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The Thunder Beneath Us by Nicole Blades (A Book Review)

The Thunder Beneath Us by Nicole Blades

Publisher: Dafina (Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320

To the world, Best Lightburn is a talented writer rising up the masthead at international style magazine James, girlfriend of a gorgeous up-and-coming actor, and friend to New York City’s fabulous. Then there’s the other Best, the one who has chosen to recast herself as an only child rather than confront the truth.

Ten years ago, on Christmas Eve, Best and her two older brothers took a shortcut over a frozen lake. When the ice cracked, all three went in. Only Best came out. People said she was lucky, but that kind of luck is nothing but a burden. Because Best knows what she had to do to survive. And after years of covering up the past, her guilt is detonating through every facet of her seemingly charmed life. It’s all unraveling so fast: her new boss is undermining and deceitful, her boyfriend is recovering from a breakdown, and a recent investigative story has led to a secret affair with the magazine’s wealthy publisher.

Best is quick-witted and headstrong, but how do you find a way to happiness when you’re sure you haven’t earned it—or embrace a future you feel you don’t deserve? Evocative and emotional, The Thunder Beneath Us is a gripping novel about learning to carry loss without breaking, and to heal and forgive—not least of all, ourselves.

Survivor’s guilt.  It’s something many people deal with at some point in their lives.  People living with survivor’s guilt for extended periods of time often experience depression, self-loathing and self-punishment.  In each situation in their lives – whether it’s a relative living as an addict, a parent being a full blown alcoholic, or being the lone survivor in an accident – they feel like they had somehow, unfairly, escaped the doom and gloom that seemed to prey upon the people they love the most.  Sometimes they even believe they caused it.  As a result, people suffering from survivor’s guilt end up wasting a lot of time and emotional energy trying to answer questions like, “Why them and not me?”  If you’ve ever experienced the pain of survivor’s guilt in some capacity then The Thunder Beneath Us is the book for you.

The opening line of this book made me laugh out loud – literally!  It immediately intrigued me and drew me into the story.  Best (short for Bathsheba) is a beautiful, accomplished magazine journalist dating a hot actor.  What more could a woman ask for, right?  Although it sounds like she has it all together on the surface, her life is a hot mess! She’s been living with so many secrets that eventually begin to come bubbling to the surface and rock her world upside down.

Although I think the first half of this book was a bit slow to develop, the second half definitely made up for it and had me turning the pages so fast wanting to know what was going to happen next!  After having a breakdown, Best visits her childhood home in Canada.  That’s when we learn what really happened ten years ago when she was the sole survivor of a terrible ice accident that tragically took the lives of her two brothers. What she had to do in order to survive turns out to be the mystery.  For years Best lived with survivor’s guilt, without ever expressing her feelings.  Can you imagine what that must feel like?

While Best isn’t the most likeable character, I did find myself relating to her in some chapters.  Her personality can be described as sassy, witty and funny.  Some may even call her a hater.  No matter how you feel about Best Lightburn I think you’ll find yourself cheering for her, laughing at her, crying with her, cursing her out and wanting to reach out and give her a big hug at times.  She’s not perfect – she’s human.

I love the author’s attention to detail and the way she describes each character, their actions and the scenery around them.  The Thunder Beneath Us is a very thought-provoking, gripping, compelling and emotional book with themes of: love, family, relationships, personal discovery, self-acceptance, healing, loss, forgiveness, coping with the past and moving forward.  There are some valuable personal growth and self-discovery lessons to be learned for people who have struggled with things that haunt them from their past.  Best is forced to finally confront her tainted past so she can finally move on, forgive herself and experience happiness in her life once again.

Add this book to your holiday gift list for yourself or a friend.  This book has it all: fresh, detailed and concise writing, scandal, secrets and workplace affairs it’s great for reading while traveling or over the weekend.

About Nicole Blades

Nicole Blades is a novelist and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health. Now a freelance writer, her features and essays have appeared in MORE magazine, Cosmopolitan,,,, BuzzFeed, SELF, and BlogHer. Nicole has been a speaker and panelist at BlogHer, Mom 2.0 and the MA Conference for Women. She also created Ms. Mary Mack, a blog that aims to bring compassion and common sense back to parenthood.  Nicole currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son.

Connect with Nicole Blades!

