of  Chamberlain’s stronger novels!

Heft by Liz Moore

Heft by Liz Moore

This is a novel that can be appreciated by all people and is a story that leaves you rooting for some of the most unlikely characters in the most unlikely friendships. I consider this book to be storytelling at its finest, yet, this one really went under the radar when it came out,  making it a great hidden gem for Helen.

Eighteen years ago, Arthur had a promising career as a professor, and loved his work. He is now  a 58 year-old man who cannot leave his home due to his incredible size of 500 pounds. Since 2001 he has managed to stay within the confines of his home relying on services like grocery and food deliveries that can be ordered from his own computer. He has no friends, no family, and the only bit of human contact he receives are letters occasionally sent to him from his old student, Charlene Turner.

When Charlene contacts Arthur, out of the blue, to see if he will help her with her son Kel Keller and offer guidance to him to help him, Arthur hires a cleaning service to help him get his house back in shape. His house is a place that has been grossly neglected because Arthur has lost the will and lacks the energy to clean it, due to his size. When a young 19 year-old Yolanda shows up on his doorstep, he can never know how this will change his life. An unlikely friendship unfolds and brings new purpose to Arthur’s life that he never expects.

The author not only takes you through Arthur’s difficulties in his life, but the story of Kel and his mother Chelsea alternate in these chapters as you see the difficulties that this young man has had to overcome and will leave you begging for the happy ending that this boy so deserves.

Beautifully written and great stories that are woven together in such a way that you can vividly picture each of these characters and feel their stories resonate in your own heart. I think Helen would have a hard time putting this one down because of these compelling characters Moore has created.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Jake Epping  teaches high school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and is recently divorced from his wife and going through the everyday minutiae of middle-aged life. When he happens upon an assignment from one of his students, a brain-damaged janitor’s story of a childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father, it brings him to tears and he finds that he can’t stop thinking about what if his life had worked out differently.

When he has lunch at his favorite diner, the diner owner and friend, Al, shares that he has a secret portal to 1958 that he uses to time travel in the back pantry of his restaurant.  He has been taking notes and following Lee Harvey Oswald to see if he can alter the JFK assassination. His dying wish is that Jake can use his notes and actually complete the mission of killing Lee Oswald Harvey before he kills JFK.

Jake decides to fulfill Al’s dying wish and begins a new life in 1958 under the name of George Amberson. What Jake doesn’t expect is how quickly his life can become settled in this new era or how his life would change if he met his one true love?

I loved absolutely everything about this book and when I finished it, I wanted to read the story all over again. It has a beautiful love story, great suspense, and leads to the ultimate question, “Would you change history if you could?”

I am selecting this one for Helen because of her love for Diana Gabaldon and her writing on time travel (and apparently her love for big books). I think she would find this one to be another fantastic time travel escape!

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

Clegg ambitiously illuminates how interwoven we are as people in this beautiful and haunting story of a town tragedy and the people left behind. Although the sheer amount of characters that share in each of the chapters (some once, other main characters more often) is confusing to piece together as a reader, you become a detective as each person is woven into another.

The grief-stricken mothers left behind leave you with an ache in your own heart and are written so beautifully they feel real. You are also reminded that even in chance meetings with others you can play a powerful part in someone else’s story. This is, by far,  one of the best books I have read this year!

Don’t miss my interview with Bill Clegg about his haunting book and process for creating this gorgeous story!

I am suggesting this one for Helen because it focuses on an entire town of characters with smart layering of each one in the story and how this tragedy affects them. Since it’s all about the characters with her, this ambitious book would be fantastic for her! 

What would you pick out for Helen 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 01.06.16

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Read more this year via Modern Mrs. Darcy

Source: Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

Seven simple ways to read more this year.

Oh, this cowl is gorgeous!

The joy of experiences over things. YES.

The joy of choosing one word for the year. Do you have one?

The best pieces of culture we watched, read and listened to in 2015. Be sure to read the comments for more ideas!

Don’t forget to give thanks.

A big bow DIY with no sewing required!

2016 Goals via Elise Blaha

Source: Elise Blaha

 

Inspiring goals for a new year.

How to read an entire book in a single day.

Have a plain brown paper package? Here’s a few ideas how to dress it up!

Why not try a 30-day shop your closet challenge to try out a capsule wardrobe? So smart!

13 best Google Chrome life hacks.

Snowfall crochet mittens – what a cozy design!

Top 10 mistakes we make when grocery shopping – and how to fix them.

10 ways your freezer can make everyday cooking easier.

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!