I can't imagine living in a world where I couldn't choose my own husband. In my own life, sometimes I feel that it wasn't even a choice, that it was meant to be, but that's only when I'm feeling mushy and like my husband again for five minutes. Leona is torn between the man she is supposed to marry and the man she wants to marry in Shelley Shepard Gray's, The Promise of Palm Grove, book one in the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, which I'm sure is an ordinary problem for many Amish brides. It's not like her betrothed, Edmund, isn't a good man. He is, maybe a little controlling, but he isn't awful, okay, maybe he is. But anyways, the real problem is, he isn't fun and he doesn't cherish Leona. Not like Zachary Kauffman, who Leona meets in Pinecraft, Florida on an Amish mini-vaca with her girlfriends (Amish girls are just like us?).
Leona must decide whether or not to return to Ohio and marry grumpy Edmund or stay in Pinecraft for a possible life with the kind-hearted Zachary. What's an Amish girl to do?
The human brain is the most complex organism there is. It causes all sorts of crazy, and even the brilliant people of the world are still trying to fully understand it. Michio Kaku's The Future of the Mind is pretty mind blowing, pun intended. In the past few decades, science fiction books are coming to life in laboratories all over the country. Kaku shares the discoveries in neuroscience that could lead to new capabilities in this century such as telepathy, telekinesy, and literally uploading memories INTO the brain. He goes a tad Ray Bradbury on us when considering the implications of a world filled with even more intelligent machinery than we have now. It's honestly kind of wild to think about. Kaku and his impeccable research does an excellent job of opening even the simplest minds to the times that are a changing.
In the grand scheme of life, well, my life as God's child (a role I'm still working on), I am so boringly ordinary. I don't like to talk about my acts of service. I don't like to make a big deal, probably because I am so the opposite of perfect that I don't want people to ever misunderstand my occasional goodness for having my life together. I never really thought about this being a good thing until I read Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down by Tony Merida. So many people think that being a Christian requires missions to third world countries, giving up an ordinary life to do the extraordinary. Merida makes it clear that it is just as important to do acts of service close to home. Helping the poor in your city, volunteering at a Boys and Girls Club in your area, it may not seem as special or as extreme as raising money to go teach orphans in Haiti about Jesus, but really, what could be more special than taking time out of your everyday life to be the light in your own backyard?
Merida makes his point through many Bible verses along with one of my favorite parables. The Good Samaritan, the very best story about being a good neighbor. Help those that you see often. Help whenever you can. There doesn't have to be a show, or a Facebook page dedicated to your ministry.
I have a lot of friends who teach early childhood education, and I am beyond excited to pass on Pedagogy and Space: Design Inspirations for Early Childhood Classrooms by Linda Zane to each of them! With all of this Common Core drama, it's nice to see a book go back to the basics. I assure you, classroom design DOES matter, and it DOES affect the children in your room and how they learn. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a comfortable learning environment. Zane has collected pictures of some of the best classrooms I have ever seen, and you can feel free to copy! It's all about collaboration, people! Each reflects a different educational approach/learning program, so you are bound to find one that fits your style. My favorite? The Waldorf Educational Approach, hands down. The learning spaces promote fantasy, imagination, and creativity. ALL of my favorite things. And Zane makes putting theory into practice so easy!
I love the idea of bed and breakfasts. So many quirky strangers all together, enjoying breakfast or happy hour, talking about whatever quirky strangers talk about. Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach is everything I have ever imagined about a bed and breakfast, and more. The intimacy, the ambiance.
Retired actor, Buffy has moved from fast-paced London to a small town in Wales to run a bed and breakfast left to him by a close friend or ex-lover. Potato, potato. The shabby Myrtle House is not exactly what he pictured, out in the middle of nowhere, but Buffy's eccentric personality attracts quite the group of misfits. Great fun is had by all, especially the reader. I enjoyed being in Buffy's company, and watching unlikely couples get together. A nice and relaxing read, which was exactly what I needed.
I love soup! I have come to love it even more during this HORRIFIC winter Western New York has been through. And I think its supposed snow in two days, but let's not think of that now. Let's think of warmer things. Like soup. Soup of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year by Kate McMillan is amazing! 365 soup recipes, now that is something I can get behind. I'm so cold.
This recipe book follows the days of the year, beginning with New Years Day all through New Years Eve. There are recipes for the staples like French onion soup, chicken noodle, stews, chowders, and chili, but there are more unique and delicious ones in between. Many of the recipes are vegetarian friendly because what's more vegetarian than soup? Am I right? Some of the recipes only have like 7 ingredients, one of them being salt, which is great for people like me who refuse to even look at a recipe that includes more than 10 ingredients. I literally skip those. Ain't nobody got time for that. These recipes are diverse, seasonal, and easy to make, packed with fresh ingredients. The tomato bisque is my favorite right now.
