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I am a 24 year old Christian, bookworm, lover of all things chocolate, and soon to be knitter from Upstate New York, currently residing in sunny New Mexico (thank you U.S. Air Force). I spend my days as a Children's Librarian Assistant in a public city library and my nights working towards my MLS degree.
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Kate, a high-powered attorney in New York, loses her teen daughter, Amelia to suicide. Amelia apparently jumped off the top of a building at the ritzy private school she attended, though why, Kate doesn't understand. Her daughter was ambitious -- one of the "good" kids and certainly did not seem to be suicidal. Why would she just decide to kill herself one day?
Shortly after Amelia's death, Kate receives a text message that implies Amelia did not, in fact, kill herself, which sets the woman off on a mission to find out what re
The story unfolds through the voices of both Kate and Amelia, in alternating chapters and through text messages, emails, and Amelia's posts on social media. The topics of hazing and bullying play a huge role in the plot, which I found perfect for the issues teens face in today's society, as well as interesting in that they made for quite the thriller. Topics such as these are often very sensitive, emotional stories, rather than fast-paced page turners.
Once I picked up the book, I did not want to put it down for a second. Forget chasing my toddler around (ok, I didn't really forget, I promise), I wanted to just turn the pages as fast as I could and find out the real deal behind Amelia's death.
Though I don't quite understand the comparisons to Gone Girl, I do love a good page-turner and would recommend this to those that are looking for a great read to keep them guessing. I just think Gone Girl was more of mind-play with a whole lot of vulgarity. A great story, but not for everyone. This one would make any mystery/thriller lover happy.
Thanks to Harper for the review copy!
I've been reading Glennon Melton's blog, Momastery
, for the last couple of years. Her blunt musings on life, parenting, and her rocky past made for incredibly interesting blog reading and I slowly began to love this woman who put her entire soul out there. She's easily the most honest blogger I've ever come across. Her Love Flash Mobs may have had something to do with my love for her writing too. Such an amazing thing!
Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, is a collection of Glennon's blog posts, along with several new essays, all on the idea that perfection is unattainable and we should give ourselves permission to make mistakes. We all need to just let go of the idea of appearing perfect to our friends and family and allow our honest vulnerability to show -- we'll be happier and everyone else will be too.
This book had me both laughing out loud, sharing different chapters with my husband (his favorite was "A Mountain I'm Willing to Die On"), and sniffling a little. It's powerful stuff presented in a fabulous package.
I was also lucky enough to be able to go to Glennon's very first stop on her book tour and had a blast, along with over 500 others who came to witness her joy. Such fun! She was as charming and sweet in person as any reader of her blog would imagine her to be.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending a review copy.
Today, I turn 30. Happy Birthday to me! Though I'm not one to make a big deal out of my own birthday, I thought it might be fun to make a big deal out of it on the blog! While I'm celebrating with my little family and my very best friend, you all have the opportunity to win a few of my favorite things. Hooray!
$5 Starbucks Gift Card - Coffee!
$5 Cold Stone Gift Card - Ice cream!
$10 AMC Theatre Gift Card - Movies!
And what would a birthday be without a book? The winner gets a book of his/her choice, under $20.
I'm sure chocolate will be involved too. Chocolate should always be involved on birthdays.
Entering is easy -- because, really, who needs lots of annoying steps for a birthday giveaway? Just leave a comment and let me know a way to contact you if you're the winner. You can earn a 2nd entry by following me on Twitter
, but that's certainly not required. If you do, be sure to leave your Twitter handle in a 2nd comment. I'll pick a winner on Monday night.
Happy Birthday to Me (and you!)!!
I've been reading Kelle Hampton's blog, Enjoying the Small Things
, since just after her second daughter, Nella, was born. She posted Nella's birth story, and I, like so many others of you out there, fell completely in love with the entire family and the honesty Kelle poured into each one of her posts. You feel this woman's emotions and want to be her best friend. She just gets life
the way you know a perfect best friend would.
Nella's birth story ultimately became Bloom and I was so, so thrilled when I heard Kelle had turned this beautiful series of blog posts and memories, into a beautiful memoir -- and it's really, so gorgeous. She's an incredibly talented photographer, which makes the reading the story of her family both more enjoyable and more emotional. I became attached to those beautiful girls so quickly!
