Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 03.04.15

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

chocolate snacking cake via Barefeet In the Kitchen

Source: Barefeet in the Kitchen

 

Midnight snacking craving solved with this.

This is concerning.

Pattern a Day fun.

Fashion-forward ways to wear your sneakers. Yes, sneakers!

This is my kind of cake.

I love a great one-pot dish!

Say No via Elise Blaha

Source: Elise Blaha

 

Say No to Say Yes

Achieve perfectly creamy scrambled eggs with this secret.

How one stupid tweet can change your life.

I use to strain my pasta with a colander. After seeing this? Never again!

I feel the same way about the difficulty with book reviewing for others.

This is what poverty looks like. What can you do about 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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February 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, February 27th, 2015

February 2015 Must Reads from MomAdvice.com

 

I told you that I couldn’t possible have read as many books as I tackled over a vacation, but I was wrong. This month I was a reading machine thanks to freezing cold temperatures and snowy days and nights that left us unmotivated to leave our cozy house. I am so excited to share with you some new books that you can add to your book stack and, thankfully, many of these writers will also be featured in our Sundays With Writers series in the upcoming month. How cool is that?

 

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

INSIDE THE O’BRIENS by Lisa Genova

(available April 7th)

I was lucky enough to score an advanced reader of this book on NetGalley for this book. I am a huge fan of Lisa Genova, particularly her novels STILL ALICE (have you seen the flick yet?)  and LEFT NEGLECTED. She truly has a gift for writing about illnesses and diseases that can affect the brain and mind.

Genova continues with her trademarks of great writing paired with a neurological issue, raising awareness for diseases that the public may not be aware of. This book captured a typical Irish Catholic family on the East Coast where the dad, Joe, finds out that he has Huntington’s disease. This book explores not only the everyday struggle of someone who works in an occupation that would make it impossible to continue doing his work, but the struggles of each family member as they grapple with their family member’s illness and the possibility that this genetic disease could have been passed down through the family lineage.

It’s a beautiful read, but I particularly appreciate that not only is the author raising awareness for a little known disease, but she is also trying to raise funds for charity through her readership. It was a beautiful read that should be depressing, but ends with a lot of hope & positivity.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

I requested that my book club read this book for our discussion after hearing everyone talking about this one. Did you hear that the movie rights were already sold? Wild!

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved.

This is a twisty dark psychological thriller with an unreliable and unlikeable narrator. The novel has a slow start, but builds beautifully once you get going.  Not a character in this one feels trustworthy, taking the reader along on a bumpy train ride when a woman in town goes missing. The comparison to GONE GIRL is warranted, but the ending is far more satisfying. The book kept me guessing and each character was beautifully fleshed out. Usually in alternating viewpoints, I want to skim chapters, only enjoying one point of view. In this one, I looked forward to each viewpoint as it built upon the mystery. I really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait to see this book adapted to film.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

DEEP DOWN DARK by Hector Tobar

I heard about this book on NPR since it is their first Morning Edition book club selection and we know I am all about anything NPR-related. When a Chilean mine collapsed in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. This book is the story of the miners and what they  experienced below the surface. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Hector Tobar gains exclusive access to the miners and their stories and tells these beautifully. It helps to offer an understanding of the families and the personal stories of these miners, as well as adds insight into what it would be like to work in this type of job.

When I read stories like this, much like the beautiful book UNBROKEN, I am reminded that I would die in the first day because I am a very weak, weak person. I could not exist in this kind of tomb-like existence. It is an incredible testimony to the strength of these men and the love they had for their families.

This is a survival story unlike any other I have read. The harrowing tale of these men trapped in this mine is completely unbelievable and what they do to survive together is just as unbelievable. The story of their survival proves that miracles really do happen and I am so glad I got to read the stories of their days in this mine as well as what life is really like after you become a hero in the eyes of the media and public. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be as author to capture all of these stories of these men in one book…and do it so well. I am so happy NPR Morning Edition selected this as their first book club pick so I could dig into something that was outside of my usual genre this year!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

THE BULLET by Mary Louise Kelly

(available March 17th)

If you are looking for a fast page-turner of a book, this is it. This is a beautifully written mystery that echoes some of my favorite thrillers from Chevy Stevens. When a woman discover a bullet in her body that she was never aware of it, it sends her life spiraling in a direction that she never expected. The origin of that bullet and the people around her that it has affected, cause this cold case to be reopened… reopening wounds of the family and friends around her. Despite the gravity of the case and the circumstances surrounding it, the book is laced with great humor and a cast of endearing characters. I really enjoyed this one for a quick escape!