I don't know, maybe you're stuck in a soup rut, maybe you're feeling a little wild and want to make a soup you've never tried before, if that's the case, McMillan has got you.
Aussie author, Liane Moriarty is my favorite right now. The last two novels I read of hers (The Husband's Secret and Little Big Lies, which I will be reviewing today) have totally kicked ass on so many levels. Moriarty has a knack for surprising the crap out of readers at the end of her novels, like out of nowhere, BOOM. And you're sitting there like OMG.
At the very beginning of Little Big Lies we know that someone has died. There are interviews throughout the entire novel featuring parents who all belong to the same primary school in a little seaside town outside of Sydney, and no one is going into detail about who died or what exactly happened. The novel leads up until the murder. Our main characters are forty-year-old Madeline, her bestie Celeste, and twenty-four-year-old Jane who has just recently moved to town with her five-year-old son Ziggy. These women share one thing in common, they all have children in the same kindergarten class. When Ziggy is accused of choking a little girl at kindergarten orientation, but demands it wasn't him, Madeline sticks up for Jane, and the three of them form a bond. Slowly Jane feels more comfortable with her new friends and opens up about her past. Madeline is constantly dealing with the fact that her ex-husband who left her when their little girl was born 14 years prior has completely changed, started a new life, and also has a daughter in kindergarten with his new younger wife. And Celeste. Poor beautiful Celeste. You will just have to wait and see what happens behind her closed doors.
I love when authors come out with children/middle grade books in journal format. It's less pressure on struggling readers, plus since many English classes have kids writing in journals daily, books in a journal format are that much more relatable.
When G-Man has to begin keeping a journal in Mrs. Rosario's English class at school, instead of slacking on the assignment, which he considers, he decides to take full advantage and fills the pages with his hopes and dreams of becoming a superhero with full on super powers. He begins with a little into about himself, the origin of his last name, which is simply G. Then he moves on to some of hte daily journal prompts his teacher gives to him, like writing about who he admires, etc. Chris Giarrusso did an amazing job with The G-Man Super Journal. It's very funny, and one that ages 8-12 will enjoy, which believe me, is a hard age to get boys into reading!
I don't know about you, but when I have kids, I totally want to plant the seeds of lifelong success in their little baby brains. Which is why I read Tovah P. Klein'sHow Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success which came out last month and is a roaring success itself! Dr. Klein will help you create a much more fun and relaxing environment for your toddler. Yes, fun and relaxing, I didn't think those two words would ever be used referring to child rearing either. And no, Klein doesn't promote a lack of discipline, she stresses that the parent is in control and that being present and consistent are important in raising a toddler. That makes total sense, and I feel that in my generation, with our cell phones and our Facebook pages, even being in engrossed in the blogs we follow (guilty!), we may lose sight of the importance of being present while raising our children. So many scenario's are included in this book, I know that Klein has touched on at least two of the problems you're facing with your own toddler, and includes suggestions on how to handle them. Klein is a psych professor, so she does get scientific about the development of a toddler, which lets parents see into their little heads a bit, which is a nice touch. But really, even though I haven't done it yet, I feel that raising a toddler is fricken hard, because everything is a battle, am I right? Educate yourself on how to fight or not fight the battle in a way that works best for you and your family.
I feel so hip and cool whenever a Kinfolk book comes in the mail for me. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. Women like me who can't keep a job to save their lives because they cannot work under anyone. Some say we have authority issues, some say we are difficult to work with or be around in general, I say we are entrepreneurs. That being said, Kinfolk Volume 15: The Entrepreneurs Issue was a big win in my book, and you don't need to be an entrepreneur to enjoy it, any working person will benefit from the stories and tips. Volume 15 is not your typical Kinfolk, but I appreciated the focus on improving our professional selves. And in true Kinfolk fashion, the photographs displayed on every page were gorgeous. As a girl who has always appreciated the art of relaxation, my favorite story was In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré who touches on how a slower pace can change your life. I wish every place ran on island time.
Alzheimer's is a touchy subject for me, so I was a little nervous to begin reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova because it involves a woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at age fifty. I'm so glad that I didn't let my minor PTSD from my grandfather having the illness in his eighties keep me from such a wonderful story. But it is scary to think about.
In the book, Alice Howland is a brilliant cognitive psychology professor at Harvard who is held at a very high standard of excellence even in a sea of male colleagues. Her husband, John is also a professor at Harvard, and together they created three successful children. Alice realizes something is wrong with her when she gets lost walking home from work, a route she has taken many times. She had experienced minor memory losses in the past. Where are my keys? Where did I put my Blackberry? Losing a word during a lecture. That sort of thing, but nothing major until she found herself completely lost in her own neighborhood. She set up an appointment with her doctor, then a neurologist, and was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, with no real hope of a cure, only the possibility of stalling the disease that eats away at your memory, but leaves you completely healthy physically. The story is set up in chapters by month, and each month we see Alice decline, we see her losses, like when she needed to give up her position at Harvard, but we also see her wins. She sets up a support group for people with early onset dementia, and speaks at a conference on the subject, explaining how important it is that caretakers and others who have people with dementia in their lives, realize that their days are still important even if they don't remember them. It's really a beautiful story. The decline is sad, and readers see that first hand, which can be painful if you've had a family member with this disease. But seeing Alice's children support her, and getting inside her head, even if it was crazy sometimes, I don't know, I just thought it was so beautiful, because she was still Alice.
