Wednesday, January 30, 2013

noteworthy journalism and literary achievements of the year.

The Best American Magazine Writing 2012 is exactly what it seems. A collection of the best features, profiles, and reporting by award winning journalists for magazines such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, ESPN, GQ, Time, and Esquire. This collection is filled with articles that I have missed over the last year, my nose being buried in Self and People magazine. Hey, at least I read. I found this collection to be extremely helpful, getting me all caught up on the politics and international affairs that our country has faced. Makes me smarter and all that ;)

Monday, January 28, 2013

inspirational with a side of heartache.

Shockingly true tales of love, death and dating...with children in tow. Okay Sandi Amorello, you have my attention.

Sandi bravely opened her memoir, The Irreverent Widow with the death of her husband, Drew. As a girl who is in love and is (im)patiently waiting for the ring, the wedding, the house and the babies, I burst into tears two pages in. I can't imagine losing someone I love so much when I was promised forever. And being expected to keep on functioning, being expected to choose what they will wear for eternity. It hurts my heart to think about Sandi during that time.

Sandi was forever changed after Drew's death. She refused to waste any precious moment of her life. Part two of her memoir is filled with anecdotes of how she began to move on and start over. She is just so real about everything: dating as a widow, dreading the weekends now that she was a single parent, being sexually frustrated while also feeling like an adolescent when starting to become sexually active again. The Irreverent Widow is refreshingly honest and out there. It's comforting to see someone successfully come out of such a tragedy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

well this couldn't have come at a better time...

Jim Cobb is a pretty intense dude. He's all, are you ready for a disaster? Are you ready to hide your life sustaining supplies from everyone when you're prepared for a disaster and they aren't? His book is titled Prepper's Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary, and I assure you, he means business. And why shouldn't he? Between the natural disasters and the people sucking really bad disasters, we need all the help we can get.

Prepper's Home Defense is filled with advice on how to properly secure your home. Cobb may come off a bit paranoid, but now is not the time to take chances with the safety of you and your family. Even a little security planning can make a difference. I doubt that many of us have to worry about being killed by a sniper in our homes, but Cobb touches on the extreme situations as well as the more minor. He also touches on the now uncomfortable situation of firearms. He's pretty much telling us to stock up on these weapons and ammunition so that we are prepared to defend ourselves/hunt for food if disaster arises. He does discuss other weapons like knives, pepper spray, and improvised weapons. The book includes everything from safe houses to preparing children for emergencies.

I actually keep pepper spray by my bed, I refuse to be in a situation where I can't defend myself in the event of a break in. It's rough out there for a lady.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

what change do you wish to see in the world?

Muhammad Yunus, banker to the poor, has come out with a book titled Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humantiy's Most Pressing Needs. To help you understand what that social business means exactly, a quick vocabulary lesson. A social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today. It is distinct from a non-profit because the business should seek to generate a modest profit but this will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission.

Yunus' promotes building businesses that can help people, and with these businesses we will start to see a change in the world around us. BSB is designed to help you start your own, with every aspect of your business plan included. Yunus' idea is that you should build a social business as you would a profit-maximizing business. However, much of your profit will stay in the company so that it can expand and help even more people.

BSB focuses prominently on the Type I Social Business:
1. The business objective is to overcome poverty or one or more problems (such as education, health, technology, access, and environment) that threaten people and society--not to maximize profit.
2. The company will attain financial and economic sustainability.
3. Investors get back only their investment amount. No dividend is given beyond the return of original investment
4. When the investment amount is paid back, profit stays with the company for expansion and improvement.
5. The company will be environmentally conscious.
6. The workforce gets market wage with better-than-standard working conditions.
7. Do it with joy :) (you really can't do it any other way)

Monday, January 21, 2013


I am a daydreamer. The inside of my head is a jungle of jibberish, mixed with thoughts of Disney World, my future with manfriend, my classroom, vacations, memories, really weird shit, and the list goes on. As a certifiable daydreamer, I fell in love with Barbara Sophia Tammes' A Blueprint for your Castle in the Clouds, which is all about making the inside of your head your favorite place to be.