I’m looking forward to featuring the author in our Sundays With Writers series next month!

* book obtained through Netgalley- all opinions & thoughts are my own.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES by Frances Whiting

This is one of those books that you think will just be a quick escape, but ends up being a beautiful story with endearing characters that you think about after you close the final pages. This coming-of-age story follows the friendship between two teen girls and then the consequences of them both falling for the same guy, which destroys their friendship. Thankfully, it was just so much more than that and really built around a cast of flawed characters, the bonds & love of our family, first loves, true loves, and how friendships between unlikely people can reshape your destiny. There were some really great themes in this one and it is the kind of book that reminds you of your own coming-of-age story and the friendships that can endure those tumultuous years. The theme seems simple, but the story was not. I highly recommend this one!

Read my interview with Frances Whiting HERE!

* book obtained through Netgalley- all opinions & thoughts are my own.

5 Out of 5 Stars

Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith

 

WHISKY & CHARLIE by Annabel Smith (published as WHISKY CHARLIE FOXTROT in Australia)

US version available on April 7th, Australian version available now)

Wow! What an incredibly moving story this was. The story centers around estranged adult identical twin brothers who are brought together when one brother, Whiskey, is involved in an accident that leaves him in a coma. The story goes back and forth from the time they are kids gabbing through walkie-talkies until the present day and what caused the strains in their relationship. The author does a great job tackling the difficulties of sibling rivalry, what it would be like to be a twin, and how even when we don’t always like our family members, they are always our family and loved. The most ambitious element of this book is that the author uses the phonetic alphabet for each chapter that perfectly weaves into the story and adds another level of charm to this story. I highly recommend this book!

I am so excited to have Annabel join us for our Sundays With Writers series next month!

* book obtained through Netgalley- all opinions & thoughts are my own.

4 Out of 5 Stars

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.

Amy’s Notebook 02.25.15: The M Challenge Focus on Money Management Syllabus

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

m-challenge

Note: As a wrap-up of each month’s m challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will serve as a one stop shopping for the theme that you can refer to as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

February M Challenge: Focus on Money Management

Recipes

Links for More Money Management Ideas:

How-to-Budget-For-People-That-Hate-Budgeting via Premeditated Leftovers

Source: Premeditated Leftovers

 

How To Budget (For People That Hate Budgeting)

Couples & Money – Building a Solid Relationship with Money and Each Other

How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck

6 Tips for Living on One Income

30-Day Money Cleanse

The 5-Step Plan: How To Get Out Of Debt

Accountability binder 30daysblog

Source: 30 Handmade Days

 

Teach Your Kids How to Work & Manage Money

9 Ways to Cut Expenses without Feeling Deprived

Teaching Children About Financial Responsibility

How to Make Living on a Budget Fun

Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes When Getting Out of Debt

Saving Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

35 ways to save money

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed this notebook, a collection of gathered links all around our m challenge about focusing on money management. 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: Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Sundays With Writers

I hate to complain about winter, but it has been a pretty brutal one lately.  It has been hard to get motivated to do anything and so I have found myself on more than one occasion with a pile of laundry and chores to do, but huddled next to my little fireplace with a hot coffee and a big book.

On Friday I will be sharing my round-up of great things I read this month and one of those great books was WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES  by Frances Whiting. I thought it looked like a light escape, but what really grabbed my attention was the recommendation from Liane Moriarty who praised it  as “a tender exploration of friendship, families, and first love.”  You know I love her so I had to read it.  I decided to dig in and read it in a record two days- I just couldn’t put it down.

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

“Tallulah de Longland,” she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgment. “That,” she announced, “is a serious glamorgeous name.”

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable…

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.

This is one of those books that you think will just be a quick escape, but ends up being a beautiful story with endearing characters that you think about after you close the final pages. This coming-of-age story follows the friendship between two teen girls and then the consequences of them both falling for the same guy, which destroys their friendship. Thankfully, it was just so much more than that and really built around a cast of flawed characters, the bonds & love of our family, first loves, true loves, and how friendships between unlikely people can reshape your destiny. There were some really great themes in this one and it is the kind of book that reminds you of your own coming-of-age story and the friendships that can endure those tumultuous years. The theme seems simple, but the story was not.

