Monday, July 11, 2016

ten beach road series SPOILERS.

I was living on lake time last week which is why I went missing. Since I'm teaching summer school (which starts right now), I decided to take the week of the 4th completely off. No editing, no writing, just a lot of ice cream and s'mores. And of course reading, because I never need a vacation from that.

My first lakeside read was Wendy Wax's latest Ten Beach Road novel, Sunshine Beach. I love the easy breeziness of this series, and this installment even had an air of mystery about it. The ladies are back at Bella Flora, still recovering from Deidra's death and their walking away from the network. Trying to figure out their next moves. After Kyra stumbles upon an abandoned hotel, the crew decides to take matters into their own hands and do the show on their terms, their way. The only thing they are missing is money and permission to renovate the old hotel which has a tragic history. Sunshine Beach was definitely a nice addition to the series, but the end had me more anxious for the next one.

Friday, July 1, 2016

sex in china.

The Incarnations by Susan Barker is a story woven together in 3 parts: A taxi driver named Wang’s present (2007 Beijing) life with his wife and child, Wang’s own (messed up) childhood and early adulthood, and the letters from Wang’s "soul mate", the person (not identified until the end) who has followed him from one life to the next, always meeting and developing some sort of relationship as they go along, not always romantic. They are not star-crossed lovers. There is no, "if you're a bird, I'm a bird." It's not that kind of story. But I promise you, you haven't read a novel about China quite like this one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

fondest memory of a teacher.

Since I was only a teacher in my own classroom for one year, I haven't left much in the way of lasting impressions. I was just trying to survive. Currently I'm subbing and I do teach summer school every summer, but my sub kids are more my buddies and my summer school kids usually hate me. So there's that. HOWEVER. I personally have teachers I would like to thank. Which leads me to my next review.

Thank You, Teacher is a collection of stories about teachers affecting the lives of their students in really amazing ways. Authors of these stories include MAYA ANGELOU. So you should probably read it just for that reason alone. This collection is separated into four parts, grade school, middle school, high school and college, and I loved them all. I know I kind of missed the ball on the end of the year teacher gifts, but now you've got a great idea for next year!

My favorite memory of a teacher? I'm glad you asked. I actually had a few teachers I really, really loved. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Chaya. We would write in our journals every week and she would take the time to write us all back, and I loved hearing what she thought about my 9-year-old life. My 7th grade Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Schulte. She was so sweet ALL OF THE TIME. My 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Tenebruso. When I became a teacher she gave me everything she had on To Kill a Mockingbird and Romeo and Juliet so that I didn't have to start from ground zero. She still helps me get ready for summer school and always calls me to sub for her. My 12th grade English teacher, this is weird but I don't remember her name. But she did something SO amazing when we began class senior year. She passed around a paper with every student in the class's name on it and each of us had to write something nice about each person. Then she collected the papers and she gave back to us the list of all the nice things people said about us, laminated. I still have mine.

Thank you to all of the teachers out there for your tireless efforts to improve the lives of kids. Especially the kids who ask for love in the most unloving ways.

Monday, June 27, 2016

double biography.

Although I'm not really into architecture past How I Met Your Mother reruns on Netflix, I was intrigued by a book that featured the two iconic architects who dominated the 20th century between the both of them. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) and Philip Johnson (1906-2005) and would love to know what they ate for breakfast because they both lived an awfully long time and I don't think they were solely fueled by their egos. Just kidding. About one of them.

Architecture's Odd Couple by Hugh Howard is a biography that features two men in the same profession who only overlapped briefly in their careers. They were both super talented, polar opposites, yet, they needed each other. For inspiration. For competition. Howard tells both life stories, but waits until the end to put in perspective all that each man accomplished in his career. And although one man was obviously greater than the other, I still enjoyed reading about both.

Friday, June 24, 2016

when the end justifies dessert.

I've never been very good at math. Or baking. But that doesn't mean a gal like myself can't appreciate eating pi. Get it? Anyways. How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng uses recipes as a metaphor for math and explores different math concepts (and yummy desserts) one chapter at a time. She also talks about herself, which brings a realness to the book and makes it more than just a collection of recipes or math lessons. If you want to know what a quadrilateral is, but also how to make homemade hollandaise sauce, this is the book for you.

If you don't care about what A + B equals (C, duh), well, a ton of smart kids ready to take on the world have graduated recently, give them this book at their graduation party, they'll think it's cute.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

austen re-creation.

First. Love & Friendship is actually a romantic comedy that came out in theaters in May directed by Whit Stillman. The film got great ratings and features Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan, love her. Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon is Entirely Vindicated is the novella written by Whit Stillman which came out a few weeks before the movie. I recommend enjoying the book first as per usual.

