Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 03.23.16

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Orange Soy Glazed Ribs via Shutterbean

Source: Shutterbean

 

Orange soy glazed ribs- these look fantastic!

Can’t wait to see this film!!

Great tips for making the most of your Netflix account.

Kate Middleton’s style formula- I really love her style.

Great advice on creating smarter to-do lists. I can’t wait to read this book!

This tap dance routine to Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ is amazing.

Small Entry Makeover via The Inspired Room

Source: The Inspired Room

 

Gorgeous small entry transformation!

As a big Mo Willems fan, I loved reading more about him and his techniques.

Simplify childhood and protect your child.

How different people spend $100 at the grocery store.

A good reminder during this political season.

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

Sundays With Writers: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I have been SO looking forward to this interview with Sharon Guskin this month so I could share more behind her debut novel, The Forgetting Time.  It has been a very long time since I have finished a book in a mere 24 hours, but I could not put this book down and it grabbed me from the first lines until I finished the final page. I think what grabbed me the most is that the premise was something I had not read about before or really had given much thought to. Don’t you love when a book really makes you think or when you begin to question a previous held viewpoint? This book did that for me and I think it might do the same for you!  I can guarantee you will find this book on my top ten list this year- it’s that good!

Honestly, it is difficult to do this interview without any spoilers so if you want to read this one and come back, please do! I really enjoyed piecing this together so I don’t want to take that from you if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet! 

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

This book reads a bit like a mystery as you try to solve the puzzle of a child’s unusual first years of life. The story intertwines with a doctor nearing the end of his career due to a deadly diagnosis and could be the only one who could make Noah and his mother’s life better. What Noah is suffering from is beyond what any parent could comprehend. Gripping, thought provoking, and and an excellent pick for any book club! 

Now grab your coffee and let’s settle in with Sharon Guskin today to hear more behind this incredible novel!

sharon-guskin

Your debut novel is absolutely incredible and the way that you write has an assuredness that can be unusual for a first book. I read in a past interview that you have described The Forgetting Time as “my third first novel,” following two earlier novels “that almost sold but didn’t.” You also have been a writer for twenty years which may explain how beautifully you captured this story.  How did you have the perseverance to continue after those books were rejected and what do you think finally clicked with this book that the first two novels seemed to be lacking?

It wasn’t always easy to keep going. There were plenty of days when I thought, “Maybe I should quit.” But I had a lot of support from friends and family.  And as time went on, the process became easier, because my intentions became clearer; I wasn’t writing a book to impress anyone with my sentences, or because I wanted to claim the identity of a “successful writer” or validate my life in some way. That’s the upside of all that disappointment: I became able to extricate my sense of my life’s value from any external success or failure.  So I became free to write what I wanted to write.  I started to work on a story based on a subject that I thought might be interesting to other people, and even eye-opening for them to think about. I think that’s why this book works, and the others didn’t:  my intentions were sound, so I was able to focus simply on telling the story.  My debut novel finally came out this February, a month after my fiftieth birthday, and it has been an entirely wonderful experience.

Dr. Ian Stevenson

Dr. Ian Stevenson

Dr. Jim Tucker

Dr. Jim Tucker

Your book was inspired by the work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Jim Tucker at the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the research they did on children who remember previous lifetimes. How did you stumble upon their research and why did you think adding these real-life cases before the chapters adds so much to your story?

I’ve always wondered about what happens when we die (who doesn’t?), but the question became more urgent for me about eight years ago, when I was volunteering at a hospice. My children were still quite young then, and I’d go from diapers and playdates to spending time with people who faced imminent death. And the experience really woke me up, and I started thinking: this can’t be all there is…why aren’t we talking more about this? Around this time, a friend was cleaning out her garage and handed me this book, “Old Souls,” which was by a reporter from the Washington Post who followed Dr. Ian Stevenson as he went about investigating his cases — and these cases really blew me away. Children who made distinct statements (with names, locations, etc.) about being another person in a previous lifetime — statements which were later confirmed after locating the dead individual. Amazing cases, in which children seem to identify relatives from a different life.

And I started to think, why are my children the way they are, with their particular attractions and dislikes? It happens all the time: two siblings come out entirely different. But why? Could it be related to a past life? Then I read “Life Before Life” by Dr. Jim Tucker, and I knew I had to tell a story inspired by these cases. I was very happy we were able to include parts of that nonfiction book in the novel; I think it grounds the book in a way, so the reader can see that I may have made up my story, but I did not make up this phenomenon. It’s real, and I think people might want to know about the real cases…But you don’t have to believe in any of this to enjoy the book!

The fictional Dr. Anderson is diagnosed with aphasia which affects his ability to understand written and spoken language. I understand that you have a family member who has this and it helped you craft the struggles of Dr. Anderson?

Yes, it’s been hard to watch his language deteriorate, and I hope some of my compassion for him came through in the writing of the character. But my relative is also astoundingly positive and present, despite the fact that he can no longer be understood very much by anyone except his wife. So I tried to keep a bit of that aspect, as well.

