Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 06.24.15

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Inspirational Printable Art via Elegance & Enchantment

Source: Elegance & Enchantment

 

An inspirational watercolor for your wall.

When every single day is class picture day….yes.

This is black and white- thank you, Jon Stewart. We are praying for the victims this week.

An interview on one of my favorite books from last year.

Do you have a vague friend too?

14 ways to beautify your closet door. So inspiring!

30 books for the men in your life- bookmarking for my man!

Rainbow Smoothies via Love & Lemons

Source: Love & Lemons

 

Taste the rainbow!

I love this mantle decor (time to raid the yard!)

Daddy beauty school- ADORABLE.

Using Instagram for work & play.

A minimalist home with color.

Oh, to leave a legacy like this.

Did you read the NPR Book Club Selection this month? It’s on my list!

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!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Polyvore, Dandy Blend, & Books

Friday, June 19th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you had a wonderful week this week.  I am loving being on summer break with my kids and am really savoring the slowed down days that we have been having together. Today we are looking forward to a pool day (finally!) and I can’t wait to sit poolside with a big stack of books- yay!

St. Margaret's House

Before we jump into the happy, I just want to thank you for all of your love and support of our site. The sponsored content that we share help so many charities and this week we were able to donate an entire month of classes to help the women of St. Margaret’s House (a local women & children’s shelter)  learn a new skill or trade including all those materials they need for class. I can think of no better use of money than empowering women to learn a new skill! Look at these beautiful scarves they have been taught to make and be amazed.  This winter, we were also able to supply a large donation valued at $1,500 in eco-friendly toiletries to assist the shelter through my partnership with ePantry. Your continued support makes donations possible to help those in need and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I know sponsored content isn’t always your favorite thing, but this is how we can help those in need do big things. 

Today we have Cindy Bokma from Hello Dollface and author of A Thousand Dollars For a Kiss and To Marilyn, With Love  joining us to share her happy list!  Lori has been a longtime reader and loyal MomAdvice friend for many years. I am so lucky to know her and I’m lucky to get to share her favorites today! Please give her a warm welcome! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Without further adieu, here are Cindy’s 3 favorites this week!

Polyvore

Polyvore

Between blogging and writing and reading, there’s Polyvore. This is like an  adult version of Paper Dolls which I loved playing with as a child. I pretty much love any activity that allows my imagination to run wild.
On Polyvore.com, you can create collages, outfits, interiors…basically whatever you want.  Its a fantastic stress release for creative people. I have spent hours designing things on here! There is nearly unlimited clothing, housewares, backgrounds, art, and so much more to work with.

Books

The happiest time of my day is the evening when I read. My day is over, chores are done, kids are usually finished with their homework and it’s time to relax. Sometimes I’ll go out at night and I can’t wait to rush home to whatever book I am reading! When I go on vacation I used to pack a bag filled with books, now it’s so easy (and lighter) to pack my Kindle or iPad! I always have several books ready to read and spending hours during the day with a book is the ultimate luxury!
I like real books followed by reading on my kindle, then the ipad. There is no greater joy than being really into a fantastic book! I spend a lot of time perusing new books on amazon and reading reviews on Goodreads. There have been times when I’ve whiled away a few hours just reading about reading!

Dandy Blend

Have you heard of Dandy Blend? When I was cutting back on coffee, I searched high and low for a good replacement to fill the void. I discovered this amazing drink which you can buy in tea or instant powdered form.
Dandy Blend is made from the roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets. There are numerous health benefits to this beverage which make it a constant in my daily diet. Its cost effective, contains zero gluten or caffeine and is not acidic or bitter. I have switched from drinking about six cups of coffee to one or two cups in the morning and Dandy Blend if I want a hot drink throughout the day!

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Cindy, for generously sharing the happy today!

*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 06.17.15

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Simple Schedule via NoSidebar

Source: No Sidebar

 

The secret to having a simplified schedule.

This summer book list looks promising!

I love frozen peach treats.

Four book suggestions that will radically simplify your home and work life.

Make summer reading goals fun! Use this gum ball machine printable to set goals and show progress. Printing now!

3 ways to dress a capsule wardrobe up or down.