The whole premise of the two is that a beautiful widow decides to secure rich husbands for her and her coming of age daughter resulting in things getting complicated and hilarious. Many of you loved Lady Susan from Austen's own novella. You'll love her even more this time around I promise.

Monday, June 20, 2016

the perfect summer thriller.

Happy first day of summer! Today's the day to bust out the books you told yourself you would make time to read, but haven't because it wasn't summer, but now it IS summer and you have no excuse. Vitamin D and all that. First up, All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda which comes out on the 28th. The description alone is intriguing (the story is told in reverse), and once you get started you won't be able to do anything else until you finish. Except maybe pour another glass of wine.

Nic Farrell left her sleepy town of Cooley Ridge, NC after her BFF disappeared ten years ago. Without a trace. Never to be found again. When her brother calls to let her know her father is not well (Dementia), Nic goes back to town to take care of him. And shortly after her arrival another woman from her group of friends back then goes missing. No one seems to have any answers, except Nic's dad, which is the craziest part. Or is it?

Friday, June 17, 2016

celebrate the journey.

I've loved Cameron Diaz since I first saw her in My Best Friend's Wedding (and then fully fell in love after seeing her in The Sweetest Thing). She is so gorgeous and versatile and hilarious, there is literally nothing NOT love about her. And now, she has a book.

The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time is a book about the aging female body (working as a sequel of sorts to The Body Book). I know that none of us want to think about aging, but it's happening so let's embrace it, shall we? (Says the 30-year-old). But really, Cameron is not going to tell us how to look 20 years younger in 3 weeks. She is however going to tell us what we can do now so that we can age more gracefully and mindfully, while also lessening our health risks. With research to back up her claims.

No, this is not wildly new information, BUT Cameron is the perfect voice to make my generation listen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

summer lovin'

I haven't read a Melody Carlson book in ages, and I missed her, so when my mom told me about her new (or not so new) Follow Your Heart series, I was like GIMME. And although it was a little weird reading a romance novel that was heavy on the sweet instead of the skanky, it was a nice change of pace. A little corny sometimes, but in a good way.

Anna Gordon had a rough childhood. She lived with her grandparents for most of it due to her drug addict parents. She was smart, gorgeous, went to college, started to design a life she loved until her grandpa died and she moved in with her grandma and then two years went by and she just felt....stuck. She was managing a grubby motel in her small town and her dreams of being in the legit hospitality business seemed to get further and further away. Until she ran into a childhood friend who hooked her up with a job in New York City working at a chic boutique hotel. In a week, Anna's life went from blah to gah! Because not only does she move to the big city she also meets a guy. Or re-meets. Gets reacquainted. Anyways, you'll have to see for yourself.

Monday, June 13, 2016

oh canada.

I'm not going to get into all the gory details, but I've actually been to Banff National Park, in the middle of winter. Kind of strange because I live in Buffalo, and don't enjoy outdoor winter sports. At all. But here I found myself roughly 8 years ago, smack in the middle of the park, being pulled around by dogs. You'll never truly know until you read my memoir.

I highly recommend seeing the park by dogsled in the winter if you don't particularly enjoy skiing or snowboarding. It was a super cool experience. I would love to travel back during the warm weather months to hike, and see Lake Louise. Bucket list material.  For more info on this area, including Jasper and Glacier National Parks, look to the updated Lonely Planet Travel Guide because it is amazing. Everything you need to know is right on the beautiful pages. Where to hike, where to shop, where to drive, where to eat, all of the popular tours, the MUST see's and do's. There really is something for everybody in Lonely Planet Travel Guides.

Friday, June 10, 2016

starts slow but give it a chance.

Silence in the Dark is the final book in Bradley’s Logan Point series, I definitely recommend scarfing the others up before reading this one.

Bailey Adams is a flight risk, she's a runner (we have this in common). So after she broke off her engagement to Danny Maxwell, she did the only thing she could think to do. She ran. Taking off to the mission field in Mexico. But when she makes plans to return to the States, Bailey discovers that she's going to have to run again, but this time, she's being chased. Leaving her with no one else to trust but God and surprisingly, Danny. Will Bailey and her heart make it home safely?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

bird's the word.

Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles is a light read about a coach and how he completely turned around a team in the midst of a major losing streak. Readers will get to know Buck Showalter as a person, but this read mostly focuses on his life in Baltimore. When he took over late in the season of 2010, he brought with him the kind of energy that rouses an entire city. Showalter restored the Orioles organization, and any fan of the team and the game will appreciate every short story.

Monday, June 6, 2016

quirky inventions of 19 century britian.