Return to Life by Dr. Jim Tucker

Almost all of the cases (real and fictional) of children experiencing past lives have happened in other countries and not in the US. In fact, when Noah shares his experience with the officers they are able to believe he has ESP, but dismiss reincarnation. Why do you think Americans have such a hard time believing in children experiencing a past life?

It’s true that most of the cases have been in Asia or in cultures that believe in reincarnation (for instance, the Druze in Lebanon). I think in large part this is because Americans simply don’t take their children seriously when they make comments that seem to indicate a previous lifetime, and the culture itself wouldn’t really encourage children to make that kind of connection even if they have strong feelings and specific memories from a previous existence.

But I think things are changing; everywhere I go, people tell me stories about statements their children have made (“Remember when we lived in China and took care of the babies?” “Remember when I was old and lived in the black house?”) that suddenly seem to make sense to them. And Dr. Tucker’s last book, Return to Life,” is entirely based on extraordinary American cases.

After researching this book, did you find that your own viewpoint changed on reincarnation? What was the most surprising thing you discovered while preparing for this novel?

When I began the book, I was mostly curious and fascinated…but after steeping my mind in these cases for all those years, and becoming familiar with the meticulous, extremely thorough methods of Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Tucker — and getting to know Dr. Tucker, who is one of the most rational and conscientious people you’ll ever meet — I started to think, what do I believe? Do I believe this is true? Actually, I think…. I do.  And that has led me further, to my own spiritual path.  But I think my job as a novelist isn’t to tell anyone what I think happens after you die, but rather to ask the question: What if it’s true? What does that mean for you, and for how you live your life?

One surprising thing: I didn’t have any past-life memories of my own, or at least I didn’t think so. But as I went about writing the novel, images arose on the page that are identical to certain Buddhist images and meditations. Very specific things. I wasn’t familiar with Buddhism while I was writing most of the book — I starting learning more at the end of the process — but by the time I finished I became convinced that I probably had practiced in a previous lifetime. (I guess that’s not so surprising, given my attraction to the material!)

If we are interested in exploring the topic of children experiencing past lives more, what are some of your favorite books or films that we could dive into?

Soul Survivor by Bruce & Andrea Leininger

BOOKS:

Life Before Life” and “Return to Life,” by Dr. Jim Tucker, give a very clear and engaging presentation of this work and of his methodology. “Return to Life” consists of American cases.

Old Souls” by Tom Shroder (a former Washington Post reporter) provides a wonderful portrait of Dr. Stevenson and his work.

Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation” and “Children Who Remember Previous Lives,” are slightly more academic books by Dr. Ian Stevenson about this phenomenon.

Children’s Past Lives” by Carol Bowman gives a different, more therapeutically- oriented approach to this topic; she does past-life regression therapy as well.

Soul Survivor” By Bruce and Andrea Leininger tells the gripping story of their young son, who remembered a life as a World War II fighter pilot.

unmistaken-child

Unmistaken Child

FILMS:

Not surprisingly, perhaps, most of the serious films on reincarnation concern spiritual subjects.

My Reincarnation,” is a documentary about Yeshi, the western-born son of a Tibetan Buddhist master. Yeshi is apparently the reincarnation of a Buddhist master himself, but struggles with integrating his father’s tradition into his modern Western world.

Unmistaken Child” is a moving documentary about a Buddhist monk’s search for the reincarnation of his beloved teacher.

Little Buddha” is a narrative, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, about a little boy in Seattle who may be the rebirth of a great Buddhist teacher, Lama Dorje.

I Origins, Birth, and Cloud Atlas are interesting, entertaining (if not really serious) takes on this topic. And on the completely silly front, I always enjoy watching the Albert Brooks movie, “Defending Your Life.”

Since the publication of the novel, you have begun gathering stories of readers who have reached out to you with their own extraordinary stories of children living past lives. What has the response been to this and, if we have a story like this, how can we share it with you?

I’ve been shocked at how many stories are out there. I’d say about a quarter of the people I’ve talked to about the book have shared something with me, usually a statement a child made or a strange or remarkable event that happened to them and changed the way they look at reality. I just started collecting them recently and will post on my website and my Facebook page. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email me at sharon@sharonguskin.com or submit your story here.

And let me know if you’d like to remain anonymous!

Stolen_poster

Our readers might be unaware that you are also a very successful writer and producer of award-winning documentaries! Do you have a favorite project that you worked on? As a documentary junkie, do you also have a few recommendations of your own personal favorites that you think we should binge on?

I worked on a documentary called STOLEN about the art heist at the Isabella Gardner museum that I think is a wonderful, rich, compelling account of Vermeer, Isabella Gardner, and the biggest art theft in America. And the film ON MEDITATION consists of lovely portraits of people who meditate, from my old writing teacher and Zen Buddhist Peter Matthiessen to Giancarlo Esposito and Congressman Tim Ryan.  I’m proud of both films.