I have to admit, it starts off a little hokey, talking about staying in a pre-made Castle in the Clouds while you're building your own. But Tammes impresses me with her later metaphors, including your inner secretary, which is the bitch who files all of your feelings in the wrong places, causing you to feel confused or depressed, or just freak out on everyone. It's not easy for me to explain here, it's really something you should read for yourself. Your Castle in the Clouds should also have an inner courtyard - a place where you feel totally safe to think what you need to think about with no judgement from yourself. It should have an art studio, where your creativity can thrive. A garden of wishes planted with the things you really desire. These are just a few of the 25 rooms in your Castle in the Clouds. It's basically about being comfortable with yourself and filling your head with positive thoughts and feelings - while also figuring out what is holding you back from a happy life.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

stands alone.

Patrick Lloyd is a young Wall Street advisor to the BOS (Bank of Switzerland) who is called to the corporate office and ordered to find his former girlfriend, Lilly Scanlon and the money she manipulated while an executive with the bank in connection with the sixty-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Abe Cushman, the evil genius behind the scheme has taken his own life, along with all of his secrets to the grave. Cushman's fall has unexpected and deadly-repercussions for our main character. Meanwhile, Lily informs Patrick that she's being set up. She tells him that the money in question is from some of Cushman's investors who are criminals and will stop at nothing to get their money back. Having only each other to trust, Patrick and Lily must clear Lily's name before it's too late. In Need You Now, author James Grippando successfully intertwines a labyrinth of intriguing plot lines to create a story that is as disturbing as it is engrossing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

boost your energy.

Most of us struggle keeping up with our busy schedules. The Europeans have siestas in the middle of the day, and we have 60+ hour work weeks. I know that when I start dragging I head to the gym, many of you do the same, or have your own ways of boosting your bods with extra energy. Sondra Kornblatt and Susannah Seton have compiled a small in size book filled with Everyday Energy Boosters with a title to match. 365 Tips and Tricks to Help You Feel Like a Million Bucks. It's worth a look.

Some of these tricks and tips are obvious - for example, putting your feet up. Well duh, ladies. However, a couple hundred of these tips are extremely useful, like eating pumpkin seeds which are filled with magnesium that helps provide energy to all of our cells. Among others like, taking your multivitamin at night, eating spicy food, fitting the things that you love into your long days - and my personal favorite, cuddling. Cuddling can connect you to positive body sensations. I mean, I know something else that gives you positive body sensations, but this isn't Cosmo, so I'll leave it at that.

Monday, January 14, 2013

not your typical vampire novel.

The Farm by Emily McKay is a YA novel that will keep all ages on the edge of their seats. America has just been attacked by a band of blood-sucking Ticks devouring all humans who cross their path. Twin sisters Lily and Mel were sent by their parents to the Farm for their "protection" and they (primarily Lily) share their story.

After the huge attack, parents were convinced that the Farm was the only way to keep their children safe. Little did they know, the Farm is a quarantined camp where teenagers live and farm out their blood FOR the Ticks. Lily and (autistic) Mel are about to age out of this little program, and instead of waiting to see their fate, Lily comes up with a plan to get them out of there. But who can they trust? Once they leave the Farm, there are no electric fences protecting the girls from these blood-sucking monsters. Lily realizes that it's really up to her to protect her sister and keep hope that they will find some sort of normalcy in this terrifying world.

Friday, January 11, 2013

time to get inspired.

"Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. Its about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of ALL, in God's great love and His divine plan for your life."

After all of the tragedy that has hit our country lately, I'm thinking we are all in need of an inspirational story about living life to the fullest - no matter what. I haven't read Nick Vujicic's first book, so when I received a copy of Unstoppable, I was unfamiliar with his story. As you can see on the cover, he hasn't let being born without arms or legs stop him from pursuing what he refers to as "a ridiculously good life." Each chapter takes readers through a different life lesson Nick has encountered. These situations are truthful, real, and relatable. He has a way of writing, that makes you feel as if you are simply getting to know one another and he is sharing his life experiences with you.

We can all learn something from a man like Nick. This would be a great non-fiction to bring into the classroom if our country still allowed God in past the pledge of allegiance. Teens facing adversity could really benefit from Vujicic's story. Really.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

when you got it, you got it.

When a series gets to it's thirteenth book, the author must be doing something right. Haven by Kay Hooper is the latest edition in the bestselling Bishop/SCU series which came out in July. This installment was another crowd pleaser if you ask me, and everyone else in the world.