Website| Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in October 2016)

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve told you guys what I’m reading.  Over the summer I was so engaged with the kids and their activities that I didn’t take as much time to read as I normally do.  Now that the kids are in school, I’m back to my normal routine of reading 2-3 books per month.  Here’s what I’m reading this month:

Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain

The monumental bestseller Quiet has been recast in a new edition that empowers introverted kids and teens. Susan Cain sparked a worldwide conversation when she published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. With her inspiring book, she permanently changed the way we see introverts and the way introverts see themselves.

The original book focused on the workplace, and Susan realized that a version for and about kids was also badly needed. This book is all about kids’ world—school, extracurriculars, family life, and friendship. You’ll read about actual kids who have tackled the challenges of not being extroverted and who have made a mark in their own quiet way. You’ll hear Susan Cain’s own story, and you’ll be able to make use of the tips at the end of each chapter. There’s even a guide at the end of the book for parents and teachers.

This insightful, accessible, and empowering book, illustrated with amusing comic-style art, will be eye-opening to extroverts and introverts alike.

I was immediately drawn to this book because not only am I more introverted, but my daughter is too.  I am in LOVE with this book you guys – it’s so insightful!  I think it’s a must read for all parents raising introverted children.  Be sure to check out Susan Cain’s Ted Talk which still stands as one of the most viewed Ted talks of all time.

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers
This sweet middle grade novel featuring a diverse cast of characters proves that friendship can be just around the corner.

For three ten-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves. When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

Your turn: What books are you currently reading?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in April 2016)

I can’t believe the last time I shared the books I’m reading was in January!  The months of February and March flew by…wow!  I assure you I was reading books, I just didn’t post them…my bad!  Sometimes I get so caught up in all of the amazing children’s books that I tend to forget to update you on the books for us adults.  By the way, if you’re a woman I highly recommend reading the book, Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.  I read that book in February and found it to be very informative and useful.  Essential reading for women of all ages.

Below are the books I’m planning to read in the month of April.  Feel free to join me if you’d like!

Recently, NPR featured a fantastic article on their website about how adults can encourage kids to be original thinkers.  Did you see it on my Facebook page?  You can read the full article here.  I love NPR!  Anyway, I found the article to be fascinating and I immediately added the book Originals to my list of books to read.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

I tend to read a lot of personal development books, but I like reading fiction books too.  Reading fiction books allow me to escape the daily grind of my own life, especially if it’s a really interesting or funny book.  I’ve heard this book is funny and since I love to laugh, I’m going to check it out even though it’s a YA (Young Adult) novel.

Mean Girls meets Life of Pi in this darkly humorous, compulsively readable teen novel that’s perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Andrew Smith. A hilariously dark and twisted story that sparkles with a remarkably fresh voice, The Lifeboat Clique is Kathy Parks’s irreverent yet insightful novel about how to survive in the most unthinkable circumstances.

Your turn:  What are your reading plans for the month of April?  I’d love to hear what you’re reading!  Also, do you enjoy hearing about the books I’m reading or do you prefer to read about children’s books?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Books for Adults

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

As you may recall, the two theme words I’ve chosen for 2016 are: joy and reach.  If you missed the post where I mentioned why I chose those words, you can read all about it here.  In that post, I also told you my favorite book I read last year was  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  So, I was literally jumping up and down when I found out the follow-up to that book was being published this year!  The companion book is entitled Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.


Synopsis (from Amazon)
Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep “necessary” items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.

This year I have a goal to finally declutter and organize our basement and garage.  I’m talking a complete overhaul.  Our basement isn’t finished so we’ve been using it as a storage area since we moved into our house over ten years ago.  It’s a huge space and has lots of potential, but we need to get it cleaned out.  Same goes for our garage.

I’m really looking forward to reading this book since it includes actual illustrations on exactly how to do the KonMari method.  I’m a more visual person so most times, I’d prefer to see exactly how things are done rather than have someone tell me.  I remember reading the first book thinking, “how should I be folding my clothing”?  This book will provide the answer – yay!  Thanks, Marie!  I can’t wait to dive into this book in the coming weeks!  Will you be reading?

To learn more about Marie Kondo or her books visit her website here.