Personal favorites? Any film by Albert Maysles (a humane, wonderful filmmaker). ARMOUR OF LIGHT, about an evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who join forces to oppose gun violence in the United States. THE CENTRAL PARK EFFECT, an utterly charming and fascinating film about birders in Central Park. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOPTWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM.

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)

One book that really inspired me recently was Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, a novel about Cambodia. It is both dark and radiant at the same time. She finds meaning and beauty within the horror, which makes the book truly transformative.

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

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Podcast Loving, Dangerous Baths, and a Snarl-Free Existence

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Happy birthday!!

Happy Friday! We had a wonderful weekend last weekend was celebrating the love of my life’s birthday. He deserved every bit of it and more. I’m a lucky lady!

This week has been full of new experiences for me.  I tried my first Pilates class and I loved it although all of the machinery in the room was a little intimidating the first time, plus remembering which leg was supposed to be doing what while working said machinery. I kind of looked like a nervous mess in there. Although I was no star pupil, I made it through and am proud that I’m finding some fun new classes to try this year that are a little gentler on my body.

I also gave acupuncture a spin for my elbow pain. Again, kind of a scary thing if you haven’t done it before, but between that, the exercises she showed me, helping me with better posture, and telling me which tools will help me moving forward, I felt really good after I left there.

Note to self, do not drink coffee right before so you can attempt to take a nap while side is filled with needles…

Or maybe not.

I am hoping a few of these sessions will help me to feel like my old self again. I miss her.

Here are a few other things that are making me happy this week!

World's Best Bath Tray

The World’s Best Bath Tray

I can’t remember if I have given my bath tray a shout out on the happy list, but even if I did, it deserves a second round of applause. It has a place to slide your wine stem (unless you buy giant wine glasses like me that *may* hold half a bottle) and it has a spot for your book to rest on it. I have been soaking a lot in this bubble bath for a treat at the end of the day and this bath tray makes holding a book quite easy.

This tray is worth every dollar and then some for a book lover like me!

bath-tray

I do think I scared a few people on Instagram hovering  a library book over a body of water.

I like to live a little dangerously.

treatyoself_main01

Since my hubby & I are on a Parks & Rec kick, we recently watched the Treat Yo Self episode and now anything we want to do that’s fun we use this line for whatever we might feel entitled to.

Like going to bed at 8PM (TREAT YO SELF!)

Putting your pajamas on at 1PM (TREAT YO SELF!)

Watching junk television on Netflix for an hour (TREAT YO SELF).

That night it was a bottle of ALDI Chianti ($4.99), a fresh new library book, and some bubbles…

I treat myself well, yo! You treat yourself well too!

modern-love-podcast

Modern Love Podcast

I binged on eight episodes of the Modern Love podcast while I was tidying the house this week and I can’t rave enough about how beautiful this is and how many emotions it stirred in me. Articles that were submitted to The New York Times over the years are selected by a celebrity to read on the podcast. Although I went into it thinking it would be about dating or finding a mate, it is so much more than that. It’s an exploration of familial love, love for a pet, love for a condition that brings a family together, bad first dates, and love for unlikely people. All kinds of love.

After the reading, they talk to the editor to see why the article was selected for The New York Times and they do a follow-up with the people to see what has happened since they wrote the article and what the response was to their piece.

If you want all the feels, this one was my favorite. I hope it moves you as much as it did me!

 

The Wet Brush

The Wet Brush

Between my daily green smoothie and my new vitamin regimen this year, my hair has been growing crazy fast. I haven’t had long hair since I got married so I forgot about all those tangles and snarls that happen with it. I have been battling this for awhile so I decided to get The Wet Brush and it works AMAZINGLY well on my tangled hair. If you are struggling with tangled hair with your little ones, this is the brush to buy. My daughter & I both finally have snarl-free and tangle-free hair. I didn’t think a brush could make a difference, but it really does.  The reviews prove it too- I’m not the only one in love with it.

This week I’m…

Reading: Be Frank With Me (it was PERFECTION!)

Eating: Sheet Pan Lemon Paprika Chicken & Veggies (double batched to share with my sister for our library date)

Watching: I want to tackle this documentary this weekend- it looks like it will be very eye-opening on food waste in our country. Have you seen it?

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

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

 

 

 

Amy’s Notebook 03.16.15

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Spring Cleaning Tips via A Thoughtful Place

Source: A Thoughtful Place

 

5 ways to jump start spring cleaning.

Loved reading about this ballerina’s beauty routines.

For pen addicts.

Fun Allegiant party ideas perfect for Divergent movie fans!

I love this burlap bow.

I love peeking at this bracket. Waaayy more interesting than basketball.

This brought tears to my eyes, especially after reading Paul’s book.

101 places your clutter can do good.

This app will come in handy as we pick out plants for spring.