Oh, I needed this one (ahem).

Shed Office via The Very Worst Missionary

Source: The Very Worst Missionary

 

This shed business is catching – see ours here.

A new Instagram account to follow, bookworms!

Oh, to meet Judy Blume!

How to learn to say no.

Summer capsule inspiration.

More books to get for my book stack.

Don’t miss it.

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!

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Sundays With Writers: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

I love to interview writers about their books and I have found this year that many writers go above and beyond when it comes to being gracious and generous about their work. This is the case with today’s author, Tamara Ireland Stone. You will see the compassion that she has through this interview for her friends and family and her warmth and gratefulness that she has given me for sharing about her book is just as genuine. When you find authors like that, it makes you want to promote them even more so we not only included Every Last Word in our must-reads for the month, but we also want to share more about Tamara’s story here and the beautiful story of C. who inspired this book featured today.

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Mental illness books in the YA category seem to be a growing trend and I think it is a good thing. All the Bright Places, read and shared with you last month,  tackled the issue of bipolar disorder and Every Last Word sheds light on the difficulties of being a teen with OCD. Stone illustrates our common misconceptions of OCD (the main character doesn’t even have a tidy room!) and tackles the harder stuff like what it would be like to be obsessive with something like the number 3 and not being able to drive your friends because your odometer must always have that number on it.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

The camaraderie of friendship and group therapy through writing reminded me of the beautiful friendships in The Fault In Our Stars

The story is well-written and age-appropriate for teens (there is one sex scene), but I think it would be a great one to read and then talk about with your teens about the struggles of fitting in, how everyone struggles with something, and how important it is to be your own person. Samantha is a character that really blossoms on the page. YA fans who are moms will enjoy this one too as the book brings a satisfying twist at the end.

Today I invite you to grab your cup of coffee and settle in with Tamara Ireland Stone as she shares her inspiration for this story and the parallels of her own life she has faced that helped her be empathetic to the struggles of the amazing character she has created in Sam! 

Tamara Ireland Stone

Sam, the main character in your story, is a teen secretly struggling with OCD. Why did you decide to talk about this illness and what do you hope your YA readers will gain from sharing this story?

I first became interested in telling a story about a teen with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when a close family friend was diagnosed four years ago, at age twelve.

We’re keeping her identity under wraps, so I call her C.

It was heartbreaking to hear how the disorder affected her. She couldn’t sleep. She felt powerless to a stream of negative, often terrifying thoughts. And her group of friends unknowingly made things harder. I couldn’t imagine dealing with something so intense, especially at such a young age.

In the years that followed her initial diagnosis, I’ve been so inspired by the way C and her family tackled this disorder—together. They worked in lock step with her psychiatrist, who prescribed medication to help her sleep at night and quiet her mind during the day. They interviewed therapists until they landed on one their daughter felt she could trust and confide in. And they helped her channel her energy into activities that made her feel good about herself.

They’re the reason I wanted to write this story. They set such a positive example, and it was one I felt inspired to share.

When I asked if I could write Every Last Word and draw upon some of their experiences, they agreed wholeheartedly. C hoped this story would help teens who are struggling with mental illness know they’re not alone, and not “broken.” And she hoped that this story would help people who don’t have to deal with mental health conditions see those who do through a kinder, more sympathetic lens.

This story is for her, and for all the special, powerful, brilliant, not-at-all-broken minds like hers.

There seems to be a growing trend to talk about mental illness right now in YA fiction. Why do you think it has become an important theme in this genre of literature?

It’s interesting to me that all of these stories are coming out this year. As authors, we obviously didn’t intend to start or be part of a “trend.” We all just happened to start writing books we thought needed to be written.

Many people in my life are dealing with various mental health conditions, either personally or with their children. We talk about it. And as parents, we’ve opened the conversation with our kids in an effort to make it a safe, judgment-free topic. I think that’s an important real-life trend.

My son was having some anxiety issues when I first started writing Every Last Word. He was barely 11-years-old at the time. I bought an illustrated book about anxiety, and we sat down and read it together. When we got to the symptoms—racing heart, shortness of breath, stomachaches—he broke into tears. He finally said, “It’s anxiety? I thought I had cancer!”