Your turn:  Did you read Marie’s first book?  Are you as excited as I am to read this companion book?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in January 2016)

Like many of you, I see the new year as an exciting opportunity to set some epic goals for the year ahead. This year is no different and one I’m very excited by is my goal to read for at least 30 minutes every day in 2016.  This 30 minutes won’t include reading children’s books with the kids either.  I’m talking about reading books just for me whether they be physical books, e-books, or audio books.

Here are my picks for January 2016:

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

I LOVE anything that Shonda Rhimes is involved with (especially Scandal) so I’m sure I’m going to enjoy reading this gem.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one!

Synopsis:  This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her.  And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.

This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Transforming Your Life by Michael Strahan


I never watched Michael Strahan play football for the New York Giants, but ever since he started hosting the morning show with Kelly Ripa I started following and discovered I adore him.  He’s appears to be such an optimistic, down-to-earth, easy-going guy.  Therefore, I’m interested to read this and learn more about him and his views on life and dreaming big.

Synopsis:  In Wake Up Happy, Michael shares personal stories about how he gets and stays motivated and how readers can do the same in their quest to attain their life goals.  Inspiring and chock full of advice that will help the reader make significant strides toward pursuing his or her dream, Wake Up Happy is a book no one, young or old, male or female will want to miss.

Best Friends Forever by Kimberla Lawson Roby

If possible, I like to have at least one fiction book in the mix of books I’m reading during any given month.  I enjoyed reading some of Kimberla Lawson Roby’s books in the past so I’m excited to read her latest book.  Sounds like a good one!

Synopsis:  Things are falling apart in the Richardson household. Angry arguments between Celine and her husband, Keith, have become routine. She resents that he’s working long hours and staying out all night, and he accuses her of not giving him the attention he deserves. Their marriage is at a cross-roads and Celine worries how her 10-year-old daughter, Kassie, will be affected.

But the situation turns devastating when Celine is diagnosed with breast cancer. As her relationship with Keith deteriorates, Celine worries that she’ll be left to navigate the difficult process of cancer treatment alone. But comfort and support come in the form of Celine’s best friend, Lauren. They’ve been attached at the hip since they were children and it is Lauren who’s there for Celine in her darkest moments.

Now, Celine will be forced to make tough decisions-about her marriage and otherwise-and for the first time in her life, she wants to give up. Lauren vows to help by any means necessary and makes the kind of sacrifice only a best friend can. But will it be too late?

Your turn:  What are your reading goals for the new year?  What books do you think I should read in 2016?  If you have any suggestions please feel free to share in the comments.

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in November 2015)

I noticed I haven’t written a post to update you all on the books I’m reading.  It’s not that I’ve forgotten to write the posts, instead you can find my current reads of the month listed over on the right hand side.  However, it dawned on me that many people read blogs and websites on their phones nowadays, therefore you won’t see the books listed if using a handheld device.

Usually I like to read at least 2-3 books per month, but for the month of November I’m only going to read one book.  I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book so I really want to sink my teeth into it and focus on it.  I’m sure many of you have already heard of it as it’s been receiving rave reviews all over the Internet and social media.

The book I’ve chosen is none other than Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  She’s the same author who wrote the book Eat, Pray, Love.  I never read that book, but I absolutely adore the movie!

Synopsis (from Amazon)
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

After reading this book I also plan to write a review so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks.  If you’re so inclined, read this book next month on your own and join me!

P.S. I’m currently obsessed with this video of Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert discussing the book.  Check it out if you have about 45 minutes to spare.  So worth listening to!

Your turn:  Have you read this book yet or is it on your “to read” list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in August 2015)

August is officially here!  Only one more month until both of my munchkins start school on September 1st.  What a bittersweet day that will be for me…sigh!  They are seriously getting too big, too fast.

Below are the books I’ve chosen for the month of August.  Enjoy!

Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time with God by Kelly O’Dell Stanley

When you talk to God, do you ever wonder if He really hears? Do your prayers start to feel rote or routine? Do you sometimes feel you don’t even know how to pray? Jesus is known for turning situations upside down . . . and He can do the same in your prayer life.

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer

When this book recommendation appeared in my e-mail inbox earlier this week I just knew I had to get it!  Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King, raved about this book so I want to check it out for myself.