Crochet Hair Clips via Yarn Twist

Source: Yarn Twist

 

Adorn a hair clip with crochet. So cute!

A small kitchen with big personality for comedian Seth Meyers.

I need to work on being kinder to myself. This was a good reminder.

7 tips to help people with ADD/ADHD read more and read better.

Very good reminder on fitness. Stick to the basics!

An introvert’s guide to having people over.

Sometimes the latest gadgets aren’t a good thing.

Have you cut the cord yet? This is a great breakdown on pricing if you are considering it!

Working on my plurals or is it plural? Hmmm!

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!

It’s the 3 Little Things: A Book I Couldn’t Put Down, Time Travel, & Hair Color Deliveries

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Happy Friday, friends!  It’s my husband’s birthday today so we are planning to go out this evening to celebrate at his favorite place. I also got him a really cool birthday gift this year that I secretly wanted to review for our site. Have you heard of Trunk Club before? My husband wanted to update his wardrobe with a couple of good pieces so I thought it might be a fun experience for him to work with a stylist and have a shipment sent to him for his birthday. I don’t see a lot of reviews for men’s clothing and I am curious what his experience will be with that. I’ll let you know how that works out next week- he’s pretty excited to try out his new clothes!

Here are a few other things that are making me REALLY happy this week!

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

A Book I Could Not Put Down

I rarely talk about books before the end of the month so if I share a book in the happy list, you can bet it will be in my top ten of the year list. In less than 24 hours, I consumed The Forgetting Time and I can’t recommend this one enough.  This is the author’s debut novel and it is unlike anything I have ever read before. I don’t want to delve too much into it because half of the fun, for me, ended up piecing everything together myself.  It’s a bit like a mystery as you try to solve the puzzle of a child’s unusual first years of life. The story intertwines with a doctor nearing the end of his career due to a deadly diagnosis who could be the only one who could make Noah and his mother’s life better. What Noah is suffering from is beyond what any parent could comprehend.

Please get it this weekend, you must! You will not be disappointed in this book or the writing from this author.

hulu-11-23-63-stephen-king

One of My Favorite Books Came to Television

11/22/63 remains one of my all-time favorite books in the history of books ever amen. It has been such an incredible treat to see 11/22/63 come to life in an eight part series on Hulu.  Since we don’t have cable, we rely a lot on Hulu for our television fixes and they are really stepping up their game with some original programming.

Is it okay to say that I was incredibly nervous about this? What if they ruined my favorite book?  I have to say, it is so much better than I hoped for. The costuming is fantastic, the details in each scene are just gorgeous, the acting is phenomenal, and it has been holding so true to Stephen King’s incredible work.  It’s everything I wanted it to be and more.

Since they only issue one episode a week, it has been something to look forward to into in the evenings with my hubby and I’m looking forward to watching that fourth episode this weekend!

Have you watched it yet? I’d love to hear what you think too!

If that isn’t enough of a reason to get a Hulu membership, check out this new original series trailer from the producer of Friday Night Lights Parenthood below! I’m so excited about this series too!!

Doesn’t that look SO GOOD too? I love good television!

 

Subscribe and Save

Subscribe & Save Deliveries

My time feels super valuable these days and there are a lot of things that I seem to have trouble keeping stocked or that require me to go to separate stores all the time. Two things that I am always running out of are vitamins (thanks to our new regime) and hair color (these kids give me gray hair- ha!) so I thought I would give Subscribe & Save a spin. I sat down with all of our vitamins and figured out the quantity we would need each month and then adjusted shipment for each one to how often we might need it.  I also decided I would put my favorite hair color on the subscribe & save agenda so that it would help remind me when it was time to color my hair and would save me an additional trip to the drugstore.

I love that it saves you money on each order, that you have free doorstep delivery, and that I can cancel or adjust things as I need them.

I’m a slow embracer of things like this, but this week we ran out of vitamins and waiting on my doorstep happened to be just what we needed thanks to this subscription service.

Happy weekend, friends!

This week I’m…

Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Eating: Sheet Pan Pork Chops & Veggies (I swear we eat this once a week now!)

Watching: Master of NoneWe are on the final episode and I am so sad! It was an incredible series- a bit raunchy, but surprisingly profound!

 

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.09.16

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Dip-Dyed Storage Baskets via Dream a Little Bigger

Source: Dream A Little Bigger

 

I love the hues in these storage baskets.

I love this favorite things list.

Quinoa Crispies- I’m going to have to give that recipe a spin!

A year of dates- what an incredible gift to share together.

Can a capsule wardrobe actually save you money?

Frugal out of necessity versus frugal out of choice- a good read!

5 breakfast sandwiches to ease the morning struggle.

‘Downton Abbey’ fans dream up hilarious alternate endings.

New ways to tie scarves via Whoorl

Source: Whoorl

 

New ways to tie scarves.

Hilarious tweets about marriage.

I will have to add a few of these to my cosmetic bag.

I can’t wait to see this documentary!