As a lover of Shark Tank, I was super entertained by Julie Halls' Inventions that Didn't Change the World. When I first received the book, I thought to myself, what people come up with now makes me laugh, reading about what inventions people came up with in the 19th Century will be even more amazing. And I was right.

19th Century Britain was a hub for bizarre inventions as design protection was the new rage and everyone wanted in. Halls book is filled with authentic illustrations and descriptions of strange inventions such as an umbrella with peep holes so you can see your surroundings in case of a mugging, and even a collar with spikes sticking out of it  (that were concealed by cloth) that worked to help you defend yourself if you were grabbed around the neck during a mugging which apparently was a thing because there are a lot of self defense inventions. My personal favorite? The corset with the inflatable bust that also gives you an hourglass shape. So the Kardashian's did exist two hundred years ago...

Friday, June 3, 2016

jojo before me.

REPOST: Because it's in theatres today and I can't wait to see it!
Check out this trailer, I cry every time I watch it.

Guys. Jojo Moyes. I can't even properly put into worlds how much her book-to-movie (out in June) Me Before You affected me after I turned the last page. I literally had NO idea how it was going to turn out. And I am not planning on spoiling it for you, but I am still recovering.

Louisa Clark grew up in a lower class home in a small tourist town outside of London. Her life was small. She worked at a café for six years, was in a mediocre relationship for seven. Lived with her parents, who honestly needed her to help pay the bills. She was twenty-six and had never done much of anything at all. Until her café closes, she's forced to find another position, and she finds Will. A former wild child/successful businessman turned quadriplegic because of a careless accident and is now forced to live out his life in a wheelchair, unable to even feed himself. Louisa becomes his caregiver, and discovers soon after why she was hired by his mother with absolutely no experience. Will gave his parents six months. Six more months for him to live, and then he was going to end things. Will's mother hoped that Louisa might be the person to show Will that life is worth living, even his.

I honestly feel like I can't say anything else. But this is quite the love story.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

both sides of war.

Honestly, I didn't think The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake would be a book I would enjoy. I typically like to read books I can relate to, or a,t least wrap my head around and although I could not see myself in her shoes, 13-year-old Aya Shimamura was such an interesting character, I could not put this book down.

Set in post-war Japan, it's 1947. Aya and her father have been deported back to Japan after living in Canada all of Aya's life and now she must adjust to an entirely different culture that is supposed to be hers. In school, where she barely speaks Japanese, Aya is seated in class next to Fumi, who's older sister disappeared after leaving home to become a dance girl because jobs are so scarce. Together, with the help of an unlikely source, these two girls set off to find this missing girl, and a coming of age adventure begins.

Friday, May 27, 2016

lots of depth for a YA novel.

After being abandoned by her parents, and then raised by her grandmother, Mercy Louis has turned into an extremely successful teenager. She's the best basketball player in the state, popular, beautiful. Girl's going places. Or is she? Because nothing is ever as it seems, especially in this debut novel by Keija Parssinen.

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is honestly the unraveling of an entire Texas town after a premature infant is found in the garbage and every girl at Mercy's school is a suspect. And this isn't the only news or even the craziest thing that happens. AND don't even get me started on Mercy Louis's grandmother who thinks the Rapture is going to happen any day and the world is going to end. Add that to the cryptic letters she's receiving from the mother who left her behind, and Mercy Louis is going to crack.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

a legal mystery.

I am loving all of the latest psychological thrillers. So many women. So many mind games. It reminds me of my early twenties. Minus the murders. Alafair Burke's The Ex is my most recent favorite.

Three years ago Jackson Harris' wife Molly was shot up (along with other commuters) at a train station by a teenage boy. Scarier, in light of all of the real-life tragedy our world has been facing lately. Molly died. The boy turned the gun on himself. Jack and his daughter were left heartbroken. When Jack sees a beautiful women on an early morning run, he feels a spark, and with the help of his best friend, decides he's ready to start dating again. Finds the woman, goes to meet her, and is then accused of committing a triple homicide. One of the victims being the father of the son who murdered Molly, giving him plenty of motive.

Adamant that he is being framed, Jack reaches out to his college ex-girlfriend, criminal defense lawyer Olivia Randall. And the rest is a wild ride.

Friday, May 20, 2016

sure to satisfy fans.

In Benjamin Black's seventh novel in the Quirke series, Even the Dead, my favorite Irishman's recent blackouts puts him on the injured list. No work, no booze. Not that he'll abide by doctor's orders.

An automobile "accident" occurs that results in a fiery one-car crash, leaving a young man dead breaks Quirke's convalescence. Suspicions of foul play drives him back to work in an advisory role. But when his daughter Phoebe is approached by the deceased's pregnant girlfriend, Quirke discovers this murder has more to do with his own past than he ever cared to revisit. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

the civil rights movement and basketball.