While Kelle allows us to see her heartbreak and grief over an unexpected circumstance, she also encourages us all to take those circumstances in our own lives and fully embrace them. Take a moment to grieve and then live life to the fullest. Truly enjoy the small things -- the tiny moments that seem like they don't matter -- along with those huge, life changing events. It's beautifully done and one of my favorite books to give as a gift to anyone going through a tough time.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending a review copy!
I've never been one to ask for a lot of gifts or even desire them, but I thought it would be fun to share what would be on my wish list, if I had made one.
A new piece of wrist jewelry perhaps?
Or maybe a scarf?
How about a new pair of shorts?
And what girl doesn't want a new pair of shoes?
And, of course, the books I would love:
I certainly wouldn't turn down a gift, I just wouldn't necessarily ask for them. ;)
I haven't posted in almost a week, but I'm blaming the gorgeous weather. I don't like to force myself to blog -- that totally takes the fun out of it -- so, if I'm not feeling like sitting down at a computer, I just don't. Instead, we've been enjoying the outdoors! My birthday is also this week (watch for a big giveaway on Friday), so look for fun posts the rest of the week.
Saturday we spent in D.C., wandering Eastern Market and eating along the way. We may have bought a pickle, hoping to get a few funny-face photos out of E, but instead, he loved the sour dill flavor. Ate the whole thing!
Sunday, Aaron ran a local 5K with a few friends, so we went out to cheer him on and ended up spending most of the morning at the race location, just enjoying the weather and letting the child tire himself out with people/dog watching. We all had a great time!
After Sunday naps, I finally ended up at a running store (literally, The Running Store
) to get properly fitted for shoes, have a gait analysis done, and pick out new shoes. Apparently I'm still a Saucony girl and I never should have strayed to Mizunos. Great shoes, just not for me.
I'm going to finish out this post with a photo dump -- I can't help myself. E is just too cute to not share. Tomorrow I'll be sharing my birthday wish list in the event you all want to go shopping for me, Thursday a review of one of my favorite books of the year, and Friday a BIG giveaway in honor of my BIG birthday. See you tomorrow!
I read a lot of parenting books. I grew up in a home that needed a lot of work, so I'm at least attempting to do some of that same work as E is growing up, rather than after some damage has been done. I certainly won't be perfect and I'm not saying that parenting books are the answer to everything, but I gain a few tips from each and hopefully that builds up to a decent amount of knowledge eventually. This parenting gig is HARD.
I was sent The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler
from Book Sneeze
to review and was anxious to read something that was aimed, not only at my child's age group, but also based on God's word. Unfortunately, it fell a little short to me.
The chapters range from Food Fights to Bedtime Battles and Tantrums 401. A lot of material is covered, but it's not exactly new material. There just isn't anything fresh and exciting about the topics talked about or even the way the information is presented.
I did love the Scripture verses scattered throughout the text and the personal experiences of several moms and dads and different situations they were in with their children.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with the book, in fact, I'd buy it for a friend's baby shower in a heartbeat. If I hadn't read a bunch of other books on the same subject, I think I'd really enjoy it, I just didn't find myself learning anything new.
The book is a part of a series that includes different age levels, so if this sounds like something you may enjoy and you're looking for a book on babies or older children, author Erin MacPherson has those for you too!
I love, love, love all of the books by Tom Angleberger and was so glad to see an activity book finally being published. Origami Yoda was such a huge hit with all of my nieces and nephews that I've been slowly sending them Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secrets of the Fortune Wookie, trying to draw it out until the next one comes along. This is perfect!
I don't do origami myself, but for fans of the series, this would be a great accompaniment. Felt the need to plug the author's awesomeness!
Thanks to Abrams for the review copy.
I don't know if I've ever had a better reading month. Between having the flu and not being able to get out of bed for 4 days and taking a road trip that had a couple of 7 hour drives, I went through book after book after book. If every month was like this I might actually get through more of my TBR.
Favorites of the month:
Headed home from New York tonight, so I'll have a little more reading time to kick off April. I'm hoping to read a few old ones from my never-ending list this month, so we'll see what I can get to. Happy Reading!