I often feel like we are parenting upstream so I loved this post.

Debut novels I’d like to read.

Top 10 skills middle school students need to thrive, and how parent can help.

22 bookish You Tubers to follow.

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!

15 Read-Aloud Chapter Books Everyone Loves

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

I’m so grateful to have the talented Sarah Powers guest posting for us today and sharing some of the most-loved chapter books to share with our kids. I LOVE this list!

15-Read-Aloud-Chapter-Books

In our house, bedtime stories come in the form of a chapter book read aloud to the older two kids, ages 6 and 4. Last year we went on a big Magic Tree House series kick, which made choosing the next book easy since there are approximately 4837 in the series. We were nowhere near the end before needing a break and looking for something different.

Next came Roald Dahl, a huge hit. But as we neared the end of the last book in our boxed set of Dahl stories, we were at a loss for what to read next. We need stories that will keep the interest of the four-year-old (who doesn’t mind the lack of pictures or lots of dialogue but does prefer a story with lots of adventure) and satisfy the six-year-old’s sense of humor and love of all things silly. And of course, it really helps if mom or dad can enjoy the books too (a huge perk of moving beyond the board book phase, in my opinion).

I asked the Mom Hour Facebook page readers for suggestions and the thread developed into a hugely helpful list of read-aloud chapter books that both kids AND grownups love. We’re into The Indian in the Cupboard these days, and we’re also listening to the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle stories on audio book in the car – both of which I’d read as a kid but forgotten about until hearing from you all.

15 Read-Aloud Chapter Books Everyone Loves

1. Ramona Quimby Series (Beverly Cleary)

2. Little House Series (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

3. The Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks)

4. Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis)

5. Junie B. Jones: First Grader (Barbara Park)

6. Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)

7. Mary Poppins (Dr. P. L. Travers)

8. The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

9. Magic Tree House (Mary Pope Osborne)

10. The BFG (Roald Dahl)

11. Stuart Little (E. B. White)

12. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (Betty MacDonald)

13. Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)

14. Judy Blume’s Fudge Box Set (Judy Blume)

15. Harriet The Spy (Louise Fitzhugh)

What are you and your kids reading these days? What would you add to this list?

 

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Sundays With Writers: The Immortals (Olympus Bound #1) by Jordanna Max Brodsky (GIVEAWAY!!)

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

sundays-with-writers-1

This post is brought to you in partnership with Orbit Books.

One of the best things I have found about being a bookworm is the ability to explore so many different genres. What I often find surprising is that genres like fantasy or science fiction, books that feel out of my comfort zone of reading, are often my favorite books of the year. Today I am sharing a book that takes a modern spin on Greek mythology in a fresh new way and Greek mythology certainly feels out of my comfort zone!  Growing up I had a very limited exploration of it in my literature classes so the idea of Greek mythology is a little intimidating to me. Is it to you?

I don’t want you to be intimidated by that though because today’s author, Jordanna Max Brodsky, not only builds a compelling story built on these themes, but she also provides a very thorough glossary for you to help assist those of us that aren’t as familiar with Greek mythology as she is.

She creates a thriller experience exploring a serial killer on the loose in Manhattan whose murders follow Greek themes and rituals as you try to uncover the killer involved in the killing spree.

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Immortals is an ambitious modern day retelling of Greek mythology set in the city of Manhattan. Selene, also known as Artemis, is a woman intent on making men pay for crimes against women. Amidst her vengeance on these men, she stumbles upon the body of a young woman washed ashore, who has been gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. She finds her ancient rage returning and forms an unlikely partnership with the woman’s former lover as they try to figure out who this serial killer is that is performing ritualistic killings in their city. Fans of Greek mythology will swim in this fresh retelling of these ancient stories.

Publishers Weekly states, “This intelligent, provocative fantasy breathes exciting new life into old, familiar tales.” Her book also has been selected as a Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Pick as well as Amazon’s Best Book of the Month.

I am so honored to have Jordanna join us today to share about the research and travel she did to create this fresh spin on Greek mythology.  Jordanna is also sharing a copy of her book to share with one lucky reader! Scroll down to enter! 

Now grab your coffee and let’s settle in for a chat with Jordanna about the debut of her new Olympus Bound book series!

JordannaBrodsky-creditBenArons

As a debut novelist, tell me about your excitement to have your novel selected not only as Barnes & Noble’s Bookseller’s Pick, but also as an Amazon Best Book of the Month? What has been the most surprising part about writing and publishing your first book?

It’s always thrilling to have your book recognized, and I certainly hope the extra publicity will help spread the word.

I always thought the most exciting single moment would be seeing my book on the shelf at a store—everything would finally seem real.  But surprisingly, the best thing by far is hearing from total strangers about how much they’re enjoying it.  As a passionate reader, I’ve always loved sinking into a book and having it come to life around me.  Knowing that I’ve provided that pleasure to others is absolutely awesome.