I asked Frances if she would share a little bit about her journey as a writer today because I think her story is the story of many of us. We have a story that we just have to tell, but our family and careers sometimes get in the way of achieving our dreams to share it! Please grab your coffee and join me for a beautiful interview with Frances Whiting today to discuss her book, WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES!

Frances Whiting

 I absolutely love the unique title of your book. Why did you title this book WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES and what do you think this title really says about your story?

Thank you! Walking on Trampolines is my first novel, and I really wanted to find a title that I loved, but also one that that would capture that feeling of the book, that time between childhood and teenage -hood, which is so exciting but also really unsettling at the same time. I remembered when I was a kid the feeling of trying to walk on a trampoline, I would take these big, loping steps, and it was fun but it also felt very unsteady beneath my feet. So, given that much of the book is rooted in that time and place for Tallulah and Annabelle, I thought it would be an apt title…it’s not just in our youth we feel like this though _ sometimes I still feel like I’m walking on trampolines!

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES was previously published in Australia, where you live and have been a weekly columnist for the Australia’s Sunday Courier-Mail for over 20 years. What is it like to have your book coming out in the United States and what are some of the ways that you had to adapt it for your US readers?

Well, being published in America still seems a bit surreal to me…I am so excited and grateful that Simon and Schuster saw something in the book and took it on. To be truthful, I still can’t quite believe it’s happened. In terms of adapting it, there were really only a few tweaks here and there, with some really, particular Australian terms or brands that had to either be explained a little bit, or replaced with something universal. Everything else stayed the same, because one thing my column has taught me in the 20 years it’s been going, is that people are people everywhere. We have so much more in common than we do our differences, so the themes of intense friendship, love, betrayal, mental illness, family, redemption, the power of laughter, forgiveness are, I think ones that we can all share in. And I love the idea that Tallulah and Annabelle are all the way over there!

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

This coming-of-age story really takes on some adult themes including the struggle of Tallulah’s mother, Rose, and her mental illness. One of the most endearing things about Rose is the dresses she wore and the names she had for them. What was it like to see Rose’s dresses come to life through those illustrations and what was the inspiration for the naming of these dresses?

When I saw the illustrations, it’s hard to describe how I felt, because seeing something that’s been in your mind’s eye on paper is a strangely familiar feeling! I loved seeing them all, it brought Rose alive to me.  The inspiration behind naming the dresses was my work as a journalist, believe it or not! I have interviewed so many families in so many situations over the years for my feature writing and some of those families had members with a mental illness. What struck me was how many of those families coped with the situation, and how the person with the mental illness was both loved and loving. They may not have been the cookie-cutter type of family, but they had worked out ways to be a family and function around that person. When I reported on mental illness myself, or when I read other articles about it, more often than not it was painted as a tragedy or a great burden on families, and I felt a real need to redress that. So I wanted a character who had a mental illness but was so loved by her family and who loved them right back! Many of the people I have met over the years had some sort of manifestation of their illness _ one man I met was, for example, made pots and pots of jam when he was feeling anxious. So when it came to Rose, I thought naming  her dresses could be her way of making jam!

You create a character that really comes alive in this story in Duncan, Tallulah’s radio host boss, whose larger than life personality really seems to leap off the pages. He was definitely my favorite character and, I would say, the relationship between him and Tallulah was one of my favorites in your story.  Who was your favorite character in your book? Was there one relationship that really stood out for you?

Thank you again! You know what? I loved Duncan best too! And the strange thing is when I was first writing WOT he wasn’t even a character in it. But one night at home, I started to write about Lulu’s new adventures in the city and suddenly there he was! I’m not sure how to explain it without sounding crazy but it was like he entered the room and demanded to be written. And he was by far the easiest character to write, he just seemed to jump from my pen to the page. And my favourite relationship was between Duncan and Tallulah, I really loved playing with that whole “When Harry Met Sally’’ theme of whether men and women can truly be friends. I think they can and I loved the love between the two of them.

How much fun was it to create the unique language between Annabelle and Tallulah? Where did you get this idea?