The fear he’d built up in his mind was so much worse than the reality.

Anxiety. There. It had a name. Rather than feeling the emotion accelerate and letting fear turn it into something completely different, he had a word. He could say, “I’m feeling anxious,” and we’d know what to do.

Words have such power.

As parents, we actively talk with our kids about exercise and eating well. We take them in for checkups and closely monitor their physical health and development. Why do we tend to treat mental health so differently?

I’m thrilled to see so many novels tackling mental illness in teens. Together, I hope we’re helping to change to narrative, using fiction to spread the message that it’s okay to talk openly about what’s going on in your brain, it’s okay if your mind works differently, and it’s okay if you need help.

Teens are under more pressure to be “perfect” than ever before. Let’s tell them they’re perfect exactly the way they are.

Sam really struggles to fit in with her peers and particularly struggles with a group of fake friends that don’t honor the real rules of friendship. Did you relate to Sam’s struggle to fit in from when you were in high school?

I was lucky to have great friends in middle school and high school, but my family moved a lot, so I was constantly making new ones. I was the new kid. And I was awkward. My friends never made me feel like the odd girl out, but I always felt like I was.

And yes, I’ve had those “mean girl” friends at a few points in my life, too. I definitely channeled a lot of my own challenges with female friendships into this story.

I won’t give it away, but you decide to create a really great twist at the end of the book that I, honestly, did not see coming. Did you always know you were going to twist the plot this way or did it come to you as you were writing it?

I did. That was always a huge part of the story, from the original outline. It was the trickiest aspect of the novel to write, but without question, my favorite.

In one line you state, “Everyone’s got something. Some people are just better actors than others.”  What is one thing you have acted your way out of in your own life that people might be surprised to know?

In my mid-20s, I landed my dream job with a fast-growing public relations firm. I climbed the ladder quickly, and before long I was managing some of our largest accounts. I loved my job, even though it was often stressful and overwhelming.

But there was one job requirement I couldn’t stand: Presenting. I hated speaking in front of people, with all eyes on me, and I did everything I could to avoid it.

I finally confided in one of the partners.

He reminded me that I was the expert. That I knew the client and the material better than anyone else. And then he smiled and said, “You know what they say, ‘Fake it till you make it.’”

I needed that. I made that my mantra.

Over the years, I’ve had this conversation with many business professionals, and more recently, with my author friends. Some of the most polished presenters have admitted that they feel terrified before they step up on that stage. That it takes a big dose of courage and a lot of “faking it” to make it through.

The poem in Every Last Word called “As If” was inspired by this idea. Sometimes we need to act our way out of fear.

Oddly, now I’ve gone and put myself in a career where I present on bigger stages, to more people than I’ve ever addressed before, where the stakes are even higher. And yes, it’s still scary. I always feel like I’m faking confidence when I fist step on stage and begin talking. But at some point, I begin to relax. I connect with the crowd and start to have fun, and pretty soon, I’m no longer faking it.

I’m still wondering when I’ll actually feel like I’ve made it.

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

That’s easy. Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give You the Sun.” (EDITOR’S NOTE- We LOVE Jandy! Check out our interview with the author HERE and our review of her beautiful book!)

If you like Every Last Word’s message about the healing power of writing, you’ll love the way this novel celebrates the healing power of art. It’s so brilliantly crafted, told in alternating viewpoints by brother and sister twins—his story tells the past while hers tells the present. I’m simply in awe of Nelson’s ability to weave together different timelines and points of view into a beautifully written, emotionally gripping story.

Please check this book out if you haven’t already done so. It’s a truly wonderful read.

You can connect with Tamara Ireland Stone 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 (With Lori): Lemony Delights, A Great Run, & Bacon-Lovin’

Friday, June 12th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

 

Happy Friday, friends! We FINALLY made it to the last day of school over here so we are looking forward to many lazy days by the pool with books and a break from all the crazy running that we have been doing during the school year. We truly hobbled to the finish, quite literally. My daughter did a flip on the monkey bars on the day before school ending and hurt her arm and is rocking a sling this week. We are thankful for no broken bones though- that would have been a Judy Moody bummer summer moment, for sure.