I'm not super eloquent when it comes to talking about my love of God and how mind-boggling it is what He did for us. That's why this is mainly a blog about books and not about my faith. However, today, Good Friday, is a big day in our house. It's a day of reflection and of pure thankfulness. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
We're in Upstate NY, enjoying time with our family and doing a lot of thanking. Two bloggers put into words what I just can't seem to:
I'll be celebrating His resurrection quietly on Sunday, as my in-laws do not have a home church and with a toddler it's difficult to just "pick one" from an area we aren't familiar with for a one-day visit. Doesn't make our day any less special though.
Have a wonderful Easter! See you either Monday or Tuesday :)
I recently read both of these books and realized they had a common theme: guilt. Both of the main characters in these YA novels have had a horrible situation placed on their shoulders -- of which neither are truly at fault -- and they have to work through the guilt they ultimately end up feeling. I recommend both!
In Bruised by Sarah Skilton, Imogen is an incredibly successful Tae Kwon Do black belt. It's rare for someone her age to have already reached black belt status, but she has and is very proud of herself. She really wishes to be a role model for kids and show them they can do whatever they put their mind to and work really hard for.
When she witness the robbery of a diner -- and the eventual death of the man holding the place up -- Imogen becomes filled with guilt. She didn't do anything. Imogen, strong and capable of taking down any man, hid under a table in the diner, while the man robbed the cashier at gunpoint. She blames herself for his death and won't listen to anyone's reason as to why she's not at fault.
Bruised is really the story of healing. Imogen shouldn't feel guilty for protecting herself by staying quiet, but she does. She feels so guilty that she begins making choices that begin to harm herself further and through the book we are able to watch her finally turn it around for the better.
Skilton's writing pulled me right into the story and I found myself wanting to both cheer for Imogen and smack her. In order for the plot to progress as it did, she needed to be a difficult, hard-headed character, and she definitely was -- but, I ended up loving her for it.
I also really loved the inclusion of Tae Kwon Do as a major plot aspect. Never seen that before.
Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson focuses on ninth-grader Jess, a girl who has spent every minute of her free time over the summer raising money for children in Afghanistan. Her father, along with many of her friends' parents, is deployed to Kabul and she feels like she's helping him while helping the kids at the orphanage. Raising money is her mission, despite her friends wanting her to also spend some time having fun. She knows that she can't rest.
When an explosion in Afghanistan near the orphanage kills her friend's parent, Jessica is taken over by guilt. She knows that her desire to help those kids is a good one and it makes her feel closer to her dad. But, her friend blames her for her mom's death. That's a hard one to swallow. Jess feels terrible.
Books about military kids and their families always tug at my heartstrings. I miss living on a base and having the community of people around that know exactly what it means to be in the military and everyone being in one place for the same reason. It's an important community to have. Books like this one are important for kids who have parents serving and I think Patterson did a really nice job expressing the emotions that so many of us go through when our family is overseas.
Jessica came off very young sounding to me -- not like a 14-year-old -- but other than that, I really thought the book did a solid job at getting a great message across, while still being fictional.
Thanks to both Abrams and Clarion Books for the review copies.
I can't believe I have a 16-month-old. I'm sure every parent says that every single month, but seriously, where does the time go? All of a sudden I have this child instead of a baby and it makes me very emotional. Then I look at this face and just laugh.
This past month, Elliott has started walking all over the place and when really excited, almost runs. He also had his first real playdate at someone's home and sat like all the other kids did for his snack. He really liked mimicking what they were doing -- almost makes me want to give him a sibling. *Almost* This quickly prompted me to pickup a used mini table and chairs set for our house.
He has 6 teeth and loves to eat. Unfortunately, he's very specific as to what he will and won't eat, so I've started being very careful about how many snacks he gets a day. The less he snacks, the less picky he seems to be. He does really love raw carrots and celery though and they last a long time. He probably chewed on this carrot for 90 minutes. Just carried it around with him all morning.
He has turned into a typical little boy, falling in love with trucks, cars, and trains. He loves to wave to the garbage trucks when they stop to pick up our trash each week and is totally obsessed with the school buses that go by every morning and afternoon. We live right across the street from an elementary school, so he gets a lot of bus time.
He got hit hard with a bad chest cold and teething all at the same time a couple of weeks ago, so there was a lot of cuddle time going on around here. Finally, everyone is well and looking forward to Spring!