So much fun!!!! I got the idea from my own childhood, and the childhoods of many people I know, because one of the things that kids (including me) seem to love doing is to create secret worlds for themselves. Whether it be cubby houses, or clubs, or hidey holes, there is something very appealing to children about a space and place that is just for them. So I wanted to capture that appeal of being exclusive with your friend, of knowing something that others don’t, of  being a member of a secret club that only you and the others in it understand. I liked the idea of doing it through language because as a writer one of the things I really love is playing with words. This gave me permission to have a whole lot of fun and to hell with writing conventions!

What has been your feedback on Annabelle as a character? Do your readers seem to like her or do you think she is unlikeable because of what she did to Tallulah?

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world who does like Annabelle, and I really do! I have a lot of sympathy for her, in that I think she had such a confusing childhood and ultimately was really just desperately looking for love and security. But most readers don’t like her at all-  and they let me know! But I think there’s a lot that’s good about her – her loyalty to Tallulah ( apart from that one BIG transgression), her strength, her sense of humour and her ability to forgive and truly forget.

In one line, Tallulah says, “I let them go, finally realizing that your first love, no matter how big it may have been, wasn’t necessarily your true one.” Did you have a big first love like Tallulah and then later find your true love or were they one and the same?

I did have a big first love! It was everything a first love should be, exciting and scary and passionate and dreamy and dramatic and blissful…  sometimes all in the one day! But it was a first love, in that it was a young love that didn’t last into adulthood. My true love came many, many, many years later, when I met my now husband. I’m lucky.

It took you seven years to write this book- that is no small feat! Many people I know dream of writing a book, but can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. What made you persevere and keep writing it? What was the biggest struggle with the execution of finishing it?

It was tough sometimes for me to believe I would finish it. I was working as a journalist full time, with two small kids (one of them, my daughter a surprise baby and 45 and mid-way through the book!) to love and care for, and all the other things that make up our lives.  I think what kept my going was the characters themselves. I came to love Tallulah and Annabelle, and I just didn’t want to leave them rootless and unfinished…if that makes any sense at all. I wanted to see them through, and every time I returned to writing them (sometimes it could be weeks before I returned to the book) it was like greeting old friends.

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

Oh My! What a hard question! I love books so much, choosing just one is almost impossible. But I’ll bite the bullet and say…no I just can’t do it! So instead I’ll say The Shadow of the Wind, The Great Gatsby, anything by P.J. Wodehouse, The Last Anniversary, anything by Mary Wesley, Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons and Clive James.

Is that cheating?

Thank you so much for your interest in my book, Amy. It meant so much for me to receive your email and warm words. Thank you for loving books.  Thank you especially for loving mine!

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

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Bubble Baths, Top Buns, & Videos 4 U

Friday, February 20th, 2015

3_little_things

Happy Friday, friends! We got slammed with another winter storm and freezing temperatures here so this week has been an interesting one.   I have been enjoying hibernating fireside and have been getting in a lot of reading this week so I can’t complain too much. I think you are going to be amazed this month at the great new authors I have discovered for our Sundays With Writers series  and new books to share with you in our monthly book round-up this month (did you catch last month’s list?), thanks to some advanced readers from NetGalley.  A double batch of carnitas this week served over MasterChef Junior on Hulu has been our evening routine this week- do your kids love this show as much as mine?  I hope that you are staying safe and warm too- we are sending you some virtual carnitas today!

Here are a few new discoveries that are making me happy this week!

Dr. Teal's Foaming Bath

Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath

I have been trying to get back to strength training classes at the gym and achy sore muscles have been plaguing me as I get back to building those muscles again. This Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath is unbelievably soothing for my muscle aches and pains. I can’t stand heavily scented bubble baths anymore and this one smells just right with a good balance of eucalyptus and spearmint. I have been enjoying a good soak in the tub in the evening with my favorite bath tray to hold my book…and perhaps, my wine glass. Hey, did I mention my kids have had a million snow days?  I am the stereotypical stay-at-home mom right now. Don’t judge.

mess-top-knot

The Perfect Messy Top Knot (for girls with shorter hair)

Oh, I have just been counting down the days until my hair was long enough to throw up in a top knot. All of my Pinterest dreams are finally coming true thanks to this messy top knot for short hair post on Ma Nouvelle Mode. The execution couldn’t be easier even for someone as hair challenged as I am.

messy-top-knot-2

NAILED IT! In spite of my poor selfie skills, you can see that I was actually able to pull this messy top bun off.  In fact, you probably won’t catch me out of it now that I have finally mastered the skills. It really is the little things that are making me happy this week!