Today we have Lori Downs  joining us to share her happy list!  Lori has been a longtime reader and loyal MomAdvice friend for many years. I am so lucky to know her and I’m lucky to get to share her favorites today! Please give her a warm welcome! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks! 

True Lemon

True Lemon

True Lemon’s basic product is crystallized, unsweetened lemon that comes in little packets like sweeteners.  You can add it to water, tea, etc., but it’s also great for cooking! True Lemon also makes True Lime, True Orange and True Grapefruit, all of which are yummy and portable.  Their Lemon Pepper, Lime-Garlic-Cilantro, and Orange Ginger spice blends are all salt free! I’ve tried all of these and enjoyed each one.  The Orange Ginger is to die for on baked chicken! And True Orange makes your plain Greek yogurt taste like heaven!

Run Keeper App

Run Keeper

Since I hit 40, I’ve noticed that the pounds creep on a little easier and are much harder to get rid of.  I’ve started walking a few times a week, and I use the free Run Keeper app to keep track of things.  What I like the most is that it gives me periodic audio updates on my walk (or run). It will turn my music down and tell me how long I’ve been walking, how far, the pace, the speed.  You can set it to tell you what you want to hear. It also keeps track of your path on a map that you can save after each event.  I’ve found I walk a lot faster, farther and longer since starting to use Run Keeper!

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Image Source: Artsy Fartsy Mama

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

This recipe doesn’t exactly fit with my no salt diet and trying to lose the pounds, but it’s so easy and so yummy!! I tweak the recipe by cutting the breasts into smaller 2×2 inch “squares” and by skipping the pounding since I’ve cut the chicken smaller.  Then I wrap each square criss-cross with two pieces of turkey bacon, pepper, and whatever shredded cheese I have in the fridge. I highly recommend putting brown sugar on top! We usually eat it with a side veggie and some rice or a potato.  Super easy! And there are never any leftovers!

 

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Lori, for generously sharing the happy today!

*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 06.10.15

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Cake in a Bag via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

Birthday cake baked in a bag!

A 2015 summer reading guide.

The most iconic coffee moments in film.

Matt Damon gives us a peek inside Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian.’ Did you see our interview with the author?

This Thai spicy pork and glass noodles – yum (bonus, naturally GF!).

Fun Father’s Day gift ideas.

Summer-ize Your Home via The Nester

Source: The Nesting Place

 

I love these tips for hushing your house for summer.

Epic road trip, anyone?

13 of your favorite books if their titles were honest.

5 ways to transition a room from baby to big kid.

Hosting a summer ice cream party? This topping may steal the show.

Or, just throw a regular party with one of these summer drinks.

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!

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Sundays With Writers: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Sundays With Writers is my favorite feature on MomAdvice and I am so excited to share with you today an exclusive interview with Jessica Knoll, the author of Luckiest Girl Alive! This dark and twisty thriller recently hit bookshelves and today Jessica is sharing a little bit behind her story in this interview.  Of course, I am particularly excited since this book got picked up by Reese Witherspoon’s production team so I get to give you the scoop before we see this one on the big screen!

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

How can this book not be on your top list? The title has GIRL in it (like this, and this, and this…), Gillian Flynn’s name is dropped on the front cover for the endorsement, the narrator is unlikable, AND Reese Witherspoon will be producing the movie version of this book (only just recently announced). I’d say this has a winning combination for this to be the book that everyone will be talking about this summer.

Much like other thriller books, I don’t want to give away the plot too much so that you have the satisfaction of discovering the twists yourself. Ani is a girl who never has the ability to fit in at her prestigious private school, no matter how many brand name clothes her mother buys her. When Ani intrigues the popular kids, they decide to invite her in and Ani discovers, maybe it was better to have never been a part of the group at all. In a horrible turn of events, she finds solace in another kid at school that will, ultimately, change the destiny of the school and the kids in it forever.

The book flashes back to Ani’s painful teen years and then alternates chapters as they film a documentary about what happened at their school and how much happier Ani is now that she is working at a high-profile magazine, beautiful, thin, and has the guy of her dreams. Of course, things are never as good as they seem and getting to the root of why Ani is so unlikable helps the reader to connect more as the story progresses despite the excruciating shallowness and weight obsession of this woman.