Strong Inside by first-time author Andrew Maraniss tells a story that many have never heard, about a kid who integrated big-time college basketball with very little support. Growing up in the midst of The Civil Rights Movement, in the South no less, it wasn't easy for Perry Wallace to become the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference, but that never stopped him.

Andrew Maraniss did an amazing job chronicling Wallace's journey from North Nashville to Vanderbilt University. While reading, it never seemed that Wallace ever meant to be a trailblazer or a pioneer, he simply wanted a good education and to play ball, and that's exactly what he got, but not without some fight. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

for your socially and emotionally disconnected kid.

I truly believe that if you were to go to the land of normal, no one would be there. But I understand the need to be able to function in society and how important that ability to function is to kids with disorders such as Asperger's syndrome, autism, ADHD, OCD, and dyslexia. We are more aware of these disorders now, but I didn't even realize that one out every six children are diagnosed with one of these conditions, and most of them are being medicated to treat them, because there weren't any other options, until now.

Disconnected Kids shares Dr. Robert Melillo's groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for children with neurological disorders, and it has gotten some excellent reviews. The idea of this program is that your child's brain can be changed, and you can train their brains to reconnect using simple steps and techniques. Psychiatric drugs only disguise the symptoms, they don't solve the problem. It may seem complicated because we are talking about the brain, but Dr. Melillo makes everything easy to understand, and I can get behind any doctor that doesn't turn to drugs for an answer.

Friday, May 13, 2016

domestic suspense.

In a world where people are going to extreme measures to be parents, Lisa Scottoline's latest novel, Most Wanted is intense, emotional, and just plain brilliant. Oh, and kind of scary.

Marcus and Christine Nilsson want a baby. Bad. Bad enough that when they discover Marcus is infertile, they decide to use a sperm donor so that Christine can get pregnant. Months pass, Christine is pregnant, all is right with the world, UNTIL...Christine sees her donor on the news being arrested for multiple murders. Violent murders. Horrendous murders. But did he really do it? And if he did, will Christine be able to get past the fact that her baby's biological father is a murderer?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

family, race, history.

What I love more than fiction is realistic fiction. I have to be in the right mood to read novels where characters have supernatural powers or with wild plotlines (Harry Potter not included, obviously). Most of the time I want to sit down and open a novel that could happen to anyone. Well, the right anyone. And that's exactly what Kaitlyn Greenidge's debut novel We Love You, Charlie Freeman was. A novel so realistic, it almost happened to her own family.

Kaitlyn got the idea for this novel from her mother who was asked, before Kaitlyn was born, to raise a chimpanzee along with her oldest daughter (who was two at the time). Her mother was fluent in sign language, and it would all be part of an experiment for some unnamed institute. Her mother declined, not able to raise a chimp as her own and then have it end. It was this story that gave Kaitlyn the premise for her novel.

The Freeman family (who are all fluent in sign language) left their home in Boston for an apartment at the Toneybee Institute to add a chimpanzee named Charlie to their family of four as part of a twisted experiment. Adding together the moving to an almost all-white community and their strange living situation, the Freeman's feel isolated and their family dynamic begins to fall apart.

Monday, May 9, 2016

now in paperback.

I totally blanked on reviewing Dry Bones by Craig Johnson, the latest in the Longmire Mystery series that is officially available to watch on Netflix (FYI), another dead guy, another hit. Kudos to Johnson for his interesting subject matter, as a girl with a wild imagination, I really enjoyed this tale.

In the 13th installment, a skeletal remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex are found, along with the body of the rancher who's land it was found on. Makes sense since the bones are worth millions. Enter Walt and Victoria to solve the case. It's fast-paced and fun, wonderful to see that Johnson isn't losing his steam.

Friday, May 6, 2016

how to not pee on yourself in the woods.

Since Cheryl Strayed's Wild came out in 2013, women of all ages have become more adventurous and confident in all things wild such as camping, hiking, and backpacking. To help boost confidence still, Ruby McConnell came out with a guidebook tailored to women titled A Women's Guide to the Wild: Your Complete Outdoor Handbook. Because although women are JUST AS CAPABLE AS MEN, we are a special breed that has certain needs. McConnell gets that.

Chapters range from where to go, what to bring, lady business, and how to properly conduct yourself in the wild around the most dangerous animal of all. Stupid men (my words). McConnell's main prerogative is to help any woman be successful during her first or 45th trip. It's funny and practical and if you are a woman who is outdoorsy, you'll love it.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

fact: marriage is hard.