Videos 4 U

I am an NPR junkie (I know, I know, I say this every week!) so I am madly in love with this adorable Videos 4 U series from This American Life. This one truly made my face hurt from smiling. Maia and her boyfriend have been dating for eight years, but they’ve never said “I love you.” For Valentine’s Day, This American Life helped Maia make a video to finally say those words. If that wasn’t cute enough, you can watch the video of them watching the video together. That is some adorable stuff.

 

*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 02.18.15

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

DIY book lover necklace via Darice

Source: Darice Blog

 

My book-lovin’ heart just loves this.

Can’t wait to dig into this new series.

I love this trick for breaking in tight shoes.

Freezer Mediterranean breakfast wraps- yes, please!

5 Memorable Moments from SNL 40 you need to watch.

Braided Cable Cowl- beautiful!!

Hand lettering tips- something I’d love to master.

My favorite book is coming to Hulu!

A lesson in disability.

The ugly fact that most farms are unsustainable- this piece made me really think.

Asian chop chicken salad via Dine and Dish

Source: Dine & Dish

 

I always love a good salad.

10 resources to upgrade your grammar and writing skills.

I can’t wait to try this for our next day date meal!

This is the most beautiful crochet work ever.

10 things that make people with ADHD highly successful.

A foodie bucket list.

It’s baaacckkk!

Real men braid hair.

I really, really loved this NPR interview and message of this book.

Creating a simple life doesn’t happen overnight.

I can’t wait to see this movie!!!

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: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Happy Sunday, friends! This week I am so incredibly honored to be featuring Cristina Henríquez and her amazing book, THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS in our interview series today.  I decided to pick this one up after discovering it as an Amazon Best Book of the Month selection and read it in just a couple of short days over my winter break. It’s one of those that I couldn’t put down and I found myself reading portions of it out loud to my husband because it touched upon so many issues with what life would would be like as an immigrant coming to America. It has, in fact, made me more aware and more empathetic to others who may not be from our country. It’s that kind of book- the kind that resonates with you, long after you shut the pages.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

I featured this book in my January 2015 Must-Read round-up and had my fingers crossed that I would get to interview Cristina. This lady is so busy with promotion right now, but she graciously took the time to share about her book with you. I hope if you’ve read it, you can leave her a comment and tell her how much you enjoyed this one too- I’d love our authors to know how lovely it is to read these stories behind the stories. It’s a treat for me and I hope it is a treat for you too!

Told from alternating viewpoints all from immigrant neighbors in one apartment complex, it gives the reader the opportunity to see America through an immigrant’s eyes. From struggling to make ends to meet, to the struggle to communicate, to finding a job, to sending your child off to school, to the sacrifices that are made when leaving your own country for something you believe will be better than the life you are leading- it looks at it all through new eyes.

The story hinges around two sets of parents who have sacrificed everything for their kids and the blooming love between their children in a beautiful coming-of-age story. Honest, human, and so moving.  I am just going to say it, this is a MUST-READ this year. The New York Times even named it as one of its 100 Notable Books of 2014. This would make a fantastic book club selection because there is so much to talk about and you can even print out these handy book club questions for your group.

Now grab your coffee and settle in with this amazing writer today!

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Although this is a fictional story, you deal with the real & true issue of immigration and the hurdles that immigrants face when they come to America. Why do you feel this was such an important story to tell and why did you chose to tell it fictionally rather than as a work of nonfiction?

The story was important to me because it was personal. My father is an immigrant who came to the United States from Panama in 1971. I wanted to honor him and stories like his – ordinary people who come here for their own reasons (in my father’s case, he came as a student to study chemical engineering at the University of Delaware) and who are trying to find a place where they belong even though the country they come to and the people around them are often inhospitable. As for choosing to tell it fictionally, that was a no-brainer. I am just much happier writing fiction. I am very, very content hanging out with imaginary people all day.