With just the right amount of sass to balance the darkness of this book (think Gillian Flynn for how dark we get), this read is a quick page-turner that I can’t wait to see adapted into film.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars in our must-read books list for April- did you catch it?

Grab your coffee and settle in for an interview with this fantastic author!

Jessica Knoll

Let’s start with the most exciting news, Luckiest Girl Alive had the movie rights acquired by Lionsgate and Reese Witherspoon is set to produce the film version of your book. Do YOU feel like the luckiest girl alive and how/when did you find this out?

I cracked this joke to Bruna, Reese’s producing partner, and she quickly corrected me by telling me that I’m not lucky—good things come to those who work hard to develop their craft and talent. I really appreciated that! There is certainly a degree of luck involved, but I was also very, very calculated in terms of setting myself up for success. I fought tooth and nail to land a job in the magazine world right after I graduated college, knowing that once you get your foot in that door, it’s a great place to develop your voice and improve your writing and storytelling abilities. Most important, you make a lot of great connections working in magazines, and publishing people like magazine people because you have a whole network of friends who are willing to support the book. I met my agent years before I ever wrote Luckiest Girl Alive, and I met other people in the industry who had lines into Hollywood. One of those lines happened to be to Reese and Bruna. Their involvement has undoubtedly granted the book a certain amount of visibility that any author, let alone a first time author, could only dream of, and I’m so grateful to them for their unwavering support. The luck part comes into play as I got to know them both, and realized how incredibly collaborative and inclusive they are. I really lucked out in terms of being paired up with two smart, powerful women who are also willing to help a first time writer develop and grow. I have so much to learn from them, and lucky for me, they want to teach me.

The unlikable narrator seems to be a growing trend in fiction. I won’t drop the Gone Girl comparison, but why do you think authors are gravitating towards a different dynamic with the narrators of their story? Do you think Ani is unlikable or just misunderstood thanks to her past?

In my eyes, Ani isn’t unlikable at all. She’s flawed, yes, but isn’t everyone? That’s what makes her real and honest. And real and honest are two very likable qualities. That being said, I think we are living in a very exciting time for strong, female driven narratives. I will make the Gone Girl reference here, mostly because it was such an absolute phenomenon that it goes to show you that audiences are interested in the anti-heroine’s story too. There’s a demand for Tony Soprano and Amy Dunne, Don Draper and Ani FaNelli. Let’s give the people what they want!

At the heart of it all, Ani just wanted to be liked, even when she is mistreated in a truly devastating way by the popular kids at school. Do you think this happens more than we know (perhaps, not to this gravity) and did you face any struggles with fitting in when you were in school? Were there any real events that were the inspiration for your story?

Speaking from personal experience, I think it’s incredibly common. Kids can be cruel, and up until recently, sexual assault and slut shaming culture was not something we discussed openly. When I was in high school and college, I didn’t truly understand what rape looked like, and I know a lot of my friends—guys and girls—didn’t either. How can we expect kids to make the right decisions, and treat each other with dignity and respect, when we don’t give them examples of what that does—and doesn’t—look like? What happens to Ani in the book isn’t new. It’s a story old as time. But this sudden willingness to talk about bullying, slut shaming, and sexual assault is new, and that’s a good thing.

Since you have worked as an editor for magazines, did this background prepare you for writing your first novel and how hard was it to transition from writing/editing article pieces to a book? How long was the process of idea into book for you?

It absolutely did. I could not have written this book in my early and mid twenties. That was an important, developmental time for me in terms of discovering my voice, and learning how to find a story’s unique angle. Once I had that skillset to draw on, I spent a good year or two really thinking hard about what I wanted my book to be about, and high on that list was for it to make some sort of commentary about the world and times we are living in. Magazines taught me to have that strong perspective. Once I actually sat down to write Luckiest Girl Alive, it was extremely liberating to be able to write in my own voice. When you write for a magazine, you have to appropriate a ‘house’ voice. But Ani was all me. It was so freeing to tell her story that I churned it out in nine months.

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

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I’ve been tweeting about this book a ton, and I am probably starting to scare the author a little. But it’s a stunning book—gorgeous prose, and an epic and powerful tale about friendship.