I try to make Friday's even better than they are naturally with Kick Ass Giveaways, and today's is extra sweet! For a chance to win a FREE copy of Chocolate Covered Katie: Over 80 Delicious Recipes That Are Secretly Good For You...
...all you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: firstname.lastname@example.org to enter!
Elisabeth Elo is taking the literary world by storm with her debut mystery novel titled North of Boston. Pirio Kasparov and her friend, Ned were working on a small lobster boat when a large freighter smashes into them, leaving her stranded in the frigid waters for four hours, and Ned's body never found. The CEO at Inessa Mark perfume company, her family business, is certain that this "accident" was not an accident at all and is determined to find out exactly why it happened, if only for the sake of Ned's (alcoholic) wife and ten-year-old son. Once Pirio teams up with a curious journalist, more is uncovered to prove that she is right in her assumption. But why? Why Ned? Just moody and suspenseful enough to keep you on your toes, North of Boston is definitely worth the read.
The extremely popular urban fantasy series, The Others has blown away fans with its third installment, Vision in Silver which came out yesterday! Author Anne Bishop is already getting some major buzz as she has absolutely perfected main character, Meg Corbyn and the alternate universe of Namid, (located in in present-day North America). To give you a little background in case you are unfamiliar, Meg is a blood prophet. When she cuts her skin enough to draw blood, she is able to see prophecies, and many "people" in her world don't like this little talent. Formally locked up, the blood prophets are now free of their keepers and these girls are not exactly ready for life outside the compounds. Simon, the leader of the lakeside pack, is determined to help the blood prophets, with Meg's help. Together, they will teach the girls how to survive in the world, but they have to move fast. The relationship between Meg and Simon progresses slowly but in a way that is completely natural and doesn't pull from the rest of the story. And I never realized how damaged Meg actually is until I read this book. Anyways, a little bit goes a long way with the smaller characters, I loved what Jackson and Hope added. Vision in Silver is good, so if you are a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you're a newbie, I recommend that you stop, and grab a copy of Written in Red so that you can begin at the beginning.
I had the absolute best time in Oahu! I never realized that Hawaiian's were such foodies. I ate my weight in Kuala pork, red velvet pancakes, and garlic fries, and I don't regret a thing. Which leads me to my next review. Getting back on track eating wise has been super hard! Chocolate Covered Katie: Over 80 Delicious Recipes That Are Secretly Good For You by (blogger) Katie Higgins has helped a lot, thanks girl. First of all, the title is amaze, and secondly, the recipes are even more so. Like, get in my mouth immediately good. Every diet in the world is telling you eat less of the sweet stuff, except if you're French or Katie, who is super slim, and over here like EAT CHOCOLATE. I love her. Her book also gives you everything you need to work with. Appliances, flours, healthy sweeteners, etc. so that you can get right to the good stuff, like eating chocolate. Katie also includes nutritional information with all of her recipes, because math is hard. The flourless chocolate cookies are my spirit animal, but they are the only thing I have tried so far. I am looking forward to trying out everything. And since my husband is a health nut, buying natural and weird things like coconut flour for a million dollars doesn't really phase me anymore. Organic and all natural is worth every penny when you can eat Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Pie and not give a what. Seriously.
I'm sure I've mentioned this more than twice, but I'll say it again. I was SOOO sad when the Veronica Mars television series ended. Almost as sad as I was when Gilmore Girls ended, and that says a lot. At least Rob Thomas has had the decency to make a motion picture AND two books. The second of which I will be reviewing today.
First of all, I LOVED Mr. Kiss and Tell, probably even more than the first installment of this television, turned movie, turned book series. The reason I loved it most is because so many characters from the television series were incorporated so easily into the novel. At times, it was like I was right back at Neptune High with Veronica, which may be bad for her, but good for readers. Veronica has been asked to solve a brutal rape case that took place at the Neptune Grand. Her job was to prove that a Grand's employee did not commit the crime, which she easily does, but you know Veronica, she can't just leave well enough alone and must go after the real bad guy, especially after she finds out who the victim was. Meanwhile, Keith has teamed up with Weevil and my favorite lawyer, Cliff to take out Sherriff Lamb and his entire corrupt department. Great storyline and great writing by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. I haven't heard talks of a part three, which makes me a little nervous.