As a mom, I really related to Alma’s guilt over the tragic accident that caused her daughter brain damage, and I also related to her overwhelming need to protect her after the accident happened. As a mother, could you relate to Alma’s guilt and overprotectiveness? Has a situation ever happened in your life with your own children that helped to shape that story?

Oh, absolutely! I feel guilt and overprotectiveness almost every other day! That said, there was no specific incident in my own life that gave rise to that part of the story. But as I was writing it, any time even something small happened to one of my kids – they slipped on a patch of ice or they fell off the climbing area at the park — I found myself thinking about Alma and the weight of the guilt she was carrying with her. I knew how terrible I felt even in those minor situations, like somehow I should have been able to protect them better. Magnifying that to imagine what Alma must have felt was an easy leap.

You crafted a beautiful story told through many different points of views from all of the immigrants residing in the apartment complex. It seems everyone had a voice in this story except Maribel. Did you choose not to write her voice because you felt it would be difficult to tell with her brain damage or did you want the reader to come to her own interpretations of how/what Maribel felt?

This is a question that keeps coming up, and the answer is an exceptionally boring one. Basically, I had structured the book in my mind this way: Alma, Mayor, neighbor, Alma, Mayor, neighbor, etc. I wanted that to repeat throughout. I also knew that Alma and Mayor notwithstanding, I wanted there to be only one narrator from each family/apartment unit. For reasons that become obvious when you read the book, I felt strongly that from the Riveras that person should be Arturo. Which meant that Maribel was necessarily left out. Maribel is central to everything in the book. Everything everyone does from the start to the finish is because of her. It’s true that she doesn’t get her own chapter (neither do a few of the other characters), but I think there’s something powerful about her being the core of everything without having to say much at all.

The day-to-day struggles from simply putting your child on a bus and knowing when they will come back to communicating with the grocery clerk about what you need are so beautifully told and pulled so very much at my heartstrings. Did you interview immigrants who had come to the states to find out about their struggles to help shape your book?

No. I read some nonfiction accounts about the experiences of Latino immigrants, and I relied to some degree on my own observations of my father. But anyone who has traveled to a country where you don’t speak the language or speak it only haltingly probably knows the feeling of disorientation that the Riveras experience in the book. The last time I was in Panama, I tried to return a bottle of sunscreen that my husband had mistakenly bought. My Spanish isn’t very good, and returns are not a common occurrence in Panama, so I had two things working against me from the get-go. And it was amazing to me how embarrassed and how anxious I felt, fumbling through an explanation to the clerk about how my husband didn’t realize we already had enough sunscreen. It was a simple interaction, or what would have been simple in my life in Chicago, and it was suddenly so difficult and so fraught. I felt so conspicuous, so clearly an outsider. I tried to imagine the situations that Alma would find herself in that would make her feel the same way.

What do you have in store for us in your next book?

I wish I knew! I do have an idea, but it’s still very nebulous. Slowly, slowly, it’s taking shape.

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

That’s so hard. But this one has been very much on my mind lately so I’m going to say Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

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

*This post contains affiliate links!
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Amy’s Notebook 02.11.15

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

spring classics

Source: Kendi Everyday

10 spring wardrobe must-haves.

Amazon’s 100 books to read in a lifetime – how many have you read?

The state of the capsule wardrobe- love this update.

We’ve become so rich that we have forgotten something that is well within living memory: Americans used to have much, much less.

Yes, that’s just the pet lion in the swimming pool.

Braverman forever.

Recommendations for Serial’s next case.

YA writers on their favorite book for adults.

The secrets of highly efficient napping.

15 apps everyone should have in their phone.

Bring on ALL the ballerinas.

Tortilla pizza

Source: Serious Eats

 

Cast Iron + Tortilla equals pizza magic.

Vidal for President.

Just a little reminder what your kids really want- hat tip to Centsational Girl!

33 things to eliminate from your closet.

3 noticeable results from getting rid of stuff.

30-Day Minimalism Challenge- anyone want to try this?

Can’t wait to participate in Dine & Dish’s traveling book club!

The internet and television have finally converged.

A photographer makes the most of a small studio at the Sundance Film Festival.