I am known for my blunt realness when it comes to talking about my marriage. During the first year, when people would come up to me and ask, "how's married life?" I would be like, WELL IT'S NOT RAINBOWS AND BUTTERFLIES BUT WE ARE SURVIVING. Because really, marriage is hard. It gets better. It's getting better right now, every day. But being a wife is not the easiest job I've ever had. And that's where a lot of problems lie. People thinking that a good relationship has no arguments. There are some seriously lovely ups and some seriously painful downs. And that's with EVERYONE. Even those friends of yours who seem to have it all together. I guarantee she nags the crap out of him and he flushes the toilet when she's in the shower. Shit happens. No one is perfect. Which leads me to my next review.

If you want to NOT set yourself up for failure in your current/future relationships, read Linda and Charlie Boom's Happily Every After And 39 Other Myths About Love. Sorry Cinderella, you are a human being, not a princess, and there is no happily ever after. But there are a lot of myths that will get in the way of your happiness if you're not careful. My personal favorites?

  • Marriage is 50/50 - NO marriage is 100/100 - lesson number one people
  • Little things aren't worth getting upset about - oh, okay, so then you can bottle that anger up and BLOW UP later? Great idea
  • True lovers feel love for each other all the time - I love my husband every day, but NOT all day every day
  • If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all - okay, if it's not going to help the situation, please, refrain from speaking it in the moment, but if you're husband is being a complete crazy person, please feel free to tell him in a proper way

The Boom's are MUCH more helpful than my little tidbits. They are a couple who actually did reach the brink of divorce. Some of the myths were surprising to me and really did make me think about my marriage in a new way (myth #2 especially), and if you are married or thinking about getting married, READ THIS BOOK.

Monday, May 2, 2016

there's a new coach in town.

Chances are you have experienced some sort of workplace coaching in your life. Teachers, you had a mentor during your first few years on the job. Doctors, you had a residency. Everyone else, you had a training, or professional development meetings, or conferences, team building, and all that. Whether you have coached, been coached, or call bullshit on coaching in general, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever is for you (it's written for leaders, but I found it useful).

There are three main reasons why you wanted to crawl under your bed after your last coaching experience, and vow to never do it again. 1. You bored everyone to tears. 2. Your team couldn't relate, or figure out how to use the information in real life. 3. You spoke more than you listened.

Maybe you have a high maintenance team. Maybe they have zero common sense, and would literally die of thirst if you didn't bring them to the watering hole yourself. Maybe you are way too busy with your own work to productively coach your team. None of this matters. You CAN change their behavior, all you have to do is keep reading. You'll figure out what triggers old useless behavior. You'll be given easy to follow ways to get back on track. I promise it won't take up too much of your time.

Friday, April 29, 2016

if you haven't read ME BEFORE YOU, do not read this.

I was feeling pretty discouraged after reading and crying through Me Before You by Jojo Moyes as Will decided to take the plunge and go with the assisted suicide even though Lou was totally in love with him and him with her. It broke my heart into a million itty bitty pieces.

It took me a full week to recover before I could begin the sequel, After You which followed Lou's life after Will ended his. It was REALLY hard to see Lou so low. I didn't even recognize her on the page, if that makes any sense. After traveling to Paris to be able to read the letter Will wrote to her (those were the rules), receiving some money so that she could really start to live, Lou ended up in London, living in a flat she barely furnished because she felt funny using Will's money even though it was given to her with love. She was working a crappy job. On the outs with her family because they disagreed with her decision to be there for Will in Switzerland. And then, she fell off the roof. Now, I'm not going to spoil this one.
It took me a minute to adjust to the new Lou, but I'm glad that I gave Moyes a chance because I really did end up loving the book, and who Lou became after Will. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

kombucha brewer's bible.

I am currently on Day 27 of my very first Whole30! I know, so exciting, for me more so than you. Once I got into the swing of things, I started to get more confident in spicing things up a bit. When I received The Big Book of Kombucha to review, I knew it was meant to be.

Whole30 guidelines state that kombuch is allowed, even encouraged if you are careful to read your labels. At $3-$6 a bottle retail, HI, I CAN JUST MAKE IT MYSELF because it's actually easier than you'd think if you have a detailed resource like this one. Kombucha is known for it's amazing health benefits, and can be used in your cooking as well as cocktails. Obviously I'll refrain from the cocktails for a few more days, but this book really does have everything.
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine. - See more at:
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine. - See more at:
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine. - See more at:
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine. - See more at:
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine. - See more at:
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine. - See more at:
Kombucha: Read your labels
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine.
- See more at:
Kombucha: Read your labels
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine.
- See more at:
Kombucha: Read your labels
We like the probiotic benefits of ‘booch, and we think it makes a fine addition to your Whole30 menu. Just read your labels carefully—sugar listed in the ingredients generally means that it was added after fermentation, and that’s a no-go.  Some varieties, like GT Dave’s Enlightened flavors, have fruits and fruit juices added, which are just fine.
- See more at:

Monday, April 25, 2016

enjoyable read.