A Curious Mind is a brilliantly entertaining, fascinating, and inspiring homage to the power of inquisitiveness and the ways in which it deepens and improves us. Whether you’re looking to improve your management style at work or you want to become a better romantic partner, this book—and its lessons on the power of curiosity—can change your life.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty


I read the book Big Little Lies in July and it was AMAZING!  If you haven’t read it yet, you totally should!  I enjoy this author’s writing style so much that I had to follow up with another one of her books for August.

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel


The pioneering experts behind The Whole-Brain Child—Tina Payne Bryson and Daniel J. Siegel, the author of Brainstorm—now explore the ultimate child-raising challenge: discipline. Highlighting the fascinating link between a child’s neurological development and the way a parent reacts to misbehavior, No-Drama Discipline provides an effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears—without causing a scene.

Your turn:  Have you read any of these books?  What’s in your reading stack for the month of August?  Feel free to share in the comments.

read aloud

What the Kids are Reading (in July 2015)

Here’s a roundup of the books I’ll be reading aloud to the kids this month.  We’re exploring everything from colors to animals and bugs to chocolate!  What’s on your reading stack?

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

Dog starts off the day with one black spot on his left ear. But it seems that wherever he goes, he runs, rolls, and trots right into colors. As he wanders around town, Dog collects spots made of red jam, blue paint, pink ice cream, and more. When he finally arrives back home, Dog has ten different colored spots. And then it’s bath time for this colorful canine, who makes learning colors and numbers easy, messy, and fun!

You Are My Baby: Ocean by Lorena Siminovich

This board book is adorable!  It’s part of a series written by the author Lorena Siminovich.

Readers will find a little book nestled inside a bigger one: Turn the pages to match the baby animals to their parents, and learn some early concepts along the way.

You Are My Baby: Safari by Lorena Siminovich

This book is from the same series of board books as the one mentioned above except it’s all about safari animals. So cute!

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
Each ring of the doorbell brings more friends to share the delicious cookies Ma has made. This terrific and suspenseful read-aloud picture book about friendship, sharing, and cookies can also be used to introduce basic math concepts to young children.

Bug detective : amazing facts, myths, and quirks of nature by Maggie Li
This book is so fun and interesting! The kids have really taken an interest in nature and bugs this summer so this book is perfect for helping them to learn more about bugs. From creepy-crawly beetles and scary spiders to beautiful butterflies, this playful guide will reach out and grab bug-crazy kids! Funny, picture-packed pages provide tons of information on bug habitat, feeding rituals, predators, and more, while each spread focuses on one creature-like bees or centipedes—with a brief introduction and facts scattered brightly everywhere. Plus, the book comes with a magnifying glass embedded in the cover, so budding “detectives” can complete the “missions” they’ll find throughout, along with additional activities in the back.

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

This book came highly recommended so we’re reading it. In a laugh-out-loud hilarious twist on the legend of King Midas, a boy acquires a magical gift that turns everything his lips touch into chocolate. Can you ever have too much of your favorite food? John Midas is about to find out….

First published in 1952, The Chocolate Touch was an instant classic—and has remained a timeless favorite with kids, teachers, and parents.

Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Hatching a plan for survival isn’t always easy in the wild. And how animals lay, protect, and even use each other’s eggs as a food source help reveal the life cycle of the natural world. Eggs come in all shapes and sizes. The ostrich’s is the largest, but some are so small, you need a microscope to spot them. Animals hide them and disguise them in smart and surprising ways, too. Some abandon their eggs, while others protect them fiercely and carry them wherever they go. There are as many kinds of eggs as there are animals that depend on them, because in the animal kingdom, the fight for survival begins with the simple, but extraordinary, egg.

Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? by Harriet Ziefert
A lilting kitty mystery combines with rain-centered facts to create an utterly charming fiction/nonfiction picture book. As kids are invited on the search for Kitty, they’ll also discover what different animals do to enjoy, or avoid, a rainy day. Harriet Ziefert’s rhyming couplets pair beautifully with Brigette Barrager’s lush art to make a combination that is sure to please young readers and adults alike.

What makes a duck waterproof? Where do butterflies hang out to stay dry? What serves as a built-in umbrella for a squirrel? Created especially for younger readers, here’s a unique title that’s part mystery, part science, and all curiosity-inspiring fun!

Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood
I love finding great alphabet books to read!  After working hard all summer with their teacher, “Capital T,” the lower case letters of the alphabet are on their way to the first day of school. But they’re held up when the letter i loses her dot. The letters come up with a plan, and race around to find a substitute for Little i to wear s offers a star, h a heart but at the last moment the mischievous dot returns (anxious about being replaced).

One Too Many: A Seek & Find Counting Book by Gianna Marino
In this boisterous barnyard, the fun grows with each turn of the page. One bouncing flea is joined by two cows, then three horses, and so on, all the way up to twelve swooping bats. Children will delight in following the shimmering path of the flea, counting each bounce along the way to find the new arrival. Older readers can take the challenge further, counting all the animals on the page, or hunting for their favorite. And a surprise ending reveals which animal is just one too many!

Time to Eat by Steve Jenkins

It’s time to eat! Which animals eat bamboo, can gulp down a whole deer, or swallow rocks to help them eat?

Frindle by Andrew Clements
I recently started a ‘Summer Stories’ story time for kids that live in my neighborhood. We read books outside two nights a week for half an hour and then have a brief discussion afterwards. The kids are really enjoying it! I let the older kids alternate who reads the books and then we all listen while eating our snacks. This is one of the longer chapter books we’ll be reading aloud during our ‘Summer Stories’ story time this month.

Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school — and he’s always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there’s nothing Nick can do to stop it.

Your turn:  What are your kids reading this month?  Have you read any of these books?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in July 2015)

Summer is officially here and I couldn’t be happier.  I’m looking forward to days of warm weather, long, lazy afternoons and gentle breezes with lots of sunshine.

Welcome summer, I’m so happy you’re here.  Let the summer of reading commence!

Below are the three books I plan to read in July.

Status: Finished


This book has been on my list of books to read since it came out earlier this year.  I’m a huge fan of Issa Rae.  I used to watch The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl web series on YouTube religiously in its early days.  I am excited to read her memoir and learn more about how she got her start especially now since she recently had the opportunity to meet my role model, Oprah.  I love to read about successful, empowered women.


Status:  Finished


When she discovered ballet, Misty was living in a shabby motel room, struggling with her five siblings for a place to sleep on the floor. A true prodigy, she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life (culminating in a highly publicized custody battle), she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind.

Life in Motion is an insider’s look at the cutthroat world of professional ballet, as well as a moving story of passion and grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.

Status:  Finished

Big Little Lies by Lane Moriarty

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Your turn:  What books do you have in your queue for the month of July?  Have you read any of these books already?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.
read aloud

What the Kids are Reading (in June 2015)

by Ylleya Fields
Princess Cupcake Jones has lost her beloved tutu.  In her quest to find it, Cupcake learns the importance of tidying up and putting things in their proper place.  As an added bonus in each book of the series, children will also have fun finding the hidden word in each inviting illustration. Helpful hints are a part of the book’s website, which also features downloadable color pages and other activities. 

by Gayle E. Pitman
With short rhyming text, and fun colorful illustrations, This Day in June gives preschool and early elementary aged children and their favorite grown up a chance to experience an LGBT Pride Parade from the comfort of their own couch! Filled with balloons, children, happy marching people, dogs, motorcycles, fancy clothes, rainbows, and confetti, this book is a joyful celebration of a Pride parade, traditionally held during the month of June.  Written by a professor of psychology and women’s studies, this book also has carefully researched end pages which explain the history and significance of the words and pictures on each page, as well as recommendations for parents on ways to talk to different ages of children (3-5, 6-12, 13-18) about what it means to be LGBT, and how to answer children’s questions in age appropriate ways.
by Emily Jenkins
What a great non-fiction read aloud book!  This book follows the making of a dessert, blackberry fool, over four centuries–the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s.  In this fascinating picture book, four families, in four different cities, over four centuries, make the same delicious dessert: blackberry fool. This richly detailed book ingeniously shows how food, technology, and even families have changed throughout American history.  Bonus: a recipe for blackberry fool is included if you want to make it with your little ones.
by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Spencer loves to read. He reads a book every night. But one morning his favorite book goes missing, and in its place is a tulip. Spencer searches high and low, but he can’t find his book.  The next morning another book is missing, a nut in its place. And the morning after that, another book is missing.  What is happening to Spencer’s books? When he finds out, Spencer devises a surprising solution that will delight readers everywhere.
by Tatayna Feeney
Small Elephant’s mommy tries to make the bath more fun with toys and bubbles, but he is not fooled.  He is too busy to take a bath. He has said no many times. He is getting very cross.  And then he disappears!  But Small Elephant’s daddy has a way to make the bath fun. He may look silly doing it—but it just might work!  This is a great book for dads to read to the kids in celebration of Father’s Day this month. 