16 months is so much fun and from what I see from other kids, 17-18 months will be a blast too. He has such a great personality and we're really blessed with a happy child 99% of the time.
Stats at 16 months:
30 inches tall
Brushing his teeth
Playing in the cupboards
Having his nails clipped
After the death of their newborn son, Steve and Patty Peifer pack up their family and head to Africa for a short-term mission assignment as dorm parents, hoping to process their loss and begin to heal. Wanting to turn the pain they were experiencing into something positive, they set out on a journey of self-discovery that ended up completely changing their lives and having each one of them fall in love with Africa and its people.
After being plunged into the depths of the poverty, disease, and hunger in Kenya and realizing they had an ability to truly do something about it, the Peifer family turned their short-term assignment into a full-time missionary life. Their children loved Africa, as did they, and through the Rift Valley Academy the family was able to begin providing daily lunches for Kenyan children -- ultimately working up to being able to feed 20,000 children.
Not simply a book for Christians wanting to read about missionaries, this is a book we all could learn from. A regular American family set out to heal from a tragic loss and was able to change the lives of thousands and thousands of children born into poverty. Wanting to make a tiny difference in the world turned into a huge project reaching so many kids and families.
Being the mother of a child in heaven myself, I loved that they turned their hardship into a great thing for the world. That being said, I did find parts of the book overly wordy -- stories being told that didn't seem to have a whole lot of connection to the main point of the book -- and it was definitely a little long for what seemed necessary for me.
Still a great book, just needed a little extra editing.
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!
Before I talk about this book and why E seems to love it, let's talk television. My husband and I decided to not go to either extreme regarding tv with our son -- it's down in our family room, so it only comes on if we decide to go down there. For the most part, he will occasionally watch one episode of his favorite show (and really it's the only show he has ever shown interest in) if he's fussy or having trouble calming down before bed. What's the show? Yo Gabba Gabba. The show I swore up and down my kid would never watch.
Now, there's nothing wrong with Yo Gabba Gabba and after watching 10+ episodes over and over again, I actually like the messages it brings up to young children, but friends, that show is just WEIRD. From the crazy orange-haired "host" to the strange monsters dancing around, I just don't get all the love kids have for it, but E has definitely jumped on board. It's bright, colorful, and filled with fun, which is why I think he loves this book so much:
Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin just has that feel of Yo Gabba Gabba, has all the brightness and fun of the tv show, without the weird DJ. The monsters are VERY excited about all the different colors and they bounce around scribbling, dancing, and wiggling with them. It's a sort of crazy ride through the book, but great for my toddler, who is more than a little crazy himself.
The monsters also taught us about mixing colors and what the result can be. I try to read the story with as much exhuberance as the illustrations portray and that seems to get E excited about the colors too. I think this week we're going to attempt our first color project, inspired by the monsters!
Thank you to HarperCollins for sending us the review copy to enjoy!
Holy emotional roller coaster! I love a good memoir and this new one definitely falls into the category of: hand to everyone I know. Susan Spencer-Wendel writes about the time she has left with her family after being diagnosed with ALS, a fatal disease that takes over her body. It shook me up, people... you need to read this one.
Susan was a successful journalist, working her way up as so many of us do, and truly loving her job. When she began exhibiting strange symptoms, she initially ignored it and hid the symptoms from her coworkers and family. When she finally goes to the doctor and ends up with the diagnosis she does, Susan is determined to live whatever time she has left to the fullest.
She makes special plans with each of her children and her friends, going on trips to other countries or even just to an amusement park, making sure that each of them is going to be left with the memory of that particular experience. Though she has her expected dark moments, she is filled with the joy of life and it's incredibly inspiring.
The author is funny, witty, and filled with the need to truly live out her quest on Earth. She celebrates life and lives each day to the fullest, teaching all of us readers a thing or two about not taking our days for granted.
Thank you to Harper for the review copy. I think Susan's story is one we all need to experience.
Well, I'm still in love with Stitch Fix
. My heart does a little pitter-patter each time I get that email stating a box has shipped and is on its way to me. It's a big ordeal when the beautifully wrapped boxes make their way onto my porch and anything that makes the world feel like Christmas is a friend of mine. It's an event
to open a Stitch Fix box, my friends. An event
First, this guy has to be sound asleep, in bed for the night:
(Really, I just wanted an excuse to show this hilarious picture)
No nap time openings -- the kid must be down for the whole night. I can't have him waking up from a short nap and interfering with my box opening. I wait until it's quiet and head to our bedroom, where I can open the box in peace, spreading each lovely item of clothing out on the bed, so I can really get a good look at it.