You explore Greek mythology and all the gods & goddesses that go along with it through a uniquely modern day twist set in the city of Manhattan. What compelled you to write a modern day retelling of Greek mythology and why did you choose this city, in particular, to set the scene for this story?

Like so many people, my love of Greek mythology began when I was a kid.  I tore through D’Aulaires Greek Myths, and I still remember getting to the end and wondering, And then what happened? The book implies that the gods’ statues fell, their temples crumbled, and they just disappeared.  Ever since, I’ve dreamed of changing that ending.

Approaching the story as an adult, I began to see that the Greek gods provide all sorts of opportunities for exploring themes far deeper than those I recognized as a child: the intersection of myth and history, the question of who creates identity, the evolution of perceptions of gender and virginity, and age-old arguments about the desirability of immortality.  The Immortals explores all those questions and more.

the-blockhouse-central park

the blockhouse in central park- image from wikipedia

As for the setting, putting the ancient Greek gods in quintessentially modern New York City may seem like a stretch, but for me it was a no-brainer. Manhattan is actually the oldest big city in America—it stretches all the way back to the early 1600s.  It’s old enough and big enough to hold secrets.  As a New Yorker myself, I’m always struck by how many historical sites are tucked between the skyscrapers, unbeknownst to tourists or even long-term residents.  My favorite: an 1814 defensive blockhouse perched on a hill in the north end of Central Park, surrounded by thick forest.  You can see the midtown skyline from there, but you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

My Artemis, the Goddess of the Wilderness, came to a tree-covered island inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians four hundred years ago, and she’s lived here ever since, watching the city grow up around her.  Now she prowls the last wild spaces in Central Park, still clinging to her memories of the past.

Your chapters have very unique titles that I understand all came from epithets, which you had a plethora of them to choose from since Artemis has over 300 epithets alone just to describe herself! Did you have a favorite and how did you decide to settle upon epithets for chapter titles?

My favorite epithet is “Relentless One” because it embodies both the best and the worst of Artemis’s personality.

The idea of using the epithets for chapter titles actually came from my friend and agent, Jennifer Joel.  I immediately latched on to it because Artemis’s abundance of epithets is one of her most appealing traits.

Each name embodies a different aspect of her personality, and many are completely contradictory.  She’s the Punisher and the Good Maiden.  I think each of us contains a multitude of titles as well—those we’ve chosen for ourselves and those society has thrust upon us—even if we don’t articulate them.  We can’t help but empathize with Artemis.

I understand that much research was involved in this book as well as traveling, even though you have a degree in both literature and history from Harvard. How much research did you have to do into Greek mythology to begin telling this ambitious story and what was one of the most surprising facts you discovered when researching for this book?

My desk is literally teetering with books on Greek myth, religion, and culture.  The good and bad news is that very limited written evidence exists for a lot of what I’m writing about.  Ancient Greek civilization reached its peak well over two thousand years ago, and they transmitted most of their stories orally. Most of what they did write down disappeared after the destruction of Greco-Roman society by barbarian hordes.  So we have fragments, scraps, and retellings by later authors who used their own imaginations to reconstruct the stories.  For the historian side of me, such gaps drove me crazy, but they also gave me the leeway I needed when it came to telling a fictional story about the gods.

Even knowing full well that much of the ancients’ knowledge has been lost to us, I was still shocked to discover the extent of our ignorance.  For instance, in The Immortals, Selene investigates a serial killer who is reenacting the rituals of an ancient Greek cult.  This cult was the most popular religious society in classical Athens. It lasted for thousands of years and involved thousands of participants, many of them literate.  Yet no one ever wrote down the details of the cult’s secret practices, because to do so was punishable by death. Can you imagine modern people keeping such a secret?  It would be a tell-all HBO documentary within a matter of months! For centuries now, scholars have tried in vain to figure out what the cult did behind closed doors and what spurred its incredible popularity. To me, that’s an irresistible mystery—one that plays a large role in The Immortals.

I love a powerful heroine and you definitely have carved out a beautiful one in Selene who acts as a protector to women who are being abused. Why did you settle upon this career path for Selene and can we expect her to continue in this same mission as the series progresses?

Despite the fading of her supernatural powers, I wanted Selene to hold on to her most important title: the Protector of the Innocent.  Because of her immortality—not to mention her anti-social proclivities—I figured she’d have a hard time as a cop in the modern world.  That left me with private investigator/bodyguard/vigilante.

As for her future path, you’ll have to read the upcoming Winter of the Gods to find out the details.

Are you finding it easier to write the second book now that you have such a strong understanding of Greek mythology or are you continuing to expand upon your research to develop the next book?

I’m definitely expanding.  First of all, a slew of other Olympians appear in Winter of the Gods, so I’ve had to do all sorts of research on them.  Secondly, I’m examining a whole new Roman cult religion that I knew nothing about before I started.  It’s taken me back to Italy for an exploration of the extant temples and led me to all sorts of other research topics including astronomy and early Christianity. The research is never done: I’ve already started delving into ancient philosophy and mathematics for Book Three!