by Britta Teckentrup
A fun lift-the-flap book that introduces young readers to the basic concepts of counting and patterns. Each is a boisterous, vivid trek of discovery, providing irresistible clues which encourage lifting the flap to see what’s coming up next.
by Alison Inches
What’s a girl to do when her stuffed animals just aren’t sleepy? The little red hen is fixing herself a snack, the monkey’s doing cartwheels, and the cow appears to be singing karaoke. It’s a good thing this little mommy has a few tricks up her sleeve. With a bit of persistence and a lot of tender loving care, she’ll get her babies bathed, read to, and snuggled . . . just in time for bed.
by Edward Gibbs
Look through the holes to see what pets you can spy in this fun interactive book.
Smooth or furry, shiny or fluffy, there are many pets to spot in this fun take on the “I spy” game. Look through the spy holes and use the texture clues to guess; then turn the page to reveal the animal.  This book is part of the “I Spy Series” written by the same author.
by Craig Fraizer
Bee & Bird is a charming wordless story illustrated by the iconic artist Craig Frazier. With bold colors and graphic lines Frazier shows us the adventures of a little red bird and a buzzing bee as they journey from Bird’s home in a tree to Bee’s hive. The illustrations use interesting plays on perspective to draw in the viewer. This book may be especially enjoyed by little ones who does not always have the patience to listen to a story. The vibrant illustrations will be sure to interest even the most distracted reader.
Just the Two of Us
by Will Smith
Will Smith— musician, actor, and father–brings us a moving celebration of fatherhood. Smith’s heartfelt lyrics and Kadir Nelson’s vibrant paintings capture the beauty and intensity of a father’s love as his child grows from a boy into a man.
Bustle in the Bushes
by Giles Andreae
Giles Andreae is quickly becoming one of my favorite children’s authors.  We loved the book Rumble in the Jungle and this one is great too.  This book contains an energetic collection of poems that introduces fifteen amazing insects. Vibrantly illustrated, each humorous verse features a different insect and also includes an interesting fact about them.  A great book to read during the spring and summer to explore bugs in your own backyard.The Whole Night Through: A Lullaby
by David Frampton

I just love when I find a fun bedtime story to read to the kids right before bed.  Every animal in the jungle has closed its eyes for the night-everyone except the leopard. He is determined to stay awake the whole night through, but suddenly, wink…blink…yawn…yawn…shushhhhhhhhhh .  David Frampton has created a charming lullaby for tiny children who try very hard every night to stay awake, Rhythmic text and beautiful woodcuts of jungle animals combine to make a perfect book to share at bedtime.

by Josie Bissett
A loveable monster with big puffy mitts has just flown in from Planet Tickle. His mission is to bring joy and laughter to Planet Earth. How? By tickling any child who happens to follow along in this book. Parents read aloud and do the tickling, while their children squirm and giggle with delight.  My little man, Mr. Tickles adores this book!


by Harriet Ziefert
Whether you are a person or a bear, sometimes it is hard to decide what clothing to wear when you get up in the morning. In Bear Gets Dressed: A Guessing Game Story, Bear must decide what to wear before he goes out to enjoy the day. Poor Bear knows that sometimes the weather can make one outfit better than another. However, he just isn’t sure what to wear. Each page features a simple lift-the-flap that asks the reader to pick the best outfit for Bear. Once the reader picks the best clothes, you can lift the flap to see if you were right! With repetitive and rhyming text, along with sweet and playful illustrations, this simple book could become a family favorite!

Your turn:  Have you read any of these books with your little ones?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Books for Adults

What I’m Reading (in June 2015)

I’m in Houston, TX this week for a training course for work, but I wanted to write a quick post to let you know a book I started reading Sunday while on the plane.