This month was even more special, because I received my box while I was bedridden with the dreaded flu. The husband brought it inside on Friday afternoon when he came home to save the day and I crawled into bed and it sat, calling my name, on the dresser until late Sunday night when I was finally well enough to open it. A treat, for sure.
In this box, I ended up with 2 tops, 2 dresses, and a blazer. I think I'm going to continue requesting boxes without accessories, because even though I love the two items that came in the two previous
boxes, right now I'm really concentrating on building up my wardrobe with clothing pieces.
The verdict? I only kept one top (the teal one pictured above). It was a great material -- super soft and very flattering. Those dolman-style sleeves really work for me.
I LOVED this dress:
(my apologies for the terrible photography)
Unfortunately, the straps were a bit big and would have needed to be altered. With the way I'm built, this is going to be a problem with most tops/dresses with this type of "sleeve." Definitely not the fault of the stylist, we can blame God for not giving me the breasts I deserve ;). Beautiful fabric and the colors were bright and fun. Exactly what I had asked for.
I also loved this blazer:
If we were sitting in the middle of August or September and I was anticipating cool, fall weather, I totally would have kept it. The quality was outstanding. I just couldn't justify buying a heavy blazer before spring/summer, since I'm still working on losing weight. If I was definitely going to be the same size come fall, it would be mine.
As for the other items I didn't end up keeping, the black top with the circle pattern was super cute, but it had that low back hemline and though it looks great on other people, it does NOT look good on me. I have a really short torso, so the back hem just hangs much too low on me.
The black wrap dress was totally flattering and a great basic. I was just looking for something bright for the season.
Overall, another thumbs up for the stylists at Stitch Fix. I requested bright colors and stripes and they gave me both. This time, I may be bold and ask for a maxi dress. Can a person pull off a maxi at only 5'2? Preferably without looking pregnant...?
If you're new to the game, here's how how it works:-Head over to Stitch Fix and sign up for an invite. I received mine in about a week.
-Schedule your Fix. It costs $20 to get a fix box sent to your house. If you decide to purchase something out of the box, the $20 is credited towards that item(s). You're basically paying for someone to hand-pick items for you and ship both ways. All of that is free if you buy an item. A pretty amazing deal.
-If you like it all, keep it all and they'll charge you for it all, minus a 25% discount. Sending stuff back? Pop it in the postage-paid envelope within 3 days and they charge you only for what you keep, minus your $20 fee.
-The style profile you fill out is crazy detailed. Everything from height/weight/hair color to picking from inspiration boards as to what you like and don't like. It's awesome. You can even link up your Pinterest boards.
-You can get a Fix monthly or just once-in-awhile, which I love. If it's not in your budget to get a box every month, you don't have to.
If you get Stitch Fix boxes too, leave me a link to your posts. I'd love to see what other people are getting!
The wonderful ladies of Stitch Fix have no idea who I am and I'm not being paid to rave about their company. I just really do love it.
Lovie French is the owner of a ritzy dress shop in Manhattan -- the place where everyone who's anyone goes to purchase a special outfit for any occasion. She not only caters clothing to the rich, she's also the level-headed balance between her two closest friends from boarding school.
Dinah is a spitfire with a mouth that often gets her into trouble and Avis is somewhat uptight, conservative, and pretty much Dinah's opposite. It's quite obvious from the very beginning, that the only thing they have in common is a friendship with Lovie. When Avis' daughter begins dating Dinah's son, poor Lovie is in the middle of a very awkward situation, while also attempting to manage her own difficult love life.
The book bounces between the 1960's and the present, giving us a look at just how Dinah and Avis each became friends with Lovie while away at boarding school and how their relationships have developed over the years. Despite reading a few other tough reviews, I really enjoyed this format and ended up speeding through the book over the course of an afternoon!
The subject seems somewhat light -- a dress shop owner and her two friendships -- but the plot and the characters are incredibly detailed, rich, and written with a depth that I really enjoyed. Everyone has secrets and those secrets make the rounds, giving the large city of Manhattan a small-town appearance. It was an addictive read and one I'm very glad to have picked up!