There are two terrific storylines in Mary Higgins Clark's latest mystery novel, As Time Goes By. The main plot is a murder trial that involves the socialite wife of an Alzheimer’s victim who is being charged for his murder. Betsy Grant refuses to take a plea deal for the murder of her husband, and is determined to prove her innocence in a trial. The television journalist assigned to the trial, Delaney Wright believes Betsy is innocent and is determined to help, while also juggling her own personal life. She wants to find her birthmother and enlisted her friends Alvirah and Willy (sound familiar?) to help.

It was all a little predictable, but after watching Narcos on Netflix and being scarred for life, I needed a novel that was interesting but didn't give me nightmares, and this was definitely the one.

Friday, April 22, 2016

hi, can i work for netflix?

Attention all bosses, supervisors, and managers! When your employees feel supported and respected, they are more productive, engaged, and achieve MORE at work. In case you didn't know. If your goal is to create a more positive workplace you MUST read David Burkus' latest, Under New Management which includes quotes and tips from companies that are totally killing it.

Chapters are dedicated to concepts such as no longer tracking vacation days (hi Netflix), better focus in the workforce by taking away email distractions, and making salaries transparent. A huge part of this book is taking what you thought were best practices, and changing them. What works for your company may not work for another. What worked in the past, may not work today. You need to take your employees into consideration. Put them first, and watch your business improve and your profits increase. “Great leaders don’t innovate the product, they innovate the factory.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

smith at her finest.

Many of you know Lee Smith from her novels set in Appalachia. This popular author has thrown away fiction for real life, HER real life, in her very first collection of personal essays titled Dimestore: A Writer's Life which came out last month.

These 15 essays are very intimate, very candid, and unlike anything Smith has ever shared with readers. Born in Grundy, Virginia, Smith had an idyllic childhood spending a lot of time in her father’s dimestore from which the book gets its name. She writes of how she became a storyteller in that store, of her loving parents, and of the small town she adored. Getting to know Lee Smith is just as enjoyable as getting to know the characters in her novels.

Monday, April 18, 2016

very motivating.

How cute is Gary Vaynerchuk? Hi, I'm married. Okay, his book #AskGaryVe is perfect for the small business owners, like me, who are almost-maybe-are-thinking-about being ready to go big. It is also perfect for ANY entrepreneur, those of you who want to start your own business, work in digital media, or even have decided to work for someone else. Included is advice on working hard, marketing, social media, personal branding, entrepreneurship, public speaking, things you are afraid to ask someone else about for whatever the reason. If you have questions about how to use social media to expand your business (which I do), the chances of the answer being in this book are super high (and they were). My advice to you, if there is one professional development book you read this year, make it this one.

This is not your average professional development book. Although the world is changing every second, a lot of Gary's advice is timeless. Those of you who listen to his radio show will especially enjoy the audiobook. 12 hours of Gary all to yourself.

Friday, April 15, 2016

lots of feels.

We live in a world where it's not that uncommon to establish friendships without ever meeting. I follow blogs of women around the country that I am positive would be my best friends if we lived in the same area. Social media allows us to get to know people fast. But author Leah Thomas takes us back to the days of pen pals and letter writing in her debut YA novel, Because You'll Never Meet Me.

The entire novel is made up of letters between two boys, Oliver and Mortiz. Ollie is allergic to electricity. He lives in a secluded cabin in the woods because he literally cannot be around it. No cell phones, computers, no Facebook. Ollie's doctor recommended a pen pal relationship with a German teenager, Mortiz who has a pacemaker, among other ailments. They are both lonely, secluded from society in their own ways. And the boys can never actually meet, even if they wanted to. or they could both die. Sounds a little outlandish, but bare with me because this is such a soul-baring remarkable story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

secrets and politics.

America is wildly political all of the sudden, so I thought now's the time to read Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams which follows Christina “Tiny” Hardcastle and her husband, Frank as he runs for a Massachusetts seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It's 1966, and Tiny has been groomed for this moment, to be the wife of someone great. The perfect young political wife to the perfect young up-and-coming politician. But we all know, no one is as perfect as they seem.

Both Tiny and Frank have their secrets, and if they get out, the picture they have worked so hard to maintain, will shatter. But will that be the worst thing for Tiny?

Friday, April 8, 2016

li'l rip.

There are SO many amazing middle grade novels and graphic novels coming out this year. 12-year-olds are tough customers when it comes to reading, so I am pretty ecstatic to feature the Li'l Rip Haywire Adventures: Escape from Camp Cooties which came out last month. Author, Dan Thompson writes the Rip Haywire graphic novels and I love that he took this popular character back to his childhood to gear his talents toward kids.