D’Aulaires Greek Myths

If we are interested in exploring Greek mythology further, what are some of your recommendations for books or documentaries that we could check out to learn more about this time in history?

If you never read it as a kid, you should check out D’Aulaires Greek Myths. It’s full of magnificent illustrations, and although it’s written for young people, it presents the myths in a rich, detailed way that’s appealing to people of all ages.  If you’re looking for a great, readable treatment of Greek religion and civilization that’s full of fantastic photos of artifacts and sites, try Exploring the World of the Ancient Greeks by John Camp and Elizabeth Fisher.

And after you brush up on your basic mythology, I certainly recommend trolling through your local museum’s Greek and Roman collection.  I’m lucky enough to live ten minutes from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has one of the best.  There’s nothing like coming face-to-face with Artemis as depicted by the ancients themselves.  If you want a quick refresher on the different gods, visit my website, where I’ve also posted my own photos of favorite statues and artifacts that I’ve encountered in museums around the world.

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

Glad to see another author already posted about The Song of Achilles, which is my favorite novelization of Greek myth.  I recommend it heartily to anyone who enjoys The Immortals!

As for non-myth books, I’d have to pick Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and ClayIt’s one of the few books I’ve read that I immediately told everyone in my life to pick up.  Set primarily in 1940s New York, it tells the story of two Jewish cousins (one of whom escapes from Nazi Europe) who create superheroes for the Golden Age of Comics. Add in a Harry Houdini subplot, love stories both gay and straight, a wealth of historical New York City detail, and the most sublime prose style I’ve ever encountered, and you get an irresistible work of brilliance.

Enter below to win a copy of The Immortals! Follow the instructions on the widget to enter to win!

You can connect with Jordanna Max Brodsky on her website, on the official Olympus Bound page,  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! This post was brought to you in partnership with Orbit Books.

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Heated Blankets, Literary Matchmaking, & Panini Pressing

Friday, March 4th, 2016

sunbeam-heated-throw

Well, hello there! I hope you guys are having a good week. It’s been so cold here this week, but rumor has it that I can look forward to warmer temperatures next month. I spent this week curled up on the couch watching Fuller House on Netflix.  Did you guys watch it? I was pretty disappointed that it didn’t hold true to the family values from before. We settled in with our kids and then I had to kick them out. I am not sure who the target audience was on this one since parts of it seem geared towards kids and then in other parts the ladies are doing tequila shots and grinding on men.

What the what?

So much for sharing TGI Fridays with them.

How rude!

Would love to hear what you think about that one. Maybe I am just being a prude?

Let’s dig into this week’s happy list! 

Sunbeam Sherpa Electric Throw

God’s Greatest Gifts to Blankets. Amen.

With all these weird joint issues I have going on, I am absolutely miserable in the mornings and I am also cold all the time. I treated myself to a Sunbeam Sherpa Electric Throw and it has been such a game-changer for me throughout the day. It has three settings and the Low setting is warm without getting hot and the sherpa interior and velvety exterior make it a treat to snuggle with. The sizing is perfect for two or one really cold woman who wraps herself like a burrito in it. I can’t recommend this enough as a winter weather must-have. I can already tell you that this will be going on my holiday gift guide for next year.

I am so thankful for this winter treat although it has hindered some of my productivity a bit. I mean, it’s that blissful to wrap yourself in and take a good nap.

This is God’s greatest gifts to blankets. Amen.

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A Literary Matchmaker

My new favorite podcast is What Should I Read Next. Anne Bogel (AKA Modern Mrs. Darcy) has one guest on who shares why books are important to them, three books they love, a book they hated, and what they are currently reading. Anne then plays matchmaker and selects three books that she thinks they should dive into next based on their reading preferences. Each time I listen in,  I get another list of book ideas of books that I have overlooked and many that I haven’t even heard of. It’s been a real treat to listen to in the mornings while I get ready for the day!

I recommend Overcast for all your podcast listening needs! It’s lovely!

 

cuisinart-griddler-review

 

A Well-Loved Winter Kitchen Gadget

I have had my Cuisinart Griddler for many years and last week I dusted it back off and put it to work again in our kitchen. My kids absolutely love paninis so I have been roasting my big batch chicken and purchasing fun toppings like cheeses, pesto, tomatoes, and spinach so we can make panini sandwiches in the evening. After paying an arm and a leg at Panera for soups and paninis, I figured we could save quite a bit just making our favorite combinations at home.

The best part about this gadget is that you can close it if you like (for paninis or that George Foreman feel) or you can open it up and lay it completely flat for grilling or to be used as a griddle. When I had chicken pesto burgers on our menu and Mother Nature (bless her heart!) dumped a million pounds of snow down in a single day, it made heading out to the grill impossible. Thankfully, this gadget saved the day and we grilled indoors that evening!

I know you will love it as much as we do- it saves us a ton of money!