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the review copy.
I was hoping Elliott would love Lois Ehlert books as much as I do and though I've tried a few from the library, he hasn't really connected with them until this box set showed up in our mailbox. It had perfect timing too, as we're working on planning our garden for spring time and doing a lot of talking about what it means to grow our own food.
Perfect for little hands, we found these three books in the box:
The colors in each one are so bright and lively that I don't think E could help but be drawn to them. His favorite seems to be Eating the Rainbow, which happens to be the simplest concept among the books. Each page features the famous Lois Ehlert illustrations that represent each letter of the alphabet through fruit and veggies. I wasn't surprised that he likes that one the best so far -- it's very easily for him to be overwhelmed with words and pictures at this point, so the fewer the better.
My favorite is Growing Vegetable Soup, which I hope we actually get to do this year! I love how Ehlert goes through the process of planting the seeds, watering, waiting, and finally picking the bounty.
The labeling of different items used to garden (nets/rakes/stakes/shovels/etc.) along with the actual fruits, vegetables, and flowers is great. When E points to something and says "that" (his way of asking what something is) I can not only tell him what it is, but he can also see the word. I think this will eventually help with reading skills, which is why I love Ehlert's work so much.
We'll be having a lot of fun with these as spring gets closer and closer. Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the review copy to enjoy!
Elliott was born in late November 2011. He turned 15 months old on Tuesday and I've never spent a night away from him -- not including those NICU nights. Even with those I was by his isolette until midnight and back at 6 a.m. We're a team and we understand each other's quirks after spending all day, every day together and though I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything, I desperately need a break.
I'm heading to Florida for a few days and the boys are going to hang out at home, bonding and doing whatever it is boys do. This adorable little man will be just fine and my husband is more than capable of meeting E's needs and having a lot of fun with him. That doesn't mean I'm not still crying inside. I'm leaving my boy!
I'm looking forward to just hanging out my my Aunt, reading books, playing with her menagerie of animals, and sleeping in. Ok, so I doubt the sleeping in will actually happen, but at least no one is whining for me to get up and feed them.
See you all on Tuesday!
Anna and her grandmother, Goldie, have not spoken in over five years. Even when Anna's husband passes away, all she receives from Goldie is a sympathy card of condolence and nothing more. When, out of the blue, Goldie calls, wanting Anna to drive her all the way to San Francisco to return something to a friend, Anna is rightfully skeptical and not at all thrilled about the chore -- though she accepts.
On the road, Goldie, wanting to break her granddaughter's depression after losing her husband, decides to begin sharing some of her painful secrets of her life in the 1940's. Goldie knows that opening up about her own past will probably help Anna begin to move on. So, she does what a good grandmother would do: she talks.
The story flows between past and present as the Sachs weaves a detailed family drama with the aspects of a difficult time in history. I was able to read it very quickly, because the characters had a hold on my interest from the very beginning and I needed to know what was going to happen next. Definitely not a thriller by any means, but I turned the pages as if it were one.
I love historical fiction and this one was an excellent blend of the past and the present. Highly recommended.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the review copy! If you'd like to stop by the other blogs on the tour, you can find the schedule here.
The amazingly talented Jessica Brody offered to write up a guest for me and I was thrilled to take her up on it. In a publishing world where thousands upon thousands of books are published every year, she explains what it's like when an idea doesn't come from a single author. Timely and intriguing! Enjoy!
The universe is a mysterious place. Particularly when it comes to books. Ask any author and they’ll tell you, “the minute you come up with a fantastic idea, I can guarantee you, seven other authors are having the same or extremely similar idea at the exact same time.”
Here’s a familiar story I hear constantly from authors:
“I had an idea to write a book about [insert trendy YA topic here] two years ago, before anyone else was writing about it, and then as soon as the book came out, BOOM! There were suddenly 2 or 3 other books releasing at the same time that were also about [insert trendy YA topic here].”
I’ve heard this so many times it’s scary. And it makes me wonder how on earth that could happen. It’s a phenomenon that still mystifies me. It’s like our muses are cheating on us. They’re whispering sweet nothings in our ears, telling us, “you’re the only one for me,” while they’re secretly having love affairs with five other writers at the same time, whispering the same sweet nothings in their ears.