Rip isn't your average kid. He gets to join his dad on dangerous international missions, this one being at an all-girls summer camp, where strange things are happening. Following Rip (and his sidekick who is also his dog) as he tries to solve the mystery is hilarious. Your kid will love the story and the illustrations.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

clever novel that stands alone.

I never thought I would ever get into Norwegian crime novels until I read The Lion's Mouth by Anne Holt, which is part of her Hanne Wilhelmsen Series that was first published in 1997. Personally I love novels sans smart phones, they are a real treat.

When the prime minister of Norway is found shot in the head, Hanne Wilhelmsen, Chief Inspector of the Norwegian Police must travel back from her leave in California to solve such a shocking crime. And it turns out, more shocking than the crime is the past of the prime minister that starts unraveling once Hanne begins digging.

I love the format of this novel. It's very SVU. Dates, times, locations are documented, which definitely helps readers follow along.

Monday, April 4, 2016

you are what you think.

I believe I mentioned a few months ago that I joined a "bossy lady" group at my church for women entrepreneurs. We meet once a month and read a professional development book each month. March's book, discussed at Friday's meeting was Successful Women Think Differently: 9 Habits to Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Resilient by Valerie Burton.

There was a lot I liked about this book. I do believe that success in anything is mental over physical. If you think you can't do something, you're right. Burton developed 9 attainable habits to help you believe in yourself and achieve your goals, whether in relationships, your health, or your career. There were parts of the book that spoke to me more than others:

  • A story about a girl named Meredith who found herself working in such a pessimistic/toxic environment that she started questioning her talents made me think about my first year as a teacher. Meredith changed her environment, and so did I, and we are both better for it.

  • "Sometimes sticking it out is not the best option. Sometimes you need to push the resent button and start again."

  • Know your WHY.

  • "Take a step forward and use the resources that God has already put in your hands." USE YOUR TALENTS. God gave them to you for a reason. Those of you who are wondering if you should take the next step, if it feels right, if you're good at it, that's no coincidence.

  • Build a career based on your strengths. Surround yourself with positive people. Happy women are more successful. And most of all, DON'T LET FEAR KEEP YOU FROM BEING WHO YOU WANT TO BE.

There is so much more packed into this book. I highly recommend you read it to find the strategies and habits that speak to you.

Friday, April 1, 2016

if you're considering adoption.

You know that saying, God gave you this life because you are strong enough to live it? Well, what if you're not? Teen suicides are becoming terrifyingly common, and no one really wants to talk about it. Except for John Brooks who lost his teenage daughter to suicide. She was seventeen and jumped off a bridge, leaving her family to wonder why. She wasn't bullied. She was loved. What did everyone miss? That's what The Girl Behind the Door: A Father's Quest to Understand His Daughter's Suicide is all about. 

Casey Brooks, before she was Casey Brooks was abandoned at birth in Poland. She was in an orphanage for 14 months before John and his wife, Erika adopted her. The rest of her life seemed fine, but she was suffering from attachment disorder. Although it's unlikely she fully remembered those early years, Casey never felt secure because she began her life neglected, abused, with no primary caregiver. As she grew up, she couldn't accept the love she was given because that part of her was broken. This is a very real story that honors Casey, her struggle, and will now help others going through the same.

Monday, March 28, 2016

a hero you can relate to.

A middle grade spy novel? YES. A huge win for the popular Jackson Pearce. The Doublecross: And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy features chubby twelve-year-old Hale Jordon who was born into a secret spy society, and is now being trained to follow in his parent's footsteps. Problem is, Hale is a bit out of shape which is keeping him from passing his physical exam. He may not be svelte, but the kid is smart, and size definitely does not matter when he sets out to save his parents AND THE WORLD.

Friday, March 25, 2016

math and relationships.

I don't know a lot about love. And I know even less about math. So I assumed The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation would be an interesting read for me, and I was right. Author Hannah Fry found a major similarity between love and math. and that similarity is patterns. Love being full of patterns, and math being the study of patterns. This is more a book about human behavior than a boring book about patterns. So if you aren't an intellectual per say, that's okay. The Mathematics of Love was very readable, fun, and may help you find your "perfect" equation.

And now I'll be able to show my high school kids how they can use math in real life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

comics for girls.

Teachers, publishers, parents, are putting in a lot of effort to create these amazing graphic novels and young adult series for middle grade boys to get them into reading. Hello? What about the girls? I loved to read the second I was properly taught how, but what about the girls I deal with everyday who hate reading, find it boring, have a hard time finding a book they relate to, etc.?