For those of you who don't know, Jessie Rayburn works for Haven, a privately owned company that is associated with Bishop's FBI division. Noah Bishop and his group use their powers such as clairvoyance, empathy and medium to solve crimes. Every member of this team has some sort of special power. In this novel, Jessie has chosen to go back home to finally put her past to rest. She left Baron Hallow fifteen years earlier after a traumatic event which she can't quite remember.  Meanwhile, her younger sister Emma, who stayed in their hometown and now runs a B & B in their childhood home has been having nightmares of women being brutally murdered. The two sisters have not seen each other in fifteen years, and Hooper lets readers feel the uneasiness of their reunion. To help uncover more of the mystery, Nathan Navarro, another Haven operative whose specialty is locating dead people, is thrown into the mix. Hooper keeps us on our toes for the duration.

Monday, January 7, 2013

if you liked fifty shades...

If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey, and you're looking for the same type of erotic guilty pleasure, but with writing that is well, better, look no further than Sylvia Day's Crossfire trilogy. The first installment, Bared To You jumped from self-published eBook to Berkley published paperback very quickly as it's popularity shot through the roof.

As the story starts, Eva has moved to New York from California where she's taken a new job at an ad agency. She has a typical meet cute with Gideon, the deliciously wealthy, and just plain delicious owner of the building she works in - and sparks instantly fly. I know this storyline sounds very familiar, but give it a chance. Gideon and Eva are super dysfunctional, and don't really belong together. Hello, been there. They both know this about themselves and are trying to find a way to make things work. No matter how hard Gideon tries, Eva keeps running away. Both are very jealous and extremely possessive. Gideon has never truly committed to a woman and Eva's past has her feeling extremely vulnerable. These aren't characters that I envy by any means, but the sex is good.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

better late than never.

I know I am way behind the game for this next review. What can I say? I'm a busy girl. I know ya'll are probably still exhausted from putting away all of your Christmas decorations, but bare with me.

Susan Wasinger has put together 31 extremely clever and original projects designed for that spooky time of year in her book, Artful Halloween. The materials for every project are easily accessible, and will without a doubt grab the attention of your more older, pickier, "I'm borrreeddd" children. Wasinger cleverly takes pumpkin carving to a whole new level, and includes both indoor and outdoor decorations. Some projects seem more useful than others in my opinion, but honestly my only complaint is that I wish there were more. How about a sequel?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

a YA novel that practically reads itself.

Fourteen-year-old Everett Singh is the only witness to his father's kidnapping off the dark streets of London. His dad, a scientist whose area of expertise is the multiverse theory, disappears without a trace, and the authorities seem strangely unmotivated to pursue the investigation. His father did leave one very important thing behind, the Infundibulum, which is basically an iPad app that allows the holder to unravel a map of the multiverse. Everett, the brilliant mathematics protegee, sets out on a multi-dimensional quest to rescue his father.

Planesrunner, the first book in the Everness series by Ian McDonald, is a fast-paced, fun adventure story that I personally cannot wait to share with my 9th grade students.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

i hope you're not busy for the next two days.

Hey, Happy New Year, people!! I am loving this whole Christmas Break thing - it's given me a lot of time to do absolutely nothing but read whatever the hell I want. I just finished an older Jodi Picoult book titled Keeping Faith, I basically spent the past 48 hours sucked in. It was a pretty wild ride.

Mariah White is head over heels in love with her husband, Colin. At the beginning of the novel their marriage seems idyllic. It's five to six pages of my husband and I can't stand to be away from each other, then BAM. Their daughter, Faith left her ballet leotard at home and when the two went home to grab it they find Colin naked in the bathroom with ANOTHER WOMAN. Picoult unravels Mariah and Colin's past pretty quickly during the aftermath. It turns out that Colin has made a bit of a habit of cheating on his wife, he did so seven years ago and Mariah was so depressed after finding him in bed with another woman that she attempted (and failed) to kill herself. Colin being the awesome dude he is, sends his wife to a mental institution. When Mariah's mother found out she came to save the day, and the two women have been very close ever since. It is her mother, Millie, who starts picking up the pieces after this most recent calamity.

To make matters more weird and uncomfortable, seven-year-old Faith starts seeing God. The rest of the story is about how the family deals with this. People start hearing about this little girl who talks to God and then seemingly performs miracles, and their lives turn into a circus. There are a lot of objective religious aspects to this novel, and Picoult handles them beautifully. She is a professional, afterall.