You can connect with Jessica Knoll 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!

May 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, June 5th, 2015

May 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I hope that you guys had another great month of reading. This post is running a bit behind this month since we were traveling, but I had to be sure to sneak this one in before June is in full swing. Since we had a long flight to Italy and back this week, I tackled four books on my trip and I have a couple of other great ones to share about this month.  I hope I will have some new ones to add to your beach bag because it is almost beach bag season! You know I can’t wait for that after this long winter season in Indiana.

Here are six books I tackled this month!

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 (currently available for pre-order, hits stores on July 7th!)

I am a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid. In fact, this book made my top ten a couple of years ago and would definitely be one I would recommend adding to your beach bag. NetGalley sent me an advance reader of this book which I could not wait to dig into. If you are like me though, when your favorite authors come out with books you quickly devour it and then have to impatiently wait for the next book from them.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.  What unvold are two story lines- what would happen if she left with him and what happened if she refused.

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her.

Maybe In Another Life is a  fun escape that would make a great addition to your beach bag this summer. Fans of Life Intended will enjoy this as the reader is taken into two different directions as a moment in the narrator’s life leads them down two separate paths and you see the parallel lives unfolding. A satisfyingly sweet story that reminds us that just one simple decision can alter our lives in two different directions entirely. Reid is a beautiful storyteller and her books are always a personal treat for me!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I have picked this book up from the library time and time again and kept returning it. The story did not grab me the way Gone Girl did. When my girlfriend gave this one five stars on GoodReads though, I decided to pack it for my trip and devoured it in a single day and can’t wait to see this one developed into a television show.

The story follows a reporter with a troubled past who has to return to her hometown when she is assigned a story on the murder of two preteen girls in her small town. Returning home is a challenge as she has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother and is reminded why she left the town in the first place.  As the mystery unfolds about the brutal murders of these two girls, she must confront her own twisted past and discover who the killer is just as the reader does, in a wild twist.

I will say that this is dark and I think that is why I have struggled with it before.  Flynn’s writing makes you feel uncomfortable because her imagery is so raw and graphic. It is disturbing in the way that I felt about Flowers in the Attic when I read it as a kid.  Sure, it’s disturbing… but you can’t look away.  Kind of like a train wreck. Flynn creates a necessary tension for such a dark tale and the writing creates a vivid picture for the reader of these dark characters and town.

A perfect twist at the end, makes this a satisfyingly dark thriller that I really enjoyed. Read at your own discretion!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

I love our weekly reading check-in on the Facebook page and everyone has been talking this book up as a book that they just could not put down. I am always game for a good thriller so I snagged this one from the library and read it in two days. You were right. I couldn’t put this one down! Thank you all for recommending it!

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”

From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda’s demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse–one they both cannot survive–with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

This is a book of cat and mouse, mouse and cat, cat and cat…Really, the reader just doesn’t know where this one will go and who to trust. This is a fantastically twisty thriller that you must pack in your beach bag this summer. The author does a great job of weaving narrators and twisting the plot so that the reader is left guessing up until that final page. A satisfying ending with a well-woven story. You will love it right up until that final shocking page!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green

Did you catch my interview with John Green on the site? An incredible moment for sure! The only John Green book I have read is The Fault In Our Stars which I absolutely loved.  I wanted to read Paper Towns since the movie is coming out and I always love to read the book before the movie. Are you like that too?

Quintin has been loving the neighbor girl, Margo, since they were kids. Margo has never really paid attention to Quintin so when she unexpectedly opens his bedroom window one night, complete in Ninja-attire, he is stunned. That evening is an epic one of revenge against classmates that they embark on all night. The next day, Margo is gone, but Quintin realizes that Margo has left clues to where she has gone. With mixed dread that she may have committed suicide and a need to see the love of his life again, he takes his friends on an epic minivan road trip to find Margo on their graduation day.

Super cute and laugh-out-loud funny, this was a great escape. I would recommend it for fans of All the Bright Places as the road trip leads this crew on a fun adventure.