Enter Dana Simpson's Phoebe and Her Unicorn series. Yes, I am aware that a girl and her unicorn aren't exactly relatable. But the whole premise of the third installment, Unicorn vs. Goblins: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure, which came out last month, is how to make friends at summer camp. And any middle grade girl can relate to that. The series is funny, up to date on what is cool, with a touch of the imagination we want our young girls to keep for as long as possible.

Monday, March 21, 2016

emotional hoarder.

When things get bad, and I'm talking really bad, so it doesn't happen often. But when it does, my first instinct is to shut down. I am better about it since I got married and legit have to share my life with someone. But I still struggle. Sometimes I just don't want to deal. I would rather play dead.

Clearing Emotional Clutter by Donald Altman is packed with valuable advice for those of you who are emotional. You're up. You're down. You have a hard time letting yourself just be. Yes, the idea of someone asking me to "cultivate a beautiful garden of thought" made me kind of want to punch them in the face. No offense, Donald. But people like me (and maybe you) need people like Donald Altman to remind us to stop allowing our emotions distract us from our real lives.

I am not clinically depressed. Or regular depressed. But I was still able to recognize some of my own emotional clutter. I took some time to do some mental spring cleaning, and it has been pretty liberating.

Friday, March 18, 2016

creepy, creepy glen.

Well, you really can't trust anyone. Just a lesson I learned reading Fiona Barton's debut novel The Widow which had four very different narrators, and I'm over here like, who do I trust?

Jean Taylor's husband was accused of abducting a child but never convicted. Jean stood by her man despite a lot of negative press. Now that he's dead, Jean must decide if she wants to tell her story. Told mostly through the eyes of Jean, but also by the police officer in charge, the mother of the victim, and the journalist who showed up at her doorstep to get the untold story, Barton creates a very interesting and eerie story that should not be compared to recently popular thrillers.

Did you ever watch the TV show Motive? It shows the audience who committed the murder right at the beginning, and then through the entire episode you piece together the motive, and it's always surprising. That's a good example of the format of this novel.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

imaginative and irish.

Since it's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, I thought an Irish novel heavy on the Gaelic dialect would be ideal to review.

Adrian McKinty has done a wonderful job setting apart his Detective Sean Duffy series by taking readers back in time (to the 1980's) and to a foreign (to most of us Americans) land, Northern Ireland. I am only curious as to why it took the fifth book for me to hear about it. But oh well, Rain Dogs is freestanding, and I plan to catch up on the rest later.

Detective Sean Duffy is funny, he's dark, he's got great taste in whiskey, he always checks his car for bombs before getting in. He's really enjoyable to read about. And in the fifth installment of everyone's new favorite series a journalist is found dead in the courtyard of Carrickfergus Castle, and although it appears to be suicide, Duffy's gut tells him to take another look. To solve the case, Duffy travels to Belfast, London during the height of "The Troubles" and an ice road of Helsinki. The descriptions are great. The storyline is clever. It's not super past paced, but there are still twists and turns. It's not as gruesome as I imagined, what with the times. All in all, a win from me.

Monday, March 14, 2016

crime fiction.

The last few novels I've read have been good, but not exactly action packed. I knew I could count on Michael Sears and his Jason Stafford series to give me exactly what I was looking for, a wild ride. And Saving Jason absolutely did. It can stand alone, but I recommend getting to know all of the characters in the three previous installments before diving into this one. A little background, Jason Stafford is former brilliant Wall Street trader, who did some jail time, and is now working as a financial investigator and reports to Virgil Becker of the Becker Financial Group.

Saving Jason has a dramatic opening when Jason finds himself in a shoot out, and it only gets more exciting from there when he is targeted by the mob and his autistic son (also named Jason, called "The Kid) is kidnapped. His son has to keep to a strict schedule, making his disappearance Jason's worst nightmare, which is saying a lot.

Friday, March 11, 2016

technology, education, and reading.

As an English teacher who substitute teaches during the year, and teaching summer school during the summer, Lit Up by David Denby was exactly what I need to gear up for another summer with the neighborhood slackers. And I can say they are slackers because none of them have documented learning disabilities. They are just plain lazy and unmotivated. And being the reading lover that I am, I want all of my students to find the pleasure in it that I do. Which is exactly what Denby's book is about.

Set in very different tenth grade English classrooms, Danby explores these questions. How, in a social media obsessed world, do we establish in-class reading for pleasure? Are we reading the right books to allow students to connect emotionally to the text? Are we in need of better educators? Danby and his subjects (well reading is the subject, but you get what I mean) answer these questions and more as he finds the twenty-four books that can turn any nonreader into a reader. And I cannot wait to utilize his advice in summer school.