This book has been on my list of books to read so I’m happy I’m finally getting around to it.  It has over 5,800 5 star reviews from others on Amazon so I’m looking forward to see if my rating will be 5 stars as well.  I will say that so far I honestly can’t put this book down so it looks like it will be a winner!

I’ll be back next week with a new list of books I’ll be reading to the kids in June as well as Father’s Day book suggestions and the June newsletter.

Status: Finished

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?  Read my review of this book here.

Status: Finished

The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
by Andy Andrews

I loved the book The Noticer by Andy Andrews so much that I just had to add this book to my to-read list.  (Check out my post from February 2015)  I have heard nothing but good things about this book so I’m excited to dig in!  If you’re into Podcasts, Andy also has a wonderful podcast you may want to check out.

Your turn:  Have you read either of these books before?  If so, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

read aloud

What the Kids are Reading (in May 2015)

This month I went a little crazy with the amount of books I placed on hold and checked out from the library.  There are so many great books out there and I just want to read them all!  I still have several books that I’m waiting for at the library so I may do another post about the additional books we’ll be reading this month in the coming weeks.Here are some of the books I’m reading aloud to the kids this month:
Did you know President Barack Obama is also an author?  In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

What a fantastic book!  Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.
Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Anthony
What is the proper way to ask Mr. Panda for doughnuts?  Patiently and politely, Mr. Panda asks the animals he comes across if they would like a doughnut. A penguin, a skunk, and a whale all say yes, but they do not remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Is anyone worthy of Mr. Panda’s doughnuts?Get Up and Go! by Nancy Carlson
This cute book will get you and your little ones up and moving!
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

I never read this book as a child so I was excited to finally read it to my kids.  A tale of a peddler, some monkeys and their monkey business.

Red by Jan De Kinder

This heartfelt book inspires readers to find the courage to take a stance against bullying and show compassion towards others.

The Daddy Mountain by Jules Feiffer

This is a cute book that my husband has been reading to the kids at night.  A nice way to get dads involved in storytime.  The kids love this one!

Dog by Matthew Van Fleet

We’re huge dog lovers so naturally I was drawn to this adorable book.  The kids love pulling the tabs and flaps to see what surprises they will find.

-Ed as in Bed by Amanda Rondeau

An easy reader book that introduces, in brief text and illustrations, the use of the letter combination “ed” in such words as “bed,” “shed,” “red,” and “sled.”

Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

This book is similar to Dog and written by the same author.  Heads – wooly, bump and hairy – never has such a collection of animal heads been so much fun!

If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer

I featured this book in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  This book is ABSOLUTELY beautiful.  The illustrations are immaculate and the message is wonderful.  The book talks about many different animal babies and what it’s like for them to come into this world, ending with a human baby and mother of course.

I Love You as Much by Laura Krauss Melmed

Another book featured in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  Different animal mommies say how much they love their little ones (the camel: as much as the desert is dry).  These statements are paired with wonderful, tender illustrations– I cannot believe I have not seen this book before now!

Saturday is Dadurday by Robin Pulver

A really cute book about a girl and her dad.  For Mimi, the best day of the week is always Saturday, because she gets to spend it with just her Dad.
Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

Isn’t the cover of this book so adorable?  In page after page of tail-wagging fun, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, Beacon Award-winning producer Tonya Lewis Lee, take a close-up look at what happens when a couple of high-energy toddlers meet their match in an adventurous pup who has no plans of letting up.

Wynken, Blynken & Nod by Eugene Field

A great bedtime poem to read to kids at night.  In this poem, three fishermen in a wooden shoe catch stars in their nets of silver and gold.

What Mommies Do Best by Laura Numeroff

Another book featured in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  This book is SO great.  (and BONUS you get two books in one with this puppy, so you can celebrate Daddies too.)

Supertruck by Stephen Savage

A simple story about a super hero truck.  My son likes this, but my daughter isn’t really into it.

-Um as in Drum by Nancy Tuminelly

Another easy reader book that ntroduces, in brief text and illustrations, the use of the letter combination “um” in such words as “drum,” “chum,” “hum,” and “scum.”

Tails by Matthew Van Fleet

Pull tabs, lift-able flaps, tufts of fur, and even a scratch-and-sniff skunk tail provide plenty of tactile surprises. Along the way, kids will learn about counting, opposites, and how animals use their tails.