EDS Funny

I know people are curious about what is going on over here since I posted about my health. I am a fighter, by nature, so I didn’t want to lean into anything and just resume my normal days.  I was so excited to get strong and to show this stuff who was boss that I think I strained every muscle in my body and have spent the last week hobbling around my house after going a little nutso with my gym routines. I found out I am not, in fact, The Hulk.

I overdid it.

Lesson learned.

It lead to painful knees that had to be x-rayed, prescription strength painkillers, another round of steroids, and rocking three braces to keep everything stable again.

I am hoping to move forward, but with moderation next week. I tend to attack things a little too aggressively…

The funny thing is that people keep telling me how great I look so when I happened upon this picture, it really made me laugh. I’m trying to pull myself together for all these incredible people that are counting on me. The world doesn’t stop, but I’m learning to say no more since I feel like my plate is awfully full.

Thank you for thinking of us and know that I have a much better plan for next week and it won’t involve a Hulk gym routine!

This week I’m…

Reading: Columbine by David Cullen

Eating: Tomato Soup with Big Batch Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

Watching: Parks & Recreation on Netflix- how did I not ever get into this series when it was on television! It’s been a highlight of my month. I also finally got to see Room with my bestie. SO GOOD! I was on the edge of my seat (and I read the book!) Ha!

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

Community Reads for February

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Community (1)

I am a little behind this month on our Community Reads feature, but looking forward to sharing some of your book selections for February. You can read what I read this month and today’s selections include what YOU have been loving this month! Yay!

If you are a part of our MomAdvice Hangout Group, each month I will ask about what you are reading and ask for a short blurb on a book.  You can also email books you are loving to me to amy(at)momadvice(dot)com and I can also add them to our monthly lists. By joining this group, you can also take part in a REALLY awesome online book club- I wouldn’t want you to miss this fun discussion and exploration of a new book each month.

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

The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner

Read It: The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner

Recommended by: Beth from Beth’s Book-Nook Blog

I am reading this and it is AMAZING! What a fascinating story and Mr. Gortner is a true storyteller and gifted writer. Historical fiction at its finest!

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Read It: Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Recommended by: Kendra

I read Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith as a book club pick for my 7th grade daughter’s Mother-Daughter book group. It’s one of my favorite of our picks. She is a compelling character who held my interest all the way through. Not all happy endings or completely resolved plot lines but a great character driven story.

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos & David Teague

Read It: Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos & David Teague

Recommended by: Kendra

I started this on audiobook and wasn’t enjoying it so switched to print. For the record though, I think my daughter enjoyed Saving Lucas Biggs maybe a bit more. I’m still reading through it,  but don’t think I’ll enjoy it as much as Flygirl.

Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

Read It: Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

Recommended by: Sasha from Pathologically Literate

Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser is definitely going to be one of my favorite books of 2016. Sixteen-year-old Jenna, while searching for her addict mother at a meth dealer’s home, comes across a crying baby in a freezing room. Jenna knows instantly she must save her, and thus sets off the events of a night she will never forget. Sweetgirl moves at breakneck speed, barely giving you time to catch your breath. It is darkly humorous and sweetly, achingly heartbreaking.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Read It: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Recommended by: Enid

This was a re-read for me to lead a discussion in a book club. I have the feeling that for the next week or so, I am going to be annoying all of my reader friends by telling them they need to read this book, just like I did with The Martian (editor’s note: read our author interview) and All the Light We Cannot See (editor’s note: read our author interview). This was a very well-done take on what could have been a very melodramatic story. I loved the way the author handled flipping back and forth in time and following different characters. I had trouble putting it down.

Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew

Read It: Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew

Recommended by: Enid

A fun read- promising start to a new series set in South Africa. As one person said, it is a cross between The #1 Ladies Detective Agency and the Goldie Schultz books. I enjoyed the characters and the plot as well as the South African touches (although I found myself saying “now-now” today). I will definitely read the second book in the series, if there is one.

The Revenant by Michael Punke

Read It: The Revenant by Michael Punke

Recommended by: Enid

I really enjoyed this quick read, and I found it hard to put down. I was worried that the descriptions of the various attacks and the injuries would be too intense for me, but that was not the case- there was enough detail so the reader could understand the amount of trauma, but there was no lingering over gory details. The main character is based on a pretty amazing guy. However, I do feel the subtitle is a bit misleading- I will leave it at that in order to not be more of a spoiler. If you are looking for a story that grabs you right from the start, give this a try.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

Read It: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

Recommended by: Tanya

This was a memoir of the life of polygamy from the eyes of a child. Very eye opening to see her struggles and hardships in life.

The Battle For Room 314

Read It: The Battle for Room 314 by Ed Boland

Recommended by: Cindy from Hello Dollface

This is an excellent book about a man’s experience leaving his well-paying job to become a teacher to teach in a tough NYC high school.

MomAdvice.com Community Reads for February

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

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

 

 

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