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: Hitchcock Good, Damn That’s Delicious, & Up the Water Game

Friday, February 6th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

What a great week it has been for this family!  Not only is my bathroom renovation done (by the fantastic team at All Pro Renovations), but I had my house deep cleaned this week by the amazing My Best Friend Services team to freshen everything back up after the construction job.  It’s amazing what a deep clean to the house can do for a girl’s spirits, especially when that girl has a bit of OCD. And did I mention I have a new shower! Two showers in one house- happy, happy day! I can’t wait to share some pictures with you of our new space and the transformation.

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

The One I Love

Hitchcock Good

It’s been a month since I watched this film, but I am still thinking about it. If you are looking for a great flick for a movie night at home on  Netflix, I can’t recommend THE ONE I LOVE (also available to stream on Amazon Instant) enough. The first 15 minutes you’re like… boring and typical. And then, everything just changes.  The twists and turns are so good in this and explores the good & the bad of marriage. Don’t read any reviews, just settle in with this intriguing film that reminds me of a good Hitchcock flick with some really superb acting. These two actors do an incredible job and my husband & I couldn’t stop talking about this one after we finished it on one of our day dates at home with filets (the usual for dates around here!)

Here is a trailer that will tell you nothing, but set the scene for this one.

Now run to your televisions and watch it then come back and tell me what you think! GOOD STUFF!

Damn Delicious

Damn, That’s Delicious

I lost my cooking mojo after the holidays. I’m not sure what happened, but I just haven’t been in the mood to cook or be creative. These past couple of weeks I have been enjoying some new recipes from Damn Delicious that have just been outstanding. We tried the Sweet Lemon Shrimp first which was really good (I would keep the marinade to no more than 30 minutes though since our shrimp started to cook a bit in the acid), but then we discovered her chicken thigh recipes and we are all like, high-fiving each other and the kids were lifting me up on their shoulders and saying how awesome I was…well, maybe not, BUT it felt like that.

I highly recommend this Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken recipe (here’s my execution) and her Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce recipe. I served them both with roasted asparagus and the creamy tomato had an accompaniment of gluten-free noodles to soak up the sauce.

Thanks to that, I’m trying new classes at the gym too. Ahem.  It’s all about balance!

Bubba Envy Mug

The Perfect Water Mug With Straw Action

After our old fridge bit the dust (RIP), we were so excited to discover all the new features fridges offer like ice cubes and water out of the door- oh-la-la!  The water & ice cube in the door has really upped my water game this year and since I am drinking so much of it, I wanted to get a cup that would really work for me for sipping water while I am working and while I am at the gym (working off my chicken thighs, yo!). I found this Bubba Envy Mug and it is sheer perfection. It has a straw, it’s double insulated, has a handle, and it holds 32 ounces of water. I am trying to drink three of these daily and it is easy to do now that I am toting this around. It is so big it doesn’t fit in my drink holder in my car, but I work around that!

Bonus Happy Day

Just a couple other things that are making me happy for you!

Harper Lee

Bookworms rejoice hearing the news that one of the world’s greatest books will now have a sequel 50 whole years later. I hope there is a midnight release party- a sequel to my favorite classic was announced! “Go Set a Watchman” is essentially a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” although it was finished earlier. The 304-page book will be Lee’s second, and the first new work in more than 50 years.

If you haven’t read it, discover what the fuss is all about and then watch the movie. It’s unbelievable!

Lastly. THIS. The Uptown Funk is strong with this one.

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

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

Amy’s Notebook 02.04.15

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

crochet lace cowl via More Stomach

Source: More Stomach

 

Oh, how I wish I could crochet this Broomstick Lace Infinity Cowl- beautiful!

Perfectly styled lob tutorial.

Read great books literature challenge- are you in?

The meteorology of Little House on the Prairie is fascinating stuff!

Love these perfectly simple printable gluten free pantry labels.

How to simplify your life in 5 minutes a day.

Broiled Salmon With Vegetable Quinoa looks like a healthy weeknight meal.

Inspiring article: how 2014 finally made me a minimalist.

100 sq.ft living room via West Elm Blog

Source: West Elm Blog

 

A 100 sq.ft. living room- this is fantastic small space design.

This breakfast sandwich looks so good!

Such great travel wardrobe inspiration.

A trick for choosing wine.

Facts about awards shows you’d only know if you were invited.

A 20-minute bedroom refresh.

I want a birthday talent show next year!

6 lies that keep our homes & lives cluttered. Best quote: “You can’t organize excess.”

When you are a cozy minimalist.

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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