There’s a reason why YA literature moves in “trends.” There’s a reason why 5 books that are eerily similar will come out in the same year, completely separate from each other. And despite what some readers may think, it’s not because one book did well and then 4 other authors decided to copy it very quickly. The publishing industry doesn’t work that fast. It takes up to two years for a book to come out. So the only explanation for the perplexing phenomenon is that the authors are actually having the ideas at the same time.
I like to call it “universal consciousness.” The very reason you’re having the idea is not because your muse is exceptionally brilliant and faithful to only you, but because the idea is floating out there in the universe, ready to drift into your awaiting mind, making it completely accessible to every other awaiting mind at the same time.
Of course, I always heard these kinds of stories and thought, “Well, that will never happen to me!”
But lo and behold, it appears it has...
He later used that same pitch to sell it to my publisher. And now, nearly three years later, when UNREMEMBERED is finally out in the world, I’ve just recently discovered that there are at least two other books releasing around the same time that were pitched the exact same way. “The Bourne Identity for Teens!” And those books explore a very similar idea as UNREMEMBERED. They all deal with teenagers who have been manipulated (or I like to say, “enhanced”) by science. In fact, I recently discovered that there are several books that are either out now or have recently been released that deal with the subject of Scientifically Enhanced Humans.
So did I cry and stomp my foot when I found out that my muse hadn’t been faithful to me and that I wasn’t the only person who thought to write about a teen girl who had been “touched up” by mad scientists?
No. Actually, I rejoiced! I thought, “YES! I’ve stumbled into the new thing.” Remember how popular vampires were? And werewolves? And fairies? Maybe “Scientifically Altered” is the new vampire!
In fact, just yesterday I learned the term, “Biopunk.” I was fascinated when I found it in a review of UNREMEMBERED, since I’d never heard of it before, and immediately had to look up what it meant. Here’s what Wikipedia reported back to me:
Biopunk science fiction is a subgenre of cyberpunk fiction that focuses on the near-future unintended consequences of the biotechnology revolution following the discovery of recombinant DNA. Biopunk stories explore the struggles of individuals or groups, often the product of human experimentation, against a backdrop of totalitarian governments and megacorporations which misuse biotechnologies as means of social control and profiteering. Unlike cyberpunk, it builds not on information technology, but on synthetic biology. Like in postcyberpunk fiction, individuals are usually modified and enhanced not with cyberware, but by genetic manipulation. A common feature of biopunk fiction is the "black clinic", which is a laboratory, clinic, or hospital that performs illegal, unregulated, or ethically-dubious biological modification and genetic engineering procedures.
I literally got the chills when I read this. This description contained so many elements relevant to UNREMEMBERED, it was scary. Like REALLY scary! I felt like the writers of this post had reached into my brain and pulled out this description. And I never even knew the term existed until three days before my books was scheduled to release.
This is Universal Consciousness at its finest.
Although I haven’t read every single book that fits this new “biopunk trend,” from reading their descriptions I can still see how they’re all are very different in their approach on the topic, which just fascinates me more. I’ve always said, if you give 10 authors the same one-sentence description of a book and tell them to write it, you’ll wind up with 10 VERY different books. I do think UNREMEMBERED stands apart in this new YA trend. There are some twists and turns that readers won’t expect and won’t find in other stories like it. But I’m excited to be part of this new growing trend in YA literature. And especially excited to be in the company of some amazing authors who, like me, are clearly fascinated by how science can change us, and how it can make for a thrilling story.
by Jessica Brody is available now! I loved it and definitely recommend you all checking it out -- her writing is awesome.
I don't fly often, but when I do, my main travel accessory is a book that will pass the time on the plane. I don't like to take the chance of starting one once I'm already enclosed in that steel flying contraption, because, inevitably, I'm not going to like my book of choice and I'll be stuck for hours with nothing to do. I'm sure it's happened to most of you.
I picked up Calling Me Home
by Julie Kibler on the last leg of my trip home from Florida. I didn't have anything left to read and I hadn't started this one yet, so it had two strikes against it already (flying rule strikes, that is), but this book defied the odds beautifully.