4 Out of 5 Stars

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett

Are you ready for another book that will be making my top ten of 2015? I can tell you right now that this book will be on the list.  I have never read a survival story like it and I have thought about this book ever since I shut the pages. It was one of the most difficult reads I have ever read and I will never forget this memoir or how extraordinary Amanda’s journey was.

Amanda Lindhout lived in a violent home and escaped her life through her issues of National Geographic that she collected and dreamed of traveling to a life far better than her own.  At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

It is impossible to read this book and not be moved by Amanda’s journey. Although it is frustrating to read how naive she is by throwing herself into places that she knows are dangerous to prove the world wrong (which she acknowledges in her story), her ability to transcend the brutality and exit her body is an extraordinary study in survival and her will to live.

If you loved (and could endure) survival stories like Unbroken, I think this one brings new perspective on how women are treated in Somalia every single day and you will be moved by Amanda’s story and what she now gives to Somalia since being held hostage.

This is graphic, brutally graphic. Amanda glosses over much of what she endured probably to save the reader from the imagery, but what she tells is so horrific that you will be thinking of this story long after you close the final pages.

5 Out of 5 Stars

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

(currently available for pre-order, hits stores on June 16th!)

I had this book on my reading list for this summer so I was so excited to get an advanced reader from the publishing house the week before our trip. Mental illness books in the YA category seem to be a growing trend and I think it is a good thing. All the Bright Places, read and shared with you last month,  tackled the issue of bipolar disorder and this book sheds light on the difficulties of being a teen with OCD. Stone illustrates our common misconceptions of OCD (the main character doesn’t even have a tidy room!) and tackles the harder stuff like what it would be like to be obsessive with something like the number 3 and not being able to drive your friends because your odometer must always have that number on it.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

The camaraderie of friendship and group therapy through writing reminded me of the beautiful friendships in the The Fault In Our Stars

The story is well-written and age-appropriate for teens (there is one sex scene), but I think it would be a great one to read and then talk about with your teens about the struggles of fitting in, how everyone struggles with something, and how important it is to be your own person. Samantha is a character that really blossoms on the page. YA fans who are moms will enjoy this one too as the book brings a satisfying twist at the end.

4 Out of 5 Stars

sundays-with-writers-1

Read With Me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 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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Amy’s Notebook 06.03.15

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

How to make a wine bottle tiki via Julie Blanner

Source: Julie Blanner

DIY wine bottle tiki torch- I love a good 10-minute craft.

Adding this 7-minute egg to my breakfast idea list.

A Marie Kondo decluttering clothing swap party.

I’m saving these makeup tips for teens for my daughter!

It’s time to plan the summer capsule.

Greek yogurt chocolate panna cotta- yes.

I love a good summer book list!

Think of those in Texas (and ways to help!)

Packing for a long trip in a Carry On via Kelly Purkey

Source: Kelly Purkey

 

Packing for a long trip in a carry-on suitcase.

Better mom uniforms- I love these outfit ideas.

Now we can eat apples poolside! Genius.

Bookcase envy.

School’s out party ideas- so cute!

I’m inspired to plan some career days for my kids.

A day in the life of Pinterest.

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!

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things (With Meagan): King, Cuffs & Coffee

Friday, May 15th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Well, hello, Friday! Nice to see you again! The Clark family has hobbled through another week and this will be our last 3 little things for this month as the blog will be on hiatus from May 20th-June 1st. My husband and I are celebrating our 15 year anniversary and got our very first passports to take a trip to Italy to celebrate. We are touring Florence, Rome, & Venice on our trip and I am so excited and so very nervous. Grandma retired last year and has generously agreed to step into our place and take over for nine days with my children. She is a saint!

I want everything to be spectacular for her so I am filling the freezer, organizing a fraction of the unorganized spaces, list-making, and tackling the Mt. Everest of laundry piles. It will all be worth it though and we are so thankful we leave our kids in far more competent hands than my own.

 

Passport Application

Say some prayers for grandma and, if you have a few to spare, throw up a few for us since we are nervous travelers!  We have been saving a long time for this. Actually, since we got married. I started a secret fund and auto-transferred $25 in it each month for a vacation for our ten year anniversary. We were broke, but we never felt the pinch in those early years of marriage. Ten years passed and our kids felt too small to leave them, but now at 12 and 9… the timing finally feels right.