I ended up loving the story of a young hairdresser being asked, out of the blue, to drive her elderly client across the country for an unknown reason and the conversations that took place between the pair on the way.
Isabelle is an 89-year-old spitfire and Dorrie her young, black hairdresser. The story is indeed about racial lines, but it's also an incredible friendship story, a love story, and family drama. Kibler created each of her characters in a way that completely hooked me -- having me feel all the necessary emotions for each one. Though Isabelle's mother wasn't the most sympathetic of characters, I was able to feel sympathy for a woman just choosing to do what she knew. That's the mark of a great author.
I ended up racing through Calling Me Home in that 2.5 hour flight. It was beautifully written and easy to want to tear through, as I really needed to know what would happen to everyone at the end. I was reading so quickly, the woman seated next to me on the plane, in her full Army uniform, asked me about the book, because she noticed. She said she was going to buy it as soon as a store was open the next day. Another reader gained.
I highly recommend you all checking this one out!
I talk about my sweet E on the blog all the time. He was our blessing from God, our greatest gift, and the thing that constantly makes me smile. I don't, however, focus posts on the amazing guy I call my husband. This guy:
So, late Friday night, after being ridiculously sick all day long, he finally took me to the ER where I was told I was another victim of the seasonal flu. That flu shot I got back in December? Didn't work. I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but this kicked my butt. This guy saved the day.
He not only left work early on Friday to come take care of me (and this was after he let me go off to Florida for 4 days last week), he has taken over complete child/dog duty for the last 2 days without complaint. He's awesome.
He's brought me countless mugs of hot tea, went out for a milkshake when that's all I could imagine eating, and kept me in supply of water, medicine, and books. He is the rockstar husband I dreamed of. And he's mine.
I'll stop being sappy now, but I thought you all had to know.
Tia, Juliette, and Caroline have never met, but their lives intertwine in a crazy-complex way that no one would probably wish on their worst enemy.
Tia, a lost girl in love with a married man, becomes pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. Caroline becomes the mother of that child. Juliette is the wife of Tia's love. Told from the perspective of each of the women, we watch the story unfold as Juliette finds out about the child and becomes obsessed with her and finding out the whole truth of her husband's relationship.
None of these women is exactly likable. They each have their own flaws and live up to those flaws as the story builds, but that's why the book was so readable. They were written like any typical real woman. The character development is excellent and though I didn't love the characters, I think Meyers wanted it that way. I think she wanted us to dislike them enough to believe in them and I really did. I wanted to know what they would do and how they would react to the confrontations they were meant to have and if they had all been sympathetic, likable characters it wouldn't have rung true.
If you're into intense drama, I definitely recommend checking this one out.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for having me on the tour. Check out the rest of the stops on the tour here
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Early Pearl comes from a word-loving family. She and her brother, Jubie, love to read and play with words, thanks to their father, Dash, a library page wanting nothing more than to keep his family safe and work his way to library school. Though the family must all squeeze into a one-room apartment, they're comfortable and love spending their time together, so really, it's not too bad being poor.
When Dash decides to take on a side job to earn extra money (and the money really starts rolling in), Early's mom, Summer, is skeptical. Early knows that Dash just wants to get them out of the apartment as fast as he can, but when his side job causes him to disappear without a trace, their home to be ransacked by scary men, and the police to start investigating Dash for a crime, Early has to use her power with words to help get her family out of a city shelter and back home, altogether.
Hold Fast was so much more than a mystery tracked by a smart, young girl. Blue Balliett takes on the issue of homelessness and the concept of what "home" really means -- or should mean. The language used to described the process of becoming homeless and trying to get out of a shelter was incredibly moving at times, and I think expands upon a subject too often overlooked in children's literature. According to Balliett, thousands of children spend time in Chicago's homeless shelters each year and these children obviously need books to read that makes them feel as if they aren't alone.
The use of Langston Hughes poems throughout the text was beautifully done and I found myself frantically looking up our closest homeless shelter to see what type of volunteer work I could possibly do with a toddler. This is a book of action and it made ME want to do something about this epidemic of homelessness. Well done, Balliett.
Teachers, read this to your classes! Sometimes, I feel Balliett's books are well-loved by adults, but kids overlook them on the shelves. At least, in my experience. Make sure that doesn't happen with this one!
Thank you to Scholastic for the review copy.