Today we have Meagan Church  joining us to share her happy list! Meagan Church is a writer, children’s book author and the brainpower behind www.Unexpectant.com, which explores the story of modern motherhood. She lives in the Midwest with her high school sweetheart, three children and a few animals. Connect with her on Twitter, on Instagram, or visit her website www.MeaganChurch.com.

Meagan and I are local friends that have wrote for some of the same publications and she is as genuine as they come. You are in for a real treat today so please give her a warm welcome! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.comand I will share them in the upcoming weeks! 

Meagan Church

 

It’s a spring Friday in Northern Indiana, so what better time to take a few minutes and consider a couple simple, yet beautiful moments of recent? Of course I must take pause to celebrate the return of birds, tree buds and running season, but there are other things that have had my heart and attention as of recent, including a book, a bracelet and a brewer.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

 

“11/22/63” by Stephen King

I don’t typically read Stephen King books. While I am an avid reader, the overwhelming size of most King books intimidates me, not to mention the fact that some of his stories that I heard years ago still haunt my nightmares today. While re-reading his incredibly inspiring book “On Writing,” I felt the urge to dive into one of his newer novels. I had heard good things about “11/22/63,” so I downloaded a digital copy from the library, and, not being very good at converting digital pages to print pages, I had no idea just how long it was. I wasn’t able to finish the digital copy before it had to be returned, so I headed to the library to get a print copy and an intimidating surprise. I pulled the book off the shelf, suddenly thankful for each and every Insanity workout I had endured that had made it possible for me to actually lift the behemoth of a book. But, I told myself that size didn’t matter. What mattered was that I finished a story that had engaged and engrossed me from the start. Soon this book crept into many of my conversations and even a few of my dreams. Even with three little ones, writing deadlines and typical every-day commitments, I read the book in record time. While I have always had respect for King’s writing, reading this book put me in awe of his masterful storytelling. Though I finished it a few weeks ago, the story is still on my mind, along with wondering if the upcoming Hulu mini-series will do the story justice.

Personalized Cuff Bracelets

Personalized Cuff Bracelets

I have always been a sucker for a good quote. And, I’ve always tried to find ways to surround myself with encouraging and inspiring words. Over the past few years, I have had quotes and verses that have served as mantras for me, including the reminder to “be still” and the scripture Philippians 4:13 (which helped me get through three natural child births). When I attended the Storyline Conference in Chicago last fall, writer Shauna Niequist spoke these words that I instantly knew would be my mantra for 2015, “Do your thing with great love right now.” Wanting a constant reminder of these phrases, I fell in love with personalized cuff bracelets. Thanks to the awesomeness that is Etsy, I can have my reminder right at hand (or, rather wrist) whenever needed.

Thermal French Press

 

French Press

I love coffee though I’m no connoisseur by any means. I just love a nice cup of black coffee, hold the frills. I have had a devoted single-cup coffee maker for a decade-and-a-half. Sure, there have been fancier products on the market, but it served me well. Until recently. When I knew the end was near, I started researching and asking around about a replacement. Soon enough I came across a French press. The reviews, along with the fact that no wasted filters (or K-cups) are required, I decided to give it a try. I settled on a stainless steel option, fearing I would break a glass one and not trusting piping hot water in a plastic carafe. So far, it has not disappointed. Sure, it takes a few minutes longer to brew (four minutes after the water is heated) than the automatic drip did, but the rich taste, bold flavor and lack of wasteful filters have won me over and make me feel like a kitchen barista.

Whole Foods Pretzel Bread

Okay, okay! I just couldn’t leave this one out. A few months ago a friend asked me a question that changed my life: have you tried Whole Foods pretzel bread? Maybe that was a bit dramatic, but let’s just say that ever since she asked that question, we have either had a loaf on the counter or in the freezer…or both. These fresh-baked bites of heaven have saved more than one meal for me, partly because I’m not the best meal planner and also because when the kids hear pretzel bread is on the menu, they stop moaning about the part of the meal they don’t like and instead give thanks for the mouth-watering deliciousness that will soon be broken, shared and devoured.

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Meagan, for generously sharing the happy today!

*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?